“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” – Anna Akhmatova After a whirlwind couple of days swept up in the lush, unassuming beauty and romance of Italy’s green heart, there’s a certain nostalgia that is specific just to memories tied to Tuscany and Umbria region. These sister provinces of Italy share an unnerving bounty of Medieval castles dotting their hillside villages, the world’s best wine, historic Renaissance art and enough romance to last for a lifetime. It’s no wonder that the all-embracing memories of my time here are some of my absolute favorites.
Hilly, fertile valleys and sandy beaches, Florentine leathers and the birthplace of the Renaissance… Tuscany is a place of dreams. For anyone who has a deep love for art, culture, history and the humanities, the Tuscan region is where everything stems from. Knowing that the great inventors and artists of Florence’s rebirth traipsed and trekked through the same streets. Savoring the delicate notes of red wines from the tiny winery outside of the Medieval gates of a hillside town. From my very first time seeing the 15th century skyline of Florence, skipping through the Piazza del Duomo and seeing the jade gem that is the Santa Maria del Fiore, I was utterly charmed.
There’s a reason that Tuscany is often regarded as a place of escape. Each Tuscan city has something entirely special to offer. Lucca’s romantic piazza’s are something ripped from Romeo and Juliet. Siena’s narrow streets and trickling fountains that are centuries old. Pisa’s leaning tower (of course) and slices of delectable heaven on dough. Montepulciano’s romantic and lush hillside wineries that scatter the surrounding area like pointillistic paintings. Pienza’s small, family owned restaurants and cute little shops with olive oils, lemons and balsamic. Tuscany’s little cities are something to truly behold, whether you savor a feast of a lifetime over the world’s best wine or enjoy daydreaming you’re a princess atop a staggering hillside castle.
The sister of Tuscany that is no less beautiful or delightful. The Umbria region of Italy is a feast for the senses. Explosive colors that seem to fade into each other seem like a painting come to life. The vivid greens of the rolling hills, the sooty browns of the dirty roads lining the wild, wondrous sunflower fields, the depths of a burgundy red wine, the bluest, clearest skies that seem closer to the touch than can be imagined. The smells of homemade pasta made by nonnas wafting through the slatted windows and the joy of tasting your first Pappardelle ragu or thick pici with acidic and savory garlic tomato sauce. The warmth of the sun blazing down from the stone-walled outer banks of the cities. Umbria is rich in sensory enchantments.
Umbrian rippling hills stretch ever onward but are dotted with some absolutely sparkling cities worth exploring. Perugia’s vibrant Gothic treasures lining its center piazza feel like secret little escapes into its ancient past. Orvieto’s elongated and jaw dropping bridge leads to what seems to look like Rapunzel’s tower in a thick, dense forest. Assisi’s ancient cathedrals and and spellbinding basilicas recall a time of pilgrimages and quiet hours of prayer.
Enchantment achieved middle Italy, enchantment achieved. Tuscany and Umbria are slices of heaven placed in the heart of Italy. And for your own captivation, I suggest you experience it for yourself!