If you start looking for information about the region on the web you’ll end up with tons of articles describing Tuscany as a lyrical with postcard-perfect landscapes, sensational food, great wines, living history … etc. and people writing those things are probably right. However from my point of view those articles were written by people who fell in love with Tuscany like us with Provence or … they haven’t been elsewhere. Of course there are also promotional articles but put those aside. I see Tuscany quite differently … it just somehow does not add up to that description … except history which is undeniable.
I was planning to see Tuscany for a long time but we were usually ending up in Provence because firstly it’s closer (from Switzerland) and secondly we fell in love with it at first sight. It did not happen in Tuscany. No love … not even fascination. We drove from west to east and from north to south making about 1000 km in total trying to find the magic, postcard-perfect landscapes and sensational food. And we failed.
The biggest disappointments was food … yes you’re reading it correctly. That was pretty shocking but it seams that there is much more true in Dario Costagno’s book than he probably planned to unveil. He was joking about american tourists who dared not to try Italian pizza saying that the best one is in US. Ok, maybe for a week eating in different places, in different cities and villages we didn’t have luck … right. It’s not only pizza, it’s also pasta, lasagne and few others which we couldn’t wait to try, they all lack something. Pasta was mostly overcooked, lasagna was lacking taste, pizza was or dry or too oily. I don’t know, maybe they are prepared for not demanding tourists who are satisfied just by the fact that they eat in Tuscany. One thing has to be pointed, Italy has astonishing basic food (basics) like ham, cheese, sausages, jams, bread … ice cream! We ate it on breakfasts (except ice cream), we were buying it in local shops to have something for late snack and we took few goodies back home. This is the food from Italy I want to remember, this is the food from Italy I love! However special recognition goes to coffee which is extraordinary, beyond measures! And I mean it!
I’ve been in many countries including Dominican Republic where coffee was also excellent but Italy sets here a benchmark which is unbeatable … for now.
Photography. Here is the problem I’ve been planning to write about for some time now and I will do it eventually but not in this entry. The problem, shortly, is what I call it the „right moment”. When traveling to foreign country you are dependent on free time which determines everything else regarding travel including the time of the year which may not be favorable from the photographic point of view. This is exactly what happened this time, weather was simply put awful. Regardless the „wrong photo moment” I wasn’t impressed with what I saw anyway. Of course on those few photographs you can recognize typical Tuscany landscapes but do not expect they cover whole region which is not that small – about 23.000 km2. To actually find them you have to know exactly where to go, have a guide to drive you there, spend at least two weeks driving every road … or just be lucky. And here is the problem because in Provence you do not need to look for anything, you just stop the car anywhere in a countryside, take a camera and the only problem you encounter is in which direction to point it. Ok, maybe I do exaggerate a bit but still there is huge difference between those two regions. While Provence almost everywhere looks like on photographs found on the web, Tuscany looks like it occasionally. So if you plan to visit it and you are not a professional travel photographer I do recommend to choose wisely your destinations and time when you arrive there.
If you travel through Tuscany by car be extra careful because roads tend to be narrow and most of residents cut corners driving very fast. Speed limits are in general rarely respected. This reminds me a scene from the movie „Under the Tuscan Sun” where Marcello was explaining how traffic lights work: „green means avanti, avanti, yellow is a decoration and red is just a suggestion” Of course no-one is driving on red but there is a noticeable nonchalance behavior which in rare cases can cause problems.
Tuscany deserves another approach and this time definitely in summer but when it’ll happen I do not know. Next two years are more or less planned … and just to give a hint in proper order: Normandy and Brittany, fjords in Norway, Sweden and back to Japan :)
This is the last time I’m writing after travel … My bad, never happen again!