By Elizabeth Elston
Tuscany is known for its landscapes, traditions, artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s been the home to many influential historical figures in the arts. Well-known museums contain artifacts and collections and can be seen in the Uffizi and Pitti Palace. The region—consisting of Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, and Arezzo—is also renowned for its wines including Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino.
History left its mark across this region, in the Renaissance art of Florence and the medieval brick palaces of Siena. Pre-Roman Etruscan heritage is preserved in museums and tombs, and even in the landscapes of Volterra and the Maremma. A total of seven Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic center of Florence, the Cathedral square of Pisa, the historical center of San Gimignano, the historical center of Siena; the historical center of Pienza, the Val d’Orcia, and the Medici Villas and Gardens.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Piazza Michelangelo offers some of the best views of the city. There’s a romance to the Ponte Vecchio as well as discovering secret corridors that lead to hidden shops. Not surprisingly, the region is filled with amazing pieces of art. It seems around every corner there’s art to discover. The long line outside the Accademia is there for one thing only, and that’s to see David, which stands at seventeen feet tall. It took Michelangelo over two years to carve this masterpiece from one block of marble.
Next to art, leather goods can be found in most shops and stalls—a Florentine tradition. Although lots of the leather that’s sold is now imported, the Scuola del Cuoio trains the next generation of artisans and sells their hand-made wares. After Milan, Florence is Italy’s second city for fashion. There’s plenty of high-end shopping for designer threads along Florence’s Via de’ Tornabuoni. Florence is also the home of Internet fashion sensation Luisa Via Roma. This mall outlet, east of Florence, sells end-of-line items from top-end Italian couture brands at discounted prices.
WHERE TO STAY
Because Florence continues to be the epicenter of art history and fashion, a stylish stay is in order and the perfect doorway to this luxurious city. Nestled in the heart of the winemaking region of Chianti Classico, Villa Mangiacane is a magnificent 15th-century property built by the Machiavelli family and bearing the unmistakable hand of the master, Michelangelo. Located just 7 miles south of Florence, Villa Mangiacane, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is perfectly positioned to explore all that Tuscany has to offer.
The property has 28 individually designed rooms and suites and is set within 600 acres of flourishing vineyards and olive groves. The classic beauty of Mangiacane combined with its history, art, and idyllic countryside setting create the perfect backdrop for a Tuscan wedding, unforgettable holiday, or exclusive rental. Luxurious facilities complement the property, including a gourmet restaurant, a stunning infinity pool, unique sculpture gardens, and breathtaking views.
WINE & DINE AT THE VILLA
Villa Mangiacane offers a myriad of dining options to its guests by providing a wide range of options, from personal in-room meals to feasts in their exclusive restaurant. You may enjoy a fresh breakfast served in the Herb Garden or a refreshing light lunch around the pool. For dinner, you may choose the elegant restaurant or dine al fresco. Mangiacane’s executive chef mixes the freshest local ingredients to present meals that will surely satisfy. And what an incredible surprise to find the olive oil is produced on the estate. The chef capitalizes on Tuscan ingredients to create traditional Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, T-bone steaks, to a simple handcrafted Spaghettoni with tomatoes and basil just plucked from the garden. If your inclination is for seafood, try the Sicilian King Prawns, accompanied by a Fennel Carpaccio. Of course, pair your feast with some of the best award-winning wines, as well as grappa.
For a more intimate setting, enjoy the cozy environment of their Vinoteque, (private wine cellar). In winter, you may enjoy the feeling of a home-cooked meal around the fire in the main villa’s Olive Oil Kitchen. If the incurable romantic in you takes over, the staff will set up an intimate, candle-lit meal on request, anywhere on the estate.
Even though Villa Mangiacane has been around for over 500 years, their prime wine production began in 2001 once they had undergone extensive modernization as well as the construction of a new cellar. Mangiacane’s wines are produced following the Chiantigiano style, which represents the perfect combination of ancient wine-making traditions and modern concepts. The exceptional wines are the result of the definitive traditions of Chianti Classico as well as the timeless passion and innovative expertise of the wine-making team at the estate.
Whether it’s viewing the historic arts in the area, or simply viewing another magical Tuscan day with a glass of wine, there is nowhere in the world quite like Tuscany.
For more information on Villa Mangiacane, visit mangiacane.com.