Roberto's passions are Sienese culture, Tuscan history, and local cuisine. Posted by mitmos OP 05/31/19 01:09 PM. Some are luxurious, with plush rooms and offering amenities such as riding stables and swimming pools. Matteo: It's perfect. [lunch!]. Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany. I'm Rick Steves. We're dropping in on a farm to visit the tomb of the Hescanas family. Sienese society cared for its poor. I'm Rick Steves, and we're exploring more of the best of Europe. One of my favorite agriturismo experiences in Italy, Cretaiole is warmly run by reformed city-slicker Isabella, who came here on vacation and fell in love with country-boy Carlo. Towns like Volterra were truly city-states — they were fiercely independent and relatively democratic. This is not some folkloric event — it's a real medieval moment. If you're open to branching out of Tuscany, when we were on the flight coming home from Tuscany years ago, the arty hip guy sitting next to us said "Tuscany is so yesterday. So much to see, so little time. artist is impressive. Tuscany is named after the Etruscan people who lived here centuries before this region was conquered by ancient Rome. While tourists pack the more famous places, little off-beat gems like this remain overlooked, and are great places for enjoying the traditional culture. If you give water, you stimulate the root to grow up to find the water. The faint but still readable frescoes take us back to the funeral ritual. Roberto: This particular species here. Hang out here with the local characters. Farmer: Solo tufo; si, si. Back in the 1300s, Siena was a major banking, trading, and military power. Roberto: It's to dig out the truffle…I see one! A highlight is the church's Piccolomini Library: Brilliantly frescoed, it captures the exuberance and optimistic spirit of the 1400s, an age of humanism when the Renaissance was born. Rick: So…quanto vecchio? Adamo explains their wine ages from two to four years in oak from France, Slovenia, and Italy — and that each wood has its own distinct characteristics. Rick: This is the pilgrims' route! Rick: I love the aperitivo. This ritual is called the "passeggiata" — it's like cruising without cars. Like many popular Tuscan towns, Volterra sits on an Etruscan foundation. It's richly decorated from top to bottom. While at the palace, you may meet Andrea or Ginevra Contucci, whose family has lived here since the 11th century. And even better, Giorgio's taking me for a spin in one of his classic Italian cars. Umbria is where it's at." We recommend our favorites in the Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany ... especially because of the magnificent 360-degree video projection in the palazzo leading up to the New Year countdown. Roberto: Yeah! Rick: Looks very good! The unfinished Duomo glumly looks on, wishing the city hadn't run out of money for its facade. Beneath the tower, the City Hall [Civic Museum] is open to visitors. Adamo: Il Nobile viene invecchiato in queste botti di rovere — di rovere francese, rovere di slovonia, rovere italiano. Rick: 25,000 — wow! Annie: The king of the Tuscan forest: the wild boar. Today, the hospital and its cellars are filled with fascinating exhibits (well-described in English). They represent the popes who reigned from the time of St. Peter to the 12th century. It's "the sweet life" in Tuscany. I've ordered my pasta "bis." Many of these are agriturismos, offering good value accommodations to travelers. We'll enjoy a front-row seat at its wild horse race — the venerable Palio — and marvel at cultural treasures from the days when it rivaled Florence for leadership of Tuscany. Its historic rooms were, for centuries, the home of Siena's government. This time we're in Italy, and it's all about la dolce vita. Just down the road, the village of Chiusure is celebrating its annual artichoke festival. Terms of Service | Privacy, Tuscany, Italy: Chianti Wine and Crete Senesi Regions. Rick: In Italian, tartufo. In fact, throughout the Mediterranean region, early evening is the time to be out and about. Long appreciated for its translucent quality, it was sliced thin to provide windows for Italy's medieval churches. The tower's Italian nickname, Torre del Mangia, comes from a hedonistic bell-ringer who consumed his earnings like a glutton consumes food. It grew to its present size between the 13th and 15th centuries, when it was a colorful and crowded city. Bruno: The Montalcino is traditional wine in Tuscany. A series of idealized frescos show medieval Siena's innovative health care and progressive social welfare system at work. Roberto: The olive oil. Build the church oversized anyway, and prop up the overhanging edge by building the Baptistery underneath. (Go with an empty bladder as there are no WCs, and be prepared to surrender any sense of personal space.) 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