Tuscany travel advice

Tuscany travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR FRIENDS IN TUSCANY

Foodie advice


Carolina Ingrassia, from our supplier Find Your Italy, shares her top Tuscany travel advice: “If you’re looking to try some typical Tuscan food while on holiday then you have to try pecorino cheese, prosciutto crudo and bean soup if you’re in the countryside. But if you’re on the coast then cacciucco is a delicious seafood stew and is the specialty of Livorno. Drinks you have to try are ponce alla livornese, vin santo (dessert wine) and ammazzacaffè which literally means ‘coffee killer’. It’s a liqueur that’s traditionally drunk after the coffee course to ‘kill’ the effect of the caffeine.”
Paolo Bonato from our supplier, Exodus, shares his Tuscany travel advice for food lovers: “Tuscany, for me, is all about rustic and wholesome home cooking with beans, soups, and wild boar sausages providing hearty dishes for farm workers to keep them going throughout the day. For souvenirs I’d always recommend chocolate coated espresso shots or bacci – chocolate kisses. I’d also recommend wild boar sausages but I’m not sure these are allowed through customs!”

Where to go


Carolina Ingrassia, from our supplier Find Your Italy: “Just outside of Siena there are some woods with thermal springs and waterfalls that not many tourists know about. The place is called Bagni San Filippo and although you’ll need a car to reach the area, it makes for a great place to cool off after a hot day in the city. Another place I like to go to that’s relatively close to Siena, about 40km away, is Montalcino, a small hillside town that’s known locally for its wine cellars. Then, if you’re able to drive about an hour to the east you’ll find the medieval town of Montepulciano that’s also famous for its wine with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano considered one of the best in Italy."

Language tips


Paolo Bonato from our supplier, Exodus, on the origins of Italian: “Italian language was born in Tuscany and Tuscans would say that they are the ones who speak Italian properly.”

Getting around Tuscany


Carolina Ingrassia, from our supplier Find Your Italy: “The best way to see Tuscany is by hiring a car and going to the small villages that not many tourists go to. Tuscany’s coastline is also really great with seaside towns like San Vincenzo, Populonia (great Etruscan ruins), Porto Santo Stefano and Orbetello combining cultural sites with days spent by the sea. Baratti beach is probably one of the best with the pine forests and sandy beaches of Maremma, the peninsula of Argentario and the islands of Giglio and Elba, also not to be missed.”
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Health & safety in Tuscany


TRAVEL SAFELY IN TUSCANY

Health


To call an ambulance or for mountain rescue in Tuscany use 118.
Find out where the nearest hospital and pronto soccorso (A&E) is situated just in case of medical or dental dramas.
Travel insurance when travelling in Tuscany is needed in addition to an EHIC medical care card that can be used by EU citizens at all public hospitals. Tuscany’s healthcare service is pretty good and you’ll usually be seen quickly and efficiently by mainly English-speaking staff.
Mosquitoes, especially as the sun goes down and in rural areas, can be a right pain. Make sure you grab some insect repellent or citronella candles for evenings outdoors and don’t leave your windows open if you want to avoid that annoying buzz which is usually followed by a self-administered ear slap. Top tip: apparently Avon moisturiser is the next best things to long sleeves and trouser legs.

Safety


  • Tuscany is certainly not a dangerous region of Italy although it’s always best to guard belongings when visiting larger cities, particularly after dark.

  • Traffic can be a slight concern whether driving or trying to cross the road. Even at zebra crossings cars won’t feel obliged to stop so approach with caution but be assertive when stepping out at a designated crossing area.

  • Weather can change pretty quickly, especially within mountainous areas. Take care when walking and always pack waterproofs, layers of clothing, sun protection, water, whistle, map and fully-charged phone with GPS to ensure you’ve done your best to be prepared.

  • Take care when out walking to avoid large animals like wild boar or smaller creatures such as snakes. Snakes will be especially prevalent in rural areas and often come out to sun themselves or hide beneath tarpaulin or in long grass during the autumn before preparing to hibernate. In the main, snakes in Tuscany are harmless and will be a lot more scared of you than you are of them. However, vipers, asp and horned varieties, are rare in Tuscany but do exist. If you’re bitten then seek professional medical help as quickly as possible. Best advice, no matter which snake you encounter, is to walk slowly and quietly away, never run and never antagonise, even if you’re Steve Backshall.

  • The emergency telephone number for the Carabinieri (police) is 112.

What to do in the event of an earthquake in Tuscany


Earthquakes are an ever-present danger for those living in and around the Apennine Mountains with Italy’s central region, Umbria, which neighbours Tuscany, particularly affected by frequent earthquakes in 2016.

If inside: get under the cover of a table or sturdy piece of furniture. If nothing is close by then crouch in the corner of the room until the shaking has stopped. Stay away from glass or anything heavy that may topple over. Do not use a lift to escape the building even after the shaking has stopped. Always use the stairs when it’s safe to do so.

If outside: move away from any buildings, glass, electricity pylons and telegraph poles. Don’t go inside a building, stay outdoors and stay there until the shaking has stopped.

If trapped: don’t move around and cause dust to become more of a problem than it already might be. Cover your mouth with a piece of light clothing or a handkerchief. Don’t light a naked flame. Try not to shout but bring help to your attention by tapping or knocking on a pipe or anything similar.

Tuscany travel advice


TIPS FROM OUR TRAVELLERS

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Tuscany travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Go during truffle hunting season. Don't miss the mornings in the Tuscan hills.” – Gay Hornak

“If a week of gentle 'time out', fresh mountain air, great food and stunning scenery is what you need, head to Lavacchio! It is a very special place made even more so by generous, caring hosts.” – Annette Vieusseux

“If you want more freedom to travel, then do get a car but be aware places like Siena, San Gimignano and Florence are a challenge to find parking and may have restrictions for cars.” – Smita Shah

“You’ll need a smallish car with some power to get up the steep slope when fully laden! First time up is slightly nerve wracking, but the views are worth it!” – Neale Jackson

“Just hang around a town between about 5 and 7 pm. Italians seem to come out at that hour just to catch up with their friends and get a bit of cooler air. They were so gentle and polite with one another it was a pleasure to share the space.” – Judy Powell

“Extend your holiday with a few extra days in Lucca and the environs. This is a very sweet city and deserves time exploring the charming narrow streets on foot or on bicycle with a chance to attend a concert in the evening or just sit in a cafe and people watch.” – Philly Thackrah

“I stayed for two nights in Lucca before and one night in Pisa afterwards – it made a perfect start and finish to a wonderful walking holiday.” – Paul Tranter
Photo credits: [Foodie advice: Adolfo Monti] [Where to go: Bruno Cordioli] [Getting around Tuscany: Visit Tuscany] [Review 1 - Paul Tranter: Stefan Jurca] [Review 2 - Gay Hornak: Michela Simoncini]

Written by: Chris Owen
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