Oh, my darlings! I recently had the opportunity to visit Tuscany, and I am in love! What a beautiful, romantic, enchanted part of the world! If you are looking for old world charm in a travel experience, Tuscany is your place.
I was there for 8 days. I flew into Rome, and while I did spend an afternoon among the ruins
in old Rome, this was not my favorite part. (By the time people are hustling you with dancing stuffed animals and opportunities to photograph grandma with soldiers in plastic gladiator outfits, the party’s over as far as I’m concerned). For me, the magic of Tuscany lay in its countryside, the castles on every hill, the little villages that surround them, and the winding cobbled streets too narrow for cars.
The preservation of Medieval village life fascinated me. When I say there are castles on every hill, I mean that literally. The castles themselves are often converted into the town center, such as in Lucignano, filled with little shops, markets, and business offices. The residences extend out in a circular pattern to the surrounding area. Although in the case of Monteriggioni the castle is the entire village. People live here, right inside the castle walls, and there are also several merchants – a cobbler, a few wine shops, a hand-loom weaver, restaurants, and a few B&B’s – which meant we got to stay right there inside the castle. Imagine my glee! And it wasn’t even expensive – our room was 80 Euros per night. The rooms here were not gloriously appointed, but hey, we got to sleep in a castle! I loved going out exploring for the day and then coming home to the castle.
If you do have some money to spend and you want to have the full-on gloriously appointed “I am royalty” experience, I recommend the Castelletto di Montebenichi. This Castle is located in Bucine, in the province of Arezzo, and is, to date, my favorite place in the entire world. The decor is flawless – or at least, exactly in keeping with my tastes. Extremely beautiful and regal, yet very comfortable. The owner, Marco, refers to it as a museum, and indeed it is absolutely packed with artifacts and collectibles, not behind glass cases but integrated into every room. You are welcome to touch everything. There is a bar which you can help yourself to, and Marco will join you for happy hour and regale you with tales. A delicious breakfast is also included in the cost. Marco strives to create a very relaxed atmosphere so you can truly feel at home, and he succeeds admirably. Lest one get too carried away with fantasies of princesses and fairy tales, however, there were at least two paintings featuring severed heads to help us remember the more grim aspects of castle culture. I find severed heads so relaxing, don’t you?
This place is spendy to be sure – rooms range from 280 – 330 Euros. Also they don’t allow children – which is probably wise considering all the antiques that are out and about. But if you are looking to rekindle your poetic soul or breathe new fire into a romance, this place exemplifies “Romantique” more than any other I have encountered.
I could write a book on Tuscany but I think I will stop with the verbiage and let pictures speak for themselves.
Damn, that took forever! Well I hope you’ve enjoyed these – I am an amateur photographer at best but thought you might like to see some of what I thought photo-worthy. May these images carry you off to a place of romance and wonder, and inspire your own travel plans. Tuscany gets the “Neofolk Romantique” seal of approval for sure!