Located along Italy’s western coast in an area spanning nearly 9,000 square miles, Tuscany is one of the country’s 20 official regions and home to cities such as Florence, Pisa, and Siena, celebrated for their well-preserved centuries-old art and architecture. Outside of Tuscany’s urban areas are gently rolling hills blanketed with vineyards whose grapes become some of the world’s most prestigious wines. With this alluring town-and-country combination, Tuscany has all the makings of an unforgettable honeymoon.
Tuscany’s capital, Florence, is home to the region’s main airport and a major train station, Santa Maria Novella, making it the perfect starting point for a sojourn. With the lavish Four Seasons Firenze as your base—it occupies a 15th-century palazzo and is home to the city’s largest private garden—make your way to the city’s Renaissance standouts, including the 15th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo. Inside the cathedral, turn your eyes upward under the Filippo Brunelleschi–designed dome to marvel at Giorgio Vasari’s 16th-century frescoes of the Last Judgment. Another can’t-miss stop in Florence is the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s famous lifelike sculpture of David. The museum also houses treasured items such as musical instruments that once belonged to Italy’s powerful Medici family. (Tickets are required for entrance into both institutions.)
Florence is a popular tourist destination, which means large crowds and long lines can be common in high season, from mid-June through August. For exclusive, behind-the-scenes visits to these and other essential sites (and to avoid the tourist crush), call on Access Italy. The family-owned, Rome-based travel company arranges private tours of off-limits areas of the Duomo, plus VIP treatment at its top restaurants, such as La Bottega del Buon Caffè. The Michelin-star restaurant, which is the Florentine dining outpost of Borgo Santo Pietro boutique hotel in the Tuscan village of Chiusdino, embraces a farm-to-plate philosophy and serves modern, artful dishes in its intimate and rustic dining room.
An ideal way to unwind after your city adventure is with a calming stay in Tuscany’s iconic countryside, where hills are latticed with tree-lined gravel roads and trails (think walking, hiking, and cycling). Wineries are the biggest draw, with plenty offering casual tours and tastings. Not sure where to start? Head to Montalcino. Its Brunello di Montalcino is made from local Sangiovese grapes and is widely regarded as Italy’s best wine. Taste it and other special reds over lunch at Podere le Ripi, a biodynamic winery with a specially designed spiral-shaped cellar. About an hour drive east, in Sartiano, in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia region, the boutique winery Tenuta di Trinoro produces a limited quantity of exceptionally high-quality reds made from French grapes. It’s not open to the public, but Access Italy can arrange a private visit.
For a true taste of life in the Tuscan countryside—and a surprise local connection—book a suite at Monteverdi Tuscany. Cincinnati attorney Michael Cioffi painstakingly restored several buildings in the medieval village of Castiglioncello del Trinoro and opened the boutique hotel in 2012. Today, it comprises 18 luxury rooms and suites and three private villas, as well as an intimate spa, a cooking academy, an art gallery, and a chapel-turned-performance space for a rotating roster of visiting musicians. It’s the perfect way to experience la dolce vita after you’ve said “I do.”
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze:
A 15th-century palazzo turned hotel with original art and a Michelin-starred eatery. fourseasons.com/florence
A boutique hotel in the Val d’Orcia with a spa, cooking academy, and much more. monteverdituscany.com
Podere le Ripi:
Stock up on bottles of Brunello di Montalcino at this beautiful, biodynamic winery. podereleripi.it