Tuscany is one of those places that I feel is seriously underrated. While our feeds are full of turquoise waters or lush rainforests, the Tuscan countryside can be underwhelming in comparison. But, it’s somewhere that I hold very dear to me. From the golden sunsets and rolling vineyards to the cobbled streets and home-cooked feasts – it’s everything you would expect it to be and more. I first went to Tuscany when I was 22 years old for a fashion photoshoot with a team of four. We drove through the night up into the mountains and stayed in a huge chateau for four nights and I fell in love with the country’s rustic charm and true sense of community. The people were kind, curious and possessed a quiet pride for their country that I cherished immediately.
Since then I’ve been there a further six times and loved introducing Toff to the country for his 30th birthday. We explored Siena, Lucca and Florence, walked until sunset and ate until our clothes were too tight, it was one of the best holiday’s I’ve ever been on. With a traditional lifestyle, Tuscany offers a real opportunity to switch off and disconnect. Their technology is limited and their attitude is very family-focused. A concept lost on many of us these days so it’s surprisingly refreshing.
It’s all these things and so many more that cemented our decision to get wed here. So, expect to see a lot more of Tuscany over the next few months! But, in the meantime, I wanted to share a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to bring you a Tuscany guide and tell you all the things you need to know before booking your flights.
1. THE MOSQUITO’S ARE EPIC
Weirdly, I’ve developed a massive allergic reaction to mosquito bites over the last couple of years that often leaves me face down in hospital with a needle in my bum! But I never have as much of a reaction as Tuscany and it’s the same for those who aren’t allergic. They are brutal whatever time of year you go. So, pack lots of repellent and DON’T skip it!
2. THE WIFI CAN BE CRAP
I couldn’t do a Tuscany guide and not mention the tech. As you’d expect from somewhere rural, rustic and a little behind the times. Yep, it’s really frustrating when you want to upload that cute ‘Italian’ tablecloth to Insta but you’ve got to embrace it! The bigger hotels are generally good but rarely stretch to the pool outside.
3. THE FOOD IS VERY SEASONAL
Probably one of the main reasons anyone loves Italy is of course for the food. It is incredible. But if you’re looking forward to truffles and wild mushrooms on your spring break, you’ll be disappointed as they’re only in season in the fall. It does, however, give you an excuse to go back later in the year!
4. YOU HAVE TO GO WITH THE FLOW
What I used to love about Italians is their ‘meh’ attitude to life. That c’est la vie (I know, I’m crossing countries here) attitude which made me more laid-back about everything. It’s not ideal when you’re planning a wedding, however and need an actual plan!
5. RUN-DOWN RESTAURANTS ARE THE BEST
Something I learnt very quickly about Tuscany is that although we’re drawn to those pretty veranda’s with white umbrella’s and pristine flower boxes, you’re probably going to be served frozen pizza. Oh yes. The key is to find the run down shack in an alleyway or off the beaten track with a few tables and stained menu. Why? Because they are going to serve you the most amazing authentic Italian food. This wouldn’t be a very good Tuscany guide without telling you the truth and believe me, this will be a family-owned abode with the best dishes.
6. RENTING A CAR IS GOLD
Like England, Tuscany is very spread out so relying on public transport isn’t really a great option if you want to move around. I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve gone for a drive and ended up discovering a beautiful old town. With Siena, Lucca, Florence, Montepulciano and San Grimignano dotted around, it’s invaluable to have a car at your disposal. We find Hertz or Goldcar to be the best and always always make sure you get your car insurance before you go. This is a great company.
7. PREPARE FOR ALL WEATHER
Lastly for your Tuscany guide – don’t rely on the forecast. As a mountainous region I’ve been caught out by this many, many times! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve packed little short dresses in August and had to hunt down the nearest Zara for some jeans! If you’re high up the mornings tend to be misty and chilly but boiling hot come lunch time and pretty cold in the evenings. The valley is more forgiving but can change like the wind so be prepared!This is what I wore when we visited last week.