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Mike Maddock, General Manager
2005-06-10 / Travel

Under the Tuscan Spell

Part One: I "heart" Tuscany

Why do Americans love Tuscany so much? How can writers spend a month in a Tuscan villa and live off the royalties of their book for the rest of their lives? Why does the mere mention of “The Tuscan Sun” provoke sighs and swoons by American women?

The Italians say, “Tuscany is a charmed land, equally blessed by the genius of man and nature.” My wonderful wife, Linda, said, “We have to go to Tuscany. The wine, the cheese, the pasta, the hills, the sunsets, the history. Please! Please! You’ll never regret it. I promise. ”

So, what is it that makes Tuscany, the rocky land between Florence and Rome, so appealing? Names of Tuscan towns – Pisa, Siena, Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Vinci, and Montecristo – bring harsh memories to WWII vets but excitement to artists, architects, and poets. Names of famous Tuscans – Dante, Michelangelo, Bernini, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Cellini, Vespucci, da Vinci, Machiavelli, Donatello, Giotto – roll easily off the tongues of historians.

Tuscany is located in the upper middle of Italy’s boot between Florence and Rome.Tuscany is located in the upper middle of Italy’s boot between Florence and Rome. Linda lured me with late night whispers of hot spas, cool villas, fabulous restaurants, ancient churches, historic caves, magnificent pageants, and peaceful splendor under the Tuscan sun. Alan Shoemaker, retired from Riverbanks Zoo and a fellow Explorer, sprang the trap with an all–too–easy trip he organized through Overseas Adventure Travel.

Warner rests along the Arno River in Florence with the Ponte Vecchio in the background.
Warner rests along the Arno River in Florence with the Ponte Vecchio in the background. So, forsaking more adventurous expeditions to African jungles, Himalayan mountains, or Polynesian islands, I agreed to join Linda, Alan, and 11 others on a wine and cheese tour of Tuscany. We spent three weeks in May jumping merrily from vineyard to olive grove, from villa to palace, from pizza to pasta.

Linda admires an ancient kitchen in Montepulciano.
Linda admires an ancient kitchen in Montepulciano. It was wonderful! Tuscany lived up to its reputation. Over the next many weeks, I will tell you all about it. Keep reading.


Warner tests wine in winery in Chianti.
Warner tests wine in winery in Chianti. Linda digs into a calzone in Florence.
Linda digs into a calzone in Florence.

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