Questions About Toskana?

  1. What are the best Italian festivals?

festival3_01210Many Italian cities, including Venice, celebrate Carnevale in February with costumes, parades, and more. In Siena in July and August, Il Palio di Siena places a horse race involving the city’s 17 neighborhoods into the city’s main square. A Sardinian horse race, L’Ardia di San Costantino, dates back to the year 312 and also includes great food as part of its celebration. For medieval jousting, visit la Quintana in Ascoli Piceno on the first Sunday in August, with a costumed procession before the race and a long celebration after it. The Festa della Madonna Bruna in Matera puts July 2 on the map with a great procession and beautiful fireworks display. The Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics travels from one festival location to another every year, and includes a race among boats called gozzi. A team of eight rowers powers each vessel.

  1. What is the food like in Toscana?

703_620Tuscan food features local produce at its in-season peak of ripeness, and local meats prepared in a variety of ways. Some of these dishes owe their origins to peasant fare that originally relied on odds, ends, and leftovers. Tuscany’s crostini use warm bread as a base on which to spread meat sauces. Ribbon-like papardelle provide a thicker form of spaghetti, often served with a wild boar sauce, or mushrooms, sausages, artichokes and other favorite ingredients. Rare steaks served with beans, potatoes or salad, wild boar salamis, cold bread salads called panzanella, and all kinds of tomato soups and bean stews offer hearty fare with a distinctive Tuscan twist.

  1. Are there any wild animals in Toscana?

Tuscan wildlife includes classic European mammals such as deer, wild boar, and hares, but it also includes scorpions and porcupines. Unlike the deadly venomous scorpions of the desert, Tuscan scorpions rarely sting, and pack an impact no greater than a bee or wasp—unless you have allergies to them. Tuscany’s small roe deer herds shy away from people and largely remain in forested lands unless they venture out to nibble on a farmer’s fields. Those same fields show plentiful fallow deer. Look for wild boar munching on grapes in the vineyards and appearing at night near farmed acreage. Tuscany’s porcupines adopt an aggressively defensive posture prompted by their bad eyesight, with grunting, foot stomping, and a rattling shake of their tail spines.

  1. How many people live in Toscana?

As of 2013, Tuscany’s 8,900 square miles hosted a population of approximately 3.8 million people, of whom 90 percent are Italian and one percent Albanian. The triangular boundaries of Tuscany lie near the top of Italy’s boot on its western edge, with a coastline along the Tyrrhenian Sea, the body of water that contains the island of Elba.

  1. What is there to do for fun in Toscana?

That depends on your definition of fun. Tuscany bristles with history, tradition, and art. The Renaissance began there. Its vineyards abound, as do its World Heritage sites, including the Tower of Pisa, the Medici Gardens, and the historical centers of four Tuscan cities. More than 1.8 million visitors made Florence the world’s 89th most visited city in the year 2012. With nature preserves, ancient sights, and boundless art museums, Tuscany offer the best of ancient treasures and modern conveniences.