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Honeymoon in Tuscany: Ciao, Bella!

Words by John Roark
Photos courtesy of Castello di Casole

Gently rolling hills dotted with cypress trees as far as the eye can see and tiny medieval villages with ancient cobbled streets. The cultural and artistic epicenter of Europe, Tuscany promises unlimited choices and incomparable memories. Begin your life together against a backdrop a thousand years in the making.

YOUR TUSCANY “MUST” LIST

Get a room with a view.

Every fairytale has a castle. Dating back to the 10th century, the 5-star Castello di Casole was originally owned by a noble family of Siena. The historic 4,200-acre estate was purchased in the 1960s by famed Italian film director Luchino Visconti and became the posh playground of movie stars, Italian nobility and jetsetters. The embodiment of Italian luxury, today Castello di Casole features 28 artfully restored farmhouses and a 41-suite boutique hotel. Surrounded by tranquil Tuscan countryside, vineyards and olive groves, every view is a postcard. Your stay will include supreme comfort and simple pleasures, tempered with old-world elegance and sophistication. Your reluctant departure will include a promise to return.

Ten a.m. and tipsy: Tour the wineries.

Tuscany is home to some of the World’s most beautiful and distinctive wineries. Go “behind the label” from grape to cork by touring, tasting and learning. We recommend: Panizzi in San Gimignano, Poggio Amorelli in Amorelli and La Brancaia in Chianti. Salute!

Pretend the paparazzi is stalking you.

Make your escape by touring the Italian countryside on rented Vespas. As the velvet hills and valleys roll by, you’ll feel like a movie star (don’t forget your coolest retro sunglasses). Pack a picnic of rustic bread, olive oil, local cheeses and a bottle of wine for a romantic (and cinematic) afternoon you’ll never forget.

Get lost.

Explore the ancient villages of Tuscany by bicycle: Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa. Ditch your guide book and wander the streets of Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. You’ll find centuries-old cathedrals, frescoes, paintings and sculpture. Don’t miss: The Duomo - completed in 1436, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is Florence’s most famous church. Gazing up at the frescoed interior of the dome, you’ll be humbled.

Bring home something Italian.

Do some bartering in the open-air markets of Florence: fine leather, textiles, artwork and more. Visit designers, jewelers and artisans on the Ponte Vecchio. Don’t miss: Scuola del Cuoio, the largest and most respected leather craft school in Florence.

Soak up some culture.

Florence has the World’s largest concentration of Renaissance antiquities. See original works of Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli at the Uffizi Gallery;  say, “Buon giorno!” to Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery. Don’t miss: The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum for a fascinating look at the life (and shoes!) of one of Italy’s – and Hollywood’s – most celebrated and creative craftsmen.

Mangia!

Think beyond (far beyond) spaghetti and meatballs. Authentic Tuscan food is fresh, hearty and healthy. Enjoy local fish, pork and beef, vegetables roasted with native herbs, risotto and of course, pasta. And no trip to Italy is complete without experiencing authentic gelato. Don’t miss: Necci - chestnut crepes filled with fresh sheep’s milk ricotta.

When your journey together begins in a land as fabled as Tuscany, happily ever after is a given!

What’s on your Tuscany “must” list? Share with us on twitter: @destinationido and use #Tuscany.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall2013/Winter 2014 issue. You can order a copy here.

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