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  • Countryscape Ancient towns, fertile slopes
  • Country life Pleasures for every palate

Mother Nature blessed Tuscany with acres of olive groves and farmland, but the addition of luxury villas and boutique hotels is very welcome. Here’s Smith’s collection of the best…

If you’re longing for a rustic getaway in Italy, head to Tuscany, where luxury villas and boutique hotel stays rest amid picturesque farms, expansive vineyards and quiet coastlines. Holidays here are spent exploring medieval hilltop villages and splashing about in warm summer seas.

Do go/Don’t go

Tuscany can be busy with tourists throughout the summer months, although once you’ve escaped to your retreat you won’t notice. The cities of Florence and Siena in particular are best enjoyed outside the peak summer season.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport (www.pisa-airport.com) is the most convenient regional gateway, but Florence and Rome Fiumicino are options; a two-hour drive from either will get you into southern Tuscany. If you're a high-flier with your own jet, there is also a small airport in Siena (www.siena-airport.it).
  • Trains The main station in Florence is behind Piazza Santa Maria Novella; Florence acts as a hub for services to other Tuscan cities, including Siena and Pisa (www.trenitalia.com). Grosseto is on the main Rome-Genoa line and has frequent express services. Once in the Tuscan countryside, however, public transport is fairly limited.
  • Automobiles The cities are best explored on foot, but there’s nothing more fun than putting the top down and exploring the Tuscan countryside by convertible. Hire classic and vintage cars from CLM Viaggi (+39 0577 287415).
  • Taxis Your best bet is to ask your hotel to organise pick-ups and transfers for you, as you won’t be able to hail a taxi in the hills.