Recently, I read an article in the New York Times regarding Tuscany. In a few words, the article said Tuscany is overrun by tourism. It suggested other areas of Italy that are just as beautiful. For example, the article suggested visiting Le Marche in place of Tuscany.
“Others are heading to the calf of Italy’s boot, to Le Marche,” the author wrote, “a small, diverse province rising from the Adriatic Sea to the 6,000-foot peaks of the Apennines. In between lies a Tuscan-like rumple of lavender fields, sunflower fields and vineyards spread across hills that hump off toward every horizon like a patchwork quilt on an unmade bed. In 2003, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Le Marche had just 7 percent as many visits by foreigners as Tuscany.”
The article is partially right. Yes, cities like Florence and Pisa have the problem of mass tourism, but it’s not all Tuscany. You just have to find the hidden gems of Tuscany. Just this past Christmas season, my friends and family had one of these delightful experiences.
We first took our little group to Siena and San Gimignano. Yes, there were tourists (mostly Italians on holiday) but nothing like the spring and summer months. We then decided to go for lunch in a new town which no one had ever seen, including my son.
The place is Certaldo Alto, which is not far from San Gimignano. You will never find it overrun by tourists but you will find the magic of Italy’s medieval era.
My son loved it. It has the same feeling as many of the hilltop towns near our home in Lucca: beautiful landscapes with a medieval village at the top, with magnificent views from all sides. We walked around and found a place for lunch despite many being closed. Everything was traditional. It was an excellent afternoon.
Certaldo Alto is home to one of Italy’s greatest 14th-century writers, Giovanni Boccaccio. His most famous work is Decameron.
Yes, it’s true Tuscany can get too crowded in some areas especially certain times of year. Well, those are times to discover the unknown parts of #hiddentuscany and believe me, there are many!