Toscana is known for its gorgeous landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and its influence on high culture. Toscana is regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and home to many influential masters of the arts and sciences, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Luca Pacioli and Puccini. As a result, the region has several notable museums such as the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and the Chianciano Museum of Art.
Toscana, especially its capital of Florence, is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance and has a unique artistic legacy. For instance, Florence is one of the world’s most important water-color centers; even so that it is often nicknamed the “art palace of Italy.” The city is also believed to have the largest concentration of Renaissance art and architecture in the world. Also, most of the frescos, sculptures and paintings in Toscana are held in the region’s abundant churches and cathedrals, such as Florence Cathedral, Siena Cathedral, Pisa Cathedral and the Collegiata di San Gimignano.
Several famous writers and poets, most notably Florentine author Dante resided in Toscana. Poetry, especially in the Middle Ages, also made the region famous.
Toscana’s food is much like Toscana’s landscape: clean, sober, and soothingly simple. Building their characteristic dishes on a savvy interplay of vegetables, beans, salt-less bread, and fruity olive oil, Toscanans are masters at the art of understatement. Their favorite aromatics (thyme, rosemary, and fennel) are used judiciously. Sharp sheep’s milk cheese from artisanal dairies lends saltiness and pungency to pastas, savory pies, and salads. Toscanans, self-proclaimed lovers of rice, cook risotto with cuttlefish ink, squab, or chicken giblets, and often add a handful of rice or farro to vegetable soups. Ravioli and tortelli are filled with ricotta or potatoes and pancetta, and then napped with butter and sage, tomato sauce, or a meat ragù.
Along the coast, fish and seafood play a pivotal role. Sorpionfish, monkfish, mullet, and other rock fish are tossed into the pot to create a thick, tomato-laced soup called cacciucco. The trick is using as many varieties of fish as possible, and puréeing the fish (heads, bones, and all) right into the broth. A special breed of cattle known as Chianina provides succulent meat for the grill, and the wild boar that roams the Toscana woods is transformed into succulent sweet-and-sour stews and rich hams. Dessert, always more impressive on celebratory days, ranges from a dome-shaped cake called zuccotto to a flatbread studded with grapes, baked since the days of the Etruscans. Lastly, wine is a famous and common produce of Toscana. Chianti is arguably the most well-known internationally.