Reading material for those who love the camping life

Text and photo: Sven Furuly
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 2, April 2015

Picturesque landscape and lazy days: Italian Tuscany

Second only to Rome, it's probably the name Tuscany Norwegians with a throbbing heart of Italy, is in love. This region is not only filled with art and culture, but also of food and beverages, where the simple is often the best.

The Italian region Toscane associated perhaps primarily with its picturesque landscape of pines, cypresses, olive groves and vineyards. Rolling hills where small villages popping up in all the greenery, small roads criss-crossing, and a tranquility that stands in stark contrast to the country's capital, Rome.

Art, food and culture

Tuscany, people say, and envisions such a picture. It is certainly so, in this 23 000 km2 large region, but here we also find a number of historic and important cities. The port city of Livorno is one of Italy's busiest, Florence is the arts by all, and in south veneer we Grosetto, an important commercial center for the 3,6 million residents found in this region.

Tuscany has an area of ​​size up against Hedmark County, but is divided into ten provinces. Florence is the most important region, and the city is also the regional capital. Other regions with names that almost certainly pulling recognize Pisa and Siena.

Tuscany crisscrossing

A trip to Tuscany should start with some thoughts about what experiences are important to you, how to get there, how to stay, and not least how to travel around the area. With your own motorhome or caravan on the trailer hitch, you have answered several of these questions. Within this region, there are 104 campsites that are classified and inspected annually by ACSI Eurocamp. Many of these are located off the coast, but there are also many beautiful facilities in innlandet, where also outdoor swimming pool as a facility is more the rule than the exception.

"All roads lead to Rome" - is an old saying, and traveling by car to Tuscany from Norway have countless options - whether you choose to drive through Austria, Switzerland or France.

The options are many

Bargain flights and many airports in the region may make it attractive to either invest in renting homes in Italy, or do like us, stay at any of the many attractive accommodation options. The range is huge, from affordable apartments to classic vineyards where you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. What season you choose can mean a lot to the experience. Mid-summer is hot, the roads crowded by tourists and the demand for everything from campers to open tables on picturesque restaurants in the many small towns are great.

Although we chose to visit Tuscany in early October - middle of the grape harvest, with slightly lower temperatures and also slightly lower prices - towards the end of the season. Allowing for lodging in places with high quality at an affordable price.

World

This time we chose a combination of planes and ordinary car. Compared to those days we had available we decided to fly to Rome, drive north, out of the region of Lazio and in Tuscany with Siena as the first destination. This is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and has since 1995 been listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. A stroll through the many narrow and lovely streets, combined with a meal at the Piazza del Campo, the large space under the legendary tower, is a "must". Twice a year (2. July and 16. August) there is horse racing in the cobbled square. We can sense the sound of hooves against the rocks, where we enjoy our ham and pasta with parmesan.

medieval

The main objective of the trip is the small town of Greve de Chianti, located in the district of Florence. Now we are in the heart of Chianti Classico wine, 35 kilometers north of Siena and 30 kilometers south of the city of Florence. You may think that the town's name is given as a result of "wholes" or old "nobility", but the truth is much simpler: The city lies at the small river Greve. Everywhere we find vineyards, and we will be staying at one of the most legendary, Vigna Maggio. The oldest buildings are stone walls which have been dated back to the year 1100, and the traces of viticulture stretches almost as far back in time. The main building dates from the 14. century and surrounded by newer buildings that house wine production, comfortable overnight rooms, a great restaurant and a center for tasting and purchase of wine and olive oil.

Leonardo's footsteps

We are not the first "prominent" guests here ... History tells us that Leonardo da Vinci lived onsite and began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 or 1504. Historians believe it was Lisa del Gioconda, the wife of a wealthy silk trader from Florence who stood model. Because the image was first completed in France several years later, and the background of the image was performed in this stage, it is impossible to place determine exactly where Leonardo painted Lisa. The vineyard Vigna Maggio has made Mona Lisa give his name to a separate wine - among the 150 000 bottles of quality wine annually produced at Villa Vigna Maggio. Staying on site, you can go on a tour of the many wine cellars, learn about winemaking and visit the same elaborately landscaped gardens Leonardo stood with his easel and began work with the world's most famous paintings.

Food for all money

With Vigna Maggio as a starting point, we will visit two small towns - famous far beyond Italy's borders. The village of Lamole has sixty inhabitants, a shop, a handful of vineyards - and a restaurant, "Ristorno de Lamole". The location is beautiful, but that is hardly the reason why people travel XNUMX km from Florence to eat, and then drive XNUMX km back ... The beautiful sunset over the hills in the west is probably not what got the master chef Bent Stiansen from Statholdergaarden i Oslo to refer to the place as an oasis of delicious Tuscan food. We will only briefly state that the Norwegian master chef with his Michelin star was right in everything. Delicious food, great knowledge of wine and a romantic atmosphere you will be looking for a long time.

Passion for their craft

How is it possible that a butcher's shop in a small Italian village can become world famous? Good food and good drink is a passion for many, but for Dario Cecchini is also rich family traditions. He referred to simply as "the butcher in Panzano" but is infinitely more. He is the chef, television celebrity with Jamie Oliver and author of cookbooks. In 2006 he opened a restaurant adjacent to the butcher shop, and this has become one of the area's major tourist attractions. The name "Ristorante Solociccia" means "just meat" - and that the amounts you can hardly imagine.

My first encounter with this culinary institution was marked by amazement. Inside the small butcher shop swarming with people. We were served wine by small glass, and over all it was tasting. Meat in different variations, local sausages and traditional bread. Could we have better?

Meat, like you've never tasted it

Well, then. This was just warming. The backyard was covered up several long tables and we quickly understood why it was a "must" to book in advance. The tables were quickly filled up, wine was poured from the traditional bastkledde Chianti bottles, and we were shown and explained about the various pieces of meat from a bull. Meat of all sorts were grilled, served and consumed to accordion music and an increasingly higher volume around the tables. Never have I eaten so much meat, of such high quality as this.

The butcher in Panzano is a legend and will you ever to this area, this is an experience not to be missed. Just remember to order to advance, this is popular all year round!

Ost in dark cellars

In the center of Greve de Chianti thrones not only the region's quality mark "rooster," but also a statue of Giovanni de Verrazzano. This seafarer was born in Greve in 1485, moved to Dieppe in France about 1506, and discovered that the first European New York harbor in 1524 or 1525. But most of all, Count de Chianti a monument class food and drink. Where else do you find cellars bursting with matured cheese, butcher shops where you can sample everything from sausages to spices - with a glass of wine - if you want? Cheese with truffles, sausages of wild boar and otherwise produce that may have an amateur chef from Norway to get water in your mouth ...

But we also encounter signs with the word "Enoteca". These are places where all the wines from around the area (and some other regions in Italy) is collected. Look at the bottles, taste, or buy what you want. A dream for a vinentusiast but oh so difficult to get in some of these bottles to Norway ...

The leaning tower of Pisa

One of the first things I learned about Italy must have been about "the leaning tower" in Pisa. An unreal story of a little schoolboy, and equally amazing when standing in front of the White Tower. Will there ever to fall over? The tower, which is a freestanding bell tower of the cathedral, began to be skewed already short time that work began in 1173. Five years later it was built three floors, but the tower was so skewed that the work was stopped. However, it was resumed 100 years later, but when it was taken into account imbalance during the future work, and it was attempted to compensate for this. Italian authorities began in 1964 to be seriously worried that it could topple, and an expert group was appointed to find solutions. It ended with the tower was closed to the public in 1990 and anchored again. It was reopened in 2001, and experts assume that the tower is now secured against tilting the nearest 300 years ...

Tuscany - a journey worth

Pisa is of course much more Italians than the city with "Leaning Tower". There is a significant port city, has a recognized university and is also the birthplace of the philosopher, atronomen and physicist Galileo Galilei. The local airport bears his name, and it is from this we will return to Norway. It can sometimes be difficult to find the right path when you choose to run on smaller country roads of Tuscany, and the running time is often longer than the distance would suggest. One way car rental from the airport to another goes smoothly, but should be ordered to advance so that the cost becomes evident. The machines on the Italian petrol stations do not take international cards, giving a challenge outside opening hours, or when refueling your car at the airport before filing. You have got to have small euro banknotes at hand ...

A travel in Tuscany provides a taste of "the good life" and it is not difficult to understand those who have lost their hearts to this scenic, friendly and eventful region.

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