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The postcards don’t do it justice. The contrast between the sharp, rugged mountain ridges on the horizon and the soft, sumptuous valleys filled with sunflower yellow, olive green and the ubiquitous cypress trees is truly breathtaking.

Away from the tourists, you can the essence of Tuscany – just you, rolling fields, mountains and the odd masterpiece or two.

Tuscan Gems

Tuscany Countryside

tuscanyTuscany hills and viaduct

For my first visit to Tuscany, I was expecting to be dazzled by the beautifully traditional landscape, historically fascinating cities and needless to say the incredible food and wine; of course I enjoyed all the amazing characteristics of this century-old region, yet there was something more to the wonderful Tuscan way of life that I was not expecting. 

Visiting Garfagnana

My week was spent in the unknown area of Tuscany called Garfagnana, which means ‘enchanted woods’, where I joined Walking in Tuscany, hiking through both the Alpi Apuane and Apennine mountain ranges. The Garfagnana is located in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this means that ‘the area promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use’.

Braccicorti Farmhouse

The Essence of TuscanyBraccicorti farmhouse

Based at Braccicorti, a family-run farmhouse and agriturismo, the food served is either grown on the property or produced locally. They even have their own beehives producing both chestnut and acacia honey, and their own vineyards producing a light red wine that was served with the evening meal.

Besides the fresh produce in Tuscany, I enjoyed the incredible views across this mountainous area whilst relaxing beside a large swimming pool – there is certainly something magical about the Garfagnana.

Italy Tuscany landscapeTuscany countryside

When we weren’t hiking along the mountain ridges or through the beautiful beech forests, we were exploring unique sun-baked villages. On my free day, I was able to soak up the romantic atmosphere strolling through the walled city of Lucca with its remarkable architecture and its many renowned churches.

Although most of my time in the Garfagnana was spent admiring the beauty of the area from high in the Tuscan mountains, this only strengthened my desire to discover more of the surrounding region.

See more enthralling adventures below and discover the essence of Tuscany for yourself.