Tuscany is one of the most prestigious wine-growing regions in the world. Tuscany vineyards borders the regions of Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche to the northeast, Umbria to the east and Lazio to the southeast.Among the best known and most important wines is the Chianti Classico, then the Brunello di Montalcino or the Vin Santo.
PUBLISHED JUNE 8, 2022 | BY GISELLA ISIDORI | 10 MINUTES READ
*This story appears on May-June 2021 Terre & Culture magazine issue, in the section Ameritalia.
Tuscany is a region of central Italy. Its capital, Florence, is home to some of the most famous works of Renaissance art and architecture in the world, such as Michelangelo's David, the works of Botticelli in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo.
The territory of the region is varied and includes the rugged Apennines, the splendid Tyrrhenian beaches, the wonderful small and large islands, the olive groves and vineyards of Chianti, as well as beautiful cities of art such as Siena, Lucca, Arezzo, Pisa, and many others all to visit for their architectural and environmental characteristics.
The Tuscan coast washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea is very diversified and characterized by many small and large islands, which roughly delimit its borders and which form the Tuscan archipelago (Elba, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio, Giannutri and Formiche di Grosseto), except the Gorgona and the Capraia, which are bathed by the Ligurian Sea. In 1996 the islands of the Tuscan archipelago became part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, thanks to which the seven major islands of the archipelago and the seabed with all the important fauna are safeguarded. It is currently the largest marine park in Europe.
History | In Tuscany, since 1000 BC, the great Etruscan civilization flourished, of which important archaeological remains remain in Volterra, Vetulonia, Murlo and Roselle.
The Etruscans were a population coming, in all probability, from Anatolia. Their evolved social and economic organization meant that they greatly influenced Rome from a political and custom point of view. At the peak of their development, in the fifth century BC, also thanks to the alliance with the Carthaginians, they were a hegemonic power in the Mediterranean and in Italy, even becoming king of Rome (the Tarquini lineage). In a short time the situation was reversed and they were subdued by the Romans between the 4th and 3rd centuries. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the Goth and Byzantine dominations, Tuscany was in Lombard hands (6th century AD) with the establishment of the Duchy of Tuscia, with its capital Lucca, which will last until the arrival of the Franks: Tuscany is thus, first, county, then Marca (IX century) and, finally, marquisate, under the powerful Attoni family. In the 11th century, free communes were formed in the major cities of Tuscia. On the death of Matilde di Canossa, Duchess of Tuscany, the region passes as a legacy to the church. The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, disputing the testament, initiates the clash between Guelphs and Ghibellines that will greatly influence the political life of Italy in those years; the popes thus had southern Tuscia (the current province of Viterbo) and the rest was divided between the powerful cities of Pisa, Arezzo, Florence, Siena, Lucca and Pistoia. The defeat of the maritime republic of Pisa in 1284 at the hands of the Genoese marks the eclipse of the hitherto hegemonic city, to the advantage of Florence, which will increase its regional power more and more under the brilliant direction of the Medici family. In 1407 only the republics of Florence, Lucca and Siena remained independent; the latter capitulated in 1555. In 1569 Cosimo obtained the title of Grand Duke.
The Medici will remain in power until the advent of the Lorraine, in the mid-eighteenth century. The only exception to unified Tuscany is Lucca which will remain an independent republic until 1799. The Grand Duchy, under the Lorraine, after a previous period of stagnation following the economic glories of the Renaissance, is experiencing a new lucky period under the banner of enlightened despotism. The Lorraines will give new impetus to the region through a serious policy of commercial, social and administrative reforms. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany first abolished the death penalty in 1786; Florence is an important center of the Italian Enlightenment.
With the arrival of Napoleon, Tuscany experiences a moment of crisis and political turmoil: it becomes the Kingdom of Etruria, then it is entrusted to the Bourbons of Parma, first, and to Napoleon's sister Elisa, later, until the restoration that sees the region pass into the hands of Ferdinand III of Habsburg.The region, seat of the important literary circle of the Vieusseux cabinet, was inflamed by the Risorgimento uprisings in 1848 that put Grand Duke Leopold II to flight. Lorraine will return shortly after, but the new Risorgimento project, aimed at unification at the hands of the House of Savoy, will lead to new insurrections and to a provisional government that will have the annexation to Piedmont in 1860 vote by plebiscite. it is witnessing a strong agricultural, industrial, commercial and service development.
Florence has maintained many ancient traditions, both in the culinary and historical fields. Tourists can still taste a glass of Chianti in the typical wine shops or in the ancient "little wine hole" (one recently reopened in via Santo Spirito but present in many of the noble palaces of Florence), bringing back a custom all Florentine dating back to the sixteenth century: around the city there are still 170 wine holes, 145 of which in the historic center.
The Tuscany region offers a very diversified tourism, beautiful cities of art, smiling beaches, beautiful green hills where vineyards and olive groves make the landscape unique and special such as Chianti, Val di Chiana, Maremma and the beautiful Crete Senesi.
The first to discover the beauties of this region were the Americans, thanks also to the intense tourism promotion carried out in New York, where for over 50 years the Tuscany region has had a representative office on elegant Madison Avenue, to promote its tourism in the USA.
The Argentario area is wonderful, where Ansedonia is located, an ancient village located on a hill overlooking the sea that reaches 114 meters, at the point where the Feniglia tombolo joins the Maremma coast.
Cala del Gesso, one of the most beautiful faces of the Argentario
Cala del Gesso, one of the most beautiful faces of the Argentario
Ansedonia does not have the features of the characteristic Maremma town with the square, the historic center, the folkloristic events, etc., because the houses are mostly villas half-hidden in the Mediterranean vegetation (which is very luxuriant here) or splendid condominiums. These constructions are relatively recent, before the 1950s on the Ansedonia promontory there were only the ruins of the ancient city of Cosa, the towers of San Pancrazio, San Biagio and the Puccini tower. Today the villas are owned by well-known personalities who have carved out their summer "buen retiro" here.
Ansedonia is a very quiet place, the narrow streets that cross the promontory open into the green of the vegetation and even in summer, when it is more populated, the loudest noises are the songs of cicadas!
The Maremma natural park is a protected natural area and was the first park in Tuscany, established in June 1975. It is one of the most interesting destinations in the Grosseto province. Inside there are some of the most beautiful and intact coastal areas of the Maremma coast. In 1992 he was awarded the European Diploma of protected areas.
Tuscan cuisine | Tuscan cuisine is mainly made up of traditional recipes that have kept their preparation unchanged for many years. The first characteristic product that has no equal or similar in Italy is Tuscan bread, characterized by the lack of salt. It seems that the custom dates back to the 12th century when, at the height of the rivalry between Pisa and Florence, the Pisans blocked the trade of the precious sodium chloride. In Tuscany, the sacredness of bread, that is the importance of not throwing it away but of using it even when it is stale, is testified by a long series of ancient recipes that are still very widespread: panzanella, panata, ribollita, acquacotta, pappa al pomodoro, fettunta, vegetable soup, farinata. Another characteristic of the Tuscan culinary tradition par excellence is the use of white meats and game. The farmyard products, where chickens, turkeys, geese, guinea fowl and pigeons graze freely, together with rabbits and game such as hare and wild boar, pheasant and porcupine, have always been the menu for great parties . Pork is widely used, just think of the famous Tuscan salami, prosciutto preserved in salt, sausages and particular products such as buristo, also the result of the ingenuity of the poor people. Among the cheeses, the tradition focuses on Tuscan pecorino, very famous is also that of Pienza and Maremma, while we find ricotta and raveggiolo among the fresh cheeses. Very special are the desserts, where the famous Sienese sweets stand out such as panforte, the duke's soup, the cecco cake, and many other recipes, such as the grandmother's cake, the delicious semifreddo called zuccotto and the famous cantuccini, always accompanied by a small glass of Vinsanto, of which we attach the traditional recipe.
Ingredients x 40 pieces: 280 grams of flour '00; 150 grams of granulated sugar; 130 gr of almonds with the skin; 2 eggs; grated peel of 1 orange; grated zest of 1 lemon; vanilla; 1 teaspoon of ammonia for cakes (alternatively 1 teaspoon of baking powder), 1 pinch of salt
Procedure: First of all, mix together with a fork the eggs, sugar, grated citrus peel, salt and vanilla. Then add the flour and the ammonia for cakes. Knead a few seconds until you get a homogeneous mixture. If it sticks to your fingers, sprinkle a little flour.
Add the almonds with all their skin
Knead well, divide the dough in half and with the help of a little flour make 2 loaves about 3 cm wide. Important, to have perfectly shaped nooks, do not flatten the loaf, but place it in a pan lined with parchment paper, nice round. Bake at 180 ° in the middle of the oven for about 15 - 18 minutes so that the loaves swell. Slice the cantuccini with a blade to a thickness of about 1.5-2 cm. Turn them over and cook in the oven for 4 minutes on one side and 4 minutes on the other. Remove from the oven and let it cool! As soon as they come out of the oven they will seem hard, instead let them pass a few hours and you will see the bite they will be fragrant and soft, ready to serve with excellent Vin Santo. You can keep them at room temperature in a tin box or food-grade plastic bag for about 2 months!