27.7.11

Italy: Tuscany, Countryside with Beautiful Landscapes

Tuscany  is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres (8,900 sq mi) and a population of about 3.7 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.

Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. 


Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in the history of arts and science, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci, Luca Pacioli and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums (such as the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and the Chianciano Museum of Art). Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino).

Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic centre of Florence (1982), the historical centre of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical centre of San Gimignano (1990), the historical centre of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world (in 2007, the city became the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million arrivals).


Roughly triangular in shape and situated between the northern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the central Apennines, Tuscany has an area of approximately 22,993 square kilometres (8,878 sq mi). Surrounded and crossed by major mountain chains, and with few (but very fertile) plains, the region has a relief that is dominated by hilly country. Most of the work done here is farming.

Whereas mountains cover 25% of the total area — 5,770 square kilometres (2,230 sq mi), and plains a mere 8.4% of the total area, almost all coinciding with the valley of the River Arno, summing for 1,930 square kilometres (750 sq mi), — overall hills make up two-thirds (66.5%) of the region's total area, covering 15,292 square kilometres (5,904 sq mi).


The climate, which is fairly mild in the coastal areas, is harsher and rainy in the interior, with considerable fluctuations in temperature between winter and summer giving the region a soil building active freeze-thaw cycle in part accounting for the region once having served as a key breadbasket of ancient Rome.


Tuscany has an immense cultural and artistic heritage, expressed in the region's numerous churches, palaces, art galleries, museums, villages and piazzas. Much of these artifacts are found in the main cities, such as Florence and Siena, but also in smaller villages scattered around the region, such as San Gimignano. The UNESCO estimated that Tuscany has 10% of the World Cultural Heritage! 





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