Thinking about Italy means thinking about Tuscany. The sinuous rows of cypresses, medieval towns clinging fast to the summits of gentle hills, endless vistas of cultivated fields.
IS THE MOST ICONIC LANDSCAPE IN THE WORLD.
In June the grass undulating in the warm late-spring wind like acres of emerald silk and in summer the hills are burnished gold, pollen in the air casting the late-afternoon sun in an iridescent haze.
But in autumn and winter Tuscany undergoes an identity shift. The color palette shifts to bright green, cafes are filled with locals instead of turists, cypress trees creaked, ripe persimmons swayed soundlessly from bare branches and scattering of white flowers clung to a stone wall for warmth. Far below, a miniature Fiat truck made its way up the hillside, chugging along the empty, winding road. Rains have softened the sun-baked fields back into dark sable soil, the hills are bedazzled with hoarfrost and bowls of dense mist slowly rolling between them; the crisp air carries the bitter, alluring aroma of burning olive wood and the peals of bells from cathedrals miles away.
The traditions of this season are calibrated to shorter days, richer foods, bracing temperatures. The festivals are more obscure, and so perhaps more enchanting. The flavors of Tuscany taste better this time of year. Tuscan cuisine is winter fare: big red wines, lots of porcini mushrooms, black truffles, chestnuts, and hearty pastas with meat sauce. Is olio nuovo season, when the olives are milled and cold-pressed for premium oils; the finest mills in the area open their doors to take part in the olive harvest. And december is the peak truffle season one of Italy's most elusive ingredient, earthy and musky treasure.
During winter months Tuscany is infused with peace and quietude. The colours of the woods, the typical morning mist hiding the rising sun, everything adds great romanticism. The ancient hot springs used by the Etruscans and Romans are open, pools fed by volcanically heated water bubbling from the depths, steaming in the winter air. A hot bath on a blustery day in December is perfect.
Winter here is magical. It’s authentic and generous in a totally different way to summer.