The name Tuscany means “land of the Etruscans“. These were the ancient peoples who controlled a large part of the Italian peninsula prior to the rise of the Romans. They were great builders and engineers. Many of their temples and roads and burial chambers can still be seen today. They drained swamps, had indoor plumbing and painted frescos. Etruscan women were allowed to own property and drive chariots.
The obvious reason the ancient Etruscans and their successors constructed their towns on hilltops was for defense. Another reason was to avoid lowland swamps and malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The location of the Tuscan hill towns has not changed so be prepared for winding roads and wonderful vistas.
Our early afternoon transfer is from Florence airport where you’ll be met by your tour manager. Heading south into the heart of Tuscany our first stop is the 13th century walled fortress of Monteriggioni; the ancient hamlet within still retains its original appearance and counts just 42 inhabitants.
Then we transfer to one of the most charming towns in Italy, Pienza, the Renaissance “ideal city”. Constructed in the latter part of the 15th century at the behest of native son Pope Pius II Pienza overlooks the rolling cypress-lined hills of the stunning Orcia Valley. Our lodging is Hotel Corsignano (3 nights) located just outside the town walls. Introduction to the delicious local cuisine at our welcome dinner.