Posted: Sep 10 2020
by: Shanan Kurtz

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Lizzie & Kathryn's Guide to Tuscany

We took this trip in October of 2019 prior to Covid 19 pandemic, which has halted our travels. While we might not be able to board a plane, we are still finding inspiration in travel photography and daydreaming about the days when we can plan a foreign adventure again! Till then, we hope this post will transport you for a few moments, and we hope you'll return to it in the future should you be traveling to Italy!

Why We Went:

We found ourselves with 4 extra days post-Paris Fashion Week and figured we need to put our trans-Atlantic flight to work (with intra-Europe flights so reasonable and close, why not tack on a few days in Tuscany!?)

Where: Maremma, Tuscany...

Maremma is a coastal area in Western Italy making up the South-Western corner of Tuscany. In fact, it feels like the anti-Tuscany (read: so much fewer tourists!) and is the perfect mix of chic yet discreet. The region has rolling hills, grazing cattle, a new crop of vineyards, and ancient villages with a pristine coast full of cliffs and coves, pine groves, and the occasional glamorous beach town.

 

 

Where to Stay:

There are two distinct options in the region. If you prefer the beach, then head straight to Porto Ercole which blends rustic cool with well-heeled lodging, namely the famous Il Pelicano hotel. The second option is to stay inland where you can soak up the Tuscan sun amidst rolling hills and ancient towns.

We opted for inland given that we were visiting in early October when the beaches were closed and temperatures were around 60-70 degrees. It was still an amazing time to visit, we had long, blue sky days, clear and crisp weather for exploring, and enough sun to justify some coastal lunches.
 
We stayed at Locanda Rossa - a stylish, eco-friendly, foodie, villa that features acres of vineyards, 2 pools, a fabulous restaurant, and spacious, super-relaxing rooms.

Where to Eat:

Ristorante Dal Greco, in Porto Santo Stefano:

Best.Spaghetti.Vongole. Oh, and Tory Burch loves it.
 

Il Pelicano:

We went for lunch and the high price tag was worth the views, the service, and the feeling that you’re an Italian movie star for the day.
 

Il Frantoio:

This low key restaurant houses a cafe and bookshop on it’s lower level and serves fantastic food and wine upstairs. You feel like a local when you visit and it’s only 5 minutes drive from Locanda Rossa which was a plus!

 

 

 

What to Do:

Rent a car! We loved exploring the nearby medieval village of Capalbio, touring surrounding wineries, and drinking espressos Portside in Porto Ercole. The region feels unspoiled and peaceful and the vistas are Instagram-worthy at every twist and turn on the hilly roads.
 
Take a wine tour. We loved our afternoon visiting Tenuta Monteti. The relatively new (their first vintage was 2004) family-owned vineyard is intimate and inviting; our tour with Cristian - the resident oenologist -was informative and engaging and the tasting at the end was made even better by the fact that the wine was fantastic. (Good enough to purchase an extra checked bag for the trip home that we filled with Tenuta’s red wines!)

 

 

Walk up the Forte Stella in Porto Ercole. For an unbeatable view and some history along the way, drive - or walk - up to Forte Stella, a circa-1500, Spanish-built fortress in the shape of a star. The imposing structure is as equally impressive (it took over 100+ years to build) as the panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

 

 

Cultural Delight:

Check out Niki de Saint Phalle’s "Tarot Garden” - a trippy, “esoteric sculpture garden” featuring life-size interpretations of Tarot Cards made from stone, steel, ceramics, glass and mosaics of many other materials. The project spanned from the 1970’s until 2002 (at Niki’s passing) and is a fascinating - and colorful - juxtaposition to the bucolic hillside in which it resides.

 

 

Wacky Footnote:

If you know Kathryn and me, you know that as kids we were obsessed with hot springs. Every trip to the American west (we grew up on the east coast but both of our parents have a particular fondness for Colorado, Wyoming, and the rest of the west) we insisted on finding the closest (even if it was an hour out-of-the-way) hot springs (even if it was touristy and tacky). Well who knew Tuscany could offer the same: we couldn’t visit the region without a stop to Saturnia’s Thermal Springs. They were free to enter, crowded with Italian tourists, and felt like hot springs everywhere: touristy, tacky, and delightful, all at the same time.

 

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