Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

From the grape-laden vines of Chianti to the thick olive groves blanketing the hills of Trevi, Italy’s Tuscany and Umbria regions are ripe for discovery. Wander through fields of wildflowers to explore an abandoned abbey. Stand atop the walls of an ancient city, and gaze upon the marble churches and tree-lined piazzas below. Travel along the narrow lanes of small towns, marvel at medieval hilltop fortresses, and stroll between proud stands of elegant cypress trees. Immerse yourself in this rustic, romantic part of Italy, and enjoy a rich legacy of art, proud traditions in food and wine, and a local way of life as timeless as the rolling vineyards warming under the Tuscan sun.

Lucca Trevi Expand All
  • hidden

    You depart the U.S. for Florence. The details of your arrival overseas will be included with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

  • hidden

    After an overnight flight, arrive at the airport in Florence, where an OAT representative will greet you. Then transfer to Lucca, where we’ll check into our hotel. Enjoy some time to unwind before a brief orientation session and a Welcome Drink. You'll also meet those who traveled on our optional Bologna & Parma extension. This evening, we’ll learn some key Italian phrases during a language lesson and then get a chance to practice our new skills over dinner at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    After breakfast at our hotel, we explore Lucca on a walking tour. Remarkably well-preserved, Lucca's narrow streets look much like they did when the ancient Romans established the town in about 180 BC. And the thick walls that encircled Lucca during the Renaissance era stand strong today. Completely intact, they once hosted car races and now serve as a pedestrian walkway. Lucca’s charming center is enclosed by these walls, and red brick ramparts from the 15th and 16th centuries preside over the streets. As we explore, we’ll find quiet, tree-lined squares and ancient churches with ornate facades of green, gray, and white marble. Next, our stroll takes us to the Duomo di San Martino, or St. Martin’s Cathedral, which was originally built in AD 1063. We’ll step inside for a look at the church’s ancient tombs and religious artwork and then continue up onto the city walls for a unique perspective of the city.

    After our tour, lunch is on your own before an afternoon at leisure in Lucca. Perhaps you’ll visit Ducal Palace, view the remains of the ancient Roman baths and amphitheater, or relax and people-watch in one of the town’s lovely piazzas. You might also consider renting a bicycle at one of the city's many stalls for a ride along Lucca's city walls and through the old town.

    Dinner is also on your own this evening, and your Trip Leader will be happy to recommend restaurants in the area.

  • hidden

    This morning, we’ll experience the local means of transportation as we head out by local train to Florence. Along the way, we'll take in the views of rustic farmhouses set in the Tuscan countryside. Our destination is Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance. We’ll discover this legacy as we explore Florence’s historic city center—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—on an included walking tour. We’ll begin with some of the city’s lesser known gems, including the Church of San Miniato al Monte, a breathtaking basilica that tops one of the highest points in the city. Admire the ornate Romanesque façade and the view of the city below before heading down toward the San Niccolo quarter, where we can experience a more intimate aspect of Florence—away from the throngs of tourists. We view the small church of Santa Felicita, whose facade includes a balcony where the Medici family could follow the mass without mixing with the populace. This was part of the famous Vasari Corridor, a private passageway built by Cosimo Medici so the family could pass from their home in Palazzo Pitti to the government palace.

    After lunch on your own, take some time to explore Florence at your leisure, perhaps beginning by crossing over the famous Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) as it spans the Arno River at its narrowest point.

    This evening, we’ll return to Lucca, where you’ll enjoy dinner on your own.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, we’ll set off for Tuscany's Chianti region. Renowned for its eponymous wine, Chianti also offers spectacular scenic vistas. The region’s rolling hills are dotted with olive groves and vineyards, as well as small villages of stone homes and quaint churches. One such village we'll explore is Montefioralle, a medieval hamlet with narrow winding roads leading up to a commanding castle. Montefioralle is said to have been the home of famed navigator Amerigo Vespucci, whose name was given to the continent of America. We’ll also discover nearby Greve in Chianti, the principal town of the Chianti wine district. Home to a Franciscan monastery, terracotta-roofed homes, and a triangular main piazza with a centuries-old market, Greve in Chianti is the birthplace of explorer Giovanni di Verazzano, who discovered our own Hudson River delta.

    Leaving these charming towns behind, we’ll get back to nature when we go for a hike in the area. As we make our way past cypress groves and fig trees, we’ll learn more about Chianti’s rich history, and how this region grew into the wealthy wine producer it is today.

    We’ll enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant before continuing to our hotel. After checking in, we’ll gather for a Tuscan cooking class, where we'll learn how to make some of the region’s specialties—perhaps sampling some Chianti wine in the process. We'll get to sample the delicious results of our efforts, a fitting appetizer for our included dinner at our hotel's restaurant.

  • hidden

    Our full day of discoveries begins with an excursion to San Galgano, where a small round chapel sits atop a verdant hill. We’ll go inside the chapel of Montesiepi to see a famous sword preserved within. With only the hilt and a small portion of the blade exposed, the sword was clearly thrust into the rock from which it protrudes, thus bringing into question whether the “sword in the stone” myth has Celtic roots after all. Leaving the chapel, we’ll walk down the hillside and through Tuscan fields to find the Abbey of San Galgano. Now in ruins, the 13th-century Cistercian monastery lost its roof over the years, but the “ceiling” of sky arguably makes the structure more striking. Sunlight streams through arched windows, and many of the architectural elements remain intact; we’ll marvel at beautiful columns and intricately carved decorations as we wander.

    After our discoveries at San Galgano, we’ll continue to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Then, then visit Colle di Val d'Elsa, a medieval town situated high above the Elsa River valley that has been producing crystal glassware for centuries. Our visit includes a stop at a crystal-blowing workshop to see how teams of artisans gracefully transform glowing strands of crystal into beautiful works of art. This small town produces 90% of Italy's fine crystal—and 15% of the crystal produced in the entire world.

    We’ll return to our hotel for dinner together this evening.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, we begin our day with a hike through the Chianti countryside. Setting out from the small hamlet of Lecchi, we’ll make our way through the rugged hills and rolling vineyards that Tuscany is famous for. After a two-and-a-half-mile hike, we’ll reach a local winery, and our efforts will be rewarded with a relaxing Chianti tasting. By this time, we’ve been in this world-renowned wine region long enough to have tasted a few of the local varietals, but we’ll get a chance to learn much more about wine-making traditions during our visit.

    Following our tasting, we’ll continue to a nearby town to join a Tuscan family for lunch in their home. This visit allows us to enjoy a traditional meal while learning about everyday life in the Chianti region. Then we head to Monteriggioni, a medieval walled town mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. Monteriggioni’s main piazza is lined with Tuscan-style homes and a simple Romanesque church. From here, we embark on another hike to Abbadia Isola (about two miles downhill), to explore an 11th-century Benedictine abbey located at the foot of a Tuscan mountain.

    After all our discoveries, we’ll be ready for a hearty Italian meal, which we'll enjoy this evening together at our hotel.

  • hidden

    Today’s transfer to Pienza begins with a short ride into Siena. A small city built along three distinct ridge-lines that meet to form a "Y," Siena is as elegant as it is ancient. Narrow, medieval passageways open suddenly to sweeping views of the city and surrounding countryside. A walking tour will be like stepping back in time to discover the palazzos, piazzas, and churches scattered throughout Siena's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Siena’s streets are paved with cobblestones, and the city is built over five hills, making for a challenging—yet rewarding—stroll. We’ll also enjoy an informative talk on Siena’s unique districting system. Siena’s seventeen districts, or contrade, were originally divided by the city’s buildings and their owners at the time, rather than by roads or other geographical markers. Each is named after an animal or symbol, and we’ll gather in one of these districts for our discussion. Then we’ll break for an included lunch in Siena before enjoying some time to explore independently.

    Late this afternoon, we drive to Pienza. Formerly a small village named Corsignano, Pienza is the birthplace of the man who would become Pope Pius II. Once elevated to his position, this native son declared that Corsignano should be rebuilt using the Renaissance urban planning model of a central piazza anchored with important buildings and the rest of the city radiating from this heart. You’ll see his handiwork in the city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, during an orientation walk upon our arrival.

    This evening, we’ll enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    Begin the day extra early with a memorable Optional Hot Air Ballooning excursion. Watch the early rays of sunlight steal across the beautiful landscape from this unique vantage point on Tuscany. From your wicker basket high over the forests, vineyards, and centuries-old towns, enjoy sweeping vistas and toast the view with a glass of champagne, while nibbling on pastries from a local bakery.

    Then, join the rest of the group for an included full-day excursion that begins in Val D’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape. Known for its rising and falling contours, with broad plains punctuated by dramatic hills, and its beautiful array of farmhouses, shrines, and Renaissance villages, the Val d’Orcia has for years been the muse for countless artists and photographers. We’ll hike from Pienza toward Monticchiello, a hillside medieval village, meeting our bus en route. Then, we'll enjoy a discovery walk in Montepulciano, where we savor a light lunch and a tasting of Nobile di Montepulciano. This red wine is one of Tuscany’s most famous and highly esteemed, even making a cameo mention in Voltaire’s Candide. Its flavor comes from a minimum two-year aging process, at least a year of which takes place in oak barrels.  We round out our explorations with a walk down to the domed Sanctuary of San Biago, designed in the 15th century, on the same architectural plan that would later be used to build St. Peter’s Basilica. We return to Pienza mid-afternoon.

    After time at leisure, we regroup for a discussion of Tuscany's role in World War II, including the Tuscan resistance and two of its most inspiring stories: the Monuments Men, who tracked down Nazi-looted art from Italian museums; and the famous cyclist Gino Bartali, who smuggled documents to the resistance and harbored a Jewish family.

    Dinner this evening is included at a local restaurant

  • hidden

    After breakfast at our hotel, we embark on a full-day excursion into the southern parts of Tuscany. We begin with a stop at the small town of Sovana, established in the Middle Ages, for a view of the volcanic tufa rock gorges formed by a pair of local rivers. Then, we walk through the woods to witness the ancient Etruscan site of Sorano, a hamlet where the homes are unevenly set into the rugged tufa itself, and connected by steps and pathways that make it possible to navigate the seemingly jumbled village.

    After lunch on your own, we walk along an ancient Etruscan pathway to Pitigliano (Little Jerusalem). Jews began settling in Pitigliano in the 15th century, and the population increased when Jews sought refuge here after being expelled from the Papal State in Rome during the counter-reformation persecutions. The town boasted a matzoh bakery in a cave and a thriving synagogue. During World War II, all the town’s Jews escaped the Nazis with the aid of their mostly Catholic neighbors, a rare feat in that era. Today, we visit the ruins of the old Jewish ghetto that was at the heart of that community.

    We return to Pienza late this afternoon in time for dinner on your own this evening.

  • hidden

    We bid farewell to Tuscany and turn our eyes toward Umbria this morning. Considered “the green heart of Italy,” Umbria is rich with agriculture, olive oil making, and verdant forests. We arrive in the fishing village of San Feliciano around mid-morning to board our private boat on Lake Trasimeno, one of the biggest lakes in Italy at 50 square miles. Our small boat will bring us around scenic Isola Polvese, with its plains and green hills, and we’ll go ashore for a picnic lunch on the uninhabited island. (Please note: Departures in Sep-Nov will visit the village of Bevagna instead.)

    This afternoon, we travel overland to Trevi. Spilling down Monte Serrano, the medieval lanes of Trevi are rife with history, with architecture spanning Gothic to Renaissance to Baroque. Our orientation walk in Trevi is followed by an olive-oil tasting at a local press. The olive oil made here is considered among the best in Italy, thanks to the region's ideal soil, perfect altitude for the olive trees, and protection from the elements by the west-facing slopes upon which the groves are planted.

    Dinner is at our hotel this evening.

  • hidden

    After breakfast this morning, we focus on the inner life of the region’s people as we enjoy a half-day Spiritual Umbria excursion. We begin with a drive to Eremo delle Carceri, the retreat setting which was once home to Saint Francis of Assisi and his followers, establishing a legacy of humility and compassion in the face of poverty. After a half-hour walk in the woods, we continue down to Assisi and visit the 13th-century Basilica, erected on the former “Hill of Hell” in his memory. 

    We return to Trevi in time for an afternoon and evening at leisure, and dinner on your own. Or, join us for an Optional Umbria by Vespa tour (weather permitting) including aperitivo drinks in a local establishment. The sleek motorized cycles now so identified with Italy were invented here and named after the Italian word for wasp (though the first model’s classic yellow color also earned the nickname “The Duck”). You’ll tool about in the rolling landscapes at a leisurely pace and enjoy an outing that includes traditional local fare. Please note: You must have a valid driver's license to participate in this Optional Tour.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, we drive to Norcia, the birthplace of Saint Benedict. Situated in a valley and encircled by mountains, Norcia is rare among towns in Umbria in that it lies on a flat, open plain. With its fresh air, Norcia became a way station for hikers and also developed into a hub for wild game hunters. It is renowned throughout Italy for the quality of its cured meats and charcuterie—especially for the wild boar that is locally caught and prepared. After a walking tour of Norcia, we’ll continue on to the nearby hilltop village of Castelluccio, arriving in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Sitting at 4,700 feet above sea level, Castelluccio is one of the highest villages in the Apennines, and is noted for its mountain air and splendid views of the surrounding plateau. The sloping hills of the Castelluccio plain also produce lentils that are prized throughout Italy—and beyond. Soft in texture, yet not easily disintegrating in cooking, these pale speckled gems are highly sought-after by cooks. Our included lunch may feature a traditional preparation like lentils in broth or lentils with sausage.

    Our return to Trevi this afternoon features a scenic drive through the dense forests of the Sibillini Mountains, along with a stop in Visso, a picturesque medieval village nestled in a mountain valley. Then, dinner is on your own tonight, an excellent opportunity to take advantage of what was once called cucina povera (peasant cooking) but is now highly valued for its simplicity and emphasis on local ingredients. Often employing little more than locally-grown herbs and olive oil, the region's traditional dishes of roasted vegetables and cured meats pack flavor into each bite.

  • hidden

    We bid farewell to Umbria today and begin our overland transfer to the Roman countryside after breakfast. En route, we pause in Civita di Bagnoregio, the 2,500-year-old hamlet that was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure. Perched on volcanic tufa above the Tiber River, it became a “dying city” as the population (now numbering about a dozen year-round) dwindled in the aftermath of erosion and earthquakes. We walk to its abandoned castello, taking in the heavy-stone outlines of a building perhaps millennia old. Then, we enjoy lunch together in the walled city of Tuscania, a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement.

    We arrive in Borgo di Tragliata, where the remnants of a medieval hamlet outside of Rome have been restored and transformed into a traditional agriturismo lodging. Tonight, we raise our glasses here to salute our memories of Italy during a Farewell Dinner.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast at the hotel, we transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, begin your Rome, Italy extension.


Traveler Reviews

There's no better way to learn what a trip is like than from the firsthand experiences of your fellow travelers, and our Traveler Reviews are the real deal—unbiased and unedited—giving you an honest appraisal of the experiences that await you on this trip.

Have you been on this trip? Share Your Thoughts, Sign In

Please note: If you have taken this trip, please log into your My Account & return to this page. You will be prompted to post your review. Reviews are limited to 10,000 characters. Due to our moderation process, please allow up to 72 hours for your review to appear.

loading reviews

Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect


  • 5 locations in 14 days with one 1-night stay

Physical Requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • You must be able to walk 3-5 miles unassisted and participate in 6-8 hours of physical activities each day
  • Agility and balance are required for embarking small boat


  • Daytime temperatures range from 35-95°F
  • Tuscany and Umbria share a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and warm, rainy winters, with occasional snowfall
  • Strong winds occur in March and October-December


  • Travel and hike on some rugged paths, rolling hills, and many cobblestoned streets on foot, as well as over bumpy, narrow rural roads by bus


  • Travel by 19-passenger coach and 50-passenger boat
  • Eight 4-hour drives

Accommodations & Facilities

  • Hotel rooms are smaller than in U.S.; a 1-night agriturismo stay features basic amenities
  • All accommodations feature private baths

Travel Documents


Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.


U.S. citizens do not need a visa for this trip.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then you may need a visa. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips


Main Trip

  • Hotel San Luca Palace

    Lucca, Italy

    The Hotel San Luca Palace is located just a short walk from the Museo e Pinacoteca Nazionale and Casa di Puccini. Each of its 26 air-conditioned rooms includes satellite TV, minibar, safe, and private bath with hair dryer. Guests can also enjoy an Italian coffee at the on-site café, a snack at the deli, and a drink in the lounge.

  • Villa Godenano

    Chianti region, Italy

    A country estate set among charming gardens, the Villa Godenano provides guests with a range of amenities including a swimming pool, tennis court, and panoramic views of the Chianti region's surrounding landscape. Twelve rooms are divided between the Farm House, Green House, and Main Villa, each with air-conditioning, satellite TV, minibar, and private bath. The hotel’s restaurant features delicious Tuscan cuisine and an impressive wine list.

  • Piccolo Hotel La Valle

    Pienza, Italy

    Just steps away from downtown Pienza, the Piccolo Hotel La Valle is ideally located for exploring the Tuscan countryside. Each of the 15 rooms at this intimate property boasts a minibar, flat-screen TV, desk, as well as a private bath with hairdryer. Enjoy a stroll in the manicured garden, and savor an alfresco meal while looking out over the rolling Tuscan hills.

  • Hotel Antica Dimora

    Trevi, Italy

    The Antica Damora is located close to many of Trevi’s most popular sights, including Paolo Bea and Abbey of Sassovivo. Hotel amenities include a small outdoor pool, library, and cocktail lounge. There are 32 air-conditioned rooms, each with satellite TV, espresso maker, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Borgo di Tragliata

    outside Rome, Italy

    The Borgo di Tragliata is an agriturismo situated is the idyllic countryside outside of Rome. Amenities include an outdoor pool, massage treatment rooms, a bar and lounge, and a library. The 47 rooms each include TV and private bath with hair dryer.


  • Hotel Porta San Mamolo

    Bologna, Europe

    The Hotel Porta San Mamolo is located in Bologna’s historical center, close to the Basilica of San Domenico and the Archaeological Museum. Hotel amenities include a coffee shop/café, and bar/lounge. There are 28 rooms, each with air-conditioning, minibar, safe, complimentary wireless Internet, satellite TV, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Kolbe Hotel Rome

    Rome, Italy

    Originally built as a convent in the 15th century, the Kolbe Hotel Rome is situated in the heart of Rome, near the Trastevere quarter, just steps away from the Roman Forum, and a short distance from the Coliseum. There is a restaurant, bar, and lounge at the hotel, along with 72 air-conditioned rooms, each with minibar, satellite TV, and private bath with hair dryer.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two adventures to maximize your value. Here are more ways to create the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

  • Extend your adventure and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip extensions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your adventure
  • Choose to “break away” before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent traveler miles

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2895
w/ standard air $3995
Gateway Travel Time*
Boston, New York (JFK) 11hrs
Chicago, Detroit, Newark, Philadelphia 12hrs
Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Washington, DC (Dulles) 13hrs
Baltimore, Denver, Seattle 14hrs
Los Angeles, San Francisco 15hrs
Orlando 16hrs
Phoenix 17hrs

* Estimated total time, including connection and layover. Actual travel time may vary.

The information above reflects approximate flight times from the gateway cities listed to Florence, Italy. Routing is based on availability and subject to change. You will receive your final air itinerary approximately 14 days prior to departure.

Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine

Simply sensational food in the Italian heartland

by Catherine Groux, Overseas Adventure Travel associate

Creating dishes infused with the flavors of olive oil, wine, and truffles, locals have mastered the art of turning simple ingredients into bold meals.

Italian cuisine is adored around the world. From the bustling markets of Seoul to the sloped streets of San Francisco, gluttonous gourmands are never far from the flavors of Italy, whether they crave a hot bowl of fettuccine Alfredo or a cold scoop of gelato. But although we tend to view Italian cuisine as a singular, mouthwatering masterpiece, it is better defined as a mosaic, with each region in Italy adding its own unique tile to the complete culinary creation.

Each region has its own specialties, its own go-to ingredients, and its own style of cooking—and Tuscany and Umbria are no exception. Relying on the robust flavors of fresh olive oil, truffles (knotty, pungent mushrooms), and wine, these regions are renowned for creating simple, yet savory dishes.

From the finest ingredients …

Tuscany and Umbria produce some of the highest-quality wines, olive oils, and truffles in Italy—and arguably the world—so it’s no wonder the regions’ cuisine relies on the rich simplicity of these ingredients. Creating dishes infused with the flavors of olive oil, wine, and truffles, locals have mastered the art of turning simple ingredients into bold meals.

It probably comes as no surprise that locals are serious about their olive oil. These oils come in varying levels of acidity, with the highest-quality oils being the least acidic. The more olives are bruised before they are pressed, the more acidic their oils will be, which is why the best olive oils are still picked by hand. Olive oils fall into one of four categories, with the best being extra vergine (extra virgin), as it has an acidity level of 1 percent or less. For this reason, extra virgin olive oil is a staple in most local kitchens—using anything less would be un-Italian.

Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine is also adorned with another prized ingredient: truffles. As both black truffles and rare white truffles can be found in Tuscan and Umbrian forests, they work their way into countless culinary classics, particularly in the fall when they’re in season.  In Umbria, truffles are grated over risottos or sliced atop crostini (fried bread), while Tuscany adds truffles to its game and pastas.

But of course, even the best meal would be incomplete without the right wine. In Tuscany, dry wines with decisive bodies pair perfectly with the light and flavorful local cuisine. The region’s most popular wine, Chianti, is said to be suitable for any Tuscan meal, from pastas to poultry. But while any good local meal is served with wine, many Tuscan and Umbrian dishes also include wine as a core ingredient. An example of this is gallina ubriaca (“drunken chicken”), a popular Umbrian dish of chicken cooked in wine.

… To the last crumb

Featuring the flavors of some of the world’s best wines, olive oils, and truffles, Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine comes with a certain level of sophistication. (In fact, many locals say Tuscany invented French cuisine—the epitome of culinary pretension—when Catherine de’ Medici brought her array of chefs to France upon wedding the Duke of Orléans.) However, in reality, Tuscan and Umbrian cuisine hasn’t strayed far from its humble, rural roots.

Many dishes still rely on the simple, inexpensive ingredients—such as game, beans, and seasonal vegetables—that have been consumed by peasants in the Italian countryside for centuries. To this day, most traditional restaurants serve dishes like minestra di fagioli (bean soup), zucchini ripiene (zucchini stuffed with minced meat), coniglio arrosto (roasted rabbit), and pasta e ceci (chickpea pasta).

And of course, holding true to its humble roots also means that in Tuscany and Umbria, no scrap of food is wasted. This is particularly evident in their use of bread. Fresh bread is typically served on the side of every meal, but when that bread goes stale, it is certainly not thrown out. Stale bread can be used in dishes like panzanella (cold bread salad) and pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup), or even crushed to create delicious bread crumbs. As the old Italian saying goes, “A chi ha fame e buono ogni pane” (“All bread is good when you’re hungry”).

From their medieval hamlets to their grape-laden vineyards, Tuscany and Umbria are gastronomical gems. As they cling to the pastoral traditions of their ancestors and plunge onto the mainstream culinary scene with some of the world’s finest ingredients, these regions are proudly adding to the mosaic of magnificence that is Italian cuisine.