Tuscany

Continued (page 5 of 5)

FLORENCE

Here's one must-see in the great Renaissance city your Baedeker guidebook may have missed. Mercato Centrale, a 19th-century covered market on the Via del Ariento, is a window on the everyday life of Firenze; also a good source for those epicurean products you need to take home to prolong the memories. It's open every morning except Sunday.

A CHIANTI DRIVE

If you stick to Via Chiantigiana (S222), with a detour from Castellina in Chianti to explore Radda in Chianti, you can tour the Chianti Classico–producing area in one easy loop. Two cantina—wineries offering tastings—on that route are: Podere Terreno alla Via della Volpaia, Località Volpaia, Radda in Chianti (577-738312, podereterreno.it) and Castello di Querceto, Via Francois 2, Località Dudda, Greve in Chianti (055-85921, www.castellodiquerceto.it). Call ahead for opening times.

PARADISE, PURGATORY AND HELL
Grotta Giusti Spa, Via Grotta Giusti 1411, Monsummano Terme
Tel: 057-290-771
grottagiustispa.com

Like no spa you've ever seen, this swanky version of a typically Tuscan hot-spring spa is fortunate to have the prehistoric underground cave system discovered in 1849 to itself—including Paradise, Purgatory and Hell—at a constant 93 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Imagine hanging out together in robes among the stalactites or on the shores of Limbo, the boiling hot mineral lake. You can also get pampering treatments, swim in the (above-ground) pools and eat healthy food at the new (2005) chic stainless-steel Bioquam Café.

BASILICA DI SAN FRANCESCO
Piazza San Francesco, Arezzo
Tel: 575-352727
pierodellafrancesca.it

The large Gothic church is worth a visit for the series of frescoes Pierro della Francesca painted on the walls of the apse between 1452 and 1466. Illustrating the "Legend of the True Cross," they are among the best examples of Renaissance painting in Tuscany; even better since their recent restoration. You must make a reservation to view.

THE MAREMMA
Parco Naturale della Maremma
Tel: 056-440-7098
www.parco-maremma.it

This large chunk of southern Tuscany includes beaches, the promontory Monte Argentario and a 25,000-acre geologically distinct territory that is a car-free national park protected by the World Wildlife Federation. Here are perfect beaches, pine forests and hilltop woodland you can access by foot (and jitney service) or horseback—just like the Butteri, the local cowboys who corral the Maremma oxen, brand the cattle once a year and track the indigenous wild boar.

SURFING LESSONS
Stabilimento Bagno America
Tel: 340-411-1589
www.tsunami-surf-school.com

Huh? No, really, why not? Nobody will believe you learned to surf on your Tuscan honeymoon, but the gentle swell off the orderly white beaches of jet-set resort town Forte dei Marmi makes for perfect beginner waters.

ALTA MODA OUTLET SHOPPING

Designer Italian labels off-load past collections—men's and women's—at Tuscan outlets, mostly around Florence. The best-known outlet is Prada (I Pellettieri d'Italia, Località Levanella 68, Montevarchi, Arezzo, 055-91901), but also try Dolce & Gabbana (Località Santa Maria Maddalena 49, Pian dell'Isola, Rignano Sull'Arno, Florence, 055-833-1300) and the magnificent one-stop, The Mall (Via Europa 8, Leccio, Regello, Florence, 055-865-7775), which stocks Balenciaga, Fendi, Armani, Gucci, Hogan, La Perla, Loro Piana, Ferragamo, Tod's and Valentino, among others. Oh, my!

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