The experienced traveller stayed in several villas in Tuscany during his stay and in this past weekend’s Daily Mail travel supplement has written how the region can still give unparalleled memories even if some parts are over-crowded.
The centre of Florence in July, or San Gimignano in high season can indeed be crowded but, as John Carter notes, a wise choice of villa - or hotel in his case - keeps you away from the crowds and able to enjoy the beautiful food, wine, art and landscape. I like his comment on the landscape:
"I have good memories, too, of the Tuscan landscape, with its well-tended fields and vineyards, its olive groves and cypress trees. I like being in a countryside that has not been neglected, or turned into a theme park for townies. In this regard, Tuscany is rewarding."
The Tuscan landscape is what a scholar once described to me as 'anthropomorphised', a wonderful word that strictly speaking means to give human features to - as a toddler might do to a bear or train - but he used to indicate the shaping of the landscape by human hand. The Tuscan landscape is the result of millennia of careful training, carving, growing, pruning and digging, and the process if very much alive today. Looking out over the view of rolling hills towards Mont'Amiata from Pienza is to look at a centuries old engagement with agriculture and growth - and our gaze renders us participants. I think this is one of the joys of Tuscan landscape - we feel part of history just as strongly as when looking at a medieval fresco or a cathedral.
Back to John Carter and avoiding crowds - have a look at our selection of properties that I call "Getting Away from it All" - villas where you feel part of another time, many with views that have not a telegraph pole or a road in sight. A time-travel holiday where you wake up in the 15th century (but with working toilets and a swimming pool!).