Steeped in centuries of history, the cultural region along the Arno is one of the most beautiful in Italy, if not the whole of Europe. The very landscape radiates harmony and a deep sense of peace, while the wealth of impressions is enough to intoxicate the senses. Toscana has been capturing the hearts and minds of travellers for hundreds of years. The greatest attraction for the region’s visitors is of course the cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena with their rich culture, along with a number of gorgeous smaller towns. A trip to San Gimignano with its high medieval towers is absolutely recommended. Or a tour to Pienza with its town centre preserved almost unchanged ever since the Renaissance. Or a visit to Suvereto – without a doubt one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Here at the very latest, no one can help falling in love with this region, its towns and villages world famous for their art and architecture. But the natural environment is well worth exploring too. Wandering through the softly rolling hills – planted with the slim cypress trees that give the landscape its characteristic appearance – you’ll come across vineyards at every turn. This is the origin of red wines as well known and well loved as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano and Tignanello. To get a more intensive look at the area, Monte Amiata (1738 m) is the perfect opportunity for an excursion to untouched natural surroundings. This inactive volcano is a popular skiing destination in winter, and in summer a great place for trekking fans, especially as its peak offers an incomparable view out over the whole of central Italy. And then of course, there’s the sea and the extremely varied coast: including the wild Maremma, where the butteri herd their cattle on horseback. Or the coastal town of Viareggio, famous for its art deco architecture. Forte dei Marmi is stylish and smart, and the resort of Punta Ala has been a popular meeting place for the elite for many years. Off the coast in the Tyrrhenian Sea lie the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago – according to legend, they were formed from the pearls of a crown once accidentally dropped into the sea by the goddess Venus. The most exciting tale of all goes back to the mythical sword of King Arthur: near to Chiusino (40 kilometres away from Siena) is the medieval Rotonda di Montesiepi, built around a stone in which a 12th-century sword is embedded. As the story has it, this sword once belonged to a knight by the name of Galgano, who was converted to the way of peace by a vision of Saint Michael. As an eternally visible sign of his new life, he hammered the sword into the stone and spent the rest of his days as a hermit on this site. With the ruins of a Cistercian abbey nearby, this mystical place seems far removed from our modern world.