The trouble with Tuscany is that it’s so picturesque it can take hours to get anywhere. On my recent journey, I resolved not to stop the car again unless I saw a view significantly more inspiring than the one I’d just pulled over to photograph. And then, around the next bend, there it was. It didn’t matter that I’d been to the region multiple times before. The combination of vineyards, olive groves, lines of cypress trees, old stone farmhouses and ancient hill towns remained as intoxicating as when I first saw it decades ago.
My delight was enhanced by having been deprived of Italy for the better part of two years. I’d come to take my frequent visits almost for granted. Thankfully, on this trip, hotels, restaurants, shops and sites were generally open to visitors, and COVID-19 protocols proved minimally intrusive. Italy felt rather normal; and normal in Italy is very good indeed.
In spite of everything, hotel standards in Tuscany only continue to improve. Property after property impressed me with exceptional accommodations, high levels of service and myriad amenities and activities. Twenty years ago, I looked for charm more than luxury. Now the region can boast some of the world’s finest full-service resorts. Moreover, they did not seem understaffed, like many properties in the United States, and they haven’t experienced the same degree of price inflation.