good tips from a local guide

Claudio Passarini has worked in the tourism sector for thirty years. He lives between Verona and Lake Garda, in the Veneto region, with his family, but works in Milan. Alongside his work as a tour operator, notably for Evaneos, he is also a tourist guide. Her passion ? To introduce travelers to all the unknown and hidden treasures offered by the countless territories of Italy, and more than anything by one of his favorite regions in which he lived, Tuscany.

Claudio Passarini, tourist guide, reveals his plans to miss nothing of the Tuscan spirit.– Evaneos

If you had to describe Tuscany in a few sentences?

The first things that come to mind are the greatest art cities in Italy like Florence, Siena and Pisa which are real treasure chests when it comes to culture in all its forms. Of course, Tuscany is also known as the cradle of the Renaissance, the epicenter of this New Cultural Wave which influenced architecture, painting and literature. It is also here that the modern Italian language experienced its true development.

However, this region is also remarkable for its medieval villages with their cobbled streets and noble palaces where you can still admire the family coats of arms but also the artisanal shops and, today, quite a few typical restaurants in its squares.

We must also not forget the sea with its wild coasts of Maremma and Argentario, the fine sands of Versilia, and also the astonishing islands of the Tuscan archipelago, the most famous of which is surely the island of Elbe.

What is the city not to be missed?

A very difficult question to answer: choosing that a single city could offend someone, knowing that there is a lot of competition among the Tuscans and their cities of which they are very proud, therefore, being obliged to To name one, I would say its capital, the city most loved by tourists, Florence.

What is the must-see place?

Difficult to answer this question as Tuscany is so rich in magnificent places! However, we can cite the 8 places classified as UNESCO world heritage sites: the historic centers of Florence, Siena and San Gimignano, or Pienza, the hilly landscape of the Orcia Valley, and of course the Medicean villas from the Florentine area. Moving away from the most famous places, I will also add the Abbey of San Galgano which houses its own “sword in the stone”.

What are the historical monuments you absolutely must see?

The monuments not to be missed are inevitably the Square of Miracles in Pisa, the Duomo of Siena, the city center of Florence, the medieval towns near Cortona, the villages of Montalcino, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, or even Pitigliano…

A corner of paradise away from tourists?

In my opinion, a true corner of paradise in which to relax is the village of San Quirico d’Orcia with the terms of Bagno Vignoni in its surroundings. A little curiosity for movie buffs: in case you were wondering where the famous cypress trees that we see in certain scenes of the film “Gladiator” are, they are there!

A place to go green?

If you like to be surrounded by greenery, you absolutely must visit the Chianti region with its vineyards and unmissable woods. Garfagnana, Mugello and Casentino also offer forests in little-known regions, off the beaten track.

An activity (outing, sport, art, etc.) typical of locals?

Tuscan local communities are generally very linked to customs and historical evocations. Among the best known are the Palio di Siena and the Florentine football tradition “Calcio Fiorentino”. Each village offers festivals, or competitions in each district once or twice a year.

The dish to absolutely taste?

Meat lovers should definitely try the delicious “Bistecca alla fiorentina”, a beef steak reminiscent of French entrecote served rare. Vegetarians or vegans can enjoy “Ribollita”, a soup made from bread, beans and black cabbage to be enjoyed during the colder months.

If we had to eat in just one restaurant?

This is a very difficult choice but I would advise you to try two restaurants, one in downtown Florence, The Ortone, near the covered market of Sant’Ambrogio, the oldest in the city. ; and one in the countryside in the Chianti region, the Divino Terrace where you can savor the dishes of the Tuscan culinary tradition while admiring a breathtaking view from their terrace.

What is the typical handicraft of Tuscany?

The artisanal tradition of leather processing is part of Florentine history. It can still be found in certain workshops and craft shops in the city and on the banks of the Arno River. In fact, there are also plenty of shops dedicated to the old processing of marbled paper, an activity that is unfortunately disappearing.

A typical expression to know?

If one wanted to pretend to be Florentine for a day, the regional expression to absolutely learn would be “Mi garba parecchio” or its negative form “Non mi garba per niente”, that is to say “He I like him a lot” and “I don’t like him at all”. The verb “garbare” is a dialect synonym of the Italian verb “piacere” (to appreciate in French). It is said that this expression comes from the ancient Florentine guild of the Art of Wool, whose workshops were concentrated in Via del Garbo, today’s Condotta road. The artisans, who produced the most precious and appreciated fabrics throughout Europe at the time, used very fine wool from the Arab Sultanate of Garbo, in North Africa. Thus, in Florence, via del Garbo was synonymous with very high quality products and this word evolved with the verb ‘garbare’ to define everything that people like.

The true cliché about your region?

You should never ask a Florentine to spend an evening out of town, or tell them to leave the house! It’s almost impossible to convince him to leave the city walls.

And the fake?

The Tuscans are not nice!

What you should never do when you come to Tuscany?

It’s best to avoid ordering a well-cooked Florentine steak, it’s a real sacrilege.

What unusual information do you need to know about Tuscany?

The region is very famous for its geothermal energy: the world’s first geothermal power plants were built in Larderello, Tuscany. The intense thermal activity is manifested in numerous hot springs, known since Roman times where you can bathe for free. The best known places are: Bagno Vignoni, San Casciano dei Bagni, Mulino del Gorello or Bagni San Filippo.

What item to bring back in your suitcase?

A good bottle of wine or olive oil.

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