Friday, 15 November 2013

Fancy a stroll in Tuscany?

Italy is full of diverse and beautiful landscapes, but there are few places that top the wonderful scenery of Tuscany. While I am a fan of the south, (I live down here in Puglia), Tuscany is one of my favourite parts of Italy. Rolling hills, miles upon miles of olive groves and vineyards, not to mention the many charming little towns and villages, many of which have a long and interesting history.

One of the things that draws people to Tuscany is undoubtedly the choice of walking routes. Exploring the winding roads by car is one thing, but really getting to know the landscape is best done on foot. So in this post, I'm going to be reviewing a helpful little guide to some of the best and most beautiful walks in Tuscany.

Walker's Tuscany In a Box (Duncan Petersen Publishing) comes, unsurprisingly, in a small box, and is made up of individual cards. Each card covers one walk in a particular part of Tuscany. The box itself is a nice size, isn't too heavy, and would easily fit in a small rucksack. If you were keen on just carrying one or two cards, then these would fit comfortably in a larger coat pocket. The box states that the cards are more convenient that a book or hand held device, and if you're on some of the more remote tracks, this is definitely true, particularly for the latter.

There are 35 original walks, and it's claimed that 'no skill is needed' to use the cards. For someone like me who doesn't exactly have the best sense of direction, this fills me with comfort! On each card there is a simple map , detailed directions which include landmarks and exact distances to travel. You are also provided with a green 'introductory' card which also gives you a decent amount of information on practical matters such as what clothing to wear and safety tips. They are also honest in saying that you will also need a larger map as well as the more basic one they provide.

The cards themselves are in a rough geographical order, and are also categorised by 'level', into easy, easy/moderate, moderate and the slightly daunting sounding 'strenuous'. The majority are easy or moderate, so for me they would be perfect, but for someone looking for more challenging walks, this guide may not be exactly what you want. The cards also tell you how long the walk will take, giving you an indication of either a half day or full day. Select your walk by looking at the map key on the green introductory card and finding the corresponding card number. Easy or what?

Each card also has a general overview of the walk, as well as useful information on rest stops or how to get to the starting point. It also tells you of any steeper climbs, which is useful if you, like me, prefer a limited amount of those! The pack also contains a very handy plastic cover that you can use to keep any rain or moisture off the cards, which are fairly durable anyway. It would be nice to have a one which was double the size however, and could cover the whole card once it is opened out (many of the cards open out and have 4 sides to them). The writing is also a little small, so those who may not have the best eyesight may find it a strain on their eyes. However, these cards are designed to be compact, so smaller text is to be expected.

All in all, these cards seem to be very useful indeed. There is a wide choice of walks which cover almost all of the region of Tuscany, and it is evident that they have all been well researched and thought out. Recommended!

Now, where are those walking boots of mine....

1 comment:

  1. I have wanted to go to Tuscany ever since I saw Under the Tuscan Sun. It looks so beautiful there. My boyfriend and I are always looking at Tuscany villas rental prices looking for something in our budget. I will get there one day!