Tuscany: Don’t Judge A Destination By Its Reputation

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I’m Caroline and I’m an adventure snob. As an experienced wanderluster and a seasoned globetrotter my nose turns up at the idea of joining throngs of tourists on well-beaten paths or snapping selfies beside iconic landmarks. For a time now my forays have been strictly dictated by set criteria: remote, hardcore and undiscovered. I’m interested in secret spots that fill pages of a guidebook that only exists in my head. I’m an adventurer after all.

The cliché of strolling cobbled streets in Tuscany, sorbet in hand or sleeping in rustic villas with the paint peeling, holds little appeal. Sure it’s ‘pretty’ and ‘nice’ to listen to bells toiling across the lands whilst sipping on Chianti over a long Italian lunch, but it’s not ‘adventure’. Nah, too tame, and far too common for the likes of us.

And yet, upon a synchronous turn of events I find myself amongst olive groves and vineyards beneath that famous hot, hazy Tuscan sun experiencing the other side of the stereotype. For beyond the romanticism of this place, lives enough rough and tumble exploration that I have to eat my words. Every. One. Of. Them. (Alongside the prosciutto and cheese!)

See with a little willingness and a dose of humility, adventure can be found irrespective of your coordinates on a world map and Tuscany is no different. In fact, it proves the theorem.

An enormous coastline offers up an endless array of water sports from kayaking, scuba diving and even surfing (yes surfing! In Italy! Pssst Elba Island is where it’s at). Impressive mountain ranges from the Apennines to the Alps will get your stoke on when the snow falls or put your stomach firmly in your mouth as you pick your way along the ‘iron paths’ of the Via Ferratas hanging perilously from the cliffs. Paragliders soar upon updrafts and avid rock climbers scale spires of stone. There’s as much adrenaline coursing through veins here as there is wine tumbling into glasses.

Even if your style is slower and you enjoy a more immersive adventure, you won’t be left wanting – multi-day trekking in Tuscany is fabulous with ancient routes seeped in history zigzagging leafy forests and lofty ridgelines. Let’s not get started on the cycling, as this is a Mecca for lycra clad pilgrims the world over. A mix of single track, freeride and downhill will tempt the most gravity hungry and the equal, if not larger amount of sensational road and gravel biking in the Empoli hills and the Pistoia mountains that will have anyone’s legs burning. In fact, this is where the world’s first cycling competition, the Firenze-Empoli was held in 1870.

Photo by: Rupert Shanks

Photo by: Rupert Shanks

Horse riding, hang-gliding or hot air ballooning,
Sailing, skiing or kitesurfing,
Bird watching, white water rafting, canyoning or caving,
History chasing or even hot spring soaking,

Whatever your poison, you’ll find it in Tuscany.

So don’t be an adventure snob like me, dismissing on-the-map destinations, simply look a little harder, delve a little deeper and never, ever, judge a destination by it’s reputation…

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