With its beautiful scenery, excellent weather and charming villages, Tuscany is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Enchanting locations hide around almost every corner, but if you're considering an Italian mini-break with your partner in the near future, here are five places guaranteed to set the mood perfectly.
There's no better place to start than at the beginning of the 'Love Route of Tuscany.' Lucignano is a small walled commune in the Arezzo province, with winding pathways designed in concentric circles twisting around mediaeval buildings. The appeal for couples here goes far beyond aesthetics, however, with the real secret hidden in the village's museum. Albero d'Oro, or the Golden Tree, is a beautiful 2m tall structure dating back to the 14th century that took over a hundred years to build. Local legend has it that any lovers who make their vows of love and commitment before it will be together forever.
The love route ends less than forty minutes' drive away, in the equally picturesque town of Pienza. Known as the set for several scenes in Franco Zeffirelli's famed 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, the town's romantic credentials are bolstered even further by street names including the Via dell''Amore, or Way of Love and the Via del Bacio - Way of the Kiss.
With landscapes unlike anything you'll see anywhere else in the world, a journey here is certain to be an unforgettable trip. Towns here seem to spring up organically from the naturally occurring tufa rock that occurs throughout the regions, with the village of Pitigliano offering some of the most spectacular views at sunset. During the day, you can wander through the ancient streets of the Old Town, stopping at cathedrals and al fresco restaurants.
Of course, no trip to Tuscany would be complete without visiting the jewel in its crown. The seemingly endless supply of churches, galleries, cafés and restaurants ensure you'll have plenty to do during your stay, even if you want to avoid the usual tourist traps. Hire bikes to cycle across the city's various parks, or enjoy a gentle stroll over the Ponte Vecchio Bridge to look at the array of padlocks attached to the railings. Locked there by romantic couples as a symbol of unbreakable love, the gesture is unfortunately still considered an act of vandalism by the local authorities.
Less than ten miles south of Florence you'll find the launch site for a hot air balloon ride across the Chianti region. Taking off just before dawn and drifting over Tuscany's vineyards and hilltop towns, the balloon offers a view like no other of this stunning region. It's followed by a champagne breakfast and picnic on the landing site - but there's no set destination, so you could land anywhere from an empty green field to the grounds of a castle. Unpredictable and unforgettable, this offers the perfect finale to a romantic trip through Tuscany.
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