Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Eco Travel Guide to Tuscany: Dreamy Landscapes and the World’s Best Wines

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If you’re planning a trip to Tuscany, here are a few ways you can enjoy the sweeping landscape views, the world’s best wines, and more, all while minimizing your impact on the planet at the same time. 

If you’ve chosen Italy as your next vacation destination, congratulations. You are in for a treat. Not only is this Mediterranean country home to some of the most flavorful, rich, and delicious food on the planet, but it’s also a haven of art, culture, history, beautiful scenery, great-tasting wine, and, well, need we go on? Basically, it ticks all the boxes — and even adds some you probably didn’t know you needed!

While you can’t go wrong with heading to the lake district in the north or to the coastline of the south, don’t sleep on Tuscany, either. With rolling green hills, delicious gelato (which was invented in the region’s capital of Florence), some of the best wine the country has to offer, and much, much more, this central region truly encapsulates everything Italy is revered for.

Convinced? Good. To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together five tips to keep your luxury Tuscan vacation as sustainable as possible. Because while travel is a great way to learn more about our planet, it’s also important to minimize our impact as much as possible at the same time. 

Where to stay

Tuscany is filled with a number of luxe, nature-drenched sustainable hotels and resorts. It’s almost impossible to find yourself at an unsatisfying destination. But to keep things uber eco, these are our top picks.

Castlefalfi
Castlefalfi marries luxury and sustainability in the heart of Tuscany | Courtesy

Castelfalfi

If you want to really immerse yourself in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, a stay at Castelfalfi is a must. Set in a medieval castle on a sprawling organic agricultural estate, complete with more than 40 hectares of olive groves, this hotel is, without a doubt, a jewel. But it’s also sustainable, too.

Castelfalfi recently re-opened its doors with a renewed eco ethos. And, as of 2022, it has eliminated the use of single-use plastics, while a new solar plant is currently under construction. Plus, if you like to indulge in a little golf while you’re away, this luxury resort is also home to the biggest golf course in the entire region, which also happens to be home to a colony of bees, which are nurtured and cared for by the hotel.

villa lena
Celebrate art and history at Villa Lena | Courtesy

Villa Lena

“If you need to invoke the muse, she won’t turn up for anything less than Villa Lena,” says travel site Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It says the villa is a “bright spark of an artists’ retreat amid glorious Tuscan countryside.” Just look at it.

Enjoy the stunning views surrounding the 19th-century villa and the 500-acre estate that has supported more than 400 artists through the Villa Lena Foundation. Bike around the property or charge your EV on-site while you soak in the pool or enjoy a luxe spa treatment.

The location’s plant-based food is sourced from the organic, biodynamic garden where food scraps are composted for a closed-loop system that also includes rainwater collection.

The resort is committed to renewable energy including solar power and air pumps, and you’ll find repurposed and upcycled decor across the hotel, among its many sustainability commitments.

oasyhotel
Enjoy a back to the land experience at Oasyhotel | Courtesy

Oasyhotel

Located on the protected Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve, the Oasyhotel is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and recharge yourself. Oasyhotel offers world-class spa treatments, lake access, e-bikes, and more. But come first and foremost for the quiet in every direction.

You’ll enjoy the seclusion and tranquility of the property where sustainability is baked-in. Oasyhotel works in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature to position its properties near parks and reserves. As a result of its nature commitment, the hotel supports regional conservation efforts including breeding and research as well as low-impact agricultural efforts.

The hotel encourages regenerative tourism as a leading example of back-to-the-land living where the facilities are built from natural materials, food is sourced on-site, and there’s even a camp for children to learn about conservation and how to grow their own food while supporting and protecting the land.

Where to eat

Ristorante Osteria Ciriera

Ristorante Osteria Ciriera

Located in the medieval village of Trequanda, south of Siena, try fresh pasta dishes from tagliatelle to ravioli, pici, and lasagna. Or stop by for brunch filled with buttery croissants, muffins, sandwiches, and fresh juices.

Fans say the fully vegan spot is an underrated gem in the region and a must-visit.

Bistrot cafe

Bistrot

Life Bistrot is located just southwest of Florence, in the charming and picturesque medieval walled town of Volterra. It opened back in 2005 as a vegetarian eatery, but since 2017 it has been totally plant-based. 

While you soak up the fresh, Tuscan air on one of its five terraces, expect to peruse a menu of delicious dishes, all of which are based around locally grown vegetables from nearby farms. And there is, of course, plenty of pizza.

L'Orto & un Quarto, Ristorante Naturale Siena

L’Orto & un Quarto, Ristorante Naturale Siena

The focus here is on vegetarian and vegan cuisine, but it does offer meat options, making it a perfect option where everyone can find something delicious to eat in a picturesque, rustic location along the Tuscan countryside. Menus change monthly here with the ingredients’ availability. The restaurant pays special attention to local ingredients and even has an on-site garden.

Customers love the stone of tofu, veggie osso bucco, veggie foie gras, and copious amounts of fresh pasta. The wine menu also features a selection of natural wines made sustainably.

What to do

sustainable wine france
Image courtesy Sven Wilhelm | Unsplash

Head to a sustainable winery

When in Italy, you should do as the Italians do. And in this case, that means sampling the local wine. Tuscany is known for producing some of Italy’s most notable wines, and you can try some for yourself by taking a trip to a winery.

According to Forbes, some of the most sustainable wineries in Tuscany include Poliziano in the town of Montepulciano Stazione, which has prioritized sustainable, organic farming for three decades, and Avignonesi in Valiano, which is a certified B Corporation. Another option is Cantine Dei, a marble-covered sustainable winery in the vineyard-surrounded town of Montepulciano.

arno river
Photo courtesy Soff Garavano Puw | Unsplash

Cruise along the river on an electric boat

Florence is one of the most popular Italian cities to visit, and for that reason, things can get a little busy on land. (In 2019, the year before the pandemic, around 95 million people visited Florence!) 

But if you’re looking to take a break from the crowds, take in the sites, and, most importantly, relax at the same time, try taking a ride on one of the city’s electric boats. The tour will guide you along the Arno River, while you sit back, enjoy, and take in the sights and sounds of beautiful Florence.

tuscany
Photo courtesy Engjell Gjepali | Unsplash

Take in the scenery on a hiking tour

If boats aren’t for you, then there are many other ways to see Tuscany. You can walk, cycle, hire an electric car, or take the train. But arguably, when it comes to transport, hiking has to be one of the best ways to get about.

You can either research a route and go by yourself, book on to a group trip, or another option is to book your own private guide. If you’re feeling really adventurous, head up to the mountainous valley of Garfagnana, one of the best places for outstanding beauty in the whole country.

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