Posted March 24, 2010 by Amy Westervelt
As one of, if not the, most popular destinations in Italy, Tuscany can be fairly pricey. Still, if you follow the lead of Italians visiting the region and steer clear of the tourist traps, la Toscana can be downright affordable. There are numerous well-priced lodging options in the lesser-known villages of the region, and really no matter where you stay, you're always within close driving distance of the hot springs, vineyards, and amazing restaurants that have made the region famous.
Le Ragnaie: Nestled in the hills of Montalcino, overlooking its very own vineyard, Le Ragnaie is a local farmstead that doubles as a B&B. Rooms in the stone farmhouse are simple and pleasant, with large windows opening out over the heated saltwater pool. The on-site restaurant and homemade wine are also fantastic, plus its location is ideal for exploring the rest of the region. Rooms start at &eur;90 per night and include breakfast.
La Torre di Gnicche: To get a taste of the local wines and rustic fare Tuscany is famous for, head to one of the dozens of osteria (neighborhood restaurants) in the region, which typically serve up large platters of delicious local food for very reasonable prices. At La Torre di Gnicche (8 Piaggia di San Martino) in Arezzo, for example, you can pair one of the 800 area wines from its cellar with regional favorites such as crostoni (open-faced toasted sandwiches) and make it out the door for less than $30 a head.
Fattoria dei Barbi: Wine tasting the way we do it in the U.S. isn't typical in Tuscany, but some of the larger vineyards do offer tours and tastings. They can sometimes get a bit touristy, but are worth it for the vineyard views alone. At the Fattoria dei Barbi vineyard, one of the oldest estates to make Brunello di Montalcino (one of the region's most famous wines), tastings are free and guided tours of the vineyard for groups of eight or more can be booked in advance.
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(Photo: Emma Lee)