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Destination Of The Week: Tuscany (PHOTOS)

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It's been dreary here in New York City, with day after day of heavy humidity and neverending rain. We've been trapped inside of the office and our homes with little sunlight and we're starting to get moody. It shouldn't come as a shock, then, that our minds have been drifting away from the muggy city, to the gorgeous scenery of Tuscany, Italy.

Luckily, it's difficult to stay moody when you can almost smell the olive trees, the figs and the thick strands of grape vines winding their way around stone homes. And lavender too; though most think of Provence and the south of France when they think of the purple plant, it grows on a few farms in central Italy as well. And let's not forget about the food: the region is perhaps known for its pork dishes, but don't overlook Ribollita, a humble white bean soup with peasant origins.

Italy has 45 UNESCO world heritage sites with 12 of them spanning Rome to Tuscany alone. Around Toscana you can visit the cathedral of Pisa, known for it's leaning tower and the village centers of Siena, Florence and medieval hill town San Gimignano, as well as over 120 nature preserves.

Have you been to Tuscany? What would you recommend to a first-timer?

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Chris Marchino's Tastes of Tuscany

Filed by Annemarie Dooling