A classic Tuscan face captured by Botticelli
Brilliant, medieval-style pageantry before Siena’s Palio (see p2l8)
A rare sight today – farming with oxen near Pienza
Even the working day of many Tuscans echoes that of their ancestors centuries ago. For people who work out in the fields, the day begins at sunrise, as early as 4:30am in summer.
Farm and vineyard labourers will have completed a day’s work by noon, when they retire indoors to eat and rest.
Until the 1950s, most Tuscans were familiar with this pattern of life: the region still relied on a feudal system, mezzadria, whereby peasants working on the land without payment took a share of the crops as their reward. Today, agricultural produce remains an important ingredient in the Tuscan economy, but
Clerics in conversation. Colie di Val d’Elsa only 20 per cent of Tuscans now work in agriculture. Many farming families left the land in favour of a stable income and a shorter working day as factory hands. Town dwellers have a much easier way of life, but the old rhythms prevail: the siesta period is still observed, so that almost everything closes for a few hours in the afternoon. Wise travellers ion learn that it pays to follow the same pattern, rising early to join the cafe throng, before heading out to study ancient frescoes in peace. In the middle of Florence there are several lively early morning markets where you can buy fresh, local produce (seep267). Bargain hunters and food-loving Tuscans frequent them, but by 9am the stallholders will have packed up.
Tuscany Map Photo Gallery