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PICS: Franschhoek versus Florence

Western Cape

Ryan Mackie

 

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Villa PitianaVilla PitianaMont Rochelle HotelMont Rochelle HotelMont Rochelle HotelMont Rochelle Hotel

Cape Town - I have travelled five times to scenic Tuscany in Italy, the heart of which is the magnificent city of Florence.

This region of Italy had an enormous boom in tourism over the last few years.

My last trip was an eye opener in terms of how the large amounts of tourists from all over the world has affected this legendary city.

You are hard pressed to see an Italian because of the thousands of Americans, Germans and and travellers from other countries. I even got to hear Afrikaans spoken outside the Duomo di Firenze.

The restaurants there provide menus with local meals as well as a menu designed for tourists which is priced differently, of course. The market shops have North Africans selling Chinese handbags, this in particular made me smile.

If you want to see David, the masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture, you have to be prepared to stand in line for hours.

I stayed in one of the small and quaint villages just outside of Florence, with my favourite spot being Villa Pitiana in the town of Donnini.

You can get a taxi to the train station and take the train into the centre of Florence as parking is non-existent in Florence.

The reason why I chose to stay outside of the city is due to the fact that I enjoy beautiful views, peace and quiet as well as authentic food in the local villages where everyone around me is speaking Italian.

You know what they say: churches and castles all end up looking same after a while.

If you are not in the mood to spend a 10-hour flight to Frankfurt and then join a tour bus which drives you from church to church and you are in search for a Tuscan setting with great food, then Franschhoek will fit the bill.

The picturesque town of Franschhoek is set in the lush valley of the Cape Winelands, a mere one and a half hours drive away from Cape Town.

Surrounded by magnificent, award winning wine estates, this town features wonderful accommodation options ranging from lovely B&B's to top class, five star boutique hotels.

My personal recommendation in this town is the Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard which is owned by Sir Richard Branson.

The rooms offer views over the vineyards and olive groves. Download an Italian Opera and walk the streets of Franschhoek, I rate this local South African travel experience top class.

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