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Saturday, 01 September 2018

Comparing Tuscany and Provence

Written by Emily and Russ Firlik
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We spent two months (October & November) driving about 3,500 kilometers in both Tuscany and Provence. After extensively exploring both we considered these questions: How does Tuscany differ from Provence? Conversely, how are they similar? Our unavoidable bias and unscientific observations are indeed noted.

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(1) We found the Provence countryside, landscape and topography much more diverse with more vineyards than Tuscany.

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(2) Missing in large parts in Provence towns and villages are the piazzas that are found in Tuscany.

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(3) The churches in typical Provençal villages were mostly near the top of the hill, not at a focal point at the center of Tuscan towns and villages. Provençal churches were always closed except on Sundays. Tuscan churches were open parts of the day and many contained some bits of fresco, paintings or sculpture.

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(4) Between French and Italian cuisine it is still a toss-up! There is such a wide range of dishes on both Provençal and Tuscan menus. However, Provence did not have the variety of pastas and sauces, but Tuscany did not have the diversity of quiches and cheeses. It must be noted that we are not epicureans. The Mediterranean cuisine in Provence, e.g., fish, paella, bouillabaisse, tarte Provençal, salad nicoise, olive oil and Roquefort, Banon and Petit Provençal cheese all are uniquely from Provence. Our choice of whole grain bread (pain cereales) wins hands down in Provence. Essentially, it is both the quality of life, and natural fresh ingredients in the food preparation in both countries that is respected, admired and enjoyed. Italian olive oil is the best! Tuscan olive oil is made from Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoiano olives. Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, flat breads, cheeses, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruits are always available and used in their cooking. White truffle were a special treat in October and November. The best beef comes from the Chiana Valley, specifically known as “Chianina” used for Florentine steak. Pork is of the highest quality and taste.

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(5) We found the outdoor markets in Provence (complete with textiles, herbs, pottery, olives and cheeses) far more interesting than those in Tuscany. Many outdoor markets in Tuscany were full of pajamas, underwear, assortment of shoes, with some leather mixed in.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 18 September 2018

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