Tuscany

       
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Tuscany is a region in Italy having an area of about 23,000 square kilometres (8,900 sq mi) and a population of about 3.8 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence (Firenze).

Tuscany is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its permanent influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art and science. As a result, the region boasts museums (such as the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace and the Chianciano Museum of Art). Tuscany is famous for its wines, including the well-known Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino.

Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historic centre of Florence (1982); the historical centre of Siena (1995); the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987); the historical centre of San Gimignano (1990); the historical centre of Pienza (1996); and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves, making Tuscany and its capital Florence popular tourist destinations that attract millions of tourists every year. Florence receives an average of 10 million tourists a year, making the city one of the most visited in the world. (In 2007, the city became the world's 46th most visited city, with over 1.715 million arrivals).

Roughly triangular in shape, Tuscany borders the regions of Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north and east, Umbria to the east and Lazio to the southeast. The commune of Badia Tedalda, in the Tuscan Province of Arezzo, forms an enclave and exclave within Emilia-Romagna.

Tuscany has a western coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea, containing the Tuscan Archipelago, of which the largest island is Elba. Tuscany has an area of approximately 22,993 square kilometres (8,878 sq mi). Surrounded and crossed by major mountain chains, and with few (but fertile) plains, the region has a relief that is dominated by hilly country used for agriculture. Hills make up nearly two-thirds (66.5%) of the region's total area, covering 15,292 square kilometres (5,904 sq mi), and mountains (of which the highest are the Apennines), a further 25% (—5,770 square kilometres (2,230 sq mi)). Plains occupy 8.4% of the total area 1,930 square kilometres (750 sq mi),—, mostly around the valley of the River Arno. Many of Tuscany's largest cities lie on the banks of the Arno, including the capital Florence, Empoli and Pisa.

The climate is fairly mild in the coastal areas, and is harsher and rainy in the interior, with considerable fluctuations in temperature between winter and summer, giving the region a soil-building active freeze-thaw cycle in part accounting for the region's once having served as a key breadbasket of ancient Rome.

Many towns and cities in Tuscany have great natural and architectural beauty. There are many visitors throughout the year. As a result, the services and distribution activities, so important to the region's economy, are wide-ranging and well-organised.
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