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Real 'Italia' resides in hill towns of Tuscany

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Photographs by Rick Steves’ Europe/CAMERON HEWITT

The Tuscan countryside is a confection of green hills and blue sky.

Wedged between Florence and Rome, Tuscany offers the quintessential Italian experience: sun-soaked hill towns, green and rolling screensaver hills, romantically fortified farms and cypress trees marching single file up lonely ridges. We go to Italy to experience the finesse of Florence, the splish-splash of Venice and the grandeur of Rome, but it's in Tuscany that we find the rustic-yet-elegant essence of "Italia."

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Pienza’s classic main square — with a city hall, two palaces and a cathedral — is famous for its elegance and artistic unity. + Enlarge

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