The landscape of Tuscany has enchanted travelers for centuries. At first glance the Tuscan landscape appears as a wild and unruly place of great beauty--until our eyes fall on the occasional farm house to remind us of the intrusion of humans. Then, as our eyes adjust and begin to pick out the details, we begin to see patterns emerging, human patterns overlaying the natural contours of the land: a vineyard spills down a slope, a row of fruit trees follows the trickle of a creek, a strada bianca, one of Italy's historically significant chalk-white roads, forks and follows a hillside contour for a while, then winds seductively up a hill toward a crag displaying a pile of castle ruins. These human additions aren't really intrusions, of course; the charm of Chianti is in this very patchwork of human overlays draped every so gently upon a verdant earth dimpled long ago by ancient continents colliding. This is where it all comes together.
There is no better way to see this charming landscape than from a wicker basket dangling from a hot air balloon. And now that I've done it, I urge you to do it too. Is it dangerous? Sickening? Well, let's talk while we view some pictures. Click next to proceed.