Set in the heart of Italy, Tuscany is a wonderfully diverse region extending over 9000 square miles, and each of its several distinctive landscapes has its fervent advocates. Perhaps the most popular area is the Chianti, between Florence and Siena, with its ravishing, verdant hillsides, dense vineyards and olive groves, and deep dark woodlands. The northern boundary of Tuscany presents the mountainous vistas of the Apennines, carving their way from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic, and the Apuan Alps, a smaller range running parallel to the Apennines, and the origin of the world-famous Carrara marble. The lush valleys of the Mugello, the Garfagnana, and the Casentino, ranged along the upper Arno and its tributaries, look up onto precipitous mountainsides. The Val d’Orcia extends from the rugged limestone hillsides of the Crete Sinesi south of Siena to the area dominated by the volcanic cone of Monte Amiata near the Umbrian border. This valley was for centuries the historic link between Rome and the north, and is dotted with picturesque medieval villages and fortresses, as well as the 9th century abbey of Sant’Antimo. The Mediterranean coastal area of the Maremma was once quite removed from the tourist trail, but now attracts visitors to its hill towns, nature reserves, thermal springs, and to revisit traces of its original inhabitants, the Etruscans.