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  • Exploring the Museo Stibbert (Florence): This former private museum of an eccentric Scottish-Italian is made up of the general clutter of more than 50,000 random items and a huge collection of armor from all eras and world cultures, including an entire regiment of armored mannequins.
  • Ballooning over the Chianti: What better way to see Europe's most famous countryside than floating lazily over the olive- and vine-covered hillsides in a hot-air balloon while having a champagne breakfast? Many outfits offer this indulgent pastime. Rates start around 240€ for a sunrise 1 1/2-hour flight. Contact Ballooning in Tuscany at tel. 338-146-2994 or visit www.ballooningintuscany.com.
  • Discovering Prehistoric Statue-Stele in Pontrémoli: These mysterious tombstone-shaped statues were carved over a 3,000-year period starting about 3000 B.C. by an extraordinarily long-lived cult isolated in the Lunigiana. Some of the abstracted figures bear a suggestive resemblance to how ancient Roman historians described Celtic warriors from Gaul.
  • Roaming Etruscan "Sunken Roads" in the Maremma: No one is quite sure why the Etruscans of the Maremma carved a network of passages, some more than 7m (23 ft.) deep, into the tufa surrounding Pitigliano, Sorano, and Sovana. Many stretches of these vie cave have survived the millennia, and you can follow them (sometimes up to 1km/ 2/3 mile) in what are kind of open-air cave tunnels.
  • Driving the Back Roads of the Crete Senesi and Val d'Orcia: It's never really clear to us why the spectacular winding roads southwest of Siena -- past Asciano and San Giovanni d'Asso, and farther south to the balcony-like ridges around Pienza -- aren't the most heavily trafficked in all Tuscany. They are as gloriously empty as the landscape they survey, a rolling terrain punctuated by farmhouses and dotted with cypress stands. Such is the beauty of the scenery that you'll still find the going slow, however: Every new bend in the road reveals another photo stop as essential as the last.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.