Do you need another excuse to visit? Beauty and culture come as standard, and every year sees lively events and festivals in Tuscany. Here are another 6 reasons why Tuscany 2019 is going to be even more special than usual. Leonardo’s 500th Pretty much all events in Tuscany 2019 are overshadowed by this one. It is 500 years since the death of Leonardo da Vinci. You can visit his birthplace, Vinci, where machines and models created from his notes are displayed at the Museo Leonardiano. For anyone staying in a villa near florence, Palazzo Strozzi’s big 2019 exhibition is ‘Verrocchio, Il Maestro di Leonardo’ dedicated to Andrea del Verrocchio — a master of the Quattrocento, and teacher of Leonardo da Vinci himself. Alongside Verrocchio masterpieces, the show features works by da Vinci, Ghirlandaio, and Botticelli. Plus there’s the new Leonardo room at the Uffizi, where his Annunciation and an unfinished Adoration are displayed side-by-side to full effect. Italy’s biggest road cycling race, Giro d’Italia even dedicates Stage 3 of this year’s race to the Renaissance genius. On the May 13, riders cycle 219 km (136 miles) from his birthplace to Orbetello on the Tuscan Coast. Big Art on Show There’s more than just Leo on show in Tuscany for 2019. Florence has a couple of big exhibitions scheduled: “What I Saw on the Road” at Palazzo Pitti by feminist artist Kiki Smith and “Essere” at the Uffizi, by sculptor Antony Gormley. If you are staying in a villa near Pisa, “Bosch, Brueghel and Arcimboldo” appear in an “immersive 360°” digital exhibition in the 12th-century Arsenali della Repubblica building. Kiki Smith Earth 2012 - arazzo in cotone jacquard Oakland, California, Magnolia Editions Per gentile concessione dell’artista e della Pace Gallery More Free Museum Days Io Vado al Museo is a government project which grants free access to state museums, galleries, monuments, parks, gardens and archeological sites all across Italy — including for tourists. For 2019, the program is getting an upgrade. Anyone can now enter sites like Florence’s Uffizi and Pitti Palace, the Museo Nationale di San Matteo in Pisa and many others for free on 20 days this year. Tuscany has 59 participating state-owned museums and sights. Check the 20 free days at each on the official website. Florence’s New Tram It’s easier than ever to get from airport to city centre, and onwards to one of our villas near Florence. An extended new tram line opened last month, connecting the airport with downtown Florence every 4 minutes or so. Farewell Yellow Brick Road Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour comes to the Lucca Summer Festival on July 7. Because of high ticket demand, the show has moved to Lucca’s historic walls. It’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for Elton’s Tuscan send-off than this small city’s Renaissance bastions and Romanesque church towers. Our award-winning concierge team can help you find tickets. Elton performing on The 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour in San Antonio on December 12, 2018 (Photo: Ben Gibson) Year of the Pig It’s Chinese Year of the Pig. Rosticciana, soprassata, prosciutto, salame toscano, finocchiona, lardo di Colonnata… we can vouch that every single one of these ways to prepare, cure or cook pork is a valid reason to visit Tuscany in 2019 (or any year). Tuscany also has Italy’s largest Chinese population, most living and working in Prato, Empoli and along the Arno valley west of Florence. Stop by if you take char siu bao over a salami sandwich.