The diverse landscape includes the sharply mountainous north, around Lucca, home to some of the palazzo style Tuscan villas, originally the country retreats of the wealthy traders of the Arno. Central Tuscany is marked by the quintessential rolling green hills of Chianti and the stone farmhouses, many now converted to delightful villas. Further south-east sit the Val d'Orcia and the "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism", Pienza. Close by lie the noted wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano. Choose a villa in the southwest and you experience a wilder Tuscany: the farming plains of the Maremma remain blissfully undiscovered and are fringed by some of Italy's best, and cleanest, sandy white beaches.