Experience amazing hilltop towns, world famous art, delicious food & wine, glorious scenery & much more
Tuscany is world famous for its beautiful landscapes, rich history and artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art and science. It contains well-known museums such as the Uffizi and the Palazzo Pitti and is also famous for its wines, including Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano, Brunello di Montalcino and white Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Arezzo was an important Etruscan town and it was known to the Romans as Arretium. It is set on a steep hill rising from the floodplain of the River Arno about 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Firenze (Florence). The Piazza Grande is the most noteworthy medieval square in the city, opening behind the 13th century Romanesque apse of Santa Maria della Pieve. Arezzo has a starring role in Roberto Benigni's film Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella, 1997). It is the place in which the main characters lived before they were shipped off to a Nazi concentration camp.
Barga is a medieval town in the the province of Lucca and is the chief town of the "Media Valle" (mid valley) of the Serchio River. Barga lies 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of the provincial capital, Lucca. Pania della Croce, a mountain of the Apuan Alps, dominates the surrounding chestnut trees, grape vines and olive groves. Barga is named, "The most Scottish town in Italy”, because at the end of the 19th century a number of Italians from the town emigrated to Scotland. There were many returnees over the years and now up to 40% of present-day residents have Scottish relatives. The Italian Touring Club has assigned the "orange flag" of the "I Borghi più belli d'Italia" ("Best Villages of Italy"), a distinguished sign recognising the peculiarity of its beauty and of its quality.
The town of Certaldo is about 35 kilometres (22 mi) southwest of the Firenze Duomo and is divided into upper and lower parts. The lower part is called Certaldo Basso, whilst the medieval upper part is called Certaldo Alto. Certaldo Alto has limited vehicular access, for use by residents only. Visitors can park outside the walls or in the lower part and go to Certaldo Alto by the Certaldo funicular. Certaldo Alto is a perfectly preserved Medieval walled town with some beautifully preserved Medieval architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. The views from the top of Casa Boccaccio tower are amazing.
Cortona is a small hilltop town in the South East of Tuscany and it is the main cultural and artistic center of theVal di Chiana after Arezzo. The prevailing character of Cortona's architecture is medieval with steep narrow streets situated on a hillside at an elevation of 600 metres (2,000 ft) that embraces a view of the whole of the Valdichiana. The Etruscan Academy Museum displays a vast collection of bronze, ceramic and funerary items reflecting the town’s Etruscan past. The museum also includes an Archaeological Park with multiple sites, including city fortifications and stretches of Roman roads.
5. FIRENZE (FLORENCE)
Firenze, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria dell'Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” The river Arno, which cuts through the old part of the city, is as much a character in Florentine history as many of the people who lived there. One of the bridges in particular stands out – the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), whose most striking feature is the multitude of shops built upon its edges, held up by stilts. The bridge also carries Vasari's elevated corridor linking the Uffizi to the Medici residence (Palazzo Pitti). Although the original bridge was constructed by the Etruscans, the current bridge was rebuilt in the 14th century. It is the only bridge in the city to have survived World War II intact.
Lucca is a city on the Serchio river and famous for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city center and its cobblestone streets. Broad, tree-lined pathways along the tops of these massive 16th- and 17th-century ramparts are popular for strolling and cycling. Casa di Puccini, where the great opera composer was born, is now a house museum. The city was founded by the Etruscans and was later a Roman colony around 180 BC. During the Roman era, Lucca served as an important meeting place for Julius Caesar and Crassus.
Montepulciano is a medieval hilltop town surrounded by vineyards and world famous for its vino nobile red wine. The Torre di Pulcinella is a clock tower topped by a figure of the Pulcinella, a commedia dell’arte character. On the Piazza Grande is the 14th-century Palazzo Comunale, with a tower offering views of the surrounding countryside. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita status and is, with the Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, one of the principal red wines of Tuscany. The Rosso di Montepulciano and Vin Santo di Montepulciano have Denominazione di origine controllata status.
Monteriggioni is a medieval walled town, located on a natural hillock, built by the Sienese in 1214–19 as a front line in their wars against Florence. It is known for its medieval fortifications and watchtowers. The intact fortified wall presents 14 towers along which the guards used to walk and patrol the walls and 2 gates, The castle walls offer views of the surrounding Chianti region. Every July within the fortified wall of the town a special event is celebrated: the Medieval Festival of Monteriggioni, one of the most beautiful medieval festivals in the region.
DRINK WINE (SEE ABOVE) AND EAT CHEESE & OLIVE OIL
Pecorino Toscana is made from sheep’s milk and is Tuscany’s most popular cheese. It has the coveted European quality designation label Denomination of Protected Origin. There are many varieties: it may be “stagionato” (aged) for 12 months into a hard, salty, and nutty cheese, or it may be “fresca” (fresh) and ready to eat right after it’s produced.
Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC. Olive oil is a liquid fat obtained from olives (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin, produced by pressing whole olives and extracting the oil. It is commonly used in cooking, for frying foods or as a salad dressing.
EAT AT BUCA MARIO
For over one hundred years travellers have come to Buca Mario, to the heart of Florence, from all over the world, to delight their taste buds with old Florentine recipes. Buca Mario is housed in a sixteenth-century buca. In Florence, buche were typical cellars situated beneath imposing historic palazzos often owned by aristocratic families. They were used to store salted meats, ham and salamis, and, above all, to house precious wine.
EAT AT CESTELLO RISTOCLUB
With a wonderful view of the Cestello square in Firenze and outdoor summertime seating in in the shade of the church. Customers pick the freshly-caught fish they want for dinner from the counter and have it transformed by chefs Gabriele and Daniele into gourmet dishes.
EAT AT LE LOGGE DEL VIGNOLA
The restaurant Le Logge del Vignola is located in the heart of Montepulciano’s old town centre, across from the renowned loggia attributed to “Vignola”. There are two elegant, comfortable rooms where, by candlelight, guests can savour dishes from the Tuscan repertoire as well as the restaurant’s own distinctive cuisine, accompanied by excellent, local wines.
SLEEP AT HOTEL DUOMO
There is no hotel in Florence that can be proud of their location like Hotel Duomo. If you lean out of the rooms’ windows you feel like you are touching the Cathedral with your hands. Having breakfast under the "Brunelleschi's Dome" is a unique and unforgettable experience.
SLEEP AT MARIGNOLLE RELAIS & CHARME
Marignolle Relais & Charme, a charming country estate in the hills surrounding Florence. Perfect for those who want to stay in a high quality, relaxing place and those who love peace and privacy with all the attentions and amenities of a luxury hotel. A charming stay in the intimacy of a private residence.
SLEEP AT VILLA LA PREZIOSA
A unique experience in the heart of Tuscany. Villa La Preziosa is for the holiday of your dreams: absolute comfort, high profile services and an elegant setting in a Renaissance style ready to give you unforgettable memories.
SLEEP AT VILLA SVETONI WINE RESORT
Elegance and luxury in the Tuscan countryside. The Villa, built in the late 1700s and founded in the early nineteenth century as “Leopoldina”, houses an intimate resort with twelve elegant rooms and everything you need to spend a wonderful stay surrounded by nature, wellness and authentic flavors.
PLAY AT CURIOSEETY
Curioseety is a platform that helps travellers to find and book authentic activities with local experts. It offers hundreds of handpicked activities all around the world with a focus on Italy. Sharing moments with locals conveys the real soul of a place.
PLAY AT FLORENCE COUNTRY LIFE
Florence Country Life is an expert tour consultant specializing in horseback riding tours in Tuscany. They offer horseback adventures for all levels of expertise, even for complete novices and children. They also offer a select number of small-group, exclusive experiences for discerning visitors in and around Florence.
PLAY AT FUN IN TUSCANY
Fun in Tuscany is a fully licensed tour company based in Florence with a young, brilliant and knowledgeable team of professionals offering unique opportunities to experience Tuscany. They select itineraries, plan daytrips and create memorable vacation holidays that allow their guests to truly experience the history culture and tradition of their country, from the horseback and vespa rides to cooking classes, wine tours and hot springs in the Chianti area.
PLAY AT TUSCANY4EXPLORE
Tuscany4Explore organizes private tours and small groups activities in Florence, Siena, Pisa, Chianti, Valdorcia, Maremma and throughout Tuscany, to discover the incredible landscapes that this region provides.
PLAY AT TUSCANY RIDE A BIKE
The best way to discover the world is on bike. Rediscovering the joys of slowly experiencing the nature and landscape that surrounds us, far away from the stress and bustle of everyday life. Of looking for typical places, off the beaten track for tourists, yet easily accessible on paved roads with little traffic.
PLAY AT WINEDERING
"It's not about what you drink, but who you drink". Wine is made by people and at Winedering. They focus on wine and wine tasting that you will fall in love with the winery, the people, the territory and the whole environment you're visiting. One thing they know: wine in Italy. They share this knowledge with you.
WHEN TO GO: The best times to visit Tuscany are between late September and October and between April and May. During these months, travellers will find comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds at the major sights. The summer ushers in high temperatures and heavy crowds.
HOW TO GET AROUND: The best way to explore Tuscany is definitely by car - fly to Firenze or Pisa, rent a car and explore the spectacular medieval hilltop villages and stunning countryside.