Best Travel Destinations in Tuscany
If you are traveling to Tuscany for the first time, there is a chance that you don’t know where to go or what to do when you arrive. Considering Tuscany and, in particular Florence, is known as the Jewel of the Renaissance you can be sure there is plenty to keep you occupied. Here is our list of the best travel Destinations in Tuscany…courtesy of locals, tourists and experts.
Best Travel Destinations in Tuscany
1. Florence – The Jewel of the Renaissance as it has been described, gave us two of the most influential people in history, DaVinci and Michelangelo. The Duomo and Baptistery, both found in the city, are major attractions, because of their beautiful poly-chrome finishes and historical significance. Piazza Della Signora is another significant stop you may want to consider in Florence. It contains the magnificent Neptune fountain and the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David.
2. Pisa – Maybe you’ve heard of the leaning tower of Pisa? The belltower runs alongside the slow moving Arno River. Pisa is also home to many botanical gardens that provide an excellent atmosphere for a quiet stroll. While you can no longer tour the tower from within, it is still an architectural feat, even if it was on mistake.
3. Lucca checks in at number three due to the sheer number of historical fixtures and the option to ride your bicycle atop of the magical wall that completely surrounds the city.
4. Arezzo is found in the true center of Tuscany and is an historical city mixed with some of the more modern touches of industry and trade. There are also some beautiful outdoor areas, and lovely museums in the heart of this city.
5. Another city protected by a medieval wall is Livorno. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the biggest port cities in the region. Livorno is especially spectacular when ships are docked, however, the best part of the city is the canals that wind in and out of the cobblestoned streets.
6. Montecatini Terme is a mountain town known for its natural thermal spas and healing waters. The city is home to beautiful open-air baths built in the 16th century. It also hosts the Funicular wire railway system that carries people to and from the city.
7. Monte Cimone is for those adventure seekers in the bunch. This mountain is 2,000 + meters and was a German radar site during WWII. This is a popular ski destination in the winter, but has plenty of appeal to summer adventurers as well.
8. Prato is home to the Emperor’s Castle, built at the request of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. The Lions of Swabia were sculpted at the entrance gate in the green serpentine which is a reflection of Caesar’s Palace in Rome.
9. Are you ready for some jaw-dropping views from a small town just outside of Siena? Montepulciano, which sits on a limestone ridge is not only one of the best views of the gorgeous vineyards in the surrounding countryside, but also contains quintessential medieval architecture.
10. Val d’Orcia is a protected region and offers an historical railway and idyllic scenery on top of peaceful small towns. This spectacular region offers one of the best Renaissance settlements with its picture perfect architecture and rural beauty.
11. Elba Island, also known as the island to which Napoleon Bonaparte made his exile has the pristine golden beaches of your fantasies. It is also home to Napoleon’s second residence Villa San Martino, which now stands as an elegant hotel. It also plays host to a number of exquisite restaurants and the delicacy of “homegrown” Elban wine.
12. If you don’t quite feel you have captured the true spirit of the Renaissance, San Gimignano is your perfect next stop. Some would describe this town as sleepy and charming, possibly due to its 14 medieval towers, or its ancient city walls. The towers and city wall create quite the skyline for the surrounding countryside that is nearly impossible to miss.
13. Don’t forget Siena. The Piazza del Campo right in the center of the city is one of the most well-known in all of Tuscany and transports you back in time. Not only is the architecture stunning, but the cobbled streets give you a feel for the romantic era of days gone by.
14. Grosseto is another must-see town in the southern Tuscan countryside. Grosseto draws visitors to its defensive bastions and once again, ancient city walls. However, Grosseto is one of the best cities to see the clear divide between the old and new Italy as the old buildings crowd the center and the new spring in all directions.
15. The list isn’t complete without Pienza. Pienza was named after Pope Pius II. It is bursting with flower boxes, and gorgeous countryside vistas. Try out the Pecorino cheese or spend time meandering down the beautiful corridors.
16. The San Galgano Abbey is another stunning site that shouldn’t be left out of your sight-seeing adventures. It was destroyed by the warlords in the 13th century after which it was all but abandoned by the monastic order. The ruins still stand, making it a haunting but beautiful spot to travel through.
17. The Chianti Classico Wine Region sits between the famed cities of Florence and Siena. Not only is it the most well-known wine center in Tuscany. It is also the best place to sample varieties of wine and tour the vineyards. Enjoy it all in a day, or spread it out, it’s up to you.
18. City hopping can be exhausting. Take a break with a pizza making and gelato cooking class. Learn the history and techniques of pizza and gelato making from the Tuscan experts and enjoy your delicious creations for dinner.
19. Enjoy Tuscany from the inside view of the Brunelleschi’s Dome of Cathedral Tower on the guided tour through the dome and discover how amateurs built it. You will end at the top with spectacular views of Florence.
20. If you have seen photos of Florence at night, you know how beautiful it is. One of the best ways to see the city at night is to take the legends and night tour. The legends in part take in the beautiful historical buildings illuminated in both the starlight and city lights for a spectacular view. Not only are the streets less crowded, but this tour offers the city “ghost stories” and legends and a more intimate experience than roaming the city during the day.
No matter what you choose to do, be sure you enjoy every single moment in this beautiful Italian region. These are just 20 of the best travel destinations in Tuscany. There are so many more to choose from, you will never run out of beautiful things to do and see.