Florence and Tuscany Region

Famous for its history, art and its iconic landscapes, Tuscany is one of the most visited regions in Italy and one of the most treasured. Its cities, Florence - arguably the finest example of a Renaissance city, Siena and Pisa, together with smaller towns and medieval villages like Lucca and San Gimignano, house some of the world’s finest architectural and artistic treasures.

Its iconic postcard- perfect landscapes dotted with medieval hilltop fortresses, vine-planted hillsides and sculptural stands of cypress trees are stunning and its traditional foods and wines trump any other region in Italy. Three of Italy’s finest wines - Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano are produced here as well as some rather delicious gastronomical gems. Whatever you do, the combination of great art, sumptuous countryside, and memorable food and wine makes a trip to this enchanting part of Italy unforgettable.

Top Attractions in Tuscany

Florence

Florence is the cultural heart of Tuscany, a Renaissance city that is an essential stop on any visit to Italy. The city’s museums, palaces, and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. The city has a number of highlights but one of the biggest is the magnificent Renaissance Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo with its vast terracotta dome visible from the Tuscan hills. Other highlights include the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio across the River Arno, the delightful Boboli Gardens, the Baptistery famous for its three sets of bronze doors and Florence’s crowning jewel the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s most famous art galleries home to artistic masterpieces from Botticelli, Leonardo di Vinci and the most famous work of art in the gallery, the Statue of David by Michelangelo.

Pisa

Famous for its leaning tower, Pisa is a city worth exploring. Most visitors that come to Pisa head straight for Piazza dei Miracoli or the Square of Miracles a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the city’s three main highlights are situated. The three key buildings trace life's path for medieval people from birth to death, the Baptistery represents birth, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta life and the Camposanto graveyard, of course, alludes to death. The tower which is actually part of the cathedral is Europe’s most famous tower constructed in 1173 but later finished in the 14th Century. Climb the 294 steps up the spiral staircase for a good panoramic view of the piazza below.

Lucca

Lucca is a little gem of an Italian city. Narrow medieval streets paved in stone lead into piazzas large and small, and beautiful churches greet you as you wander through the streets. Most famous for its intact Renaissance city walls this small city is a fabulous place to visit for a day trip or spend a few days here and wander around its fabulous shops, cosy trattorias and art galleries and museums. You can also visit the house or Puccini, a famous Italian composer whose operas are among the most important and well known operas in the world.

Siena

Siena is one of Italy's loveliest medieval cities and a trip worth making even if you are in Tuscany for just a few days. The city is one of Tuscany’s most captivating, a place brimming with gothic architecture, its finest example being the Duomo. Siena's heart is its central sloping fan shaped piazza known as Il Campo, the site of the Roman forum and known worldwide for the famous Palio run here, a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer. At the bottom of the square stands the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia. You can climb the tower for magnificent views of the city and Tuscan landscape beyond. Note that there are 503 steps in total, and that visitors are limited to 30 at a time, so be prepared to queue.

San Gimignano

This remarkable medieval town is one of the most attractive destinations in the whole of Tuscany. Perched on a hilltop surrounded by soaring medieval towers this rather unique town is hard not to fall in love with. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, San Gimignano offers visitors the chance to step back in time while enjoying its local products including saffron and its white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Things to do here include climbing the Torre Gross, the tallest tower at 54 meters for amazing views of the countryside and exploring La Rocca di Montestaffoli, the ruins of the 14th century fortress above the town.

Greve in Chianti

Known as the gateway to the Chianti region, Greve in Chianti is a beautiful small Tuscan town 30 km south of Florence, and easy day trip away from the city or a perfect location for a romantic Tuscan retreat. This friendly beautiful market town is full of small cafes and wine bars selling many delicious varieties of Chianti wine. If you are lucky enough to be in Greve during September then you will find the Greve Wine Festival, Chianti region’s largest wine fair and an event that is guaranteed to impress. There are also many hiking trails and bicycling tours to be found around Greve in Chianti, a unique way to explore the breath-taking countryside.

Volterra

Perched high in the Tuscan hills, Volterra is a stunning medieval town that is well known for its Roman theatre and Etruscan sites. Located just a little south of San Gimignano it is a great place to visit for a day trip. Its Roman theatre built in the 1st century AD and its impressive remains can still be seen and are the best preserved in the whole of Italy. There are also remains of the Roman terme (baths) adjacent to the theatre and you can enjoy an excellent bird's-eye view of the theater from Via Lungo le Mura. Volterra is also a great spot for evening sundowners with many spots in the city that are perfect for a glass or wine and watching the sun go down over the Tuscan Hills.

Montecatini Terme

Known for its thermal waters, Montecatini Terme is one of Italy’s top spa towns. Located in the heart of Tuscany its pleasant and peaceful town makes a fantastic base for visiting other cities In the region. Montecatini Terme is the place to be for the ultimate in spa relaxation, boasting several historic spas in the town all fitted with the latest modern equipment for beauty and wellness treatments. Its most famous is Terme Tettuccio. Spend a day here and enjoy its lavish Liverty-style building and its peaceful park.

Cortona

Cortona is the Tuscan hill town made famous by Francis Mayes in her book Under the Tuscan Sun. This small charming town sits on top of a hill offering spectacular views of the surrounding valley and even Lake Trasimeno. Surrounded by 3000 year old walls, Cortona medieval streets are pleasant to wander around with much of its history remaining in its interesting medieval architecture. You should not miss a visit to the beautiful Santa Margherita Sanctuary, patron of the city, and to the Girifalco Fortress. Both are on the highest point on the hill and are easy to reach after a short, uphill walk.

Best time to visit

Tourists visit Tuscany from April to October

Tuscany has a very long tourist period beginning in April and ending late September with July and August being super peak time. The best time to visit is outside the hot summer peak time, between April and June and September and October. The weather will still be glorious, prices will be lower and there will be fewer tourists to contend with at popular attractions. The periods around Easter and Christmas are also peak season dates as many Italians also join in to go on vacation (as is the case in August). For this reason, expect higher prices during these times as well as July and August.

Getting there

While there are flights to Tuscany’s two main airports Pisa and Florence from Europe most international airlines will fly into either Milan or Rome with connecting flights to Tuscany’s regional airports or travel overland via train or hire car.

Getting Around

Tuscany is a beautiful region and many visitors often find that hiring a car is the best way to get around between each town and city. However, if you are planning on visiting only the main towns in Tuscany, the most convenient way to get around is by train: the main station in each town is generally in the centre so there is no need to worry about parking before visiting the major sights. If you definitely do not want to drive smaller towns that cannot be accessed by trains can be accessed by bus but it is a good idea to check out bus schedules before your visit.
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