Places to visit in tuscany Places to visit in tuscany

Close your eyes and imagine yourself being swept away to a land of rolling hills, great food, stunning landscapes, romance and rich cultural traditions. Open them and find yourself in Tuscany. This Italian region is the epitome of great sightseeing opportunities, stress relief and relaxation. This is where the Etruscan civilization flourished and it’s now a preferred destination for art lovers and foodies. Located in the heart of Italy, it stretches to the west coast.

While Florence is a must-visit for anyone travelling to Tuscany, there are plenty of other towns that you can’t leave out: Lucca and its medieval walls, San Gimignano and its towers, the Chianti region, Siena and its charming medieval atmosphere… you mention! That said, renting a car is probably the best way to explore Tuscany. If you do, make sure that you get additional insurance for your car as you’re driving in Italy. Italians are known for being not so careful drivers and you don’t want to be charged for unwanted damage to your car.

Let’s look at the most romantic and beautiful places to visit in Tuscany!

Fall in Love with Florence

Famous for being the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is the capital of Tuscany and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was home to the Medici, one of the most powerful families in the world, and where Dante Alighieri, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo lived.

Much of an open-air museum, Florence is a must-visit destination in Tuscany and it deserves at least a week to be able to explore it more in-depth. With so many palaces, museums and monuments staying just for a few days won’t be enough! Take our time to explore its cobbled stone streets, narrow alleys, admire its red roofs from the top of the Piazza Michelangelo and buy a souvenir to take back home at any of its many quaint shops.

Amongst the top things to do in Florence we can mention:

  • The Uffizi Gallery: It’s the most famous art museum in the city. Here you can admire Caravaggio’s “Medusa”, Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and several works by Michelangelo and Da Vinci amongst many others. Its world-famous collection spans from Ancient Greek sculpture to XVIII-century Venetian paintings. Take your time to admire Botticelli’s works in Botticelli’s Room.
  • Il Duomo: Florence Cathedral is a must-see. Climb to the top of the Duomo to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Florence. The Baptistery and the Bell Tower are strikingly beautiful! Capped by a red-tiled cupola, it’s a strikingly awesome building with its pink, white and green marble facade. Step inside and admire frescoes and over 40 stained glasses.
  • Palazzo Vecchio: Its tower is one of the preferred places for views of the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo. Although it can be challenging to climb up all its steps to get to its different levels, the tower of the Palazzo offers tourists one of the best stops to take great pictures of the city’s famous locations.
  • Galleria dell’Accademia: If you’ve always wanted to admire the colossal statue of Michelangelo’s David, you just can’t miss visiting the Accademia.
  • Ponte Vecchio: One of the most popular spots in Florence, a walk across this bridge is a must-do while you are in town. Browse its several shops, especially jewelry as you’re walking across the bridge.
  • Santa Croce: It’s the second most famous cathedral in Florence after the Duomo. The square in front of it is a great place to enjoy an Italian ristretto and watch people walk by. The Neptune Fountain, also located there, is also a famous sight here!
  • Piazzale Michelangelo: To admire one of the best panoramic views of Florence, come to Piazzale Michelangelo. Cross one of the bridges over the Arno river and start the climb. Going up its many stairs is definitely worth it!

Siena: A Trip To Medieval Tuscany

Siena is a walled Tuscan city where its stone roads and tiny streets invite you to take a trip back in time to the Middle Ages. Totally disconnected from the buzz and hassle of skyscrapers, crazy traffic and modern life, spending a couple of days in this charming quiet city is another must-do in Tuscany. Once Florence’s rival, Siena is considered one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval towns.

Founded by the Etruscans more than 2000 years ago, this small town is packed with various architectural marvels.

Everything in Siena revolves around Piazza del Campo and all the streets lead there. This main fan-shaped square is proudly dominated by the Town Hall and its Torre del Mangia. Climbing up the top offers visitors sweeping views of the town! Sienna’s beautiful cathedral, Cathedral Santa Maria Augusta, made of black and white marble and with a stunning facade, is one of the finest examples of eclectic architecture combining exquisitely Romanesque, Gothic and Classical features. Once inside, take your time to explore this aesthetic wonder. Look down at the marble mosaic inlay floors, look upon the carved pulpit designed by Nicola Pisano and then tilt your head up to admire the intricate dome. Then, see the Piccolomini Library, which houses a fresco cycle by Pinturicchio that depicts scenes from the life of Pope Pius II. Not to miss as well are the Cappella Chigi and the Cappella San Giovanni Battista in the left transept containing a statue by Donatello and frescoes by Pinturicchio. For more treasures, head to the presbytery, the crypt, the sacristy and the vaulted baptistery.

Siena sits over three hills and its heart is Piazza del Campo and it is where the Roman forum used to be.

Take your time to explore the town’s narrow alleyways and hilly streets. And when you’re hungry, take a seat at a local trattoria and enjoy some of the delicious local dishes such as spaghetti type pasta served with pecorino cheese and Cinta Senese sausage, panforte, ricciarelli or Cavallucci.

As regards museums, the Museale di Santa Maria della Scala and the Museo Archeologico are really worthy. And don’t miss the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore for its wine cellar, the immense Basilica of San Domenico and the Palazzo Salimbeni.

Pisa: Beyond the Leaning Tower

Whenever people hear about Pisa they automatically think about the famous Leaning Tower. However, despite this may be the town’s most popular and famous landmark, there’s much more to see There are many impressive sites including classic Gothic and Roman architecture and Renaissance piazzas around everywhere.

And while you’re there, don’t miss the chance to explore the quaint shops and charming cafes that line its banks.

Located at the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Leaning Tower is the main reason why most tourists come to Pisa. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to it. You can also visit the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto. It can be cheesy and touristy but don’t just admire the Tower from the ground. Climb up the tower and enjoy amazing views from up there. At about 183 feet tall, the tower leans at about 4 degrees.

According to locals, the Campo Dei Miracoli is among the world’s most beautiful urban spaces. The Campo Santo is thought to be filled with shiploads of earth from Golgotha, brought back. Completing this outstanding complex and home to some of the most exquisite treasures is the Museo dell Opera del Duomo. Along with priceless silver items, tombs, stunning embroideries, paintings and sculptures the museum offers the best close-up view of the Leaning Tower.

Other interesting attractions in Pisa are the Piazza dei Cavalieri, Borgo Largo, Borgo Stretto and Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Don’t miss San Matteo Museum, Palazzo Blue and the Chiesa della Spina.

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Enjoy the Walled Town of Lucca

Much quieter than Sienna, Lucca is dominated by its almost completely intact city walls. And even though the town has grown and evolved over time, the walls were maintained and tourists can now walk or cycle above them. In fact, walking along the top of the city walls is one of the must-do things in Lucca!  They have been turned into a pedestrian promenade and the area is well taken care of.

Piazza Anfiteatro is another highlight. Built on the site of the old Roman amphitheater, it is now home to many restaurants and shops that have been built into the spaces where the arches used to be. The Cattedrale di San Marino, notable for its XIII century black wooden figure of Christ and a painting of the Last Supper by Tintoretto can be found in the center of the town. Palazzo Pfanner, now a museum, is also very interesting to visit and if you love music and Opera you can’t leave Lucca without visiting the Puccini Museum, located in the house where the famous opera composer was born. The best views over the city can be taken from the top of the Torre Guinigi, a XIV century bell tower that is crowned with ancient oak trees. Other interesting churches to see are the Basilica of San Frediano and the beautiful Church of San Michele in Foro.

Take your time to enjoy the town’s charming atmosphere, picturesque narrow lanes, tiny piazzas and peaceful vibe.

Lucca is one of the most charming towns in Tuscany and it’s easy to reach by car both from Pisa and Florence.

See San Gimignano and Its Towers

San Gimignano is an absolute must-see in Tuscany: just its skyline with medieval towers is second to none. From the 72 towers built until the XIV century, only 14 are left today. This medieval town has a unique place in Tuscany’s history and it’s actually known as the Manhattan of the Middle Ages.

Characterized by stone towers and narrow streets, it is surrounded by an expansive countryside filled with vineyards, sunflowers and olive grooves.

Preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spending some days in San Gimignano is a trip back in time. The town is circled by XIII century stone walls, which are centered on the beautiful triangular Piazza Della Cisterna. Other interesting highlights include the XII century Duomo di San Gimignano and the city’s Town Hall, which houses its Civic Museum. The town is also known for its Vernaccia wine, which is usually paired with vegetables and seafood.

Active visitors can climb up the Torre Podestá or Torre Grossa, the tallest in town. At the Torture Museum visitors can appreciate torture instruments from the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries. Another highlight is the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, on the Piazza del Duomo with its several frescoes. The Palazzo del Popolo, where Dante once spoke, is home to yet more amazing artwork. Don’t miss the Via Francigena, an ancient Christian pilgrimage route that runs through town.

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Volterra, the City of Alabaster

Volterra is one of the main hilltop towns to visit in Tuscany. Conveniently located close to Florence, its rich history dates back to Etruscan times when it was one of 12 powerful centers. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Cecina and Era valleys, it’s the perfect place to get an insight into Tuscany’s rich heritage.

The center of the town is dotted here and there with narrow alleyways and squares. The Palazzo dei Priori is the oldest town hall in Tuscany and takes your time to admire the XII century Duomo _ Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

History lovers will enjoy visiting the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, the Museum of Sacred Art and looking at the several Roman monuments including the Roman Forum, Roman baths and an amphitheater. Volterra is famous for its alabaster carving, which makes it perfect for shopping for souvenirs to take back home.

Volterra is particularly renowned for its peculiar urban layout. People can still visit part of the stunning protective walls, including the well-preserved Porta dell’Arco and Porta Diana, as well as the Acropolis that houses several buildings and the foundations of two ancient temples.

Another must-see is the Pinacoteca of Volterra in the Palazzo Minucci-Solaini, where you can appreciate magnificent frescoes.

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