A holiday in Tuscany is the best way to throw off the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in a world of beauty.
An itinerary by car, a trip on a Vespa, a walking tour, a bike tour… no matter what means you choose to explore this magnificent region of Central Italy, time spent here is guaranteed to bring sweet visions and serenity. Art, landscapes, slow rhythms and good food all contribute to creating a highly regenerating atmosphere of yesteryear.
But where can you find the most beautiful things to see in Tuscany? It depends on what Tuscany is for you. Is it the classic Tuscany, the Tuscany of art cities, medieval villages and wine cellars? Or is it the wellness experience of the thermal baths? Is it the seaside holidays on the fashionable beaches of Versilia or the wild beaches of the Maremma? Or perhaps you have already been to Tuscany and want to get to know new faces, such as the mountain resorts or lesser-visited cities?
To help you build an itinerary for a holiday or weekend in line with your tastes and interests, we have selected the 15 most beautiful attractions in Tuscany. These are 15 points to start from in order to be enchanted by a region that we think is no exaggeration to call a masterpiece.
In a country like Italy with a high concentration of works of art, Florence manages to stand out as a top destination for architectural, pictorial and sculptural beauty. Cradle of the Italian Renaissance, it is a city where the eyes feast on harmony and perfection: although overrun by tourists, Florence is poetry to the eye.
The landmark building of the Tuscan capital is its magnificent Duomo, while the pinnacle of romance is reached by crossing the famous Ponte Vecchio with its splendid views over the Arno.
The jewel in the crown of cultural tourism in Florence, however, is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous and most visited museums in the world and a great national pride. Here you can admire masterpieces that have made Italian art history, including the most famous works by Raphael, Michelangelo and Botticelli. The art itinerary continues with a visit to Palazzo Pitti, the Vasari Corridor and the Boboli Gardens.
And if instead of art you want shopping, gastronomy, entertainment? Don’t worry, Florence is a dynamic and modern city, full of clubs and a rich programme of events.
The magic of Piazza del Campo in Siena is indescribable. The moment the famous shell-shaped square where Italy’s most famous palio is held appears before your eyes, it is impossible not to feel a pang in your heart.
Take your time to savour this unique moment, after which devote your attention to the splendid palaces overlooking the square, in particular the Palazzo Pubblico, Torre del Mangia, Cappella di Piazza and Palazzo Sansedoni.
The visit to Siena for many tourists stops here. But don’t be in a hurry to leave for another destination: the city is full of museums, characteristic views and vantage points from which to admire the gentle hills of the surroundings.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the iconic attractions of Italy throughout the world: an architectural marvel with an initial misfortune that made it unique, however.
In recent years it has been made safe thanks to modern techniques, but not straightened: the Leaning Tower of Pisa will forever retain its distinctive inclination. So you can still visit inside and then take the fun photo pretending to hold the Tower!
Next to the Tower, concentrated in the space of Piazza dei Miracoli, are Pisa’s other most famous attractions: the Duomo, the Baptistery of San Giovanni and the Camposanto Monumentale.
A less touristy area worth exploring is the Lungarni, a popular meeting place for Pisans that is lively by day and by night. City life continues in the Borgo Stretto, a porticoed street full of shops and clubs.
Perfectly preserved city walls are not a rarity in Tuscany, but those of Lucca are special: they are the only defensive walls built in modern times to have survived intact to this day. Today, they are a magnificent tree-lined avenue where you can mingle with the locals for a relaxing stroll or attend an outdoor event.
After a tour of the walls, you can have a coffee in Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower of the Hours, visit the house where Giacomo Puccini was born and other interesting museums.
Watch out if you travel at the end of October: the city is invaded by comic fans and cosplayers for the very popular Lucca Comics and Games fair.
There is a top attraction in Tuscany that cannot be admired by sight but by taste: it is Chianti, the most famous Tuscan wine in the world. Another symbol of the Belpaese of which Tuscany can boast!
The Chianti hills are an ideal destination for a holiday with a slow pace, made up of simple things such as enjoying the pleasures of good food, relaxing in the garden of an agritourism and walking through the narrow streets of a medieval village.
The best way to explore the Chianti region is definitely by car: only this means gives you the freedom to stop whenever you want, perhaps to photograph a magnificent panorama, to visit a winery and do a wine tasting, or to stop and buy cold meats, cheeses, oil and other typical products to take home.
The villages to include in a Chianti driving itinerary are Castelnuovo Berardenga, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti.
The Val d’Orcia is Tuscany’s calling card. It lies in the heart of the province of Siena, and it is here that you will find the rolling Tuscan hills portrayed in all the postcards, posters and souvenirs, dotted with rows of vines, vineyards, isolated farmhouses and rows of cypress trees. Visit it in every season of the year to enjoy it in all its shades of colour, ranging from the green of fresh grass in spring to the deep yellow after the harvest.
In Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will discover enchanting medieval villages, such as Pienza (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site), San Quirico d’Orcia, Castiglione d’Orcia and Radicofani. And don’t forget Montepulciano, located not far away, another key attraction on a tour of Tuscany.
To enjoy the Val d’Orcia at its best, rent a car and drive around the length and breadth of the valley: every road is an attraction in itself, for the magnificent views you will be able to enjoy. Choose whether to stay in one of the main villages or in the open countryside, as there are many agritourisms in Val d’Orcia, all very beautiful and very often with a swimming pool and restaurant inside.
The Elsa river, which flows between Florence and Siena before flowing into the Arno, outlines what is one of the most beautiful valleys in Tuscany. This is the Valdelsa, or Val d’Elsa, traditionally divided into an ‘Upper’ and a ‘Lower’ area.
Alta Valdelsa is in the province of Siena, and here there are some interesting places to visit, such as Colle Val D’Elsa and Poggibonsi, but above all Monteriggioni, with its marvellous circle of medieval walls, and the incredible San Gimignano, the city of towers, a UNESCO heritage site.
The Bassa Valdelsa , on the other hand, is part of the province of Florence. Among the most important tourist destinations is undoubtedly Certaldo, to be visited especially during the traditional Mercantia festival, in which the historic centre is transformed into a huge open-air theatre of medieval inspiration, with singing, dancing, events and markets.
The capital of the Bassa Valdelsa is Empoli, a city of almost 50 thousand inhabitants, pleasant to visit and equipped with all services. Finally, at the eastern end of the Bassa Valdelsa, already in the province of Pisa, is San Miniato, with its delightful historic village.
The Maremma is a vast territory: except for a small part in Lazio, it is almost all in Tuscany in the provinces of Grosseto and Livorno, as well as some areas in the province of Pisa.
The Maremma coastline extends throughout the province of Grosseto and a large part of that of Livorno, so it is natural to think of it as a perfect destination for a seaside holiday. One is spoilt for choice, with renowned localities such as Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Bibbona, Bolgheri, San Vincenzo, Populonia and Piombino in the province of Livorno, and Follonica, Marina di Grosseto, the Argentario promontory, Punta Ala and Castiglione della Pescaia in the province of Grosseto.
But the Maremma is not only perfect for a seaside holiday: in the hinterland, in fact, the landscape is surprising, made up of hills and reliefs, and typically Mediterranean vegetation with maritime pines and cypresses, interspersed with fields of sunflowers and kilometres of vineyards.
Traditions are also strong in the Maremma. Land of brigands for centuries, popular song, typical gastronomy and the butteri, the famous shepherds on horseback who often organise live demonstrations of their skills for tourists, are rooted in this area.
In the province of Lucca, one of its most remote but at the same time interesting tourist areas is the Garfagnana. We are located between the Apuan Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, in a beautiful natural setting of valleys and peaks over 2,000 metres.
The Garfagnana is therefore an ideal destination for a holiday off the main tourist routes: as you discover the villages and hamlets, you will realise that you have arrived in a truly splendid area and will enjoy numerous opportunities for relaxation, while hiking enthusiasts will find several trails ready and waiting for them.
Don’t miss Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, the main town of the 15 municipalities in the area, with its beautiful, recently renovated Rocca Ariostesca. Also very interesting is the village of San Pellegrino in Alpe, from where the Giro del Diavolo (Devil’s Tour) starts, a famous path to be followed on foot or by mountain bike from which to admire wonderful views. Among the many villages in Garfagnana, Sassi, Barga, Sillico, Vergemoli and Ceserana are worth visiting.
Excursions to be made in Garfagnana include those to Campocatino, the Orecchiella park, Lake Gramolazzo and, above all, Isola Santa, a village on an artificial lake, near which there are Michelangelo’s white marble quarries and the characteristic rock formations of the Marmitte dei Giganti; if you want to descend into the bowels of the earth, enjoy the underground excursion to the Grotta del Vento, in Fornovolasco.
The Val di Chiana, or Valdichiana, is a vast area that embraces Tuscany and Umbria. Specifically, in Tuscany, the provinces involved are Arezzo and Siena. Visiting this area of the region allows one to come into contact with the typical reality of the place, admiring splendid landscapes and discovering medieval villages, immersed in centuries-old traditions also in terms of gastronomy.
The Valdichiana aretina, in addition to part of the municipality of Arezzo, has in its main tourist destinations the towns of Cortona, Castiglion Fiorentino and Lucignano. As for its Sienese counterpart, we mention Chiusi, Chianciano Terme and Montepulciano, although the latter occupies a ‘border’ position straddling the Val d’Orcia.
The best way to visit Valdichiana is by car, so you can enjoy the beautiful roads and stop to take photos at every corner. Stay in typical agritourisms in the area, so that you can completely immerse yourself in nature, while enjoying the excellent local zero-kilometre food.
Finally, among the things to see in Tuscany is the Elba Island, the third largest island in Italy and the most important of the Tuscan archipelago. Elba is in the province of Livorno, and can be reached in about an hour by comfortable ferry from Piombino. It is one of the most popular holiday destinations for the inhabitants of the region, as here they can enjoy a crystal-clear sea with splendid colours, magnificent coves and typical seaside villages.
Once on Elba, the ferry docks in Portoferraio, which is also the largest town. Visit the old town centre and stroll along the marina, then head for some of the island’s most beautiful places, such as Porto Azzurro, Capoliveri or Lacona, which stretches out over a beautiful bay with numerous campsites.
Don’t miss a view from the top of Elba, climbing on foot or by cable car to the top of Mount Capanne, from where you can admire a beautiful 360-degree panorama and on a clear day you can even see the outline of Corsica. Then relax on some of the island’s best sandy beaches, such as Marina di Campo, Biodola, Procchio, Cavoli or Fetovaia.