A Trip through Tuscany
The central Italian region of Tuscany has always attracted visitors with its local specialties, historic towns, and picturesque hills. Hardly anyone can resist the Tuscan charm, once you’ve been here, you’ll want to come back again and again. So why not enjoy the rich atmosphere of the region and take a trip through Tuscany?
The popular destination borders five other Italian regions as well as the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. Don’t miss this wonderful chance to learn about Tuscan culture, architecture, and scenery! You are spoiled for choice when planning your trip. But don’t worry – we have compiled a list of the places without which no trip to Tuscany is complete. Are you ready to start your vacation?
A Few Tips for Traveling in Tuscany
Our most important piece of advice is to make sure you have enough time to really enjoy every moment of your trip. The length of your vacation can vary significantly depending on your plans. A visit to the north of Tuscany, which is rich in history and culture, can be done in a week. If you also intend to visit the south with its characteristic cypresses, pine trees, olive groves, and vineyards, you should allow for at least 10 days. Of course, you can always stay longer – you won’t run out of places to explore in Tuscany any time soon!
The best way to get around Tuscany is on four wheels. The sights are scattered throughout the area and aren’t always easily accessible by public transport. With your own car or camper van, you’ll be able to reach the more remote corners of Tuscany and admire the rolling countryside at the same time. Be careful on busy roads, though! The stereotype about Italians driving as they please is one of the few accurate ones – you’ll need nerves of steel behind the wheel!
We also recommend getting your tickets to any of the popular sights in advance. This way, you won’t have to waste any time waiting in lines. Finally, keep in mind that some religious buildings have a dress code. It’s best to wear something that covers your shoulders, knees, and waist.
The Capital of Tuscany: Florence
No trip to Tuscany is complete without a visit to Florence! It is, after all, the Tuscan capital and boasts countless Renaissance buildings as well as many of the region’s most important sights. Our favorite ones are the famous cathedral with its impressive walk-through dome, the Uffizi Galleries, and the breathtaking viewpoints spread around the city. Florence is just full of fascinating places, and you won’t find it easy to leave the city behind!
One hour in the car will take you to the next Tuscan jewel. Lucca is a small but beautiful city in the province of the same name. The town has been of great importance to the surrounding settlements since it was founded more than 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, Lucca is mainly known for its well-preserved city wall. It’s a great location for a walk or a run in the morning. There’s no better way to start your day!
Lucca’s most prominent building is the almost-45-meter-tall Guinigi Tower. The holly oaks at its top are a sight unlike any other. Climb the 230 steps to get a spectacular view of the old town and the surrounding mountains!
If you need a change of pace, we highly recommend visiting Garfagnana! This mountainous area is the perfect place to go hiking or mountain biking. It’s also home to the stunningly beautiful Apuan Alps. History buffs will also get their money’s worth here. Just like the rest of Tuscany, Garfagnana is home to hundreds of wonderful churches and squares.
Viareggio also holds many interesting sights! The city is not only known for its carnivals but also for its beautiful coastline. Keep an eye out for a blue flag whenever you’re at one of its many beaches. The Bandiera Blu acknowledges the beach’s sustainability and its excellent water quality, so you can enjoy your time here without any worries.
Viareggio is the perfect place to relax and to regain your strength for the second half of your trip through Tuscany!
The next destination on our list is home to the world’s most famous leaning building. You’ve probably already guessed which sight we’re talking about – the Leaning Tower of Pisa, of course. The city’s other main sights, many of which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, can be found in the Piazza dei Miracoli. In addition to the Leaning Tower, you can also visit a cathedral, a baptistery, and a historic cemetery here. There’s much more to discover in Pisa, though, so take the time to explore the city for a day or two!
Livorno, or Little Venice, as it’s also known, is characterized by its many waterways and its proximity to the sea. The port city is the perfect location for snapshots, thanks to its unique architecture. Our favorite place might be the Terrazza Mascagni with its checkerboard pavement. Just follow the seafront, and you won’t be able to miss it!
You can’t leave Livorno without visiting the Mercato delle Vettovaglie. You’ll not only find excellent Italian food here but also some beautiful Parisian-inspired architecture.
The next stop on your trip is in the south of Tuscany, in San Gimignano. The city of towers, or “medieval Manhattan,” as some locals call it, is situated between beautiful rolling hills. Despite – or maybe because of – its mountainous surroundings, the town is very popular with travelers. A visit here always feels a little like going back in time.
San Gimignano is also a great place for anyone with a sweet tooth. Dondoli, one of the local gelaterias, has been crowned world champion several times. You’ll instantly recognize it by the long line out front. The delicious ice cream is definitely worth the wait, though, and the prices are very reasonable as well.
On your way from San Gimignano to Siena, we recommend stopping in Monteriggioni. The small, unassuming village is surrounded by a circular wall and home to many beautiful buildings from the Middle Ages. In July, the village even celebrates a medieval festival!
Just like Florence and Pisa, Siena is very popular with travelers. The city not only exudes Tuscan charm but is also home to many fascinating sights. Its old town is a traffic-free zone and therefore perfect for strolling around. The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo comprises the heart of Siena. Twice a year, it is turned into a horse racing track for the famous Palio di Siena. Our favorite buildings in Siena are the Torre del Mangia, the Fonte Gaia, and the famous Duomo. Together, they’ll make your time in Siena simply unforgettable.
Tuscany is also home to one of Italy’s most important wine-growing areas. The Chianti region, home to the red wine of the same name, lies between Florence and Siena. Chianti wine is all about quality, and the wine connoisseurs among you will certainly be able to taste it. The region offers not only exquisite wine tastings and culinary highlights but also a breathtaking hilly landscape covered in vineyards. If you’re not big on wine and would rather take the short route, just follow the panoramic Via Chiantigiana from Siena towards Florence.
Your next stop lies to the south of Siena and is a particularly special one. Welcome to the Val d’Orcia! We’re sure that you’ll instantly fall in love with this valley’s sublime views of golden fields, green cypress avenues, and rustic buildings. It’s the ideal place to slow down and relax. Why not stay at one of the many agriturismo accommodations and spend a few days in a rural idyll? Most of the farms even have a pool!
We also recommend visiting the towns of Montalcino, Pienza, and Montepulciano while you’re in the area. Here, you can spend your day exploring medieval buildings and making your way through a menu of all of the local specialties. Brunello di Montalcino, Pecorino di Pienza, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are just the beginning of this culinary journey. You won’t believe the amount of delicious dishes on offer in the Val d’Orcia.
The Hot Springs of Tuscany
Do you want to experience one of Tuscany’s hidden gems? Then head to one of the many hot springs in the area. They’re the perfect place to relax after some long days on the road. Our favorite thermal baths are the Bagno Vignoni and the Bagni San Filippo, although the more famous one in Saturnia is also certainly worth a visit. The thermal springs of Saturnia with their bright blue water are simply an unforgettable sight! Unfortunately, however, many people feel this way, and the baths tend to be pretty crowded.
To make sure nothing spoils your visit at the hot springs, we recommend wearing bathing shoes. It’s also a good idea to spend no more than 15 minutes at a time in the water and to take a quick shower afterwards.
Your Final Stop in Tuscany: Arezzo
The last stop on your trip though Tuscany is Arezzo. The town is home to many impressive sights, such as the big cathedral and the church of Santa Maria della Pieve. The medieval town is the ideal place to spend the last days of your trip. Arezzo has that quintessential Tuscan flair of historic buildings and a soothing atmosphere. It also has the advantage of not being overrun by tourists.
Arezzo marks the end of your trip through Tuscany. Of course, you can always go back to Florence and explore the city a little more. If you want to fly home, we would suggest heading for Pisa, as one of the country’s largest airports is located there.
Did you expect Tuscany to be this diverse? The region is full or stunning landscapes, impressive artworks, and culinary delights. Now it’s your turn to hit the road and embark on your journey through Tuscany!
If you want to make sure you’re bringing the appropriate type of clothes, check out our Climate Guide to Italy. Now there’s really nothing stopping you from having an unforgettable time in Tuscany!