Tuscany is a region in Central Italy that has been winning the hearts of travellers for many years. From its mountain ranges, to rolling hills it has a breath-taking beauty in its countryside as well as in its culture. Long known as being the birth place of the Renaissance, Tuscany is rich in Art and Culture, indeed it is a region packed full of beauty and heritage. There are a lot of reasons to visit Tuscany, from its art filled cities such as its capital Florence, to its amazing architecture such as the leaning tower in Pisa to its wonderful countryside that is perfect for walking and cycling in.
Then there is the food and wine. The region is famed for its vine yards and wines such as Chianti and Vino Nobile di Monte Pulcano and for the simplicity of its wonderful food.
A holiday in this Region of Italy affords you so much to see and do it can be difficult to narrow it down but here are my top 10 things to do whilst staying in this stunning region.
Top 10 Things to do in Tuscany
1. Visit Florence.
This has to be number 1 because nobody should go to Tuscany without visiting its Capital. Florence is built alongside the River Arno and is breathtaking in its beauty. You are almost over whelmed with all of the art work and architecture that is on display. From Il Dumo that towers majestically over the city to The Uffizi Gallery that houses amazing works of art such of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Florence is a city to walk around and be charmed.
2. Tower of Pisa.
No doubt one of the most famous building’s in the world, a trip to Tuscany should surely include a stop in Pisa to view the leaning tower. This famous bell tower is undoubtedly the symbol of Pisa. The tower was begun in 1173 but progress was halted because of subsidence which is why the tower leans. By 1275 work on the tower began again and it was finally completed in the mid 14th Century.294 steps will take you to the top of the tower if you can cope with the feelings of dizziness whilst making the ascent, if not stand and be amazed at this amazing piece of architecture from ground level
3. Stroll through San Gimignano.
This Italian hill town surrounded by 13th Century walls is a town full of medieval charm. This stunning town is often referred to as the Tuscan city of Towers due to the 14 medieval towers that are still standing. A much smaller number than the 70 that the town had back in its hey day in the 14th Century but still an impressive sight. The town is full of reminders of medieval times gone by. The frescos on
the walls of Duomo in the Piazza Duomo are well worth going to look at along with the thousand year old towers that surround the square. Porta San Giovanni is a most impressive gate that is well worth going to take a look at. Completed in 1262, this gate gave access to the city from the South and is an amazing piece of architecture to look at.
4. Siena Cathedral.
The Cathedral In Siena is definitely worth going to pay a visit to and if you have already been inside the cathedral in Florence then be prepared for what you will find inside. Where as the inside of the Florence Cathedral is almost spartan, in Siena you won’t know what to feast your eyes on first. From the black and white striped marbled columns to the decorated floors there is so much to take in and see.
Built between 1215 and 1263 the colours of white and greenish black marble that the exterior and interior are decorated in are the symbolic colours of Siena. Even if you don’t want to pay the entrance fee to view the inside, the exterior of this amazing Cathedral is very impressive.
5. Take a Trip to Elba Island.
Elba is the largest Island on the Tuscan Archipelago and is part of the National Park, the largest marine park in Europe. Elba is famed as being the place that Napoleon fled to in 1814 during his exile. Now Elba is known for its crystal clear waters, amazing marine life and as a fabulous place to go to for water sports. Diving and snorkeling are very popular but all outdoor activities are catered for, from mountain biking and hiking to golfing. Then after all that activity a relaxing time spent in the thermal spas could be just what is called for.
6. Take a Wine Tasting Tour.
Tuscany is famed the world over for its excellent vineyards nestled in the rolling hills of the countryside and for some of the world’s most famous wines such as Chianti, so what better way to spend some of your time in Tuscany than by taking in a wine tour. While you are on the tours you will get to taste some of the best wines on offer and also get a taste of Tuscany that you other wise might not see. The tours are a great way to get out into the Tuscan countryside and experience another way of life away from the art and heritage of this wonderful Region.
7. Walk Through the Hills.
The amazing rolling hills of Tuscany must be one of its most famous images so what better way to explore this delightful scenery than by taking a walk through them. Whether you decide to have a whole holiday designed around walking or are just going to go on a day trip you will find that walking through the Tuscan Hills will leave you with memories that you will treasure forever.
8. Visit Lucca.
Lucca which lies on the Serrchio River is renowned for the Renaissance walls that encircle the historic centre. This is a perfect destination to explore on foot and behind its imposing walls you will find cobbled streets and piazzas that are perfect for strolling through. Take time out and sit down and relax in a shaded area and enjoy some of the best food and wine that you will taste, after all the area of Lucca is renowned for its olive oil production. Lucca is a place to stroll around and enjoy, a place of quiet beauty and interest and has to be one of Tuscany’s best kept secrets.
9. Visit the Beach.
Although most people when thinking off Tuscany would regard it as a place of stunning countryside that gets its tourism from people visiting the cities and hills, 40% of its tourism comes from the beaches. Tuscany has around 250 miles of coastline and in this there are some stunning beaches, so whether you are going to just have a day trip or book a beach holiday there are plenty of lovely spots to choose from. Forte Dei Marmi is probably Tuscany’s most famous beach town and is a great place to stay, whilst the Argentario Peninsula has the most memorable beaches.
10. Tour an Italian Garden.
A great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the cities is to take time out and visit a beautiful Italian Garden. Design wise the Italian Renaissance Gardens are considered to be the best in Europe. From The Boboli Gardens at The Pitti Palace to the Giardino Bardini, with its expansive views over Florence, a trip around an Italian Garden should be included in your holiday.