One of the most attractive and picturesque Italian regions, Tuscany, has a lot to offer to its ever growing number of visitors: art, history, culture, tradition, stunning nature, vineyards, fresh and tasty food, handmade crafts…
Here are top five places that you have to see when visiting this amazing region!
This beautiful renaissance city once ruled by the powerful Medici family, will give you a unique experience of an easygoing city with artsy and trendy neighbourhoods, but at the same time preserving its history and culture. Florence is also a romantic destination, and you will know why when you see the beautiful Ponte Vecchio and the gardens on the other side of the Arno river. Check out the most famous art collection at Uffizi Gallery Museum, try the traditional bistecca fiorentina T-bone steak, and admire the view from one of the nearby hills. To make the best of your time in Florence, check our post on 24 hours in Florence.
Although home to many churches and medieval palaces, as well as to one of the oldest universities in Italy, the most famous sight in Pisa is the leaning tower located at Piazza dei Miracoli. This unique square is actually a large meadow with the cathedral, bell tower (the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and the baptistery. It is possible to climb up the bell tower, but be prepared for a large queue. On a sunny day, you will be absolutely mesmerized by the contrast of white marble, clear blue sky and the green grass.
One of the most beautiful medieval cities, with the historic center included on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Siena is mostly known for its shell-shaped town square, Piazza del Campo. There you can see the town hall, Palazzo Pubblico, with the famous tower, Torre del Mangia (88 meters tall which makes it the third tallest tower in Italy). Piazza del Campo is also the place for the traditional horse race, Palio, that is held two times a year (on 2 July and 16 August, remember the dates if you want to check it out). The participants of the race represent their city districts, known as contrade (dating back to the Middle Ages). They all have their matching uniforms and banners with traditional symbols for each contrada.
This primarily ancient and medieval city is actually known for its intact city walls dating back to the renaissance period. Even though the city expanded and modernized over the years, the walls remained intact and were transformed into a pedestrian promenade. The most famous square in Lucca is the elliptical Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, former Roman Amphitheatre whose foundations and base date back to the first or second century B.C. Now, the square is surrounded by houses and cafés, and can be reached through four gateways. Lucca is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, famous Italian opera composer, and has a long tradition of hosting cultural events, like Lucca Summer Festival (music festival).
5. San Gimignano
To round up your Tuscany adventure, you should visit one of the most stunning medieval towns in Italy – San Gimignano. Located on a hill, among vineyards and fields, San Gimignano offers dozens of preserved medieval towers, churches and civic buildings. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, when in San Gimignano, you have to try the finest Italian white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made from an ancient variety of Vernaccia grapes and famous since the renaissance period. San Gimignano is also known for its production of saffron, olive oil, cheese, sausages and honey. In addition, the ice cream shop Gelateria Dondoli is officially recognized as the best ice cream shop in the world, with its gelato maker Sergio Dondoli who won the last two editions of Ice Cream World Championship. Among his most famous creations are Crema di Santa Fina (cream with saffron and pine nuts), Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Vernaccia sorbet, etc. Could there be a better way to finish your vacation?
If you are planning to visit Tuscany, check getbybus.com to find the best travel options from your city, or see some of the most popular routes like Milan to Florence, Zurich to Florence, Rome to Florence, Venice to Florence. If you will be flying to Florence, check our post about reaching Florence city center from the airport. Once you reach Florence, all the other towns are in close vicinity, so you won’t have problems with finding the best train/bus line.