These are our most highly recommended vacation accommodations in Tuscany
Many of the valleys and wine zones of Tuscany are fabulously interesting places to visit
Here are just a few of the many things to do for visitors to Tuscany, Italy
Introductions to various aspects of the history, languages and peoples of Tuscany in Italy
One of the most photogenic and interesting mediaeval parish churches in an area rich with romanesque parish churches is the Pieve (parish church) of San Polo in Rosso which dates back to the 12 C. The name of the church is mentioned in a donation of 1070 preserved at Badia di Coltibuono where it is referred to as Sancti Pauli Scito Russo
The parish church (pieve) of San Mamiliano a Cignano, now known as the church of Sant’Emiliano in Borgonuovo, is located on the Arretine hillside of the Val di Chiana, a short distance from the famous Abbey of Farneta, and was probably built along an important road in the area.
The Church of Santi Apostoli (Holy Apostles) is located in Piazza del Limbo in Florence and dates from the 11 C. It is one of the oldest and historically rich of the churches in Florence. The church of Santi Apostoli is where some of the oldest legends of Florence have their roots and it is central to popular festivals such as the explosion of the cart, earning it the popular nickname of “Old Cathedral of Florence”, despite never having been the Florence’s cathedral.
The charming little town of Santa Fiora is located in the eastern extreme of the Maremma on the slopes of Monte Amiata and, along with Arcidosso, is well worth a visit by anyone visiting this area. Santa Fiora is located about 40 km east of the provincial capital Grosseto and about 110 south of Florence, on the river Fiora and in close proximity to Monte Calvo, to Monte Labbro in the west and to Monte Amiata in the north.
The Church of San Giovanni Maggiore is located about 3 km away from Borgo San Lorenzo. It can be reached on foot along a cypress-lined pathway. The facade of the church is embellished by a loggia renovated in the 20 C. The bell tower, known as the “Campanile Alberto”, is quite famous.
Montebenichi is located in the municipality of Bucine in the Province of Arezzo of Tuscany. The village is situated on a hilltop between the Chianti Aretino and the Chianti Senesi, dominating the Valdambra, right on the border with the municipalities of Gaiole in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga. The views from the village are truly splendid, sweeping across the Crete Senesi to Monte Amiata in the south, Cortona in the east and Sienna and beyond in the west.
Along the road that leads from the small village of San Dalmazio to the Rocca Sillana, not far from Radicondoli and Pomarance, are the remains of the ancient Pieve di San Giovanni Battista di Sillano (Parish Church of St. John the Baptist at Sillana). The church was a large building, which has been abandoned for centuries and is now reduced to a state of ruin.
The fortress of Ceserana is located in Garfagnana (Province of Lucca). It is located on a hill on the left bank of the Serchio river. Inside it is a Romanesque church dedicated to Sant’Andrea
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo (Abbazia di Sant’Antimo) is an extremely beautiful romanesque church and monastery located at in Castelnuovo dell’Abate near (10 km) Montalcino in a lovely rural setting. Sant’Antimo was formerly an important Benedictine monastery in part due to its situation about 9 km from the Via Francigena, the pilgrimmage route to Rome.
Villa Gamberaia and its italianate garden is one of the most famous of the classic Renaissance Tuscan villas and, indeed, is ranked among the most beautiful villas in Italy.
Villa Gamberaia is also one of the few truly spectacular Tuscan villas still in private hands. Villa Gamberaia is located in the beautiful hills of Settignano within easy reach of central Florence by car or bus. The gardens of the villa are open to the public for a small entry fee, and the gardens can be rented for events such as weddings and fashion shows. It is also possible to rent the villa itself.
The Castle of Vicchiomaggio is in fact a splendid Renaissance villa incorporating the remains of a very early, probably Lombard, castle. It is also a producer of some of the best Chianti Classico wines – indeed, some of the best wines in Italy.
Fiesole is actually an older settlement than Florence but was long ago overtaken by its former rival in the Val d’Arno below. For centuries Fiesole has been the favoured retreat of Florentines during the hot summer months and it still provides cool summer air and magnificent views.
The holiday of a lifetime – a couple of weeks relaxing in a luxury Tuscany villa! Throughout the province of Tuscany and especially near the art cities of Florence and Sienna, patrician villas are to be found in beautiful situations, usually vine-covered hillsides with spectacular panoramic views.
Panzano is located at the highest point and almost exactly midway along thescenic Via Chiantigiana road from Florence to Siena. Parts of the original castle remain, incorporated into the church and also as an independent tower.
Monteriggioni is one of the most famous and attractive castles in all Tuscany. Its curtain wall and fourteen towers are virtually intact, and the interior is now occupied by a small and peaceful village.
“Strade Bianche” means “white roads” and in Tuscany this expression refers to the network of unpaved back roads that run among the vineyards and olive groves of the Tuscan countryside. The name comes from the colour of the dry earth and the limestone gravel and small stones of these roads during the Tuscan summer.
Badia a Coltibuono was founded in 1051 by monks of the Benedictine Vallombrosan Order who also began planting the first vineyards in the Upper Chianti area. In 1810, when Tuscany was under Napoleonic rule, the monks were forced to leave Coltibuono and the monastery was deconsecrated and, after passing through a number of hands, was bought by the Stucchi-Prinetti family.
Sienna (Siena in Italian) is second only to Florence as a Tuscan “art” town, and, for many, its much smaller size and the absence of traffic in the historical centre make it more than the equal of Florence as a place to enjoy the treasures of Romanesque and Renaissance Italy, as well as the modern Italian lifestyle.
Greve in Chianti is a small town situated in the valley of the Greve stream, half-way along the scenic Chiantigiana highway (SS 222) that runs from Florence to Sienna. Greve has an attractive, arcaded, triangular piazza with several ceramics and wine shops
Italy is famous for its formal gardens. This style of gardening, rediscovered in Tuscany during the Renaissance and based on classical Roman precepts, had great influence on garden design in England and especially in France. Early formal English gardens were influenced by the fountains, cascades and use of statuary that are essential elements of Italian Renaissance gardens.
Ponte della Pia is a bridge of Roman origin, rebuilt in mediaeval times, which is accessed in a heavily wooded area from the SS73 near the town of Rosia in the municipality of Sovicille, in Tuscany. It was the only bridge spared from the German demolition in the Padule di Stigliano in 1944, and was therefore used by the allied troops. The bridge consists of a single arch, the current structure of which dates back to the early 13 C.
Pontassieve is a small town located about 14 km east of Florence at the point where the River Sieve joins the Arno. Pontassieve was severely bombed during WW II but the small historical centre has been well-restored
Pistoia is the capital of the Province of Pistoia in Tuscany and is located equidistant between Lucca and Florence. Despite its attractions, Pistoia seems to be unjustly neglected by visitors to this part of Tuscany.
The Monastery of the Holy Saviour at Lecceto in Tuscany, commonly known as the Eremo di Lecceto, was the principal House of the order of the Hermit Friars of Saint Augustine in 1256, when Pope Alexander IV constituted the Augustinian order internationally. It was dedicated to Saint Saviour.
The Acquedotto del Nottolini is often mistaken for an ancient Roman aqueduct, but in fact construction began in 1823 according to the design of the architect Lorenzo Nottolini, under the rule of Maria Luisa of Spain, Duchess of Lucca, and continued until 1851.
Tuscany, world famous for its landscapes, its climate, its agricultural produce and its life-style is also a land rich in thermal pools, hot springs and wellness spas.
Lamole is a small village high up in the Chianti hills, accessed from a turnoff between Greve and Panzano. While Lamole is a charming little place in itself, the main reason for a visit is the beautiful drive up, passing by the famous renaissance Villa Vignamaggio and the Castello di Lamole along a road lined by cypresses and offering spectacular views.
Badia a Passignano. According to tradition, a monastery was founded at Passignano by Sichelmo in 890. An Abbey (Badia) was established 1049 as a consequence of the Vallombrosan monastic reforms, and took the form of a quadrangular fortified structure with corner towers.
Florence, the art and architecture capital of Tuscany and one of the most important art cities in the world. Probably the best months to visit Florence are May, June, September and October. July is very pleasant in terms of weather but is already crowded with tourists. August can be very hot and humid because Florence is located in a valley that traps heat.
The beautiful and intriguing Ponte della Maddalena is a bridge crossing the Serchio river near the town of Borgo a Mozzano in the province of Lucca, located some 24 km north of Lucca and 5 km from Bagni di Lucca.
Volterra is an archetypal Tuscan hill town. Its very high and isolated location have preserved much of its original character. Part of its walls, the acropolis and the Porta dell’Arco gate are Etruscan and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum is one of the best in Italy.
Cortona has seen its fame increase over the past few years with the publication by Frances Mayes of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and other books about her life in this area. However, Cortona, Italy has always rightly been a popular Tuscan “hill town” destination – Tuscan “hillside town” would better evoke Cortona’s steep, narrow mediaeval streets.
Arezzo is an attractive town located high on a hill above the upper reaches of the River Arno in eastern Tuscany. The cathedral, the town hall, the Medici Fortress and numerous other architecturally interesting structures are in the ancient higher area of Arezzo.
The Castello di Pierle (sometimes known as the Rocca di Pierle) is strategically located near the town of Mercatale, in the municipality of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany, and in its prime was one of the most powerful fortresses in the region, since it dominated a unique route between the Val di Chiana, Lake Trasimeno and Valtiberina.
San Gimignano is famous for its Tuscan tower houses. These were a common sight in Tuscan towns during the late middle ages but most city rulers ordered them to be torn down as a measure to reduce intramural discord.
Villa Corsini a Mezzomonte near Impruneta is one of three villas in Italy bearing the name Corsini. There is the former Villa Corsini “dei Quattro Venti” in Rome, destroyed during the Garibaldian uprising and now incorporated into the grounds of Villa Doria Pamphili.
Bagno Vignoni (sometimes Bagni Vignoni) is famous for its thermal baths. It was popular with the Romans (and probably the Etruscans) and rose to prominence again during the middle ages because of the proximity of the Via Francigena, the north-south pilgrimage route through the Italian peninsula.
The ancient Pieve at Brancoli is one of the most atmospheric mediaeval structures in a Region, Tuscany, that contains a great many of them, and is well worth a visit if you are exploring the environs of Lucca. The Brancoleria, where the church is situated, stretches between the valley and the slopes of Mount Pizzorne, upstream on the Serchio river, approximately 10 km from Lucca.
As one would expect from a region with a rich three thousand year history, Tuscany is packed with interesting sights and each visitor should decide ahead of time on which attractions to concentrate. The “art cities” of Florence, Lucca, Sienna and Pisa are packed with artistic and architectural attractions to which only a good guide book (or two or three) can do justice. Do your homework before you leave.
Ponte Colandi is considered to be among the most beautiful bridges in the Turrite Secca valley. Colandi Bridge is located in Fabbriche di Vallico (now Fabbriche di Vergemoli), and is also called the Ponte della Dogana because it was indeed once a customs post.
Radicondoli is a tranquil Tuscan hill town that lies well off the beaten tourist track in the northern part of the “Metalliferous Hills” on the borders of the Alta Maremma, between the Val d’Elsa and the Val de Cecina.
Hotel Villa Le Barone is a four star villa hotel located in the Chianti countryside above Panzano in Chianti, halfway between Florence and Sienna, in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Tuscany. Villa Le Barone offers air-conditioned, luxury rooms and suites, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a restaurant with indoor and outdoor terrace dining as well as very extensive beautiful grounds and gardens.
Uzzano Castle is a fine Renaissance villa located on the outskirts of Greve in Chianti. Traces of the ancient castle may be discerned in the remains of a watch tower but the predominant form of the structure is now a large 17 C villa with an excellent italianate garden restored in the 18 C.
The classic Tuscan villa known as Villa La Foce is situated among the hills that overlook the Val d’Orcia, a beautiful valley in Southern Tuscany. The villa was built in the late 15 C as a hospice for pilgrims and merchants travelling from Rome along the Via Francigena to points north. In 1924, it was occupied by Count Antonio Origo and his English wife, the famous author Iris Origo, and the villa became a prosperous farming centre despite the difficulties of working the clay soil of the Crete Senesi.
Populonia is the location of some of the best-preserved Etruscan tomb structures and other remains in Tuscany, plus a small Etruscan museum. It was an important metalworking city for the Etruscans and one of the few of their cities built right on the coast.
The Val d’Orcia is one of the most diverse and yet distinctive areas in Tuscany, Italy, and the landscape of the Val d’Orcia has been designated a UNESCO world heritage centre. The Valdorcia is more than just the valley of the river Orcia.
The Castle of Verrazzano retains the designation “castello” (castle) but is in fact a Renaissance villa built around a mediaeval tower. The castle is famous as the seat of the family of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the navigator who discovered New York harbour.
Vinci is located in northern of Tuscany near Florence, on the slopes of Montalbano, an area of classic Tuscan hills carpeted in vineyards and olive groves on terraces supported by dry stone walls. Top view, suggests a boat with two masts (where the two trees would be the tower of the fortress of the Guidi and the bell tower of the church of Santa Croce). The historic center of the village of Leonardo is known, for this reason, as the “Castle of the ship.”
The holiday of a lifetime – a couple of weeks relaxing in a luxury Tuscany villa! Throughout the province of Tuscany and especially near the art cities of Florence and Siena, patrician villas are to be found in beautiful situations, usually vine-covered hillsides with spectacular panoramic views.
The Maremma is a geographical area covering part of western Tuscany, notably the Province of Grosseto, and a small part of northern Latium (Lazio). It can be divided into the Alta Maremma (upper or northern Maremma) which borders on the Provinces of Sienna and Pisa, and Bassa Maremma (lower or southern Maremma) south of Grosseto and around the Costa d’Argento.
Villa Vignamaggio is located on the road to Lamole from Greve andPanzano. As it stands today, it is a splendid Renaissance villa rebuilt during the 15 C and the 16 C by the Gherardi family and showing a clear influence of the architecture of Brunelleschi.
Brolio Castle is a nineteenth century Gothic revival structure built on the foundations of an important fort originating in the 10 C. During Medici times, Brolio Castle was greatly modified with the addition of some of the first anti-cannon bastions constructed in Italy.
Pisa is a city of unique and to some extent under-rated beauty. Pisa is of course one of the most famous towns in the Region of Tuscany. Many tourists arrive at Pisa airport en route for Florence and neglect to visit anything except the Leaning Tower. In fact, Pisa is well worth a stay of a few days and even makes a good base for a vacation in NW Tuscany. Pisa is only 20 minutes from the coast and has excellent transport links to Florence, Livorno and La Spezia.
Volpaia is a well-restored mediaeval village located in central Chianti. Part of the walls and two of the original six towers of Volpaia are preserved, the largest of the two housing the Castello di Volpaia wine shop and osteria. Volpaia was the hometown of a famous Florentine family of clock- and instrument-makers and is now an attractive tourist destination with three restaurants, a small grocery and some vacation rental apartments.
Colle di Val d’Elsa is located in the province of Sienna on a high hill overlooking the valley of the river Elsa, in central Tuscany. The town was probably founded during the Dark Age, sometime before the 10 C when it was first documented. During its early history,
San Miniato is an attractive town half-way between Florence and Pisa formerly known as San Miniato al Tedesco to distinguish it from San Miniato al Monte, the beautiful basilica just above Florence.
Montelupo Fiorentino is historically and also today one of the most famous centres of painted majolica and ceramics production in Tuscany, and is within easy reach of Florence.
“Tuscany“ is the name of one of the larger of the 20 Regions of Italy (similar to states in the USA and counties in the UK), and is located in northern peninsular Italy, bordering the Tyrrhenian sea to the west. In Italian, Tuscany is Toscana, and its capital is Florence (Firenze, in Italian). Tuscany is roughly triangular in shape with an area of about 23,000 sq km (8,878 sq mi) and is divided into ten Tuscan provinces.
The city of Lucca is located in western Tuscany and should at the very least be included in any tour of Tuscany. Lucca also makes an excellent base for your stay in Tuscany. The city is flat, compact and relatively uncrowded making it a very pleasant place to stay.