Italy’s Tuscany province (Toscana) is a favorite tourist destination in a country that is itself one of the most popular places to visit in the world. It evokes images of landscapes famous for rolling hills, cypress trees, and equally famous olive groves and vineyards. Its many pleasures include eating Tuscan food and sipping on the superb local wines in Chianti, enjoying a day at the beach in Viareggio, or simply relaxing in the piazzas of medieval towns.
In addition to these, Tuscany boasts several of the world’s most recognizable Renaissance art and architecture — the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia. So whatever you decide to do, the combination of great art, the splendid countryside, wine-soaked villages, art-rich cities, and extraordinary food and wine make a trip to this captivating region of Italy memorable.
There are several reasons to go to Tuscany and there is a lot to see and do. The dilemma really is where to start, and that thought may be daunting. The more you come to know the region, the more extraordinary Tuscany appears. And this Tuscany travel guide will show you the way and help you plan your vacation to Tuscany.
Tuscany Travel Guide: Top Reasons To Go To Tuscany
1. HISTORICAL SITES AND MUSEUMS A trip to the most remarkable sites and museums will give you a deeper understanding of why modern Tuscany is as it is. Start with the three museums in Siena — Museo del Duomo, Palazzo Pubblico and Pinacoteca — which all contain ancient works of art that predate Florence’s Renaissance.
The Basilica di San Francesco in Arezzo is a must-see. It houses the incredible fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca depicting the Legend of the True Cross, one of the masterworks of Italian Early Renaissance. You should then head to Florence — Uffizi Gallery is one of the world’s very best museums, and Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michelangelo’s iconic David sculpture, is not to be missed.
Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa, famous for the settling of its foundation. Located in the town of Pisa, it’s one of the most remarkable architectural structures to hail from medieval Europe.
Photo Credit: pierodellafrancesca.it
2. CHARMING TOWNS AND ROMANTIC VILLAGES Tuscany may boast having many of the wonders of the world, but what captivates most is the simple grandeur of the region’s medieval hill towns and villages. Lucca, Siena, Cortona, San Gimignano, Livorno, and others are fascinating. These towns are part fortresses, part quintessential habitats, and are the soul of Tuscany.
The small houses, narrow winding streets, fruit trees and vegetable gardens, the amiable bakeries and butcher shops, these charming towns and romantic villages have afforded a distinguished and nurturing life to their inhabitants for centuries. A stroll through one of these towns will infuse you with a sense of belonging, a sense of home. And a sense of romance. It’s easy to fall in love, and to live in Tuscany.
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3. VISITOR-FRIENDLY VINEYARDS Nothing is more satisfying than stumbling upon a relatively unknown winemaker of your own. At visitor-friendly vineyards, you can spend an afternoon exploring the vineyards, tasting the wine and chatting with the owners or winemakers about grapes, wine, and life.
Visiting various wineries is the best way to familiarize oneself with a range of wines, and a good excuse to roam the countryside. The vineyards do vary greatly in size. While the smaller wineries may be architecturally less remarkable, the attention is more personal and the experience more memorable.
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4. TRADITIONAL TUSCAN CUISINE Traditional Tuscan cuisine is largely based on ancient Etruscan recipes and whatever is fresh, ripe and available during a certain season. Nearly all Tuscan restaurants feature traditional cuisine. This folksy, fresh-from-the-farm seasonal fare is heaven for food enthusiasts. And it is one of the healthiest diets in the world. It’s based on lean meats, fish, fresh vegetables, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
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5. AUTHENTIC SHOPS From upscale shops and renowned brands (like Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo) to bargain buys, from local souvenirs to timeless finds, if you desire the latest fashions, you’ll be sure to find them in Tuscany. Though the city’s history with high fashion runs deep, Tuscany isn’t simply known for its designer shops. It is also well-known for all things handmade and artisanal. Quality craftsmanship in Tuscany is indeed a fact of life.