Beautiful Tuscany offers a sunny country, full of vineyards and colorful landscapes, ancient towns and unforgettable flavors. The district bordering the Apennines and the Alps is considered by many to be one of the most romantic and beautiful places in the world, with varied sights that look like they came out of a postcard. You will surely also be happy to know that it is the home of some world-famous wines (among them the coveted Chianti Classico) and even of the modern Italian, which originated in Florence, the capital of the province. Famous individuals such as the artist Leonardo da Vinci and the Medici noble family, whose Renaissance collections are displayed throughout Tuscany, were also born here.
It is very easy to move between the ancient towns and villages of Tuscany, by car as well as by public transport. The places are not too far from each other, so it is possible for travelers to pass between several towns throughout the same day without spending too much time on the road. In between, it is recommended to stop at one of the wineries on the way or at one of the museums, chat with the nice locals (usually in very basic English) and stop for photos in one of the pastoral sunflower fields of course.
The main and recommended cities in Tuscany
The capital of the district, located on the banks of the Arno River, is considered one of the most sought-after vacation cities in the world and therefore also one of the busiest. Renaissance artists flocked here in the early centuries to practice their art, among them Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Donatello and many other important artists, all of whose works you can meet in the Uffizi Gallery and the Bargeello Museum – one of the most important museums in all of Italy . If you cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River, you can also absorb a colorful and good street atmosphere, which includes small shops and restaurants on both sides. The must see of the city is the Duomo – the great cathedral that offers an extraordinary view of the whole city.
This interesting Renaissance town will be very difficult for you to miss during your visit to Tuscany, as it is considered one of the most prominent tourist sites of the province and the signs to it on the roads cannot be missed. The old town of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and within it you will find the Piazza del Campo: a magnificent square where the Palacio Publico palace is located, which is the town hall and is topped by a bell tower. On the dates of 2.7 and 16.8, the traditional horse race of Siena takes place around the piazza , which is visited by tourists from Italy itself and from all over the world. The city is divided into 17 different quarters, named after animals. The Duomo of Siena is considered particularly impressive, thanks to the facade of the bronze exhibits, which were sculpted by delicate and elaborate handwork.
An act in a quiet, standard city, with a fairly comfortable lifestyle since the Middle Ages, which and the leaning tower in it have become international icons and a center of attraction for millions of tourists every year. The leaning bell tower of Pisa began to sink on one side upon completion of construction and remained in exactly the same position for decades. Around the tower, there is a large and attractive square for travelers that is surrounded by a wall and also contains the cathedral building, the Camposanto (burial building) and the baptistery (the local Christian baptismal site).
One of the must-sees in Tuscany, where you can go back in time to the 14th or 15th century and actually hear the clatter of the horses’ hooves rolling the carriage on the stone pavements, the market vendors offering all kinds of goods and the swords of the knights clashing while training in the courtyard the closed San Gimignano is surrounded by ancient watchtowers and in the center is an ancient water well, which used to be the local water source. In the city you will find several beautiful and impressive palaces.
Southeast of the town of Siena (about 50 km from it), you will find Pienza, a small, picturesque and romantic town, located on an impressive hill and from where you can look out over the dreamy valley of Orche. Here Pope Pius II was born and the main square in the city is named after him Other street names in the town, by the way, are from the world of love, such as “Bachi Street” (kiss). In the same square you will also find a series of ancient and unusual buildings, the most prominent of which is the Gothic cathedral, which combines several elements from the Renaissance period. Next to it are the Piccolomini Palace, The Bishop’s Palace and a number of other special palaces. It is worth going deeper into the charming town and absorbing the ancient charm that surrounds it, mainly thanks to the fact that most of the houses here have not undergone any changes since the 15th century. In addition, it is recommended to taste and buy the famous Picorino cheese here.
It’s hard to forget Montepulciano and not only because of its complicated name. The steep ascent (about 650 meters above the surface of the green-glowing Tuscan ground) ends in an isolated city surrounded by a wall at times, with an extraordinary skyline (overlooking two local valleys: Orche and Chiana). Montepulciano is considered one of the famous towns in Tuscany also in the culinary sector. The local grape variety responsible for the Vino Nobilla di Montepulciano brand is considered by many to be the finest Italian wine. In addition, do not give up the special pastas here. The old quarter of the town provides a lot of interest, also at the level of special souvenirs and the authentic atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
Ancient, famous and especially preserved. The town of Lucca, which lies north of Pisa and west of Florence, is located on a relatively high level, which allows it to overlook the surroundings and stand out favorably in the local landscape. The city walls, which have been completely preserved since the 16th century, allow tourists to walk on them and look out over the landscape outside, the ancient quarter inside, and also the beautiful Tuscan vegetation, which was planted along the promenade of the walls. In Lucca itself you will find several successful piazzas, palaces, a Roman amphitheater, a church and several good museums. It is important that you know that the residents of Lucca are very sacred to the lunch break, so if you prefer to maintain a good atmosphere, take advantage of the rest hour for a light relaxation in one of the cafes.
The small and intriguing town was for hundreds of years the home of the Jewish community and therefore earned the name “Jerusalem of Tuscany”. Pitigliano is located on a steep cliff that overlooks a breathtaking green valley and was inhabited as far back as the sixth century BC. Over the years, the Romans also came to it and left their unique architectural mark. The old city is surrounded by a wall and inside it is an ancient synagogue, which was destroyed in the 1970s by a rock slide and was later restored by the local winegrowers. It is recommended to come for a few hours, wander between the walls, admire the view and enjoy local food and wine.
You may have already seen a glimpse of it, thanks to Roberto Bennini’s famous film “Life is Beautiful” and now is the time to get a much deeper impression of its beauty: ancient alleys inhabited by houses with red roofs, an abundance of vineyards and green fields around, a joie de vivre and peace that fill you with energy and also some pretty things successful that can be seen and done. The bonus is that less tourists come to his country than to Florence, Siena and Pisa, so most of the time you don’t suffer from overcrowding. The central square is Piazza Grande, which also appears in the film itself and is home to a spectacular antiques market (Saturdays and Sundays) and a number of successful museums. The must-see point of the place is Piazza San Francesco and the basilica of the same name, where there is a series of wall paintings (“The Legend of the True Cross”) that tell the story of Christianity.
And for dessert, the natural and perfect spa resort, the hammam of Tuscany if you will. Saturnia and its neighboring town, Sovana, are two ancient and magical gems that are suitable for travelers looking for a good and unique attraction. The Cascate del Mulino pool series offers a beautiful sulfur waterfall, which carved several holes in the ground that function as a natural hot spring at a constant temperature of 37.5 degrees. Pampering? Completely. The Stornia site is open for free throughout the year and its waters are rich in minerals and sulfur. In addition, you can stay at the local spa hotel (donation) Terme di Saturnia.
Where should you stay in Tuscany?
Tuscany is such an authentic place that the recommended accommodation there will also be in unique accommodations and much less in the usual hotels. The boutique hotels of the Tuscany region offer wonderful estates where ancient buildings such as fortresses or palaces have been placed, whose rooms have been converted into modern accommodations. The overwhelming majority of them have a swimming pool and a local restaurant, while in some you can also find spa centers, gyms and activities for children.
If you are looking for a private villa to stay in, you will usually find large complexes with a large amount of bedrooms (10-20 rooms in one villa usually) and surrounded by lovely agricultural fields or vineyards. At the price level, this is a more expensive option, so it is recommended to invest in it for several couples or families vacationing together. Some of the villas have a large swimming pool and most have bike paths, restaurants in good proximity and attractions such as horse riding, cooking workshops and markets.
The must-do points of Tuscany – the most recommended attractions
Towns along the wine route
Tuscany is rich in wine vineyards, so it is worth dedicating part of your visit to it also for the sake of exploring the fine wines. The wine road of the Chianti region is actually the S222 road, which winds through famous wineries, vineyards and several ancient towns. You can follow the yellow signs that will direct you to the boutique wineries that are suitable for buying and tasting. It is recommended to stop in three beautiful and special towns: Castellina in Chianti (Castellina in Chianti) which has been preserved since the 15th century and offers a special pedestrian street of artists and cafes, Radda in Chianti (Radda in Chianti) and Garba in Chianti (Garba in Chianti), both of which have a beautiful and interesting central square .
Some believe that the name of the town gave birth to the English word “pistol” which means gun and you will immediately understand why. Pistoia is a small town at the foot of the Apennines. Relatively few tourists come to it, so it is suitable for those looking for a way to escape from the crowds at the height of the season, or a good place to take a walk on the way to Pisa. The inhabitants of Pistoia were involved in a bloody local struggle during the Middle Ages and they were considered to be instigators of strife and inflaming the conflict. Every July, the town holds a series of cultural events, culminating on July 25, in which a traditional festival since the 14th century called Giostra dell’Orso takes place.
The Uffizi Museum in Florence
Galleria degli Uffizi has already been mentioned here, but it is one of the main must-sees in the whole of Tuscany, so don’t miss it by any means. Masses of tourists come to Uffizi throughout the year and the entrance is characterized by a long and exhausting queue. Therefore, it is highly recommended to order tickets in advance. Inside the museum you will find the most spectacular and largest collection of Italian paintings from the Renaissance period, while it is also recommended to visit Santa Croce, where particularly influential personalities such as Galileo, Rossini, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Ghiberti were buried.
National Heritage Sites
There are six places throughout Tuscany that are designated by the United Nations as National Heritage Sites: the Ancient Center in Florence, the Ancient Center in Siena, the Historic Center in San Gimignano, the Pisa Cathedral and the Piazza, and the Val d’Orcia (Valley of the Orchea River, also known as Length or Daursia, depending on the different pronunciation around the world).
How do you get to Tuscany?
You can reach Tuscany by direct flights or through the low-cost companies, or by charter flights that offer connections in other destinations in Europe. The flights from Israel usually land in Rome or Milan and rarely also in Verona and Florence. Milan is closer to Tuscany, so most travelers will prefer to land and take off from there. The best flight prices can be obtained through the low-cost companies or through a connection flight, with one of the well-known European companies, for those who do not want to give up the baggage and meal conditions. The duration of the flight is 4 hours (the time difference between landing in Milan and Rome is about 20 minutes at most). To save significantly on the plane ticket, you should know that the longer your waiting time at the connection destination is delayed, the cheaper the flight price becomes. However, on vacation with children or with older people, it would be more desirable to choose the direct flight options and avoid an overly arduous arrival.
Getting around in Tuscany is easy and simple and it is very easy to find your way around the place. It is advisable to rent a car that will help with movement between the cities but not within. Park the vehicle in the appropriate parking lot outside the town you arrived at and proceed on foot from there. Most of the trip in Italy, whether in Tuscany or in other cities, is done on foot and usually in crowded and crowded places. You should be prepared for this in advance. If you prefer not to drive, you can reach most of the main destinations via the Rome-Florence train line (the train stops at several stations in Tuscany, including Siena), or by buses, minibuses and taxis.
When should you go to Tuscany?
The climate of Tuscany is very similar to the warm and sunny Israeli climate, although in the winter months Tuscany is colder than Israel and may even be much rainier than Israel. Therefore, summer is the recommended season for visits, when the months of March-April or September-October are the pleasant ends and also more free from tourists. Tourism records are recorded in the district in the months of July-August, so it is recommended to pre-order all accommodation complexes, tickets to the various attractions and the rental car for them. It is recommended to check whether on the dates of your arrival and stay there are festivals or events taking place where you are, on the one hand it is very worthwhile to participate in them and on the other hand, prepare accordingly in terms of the density of the city and traffic congestion.