When people think of Tuscany, so many beautiful things come to mind. For a lot of travellers, the mere mention of this region in Italy evokes mental pictures of historical sites, architectural marvels, wineries, and vineyards. The part of Italy known for having the most awe-inspiring pastoral landscapes, it is a photographer’s dream destination.
And Tuscany is truly all that and more, because it also home to picturesque Tuscan towns worth exploring, each offering a wealth of attractions for you to enjoy. Below are 5 idyllic towns and cities you must visit when in Tuscany.
Famous for being the cradle of the Renaissance, Florence, or Firenze, is a must-visit for visitors to Italy. Art and architecture lovers will have a grand time admiring the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, exploring the Boboli Gardens, taking in the panoramic views from Piazzale Michelangelo, and appreciating the masterpieces housed at the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze.
Aside from that, more can be expected from this picture-pretty travel destination. The entire city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you’ll definitely come across less-heralded romantic spots and incredible views neatly tucked on cobblestone streets and obscure alleys as you discover the city’s highlights.
Considered one of the most charming cities in Italy, the city of Siena, just like Florence, is a haven for travellers who are interested in art and architecture. The entire city is dotted with structures that are classic examples of Gothic architecture like the Siena Cathedral and the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, to name a few.
Siena’s historic centre is also named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one attraction you shouldn’t miss is Piazza del Campo, one of Europe’s most popular medieval squares. Situated right smack in the heart of the city, Piazza del Campo is famous for its architecture and exquisite and unique shell shape.
The city is also home to several noteworthy museums such as the Museale di Santa Maria della Scala where you’ll find paintings by Bartolommeo Bulgarini and frescoes by Simone Martini and the brothers Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Museale di Santa Maria della Scala was one of Europe’s earliest hospitals and was created specifically for the care of abandoned children, the poor, and sick pilgrims.
Famous for the Leaning Tower, the Tuscan city of Pisa is definitely a bucket list destination. Unknown to many, however, there’s more to Pisa outside the world-renowned architectural wonder. Also within Campo dei Miracoli, just a stone’s throw away from the Leaning Tower, are the Duomo, Baptistry, and Camposanto — structures that are just as breathtaking.
Other attractions in Pisa include the Museo Nazionale di San Mateo, the Palazzo Reale, and the University of Pisa. Museo Nazionale di San Mateo houses a wide collection of art and sculpture while Palazzo Reale is a museum dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the courts and holds an interesting collection of armour that spans a couple of centuries.
Established in 1343, the University of Pisa is one of the oldest and most distinguished universities in Europe. Notable personalities who attended the university include Galileo Galilei, Enrico Fermi, Carlo Rubbia, and Giovanni Gentile, among others.
Another well-loved travel destination in Tuscany is the town of Lucca. Accessible by car or by train, it makes for the perfect day trip from either Pisa or Florence.
What makes Lucca popular among travellers is that the town, located at the foot of Apuan Alps, features many historical attractions, including the 16th century walls that surround the old town. The top of these walls have been converted into a pedestrian promenade and a bike ride along its length is encouraged for those who are looking to enjoy the best views, which could very well be the highlight of their visit to Lucca. Tourists can also climb the Guinigi Tower to marvel at the panoramic views of the city. Other top attractions in Lucca include the Piazza of San Michele, the Church of San Michele in Foro, the Basilica of San Frediano, and the Piazzetta San Carlo.
Furthermore, Lucca is also a haven for shoppers. The city boasts some of the greatest outdoor markets in the region, especially the Antique Market, where you’ll score the best deals on antiques, jewellery, and furniture. For great vintage finds and locally produced items, Market Ambulante, open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, is the place to be.
A small walled hill town in Tuscany, San Gimignano is another must-see during your exploration of Tuscany. San Gimignano is famous for its 13th century walls and tower-houses. The noble families that controlled the town built 72 towers as a symbol of their families’ wealth and power, 14 of which remain standing to this day. Amid a backdrop of rolling meadows and expansive vineyards, the sky-piercing towers are a sight to behold.
Needing tour recommendations for your Tuscan holiday? Check out these Tuscany tours and activities!
By: Brendelyn Balaga