The Top Five Places to Visit in Tuscany

By on April 1, 2014

Spanning an area of 8,900 miles and inhabited by almost four million people, Tuscany is a beautiful region located at the heart of Italy. It’s best known for its breathtaking scenery, sprawling wine estates, an unparalleled history of art and a culture all its own. In that regard, Tuscany is sometimes referred to as a “nation within a nation.” Its identity is so strong that it feels so distinct from the rest of Italy.

While most people only think of Rome when they hear the word “Italy,” savvy travelers know that the Tuscan region has just as much to offer as the Eternal City. After all, this is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to have no shortage of things to do, sights to see and wonders to experience.

If you’re considering vacation in Tuscany, this article is for you. We’re listing down five can’t-miss cities and towns in the region along with the specific spots that you should check out. Follow this list and we guarantee that your tour of Tuscany will be an unforgettable one. Here we go:

fall scents for your home

1.  Florence – This medieval city is the capital of the Tuscan region. It’s one of the greatest art destinations on the planet and it’s a treasure trove of Middle Age artifacts. The first place you’ll want to visit is the Piazza della Signoria. This is Florence’s premier town square as it’s free to enter and it shows off spectacular sculptures crafted by masters in the past. Not to be missed is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. This is the city’s largest place of worship with its 20,000-person seating capacity. It’s dazzling on the outside with its grand stature and colorful marble walls. Inside, the cathedral looks like an art gallery topped off with a masterwork for a dome. The Baptistry, the Bell Tower and the Galleria degli Uffizi are also great places to visit for an art, history and religion standpoint.

Once you’ve had your fix of indoor aesthetics, head out and see the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge is almost 670 years old and it’s Florence’s only surviving bridge from the days when knights and kings ruled the land. Cross the bridge and find Giardino di Boboli, a park full of beautiful gardens, gushing fountains and views of the Florentine landscape. Enjoy the fresh air and let this lovely patch of greenery soothe your soul.

Photo: Torre del Mangia as seen from Piazza del Campo in Siena

Photo: Torre del Mangia as seen from Piazza del Campo in Siena

2.  Siena – A city known for high culture, outstanding cuisine, museums and art, Siena attracts more than a hundred thousand tourists from abroad every year. Its city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral is considered among the best churches in the country. Other centers of Christianity in Siena include the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala and the Archbishops’ Palace.

While in Siena, you’ll also want to visit the excellent Palazzo Chigi-Saracini. Started in the 12th century and finished in the 14th, this palace was expanded in the 18th century and later restored in the early 1900s. Today, it stands proud with its two imposing towers and a magnificent main entrance. Sant’Agostino and  the National Gallery are two other spots in Siena that you shouldn’t pass up on.

3.  Chianti – Nestled between Siena and Florence is the beautiful Chianti countryside. This large patch of beautiful land is home to some of the world’s best wineries. Charming villages are scattered across the area where you can find Tuscan life at its simplest. The Barone Ricasoli Winery is an estate that you should definitely see. You’ll also want to check out the lovely Brolio Castle  which can also be found in the locality.

Photo: Rows of cypress trees and a white road is the typical landscape in Chianti

Photo: Rows of cypress trees and a white road is the typical landscape in Chianti

Photo: The Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa baptistry and the Leaning Tower are all located at  Piazza dei Miracoli

Photo: The Pisa Cathedral, the Pisa baptistry and the Leaning Tower are all located at
Piazza dei Miracoli

4.  Pisa – Pisa has long been associated with its famous leaning tower, but there’s so much more to this town than that iconic attraction. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, the Pisa Baptistry and the Museum of Ancient Boats are all worthwhile stops to those interested in art, history and religion.

Outdoors, you’ll find the Arno river and the lovely streets that run along it. You can also pick up souvenirs in charming shops found in Miracles Square. The merchandise usually bear printed icons of the city or its coat of arms. If you’re looking for big Italian brands when shopping, go to Corso Italia.

5.  Lucca – While not as famous as Florence, Pisa or Siena, Lucca is an equally worthy destination for anyone who’s visiting Tuscany. This city is surrounded by walls that survived the medieval times to become the city’s defining feature to this day. While the walls no longer serve the defensive purpose that they were originally built for, they make an excellent venue for tourists to experience the city’s essence.

Photo: The old city wall of Lucca on a sunny Tuscan summer day

Photo: The old city wall of Lucca on a sunny Tuscan summer day

Lucca’s walls extend for about two miles. The top of the walls are wide enough to be converted into parks where people can walk, bike and relax while enjoying a nice view of the city. The town itself is peppered by about a hundred churches, charming piazzas, museums and shops.

The San Michele in Foro Church, the San Martino Cathderal and the Church and Baptistery of San Giovanni and Reparata are the places to be for the Christian faithful. For people seeking architectural excellence, the Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro and the Guinigi Tower are excellent choices. The Villa Giunigi National Museum and the Puccini House Museum, on the other hand, are there for art appreciation and education.

There you have it, five of the best places to visit when you’re in Tuscany along with the specific spots that you shouldn’t dare miss. There are a lot of other great destinations in this central Italian regions, but these five are the ones that stand out. Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments section below. Ciao!

About the Author

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She’s a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients. For more on Priscila and her work, connect with her on Google+

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The Top Five Places to Visit in Tuscany