Tuscany is one of Italy’s most visited destinations. The rolling hills, vineyards, and incredible food scene draw in thousands of tourists from all over the globe. This region of Italy isn’t just one place though. In fact, the area is made up of interesting towns, small cities, and natural areas that are all equally beautiful. If you’re visiting Tuscany and want to fully explore this beautiful part of Italy, here are 17 of the best places to see.
Did you know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in Tuscany? In fact, to see the tower, you’ll have to visit the small town of Pisa, which is certainly worth exploring. When arriving, your first stop should definitely be the tower so you can get one of the obligatory tourist pictures. What’s even better than seeing the tower is watching all of the other visitors getting into the strangest positions so they can get the perfect photo. People will be scattered around the tower trying to make it look as if they’re holding it up with their finger, back, or one arm. It’s pretty entertaining and worth taking photos of as well. After your photo shoot, wander the town, grab some pizza, and check out the other historic churches (there’s about 20 of them.) The University of Pisa is historic and worth seeing, as is the Caposanto Monumentale cemetery.
The city of Siena draws in over 160,000 tourists every year. It’s brimming with historic, brick buildings Medieval era, and features a 14th-century tower (which you can climb to see the view of the city) and a Gothic-style town hall and public square. The city center is quite historic and since they banned traffic from the area in the 1960s, it’s well-preserved. No vehicles make this place perfect for sightseeing and wandering around. This city isn’t all historic though. With a university as a focal point, they have a thriving nightlife and food culture too. Plus, visitors can check out the art museums and professional sports games.
This large city is one of the most popular places to visit in Tuscany. It’s historic, beautiful, and absolutely filled with art and culture. It’s Tuscany’s capital city, and home to more than 1.5 million people. Since Florence played such an important role in the birth of the Renaissance, it was dubbed a World UNESCO Heritage Site. Florence is the city where visitors can see the site of da Vinci’s annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery. And, a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia will yield a sighting if Michelangelo’s David statue. If you’re interested in museums, Florence has a ton of them, many of which are famed internationally, and others that are small and niche. While wandering Florence, make sure to enjoy the pizza and the nightlife.
Lucca is surrounded by a Renaissance-built city wall which has earned it fame around Tuscany. It’s a quaint and historic city that is lined with cobblestone streets, small gardens, and a distinct historic center. Visitors can wander the walking paths or take the biking trails to explore more secluded areas of the city. It’s home to historic and well-preserved cathedrals and towers that are highlights on the sightseeing trail. Some towers allow visitors to climb inside so make sure to take advantage of the views. While visiting, make sure to visit the museum and former home of Giacomo Puccini, a famous opera singer. And, when hunger calls, don’t hesitate to try local specialities like zuppa di farro al lucchese and tortellini lucchese.
Livorno is a port city and one of the most important in Italy as it contributes significantly to the country’s economy. It can be found right on the Mediterranean coast and is lined with a boardwalk along the sea. Visitors can walk around the path and watch the massive ships come in and out of the harbor. A favorite for visitors is the Nuova Venezia, an area made up of cobblestone streets, small alleyways, and historic buildings. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of the city because it’s lined with canals. While visiting, make sure to check out the Piazza della Repubblica, Terrazza Mascagni, and the central market.
This central city can be found right in the middle of the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. Nestled on a hillside, one part of the city is known for its historic old town while the other focuses on trade and industry. Most visitors come to see the old town which is found on the top of the hill and is home to beautiful buildings. If you’re visiting, be sure to see the Teatro Petrarca, the Duomo San Donato, and the Fortezza Medicea. Museum fans should make a point to see the museum of modern art and the archeological museum And, since Arezzo is dotted with beautiful parks, outdoors lovers will have something to do as well.
This city can be found close to both Pisa and Florence, making it an easy add-on to one of these trips. While it may not be as famous as its neighbors, Pistoia is certainly worth a visit on its own. During the Middle Ages, this city was extremely important, especially as the birthplace of the pistol gun. While visiting, make sure to check out the zoo, Museo Capitolare, Zeno and its Baptistery, and the San Giovanni Fuorcivitas. Another reason to visit; it’s surrounded by mountain towns that are both beautiful and interesting to explore. Love nature and hiking? Take a side trip to the Monte Cimone mountain range for a nice trek.
Tuscany has a few hidden gems and this is certainly one of them. This small town is located quite close to Siena, so add it on to your trip if you’re visiting there. The historic town is small and can be found situated on an ancient limestone ridge that stands 600m high. The views of the countryside are incredible and worth visiting just for the photo opportunities. If you’re interested in Medieval architecture, even more reason to visit Montepulciano. Check out the Porta al Prato, Palazzo Cervini, Chiesa di San Biagio, and Torre di Pulcinella. Don’t forget to take a look at the surrounding vineyards too! They produce the famous wine, Vino Nobile.
Once the largest textile manufacturer in Italy, Prato has been an influential city for years. It can be found in central Tuscany and has a lot to offer in the ways of tourism. While visiting, make sure to see the Emperor’s Castle and the Duomo di Prato, as well as the Textile Museum to get a solid understanding of Prato’s history. The culinary scene here is worth exploring too. If you have anything, make sure it’s the famous Biscotti and the cured Mortadella Salumi. The area is also popular with cyclists as there are several beautiful trails to explore by bike.
This Tuscan region can be found amongst the countryside, giving it some of the best views in the area. It’s so stunning that Italy deemed it a protected area to preserve its beauty. Visitors will find an array of vineyards, quaint towns like Montalcino, Pienza, and Radicofani, and a scenic heritage railway. Pienza is one of the most popular towns in Val d’Orcia for its beauty and Renaissance settlements. The entire region is full of natural beauty and sightseeing opportunities and is best explored by car.
If you want to see the most authentic, Medieval town in Tuscany, San Gimignano is the place. While the town may be small, it’s known for its whopping, 14 ancient towers and its city walls. The collection of towers makes for a stunning skyline and gives visitors a vantage point from which to view the countryside. After checking out the view, spend some time in the central plaza, and visit the town’s archeological museum and Museo Estrusco.
Island of Elba
This stunning island is famous as the destination where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814. Today it has a small population of 32,000, and is a hotspot for tourists who love the sea. It’s lined with comfy beaches full of golden sand and perfect sunbathing opportunities. And, it’s sprinkled with cultural attractions like the Villa San Martino (Napoleon’s residence) and the Heritage Iron Mine. The foodie scene here is pretty serious so if you want to try delicious, Italian cuisine and Elba wine, you’ll love it here.
If you’re in southern Tuscany, stop into Grosseto for tons of history and beautiful architecture. It may not be the most popular city in the region, but it packs in the culture. The historic town center is the main draw as many of the original city wall and defensive bastions still stand. After you’ve finished photographing the impressive buildings, take some time to explore sites like Aldobrandeschi Palace, Porta Corsica, Duomo di Grosseto, and Bastione Cavallerizza. Don’t forget to visit the Piazza Dante, as it’s one of the most beautiful spots in town and is home to some of Grosseto’s most important buildings.
Chianti Wine Region
If you drink wine, especially Italian wine, you’ve probably heard of Chianti. It’s one of Italy’s most popular beverages and the growing region is located in Tuscany. Aside from producing one of the most delicious wine offerings in Italy, the Chianti region is absolutely stunning. It’s lined with a rolling hill of vineyards and stunning views of the countryside. While exploring Chianti, make sure to stop off at the small and interesting villages along the way. There are also plenty of wineries that offer samples and tours of their vineyards so you can dive deep into the wine culture here. Notable villages to visit include; Panzano, Greve, and Chiocchio. Hire a car and drive yourself through the countryside to get the best views and see the most of this beautiful destination.
If you’re ready for some rest and relaxation on your trip to Italy, this is the place. It’s a well-known spa town located in between Lucca and Pistoia. It offers a beautiful setting for visitors to enjoy while visiting the various wellness centers and spas. Relax in the thermal baths or get luxury spa treatments in a relaxing setting. Since Montecatini Terme connects to an adjacent mountain town, Montecatini Alto, by rail, you can visit there easily as well.
Located on the Carrione River, just 100 kilometers from Florence is Carrara, a Tuscany commune. It’s most known for being a quarry site that produces blue and white marble, and for being a quiet town that represents the atmosphere of the countryside well. Visitors can join in a marble quarrying and cutting workshop to learn all about the trade. The waterfront is another popular tourist haunt as there are public beaches, restaurants, and pretty views. History fans should visit the Piazza del Duomo which features a Romanesque, white marble cathedral from the 11th century. And, make sure to pop into the historic house that Michelangelo was said to have frequented.
Cortona is a former Roman colonial city that is believed to be connected to the Biblical story of Noah. It is a hilltop city and is known for its cultural significance and beautiful architecture. Make sure to visit the Etruscan Academy Museum which holds artifacts from Roman, Egyptian, and Etruscan cultures. Visit the Diocesan Museum which holds artworks by Fra Angelico, the various archeological sites around the city, Piazza Garibaldi, and the various Etruscan tombs.
Tuscany is one of the most diverse and beautiful regions in Italy. There is so much to do here that you’ll have your hands full the entire trip. From seeing world-famous attractions like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Michelangelo’s David, to drinking Chianti from the source and soaking in the spas, there is much to do and see here. Whether you see Tuscany by car, bike, or on foot, you’ll be sure to have a wonderful time that is both packed with culture and history.