Tuscany is a region of incredible contrasts. Bustling cities like Florence, Pisa and Grosseto showcase a wealth of architectural masterpieces at every turn. In the countryside, rolling hills and sunflower-strewn fields are flanked by vineyards and medieval towns. On the coast, sparkling cerulean waters stretch as far as the eye can see. The shorelines are peppered with upscale resorts, lively harbors, and superb seafood restaurants. Our Tuscany Travel Guide has something for everyone. Whether your ideal vacation involves cycling country roads, soaking up history, or a spa day – Tuscany has you covered.
How to Visit Tuscany
Most visitors to Tuscany will fly into Florence or Pisa. The airports receive domestic, European, and international flights. If you’re traveling from other destinations in Italy, you can drive to Tuscany easily. The main highway, E35, stretches from Milan to Rome passing through Tuscany en route. Additionally, there are several coastal and interior roads leading you to Grosseto, Pisa, Siena and Lucca. Two main train stations serve Tuscany in Florence and Pisa. Most arrivals will change at one of these stations for countryside Tuscan towns. And you can easily access the region by bus, with several lines operating regular services to this picturesque region of Italy.
How to Get Around Tuscany
Florence and Pisa are the main rail hubs for Tuscany. Therefore it’s easy to reach interior towns such as Lucca, Siena and Grosseto or coastal regions like Viareggio and Livorno. Buses also operate from Tuscan towns and cities to the Chianti wine region, San Gimignano, Volterra, and coastal resorts. If you wish to experience Tuscany a little differently, rent a convertible car and see the countryside as the Italians do. Alternatively, hire a bicycle or scooter and tour the region at your leisure.
Neighborhoods of Tuscany
Florence is a city for art aficionados, food and wine lovers, and anyone who appreciates the finer things in life. Its impressive Duomo Cathedral is a must-see. Explore palaces filled with colorful frescoes and a host of sculptures, galleries and museums. One thing is certain: it’s wise not to forget your camera!
Chianti Region & Siena
Imagine overlooking the Tuscan countryside, sipping on fine wines, and wandering through piazzas lined with Gothic palaces. Then dining in backstreet osterias on the chef’s dish of the day. If that sounds like an ideal holiday to you, you’ll adore the Chianti Region and the historic town of Siena. In addition, the nearby villages of San Gimignano and Volterra aren’t to be missed! This region is representative of medieval Tuscany, relatively unspoiled and abundant with ancient traditions still alive to this day.
Northwestern Tuscany & Lucca
Near the sparkling waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, this region is perfect for those seeking cultural activities and beach fun. The medieval town of Prato boasts a historic center filled with Renaissance artworks and architectural gems. And in the heart of the region, Italy’s most famous spa, Montecatini Terme, beckons with mineral-rich waters and spa treatments. The elegant city of Lucca is famous as the birthplace of opera aficionado, Puccini. Whats more, you’ll find a charming center with great restaurants, historic piazzas and artisan shopping.
Tuscan Coast & Pisa
Pisa sits between the historic city of Lucca and the beautiful Tuscan coast. This ancient maritime republic is well-known for its main landmarks. These include the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Baptistry. However, there’s much more to see in the city if you delve a little deeper. Strolling along the banks of the River Arno, you’ll discover colorful architecture and tiny chapels set beneath a backdrop of rolling Tuscan hills. And in charming piazzas, you can sip wine while admiring ornate palatial buildings – each holding their own rich history. A little further along coast, the busy resorts of Livorno and Viareggio offer delightful seafood restaurants and markets. If you continue south, you’ll reach unspoiled Uccellina Natural Park and jewel of the Tuscan coastline, Castiglione della Pescaia.
Food, Drink, & Nightlife
No Tuscany Travel Guide is complete without highlighting the region’s world-class cuisine and wine! In fact, much of Tuscany’s nightlife involves sitting in picturesque piazzas, dining in osterias, or sampling local wines in backstreet wine cellars. However, in Florence and Pisa you’ll discover stylish bars and buzzing nightclubs to dance until dawn. And large coastal resorts like Livorno and Viareggio have plenty to experience after dark. If you want to learn the secrets of traditional Tuscan cuisine while sipping regional wine, a cooking class is a must!
If you enjoy all things designer, head to Florence. The city offers names like Gucci, YSL, Prada, and Salvatore Ferragamo among its stores. In addition, you can find hand-crafted sandals, handbags and jewelry from independent local designers. Hilltop villages of central and southern Tuscany are filled with artisan stores selling local crafts and wines. Foodies will adore the selection of Tuscan delicacies – with cheeses, olive oils, and truffles on offer. Ceramics are also a popular purchase in Tuscany. Hand-painted jugs, vases, plates, and more can be discovered in many cities and rural towns.
In Tuscany, history, art and culture can be experienced at every turn. It’s easy to see why Da Vinci, Dante, and Michelangelo found inspiration in the region. With a red-tiled Duomo Cathedral, outdoor sculptures, palaces, and gardens, the city is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. In Pisa, the Leaning Tower takes center stage. And in Siena, people flock from all over Italy to experience their bi-annual ‘Palio’ medieval horse race. Don’t forget the exquisite Tuscan coast! Historic villages and towns such as Livorno, Pietrasanta, and Castiglione della Pescaia await. Last but not least, there is wine territory. In the towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, their culture is driven by food and fine wines. What’s not to love?
No Tuscany Travel Guide is complete without recommendations of where to stay! And Tuscany has something for everyone. Ultra-chic boutique boltholes. Luxury palatial villa hotels. Family farm-houses and B&B’s. 5-star hotels overlooking the River Arno. Coastal delights of upscale Forte dei Marmi. No matter your preferences, you’ll find them here. But, when in Tuscany, indulgence is part of the experience. And if you want an elevated level of comfort, you can’t go wrong with Villa Fontelunga, Il Borro, Villa Sassolini, and Badia di Pomaio.
What to See Near Tuscany
After checking off everything on our Tuscany Travel Guide, move on to the next phase of your journey. The historic city of Bologna in Emilia-Romagna lies a couple of hours northeast of Florence. Bologna is a major manufacturing, economic and transport hub in northern Italy. Renowned for its art galleries, museums, and mouth-watering tortellini, this is a much-overlooked city. You may decide to venture north along the Tuscan coast to the five villages of Cinque Terre. Arrive in style by chartering a boat from La Spezia and sailing to these beautiful, pastel-hued villages for exceptional photo opportunities.