Tuscany is found to the north-west of central Italy and is one of the most popular, and most beautiful, parts of the country.
It contains the renaissance masterpiece city - Florence - and several other very fine cities and towns such as Lucca, Arezzo, Cortona and Siena. The famous leaning tower is of course found at Pisa, to the west of the region.
But it is not just the fine cities that attract visitors to Tuscany. The countryside is exceptionally beautiful, with rolling countryside (although parts are more mountainous) interspersed with pretty villages and the famous cypress trees of the region.
To the north of the region lies the Garfagnana valley, a lovely fertile valley perfect for hiking and cycling, with the renowned quarries of Carrara a little to the west. See also the lovely medieval town of Certaldo in this part of Tuscany, and the cathedral town of Empoli.
Heading south from Pietrasanta and along the coast towards Pisa and Lucca, the art nouveau town of Viareggio is worthy of a visit, and opera lovers will want to visit Torre del Lago Puccini, the home of the great opera composer.
Inland from here, heading towards Florence, you can visit Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci; some interesting historical buildings at Pistoia and Prato; and the smaller towns of Artimino and San Miniato. Between Pistoia and Florence the exceptional Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano is also recommended.
The town of Fiesole, a little north of Florence, well merits a detour as does the ancient etruscan town at Chiusi.
Casentino: In the hills to the east of Florence we suggest you spend a few days touring the Casentino district including the abbey at Vallombrosa, the village of Montemignaio, the castle at the hill town of Poppi, the monastery and hermitage at Camaldoli, the village of Stia (source of the Arno river) and the villages of Raggiolo and Bibbiena and also clusters of villages such as Pratovecchio, Cetica and Castel San Niccolo. Capolona and Pelago are also interesting destinations within the Casentino.
Heading south through central Tuscany towards Siena, the highlights include San Gimignano - a 13th century town with an excess of medieval towers, and the attractive hilltop towns of Volterra and Colle di Val d'Elsa. The stunning walled town at Monteriggioni should not be missed.
The renowned Chianti wine region is found between Florence and Siena.
The region to the east of Siena has numeous highlights, including the active town at Arezzo with its impressive religious monuments and frescoes (e.g. in the Church of San Francesco). The very scenic town of Cortona is also in this region.
Also demanding a visit in this part of Tuscany you will find the historical Tuscan towns of Anghiari and Sansepolcro (to the east), also Montepulciano and the smaller villages of Pienza (UNESCO listed town in the Val d'Orcia) and Montalcino. The collegiale church and Museum of Sacred Art at Chianciano are also in this part of Tuscany.
The barren lanscapes of the Crete Senesi region provide an interesting contrast.
Heading back towards the coast of Tuscany, you pass the fine abbey ruins at San Galgano and the interesting historic centre of Massa Marittima. The island of Elba, forever linked with Napoleon, is off the coast here.
The Natural park of Maremma north of Talamone and its beautiful scenery of the coast here lead on to the nature reserve of Monte Argentario and, inland, the lovely cluster of villages at Pitigliano, with Sovana and Sorano close by. The thermal baths at Saturnia are also very popular, as they have been since the Etruscan period.
Most Beautiful Villages - Tuscany
The following Italian towns and villages in Tuscany are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy':
Anghiari / Barga / Buonconvento / Castelfranco di Sopra / Cetona / Coreglia Antelminelli / Cutigliano / Giglio Castello / Loro Ciuffenna / Montefioralle / Montescudaio / Pitigliano / Poppi / San Casciano dei Bagni / Scarperia / Sovana / Suvereto
Orange Flag Tourism towns in Tuscany
The following Italian towns and villages in Tuscany are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy'(a national tourist award):
Anghiari / Barberino Val d'Elsa / Barga / Casale Marittimo / Casole d'Elsa / Castelnuovo Berardenga / Castiglion Fiorentino / Certaldo / Cetona / Collodi / Cutigliano / Lari / Lucignano / Massa Marittima / Montalcino / Montecarlo / Montefollonico / Montepulciano / Monteriggioni / Murlo / Peccioli / Pienza / Pitigliano / Radda in Chianti / Radicofani / San Casciano dei Bagni / San Gimignano / Sorano / Suvereto / Trequanda / Vinci / Volterra
Suggested places to visit in Tuscany
Map of Tuscany & places nearby