Tuscany, Italy: travel guide and places to visit

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Tuscany is perhaps the best region of Italy to visit if you want an introduction to the charms of the country, with the great artistic cities such as Florence and Siena, the famous leaning tower of Pisa, beautiful scenery, lovely villages and hill towns, vineyards and olive groves, and much else...

Tuscany travel guide and places to visit

For a summary of the most popular sights in the region see also Tuscany places to visit.

Tuscany is in the north-west part of central Italy and is one of the most popular, and most beautiful, regions of the country. The region contains the renaissance city of Florence as well as several other fascinating 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.

Luca, Tuscany

But it is not just the famous cities that attract visitors to Tuscany, and you will also enjoy exploring the beautiful countryside, visiting the pretty villages and hill towns and enjoying the landscapes of vineyards and olive groves, rolling fields and mountains, and the famous cypress trees of the region.

The main challenge you face when you visit Tuscany is the number of things that you will want to see and the limited amount of time you probably have available!

Note that although Tuscany does have seaside resorts, it would not usually be first choice for a beach holiday in Italy (except perhaps around Elba and the south-west) but the beaches are ideal if you just want to spend a day or two at the coast during your visit.

To help with your planning, below we consider the main attractions by region within Tuscany: the north and Florence; the centre and Siena; and the southern and eastern parts of Tuscany. The most 'famous' sights are generally in the northern half of Tuscany.

Northern Tuscany and Florence: places to visit

Florence itself is of course world famous as the centre of the Italian renaissance, with highlights including the Duomo and the Baptistry; the renaissance artworks in the Uffizi gallery and Michelangelo's David in the Galleria dell'Accamedia; the Medici Villas and the Palazzo Vecchio. See our Florence guide for details.

The town of Fiesole, a short distance north of Florence, is a very ancient town with several interesting monuments and is an interesting contrast to the crowded streets of Florence.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

To the far north of  Tuscany the Garfagnana valley is a lovely fertile valley of steep forested hills and ancient villages around Barga that is perfect for hiking and cycling, with the town and famous quarries of Carrara that provided the marble for many of the Roman and renaissance artistic masterpieces a little to the west.

You can also enjoy a stroll around the spa town of Bagni di Lucca while more energetic visitors will want to explore the Apuane Alps mountains to the west of Garfagnana that are very popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

Between Florence and the coast to the west the most famous destinations are Pisa with the world famous monuments such as the Leaning Tower in the Piazza di Miracoli; and Lucca, a lovely historic walled town best known for its impressive romanesque churches.

Other notable highlights between Florence and Pisa include the cathedral town of Empoli, the village with a roman church and renaissance villa at Artimino and the chance to visit Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and now home to a museum explaining his life and works. An excellent place to stop and explore if you are travelling between Florence and Pisa is the small hill town of San Miniato, halfway between the two cities.

You can also see some interesting historical buildings in the towns of Pistoia and Prato and a trip to see the exceptional Medici Villa at Poggio a Caiano is also recommended.

Highlights on the coast in this part of Tuscany include Pietrasanta and the seaside resort at Viareggio with its art nouveau architecture is also worthy of a visit while opera lovers will want to visit Torre del Lago Puccini, once the lakeside home of the great opera composer.

Casentino

In the hills to the east of Florence we suggest you spend a few days touring the quiet Casentino district. There is a lot to enjoy here 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).

You can also explore the villages of Raggiolo and Bibbiena and also clusters of villages such as those at Pratovecchio, Cetica and Castel San Niccolo. Capolona and Pelago are also interesting destinations within the Casentino.

Central Tuscany and Siena: places to visit

The city of Siena is quite different in character to Florence and one of the most lovely medieval towns in Italy, in particular in the streets around the extraordinary Piazza del Campo in the heart of the old town.

Siena in TuscanyThe cathedral and bapistry, the Museo dell'Opera and the gothic style town hall are among the many highlights - see Siena guide for details.

Between Florence and Siena you can explore the ancient villages and vineyards of the renowned Chianti region.

North of Siena the highlights include San Gimignano, a lovely 13th century town well known for its medieval towers - and its crowds, and also the tiny jewel of a fortified village at Monteriggioni.

The attractive hilltop towns of Volterra and Colle di Val d'Elsa are among others to visit, and quiter than San Gimignano, and you should also explore the lovely medieval town of Certaldo while you are in the Elsa valley The stunning walled town at Monteriggioni is yet another highlight here.

The region to the east of Siena has numerous highlights, including the lively town of Arezzo with its impressive religious monuments and frescoes such as those in the Church of San Francesco. The very scenic town of Cortona is also in this region, and we also suggest a trip to explore historic Anghiari while enthusiasts of Renaissance art will want to visit Sansepolcro, birthplace of the renowned artist Piero della Francesca.

South and east Tuscany: places to visit

The southern part of Tuscany contains less famous towns and sites than the northern part of the region but has its own particular charm and there are still a good number of interesting places to visit.

Betwen Siena and Cortona you can see the rolling landscapes of the Crete Senesi region, perhaps the exact landscapes you imagine when you think of  Tuscany and centred around Asciano and Buonconvento.

Siena in TuscanyIn and near the Crete Senesi region the highlights include the historic centre and castle of the quiet hill town of Montalcino and also San Galgano with its impressive abbey ruins. A little further east, you should also take a detour to explore the interesting historic centre of Massa Marittima.

Also in this part of south-east Tuscany you will enjoy visiting the historic town of Montepulciano and also the village of Pienza (a UNESCO listed town in the Val d'Orcia). The collegiale church and Museum of Sacred Art at Chianciano are just a short distance south of Montepulciano, and the ancient town at Chiusi is also interesting, with the etruscan tombs and museum to visit.

In the far south of the region, the Natural Park of Maremma north of Talamone has some beautiful coastal scenery, and the nature reserve of Monte Argentario to the south and the island of Elba to the north.

On the peninsula that includes Monte Argentario you can visit the ancient port town and popular seaside resort of Porto Ercole and also take a ferry to visit the attractive island and medieval village of Giglio Castello.

Elba is a picturesque island that entered into the history books when Napoleon was sent into exile here. It is now a very popular destination with attractive countryside and mountains, vineyards and olive groves, as well as numerous lovely sandy beaches and impressive coast scenery. See the Elba travel guide.

Inland to the east of here there is a lovely cluster of ancient villages with Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano which is a pleasure to explore. The natural thermal springs at Saturnia are also very popular, as they have been since the Etruscan period.

Tuscany highlights - a photo gallery

  • countryside
  • hills
  • morning
  • pitigliano
  • rooftops
  • san-gimignano
  • siena
  • sunset
  • volterra

Most Beautiful Villages in Tuscany

The following Italian towns and villages in Tuscany are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy': Anghiari / BargaBuonconvento / Castelfranco di Sopra / Cetona* / Coreglia Antelminelli / Cutigliano / Giglio Castello* / Loro Ciuffenna / Montefioralle* / Montescudaio / PitiglianoPoppi / 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

See also:

Map of Tuscany and places to visit

Places to visit near Tuscany

Abbey of San Galgano

Abbey of San Galgano

The Abbey of San Galgano and the Chapel of Monte Siepi together make up one of the most impressive medieval gothic monasteries in Italy

Abbey of San Galgano

Anghiari

Anghiari

The historic village of Anghiari in eastern Tuscany is listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy'

Anghiari

Arezzo

Arezzo

Centred around the lovely Piazza Grande, Arezzo has many highlights including numerous monuments and frescoes by Piero della Francesca

Arezzo

Artimino

Artimino

In the fortified village of Artimino you can see a lovely 11th century church and an important renaissance villa and etruscan museum

Artimino

Asciano

Asciano

The small town of Asciano is in the heart of the Crete Senesi region of southern Tuscany

Asciano

Bagni di Lucca

Bagni di Lucca

The spa town of Bagni di Lucca was established in the 19th century and is now a popular base for enjoying the natural environment

Bagni di Lucca

Barga

Barga

The cathedral town of Barga is well placed to explore the Garfagnana region of northern Tuscny

Barga

Bibbiena

Bibbiena

With its roots in Etruscan times, the village of Bibbiena is visited for its numerous small churches and palazzos

Bibbiena

Buonconvento

Buonconvento

In Buonconvento you can explore the ancient walls and palazzos of this pretty medieval village in Crete Senesi in Tuscany

Buonconvento

Camaldoli

Camaldoli

Camaldoli, in Casentino, is visited for the Holy Hermitage and Monastery in the village

Camaldoli

Capolona

Capolona

The region around Capolona in Tuscany is visited for the traditional frescoed village churches here

Capolona

Carrara

Carrara

The town of Carrara is famous for producing the marble used by the Ancient Romans and Rebnaissance artists such as Michelangelo

Carrara

Castel San Niccolo

Castel San Niccolo

The historic centre of Castel San Niccolò in Tuscany is small but very picturesque and unspoiled

Castel San Niccolo

Castellina in Chianti

Castellina in Chianti

Castellina in Chianti is an ancient Etruscan hill town in Tuscany with a history dating back 3000 years

Castellina in Chianti

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is a quiet market town and good base for exploring the pretty Garfagnana countryside.

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Certaldo

Certaldo

Both the historic centre of Certaldo and the scenic Tuscan landscapes around the village contribute to its appeal

Certaldo

Cetica

Cetica

In Cetica village in Tuscany you can see a medieval stone bridge and some interesting small ancient churches

Cetica

Chianciano Terme

Chianciano Terme

Highlights in the small Tuscany town of Chianciano include the Museum of Sacred Art and the Collegiale Church

Chianciano Terme

Chianti

Chianti

The famous wine growing region of Chianti in Tuscany has lovely landscapes and pretty villages to explore

Chianti

Chiusi

Chiusi

Both the National Etruscan Museum and an Etruscan labyrinth can be seen in ancient Chiusi

Chiusi

Colle di val d'Elsa

Colle di val d'Elsa

The highlight in the Tuscan town of Colle di Val d'Elsa is the medieval centre of the upper town

Colle di val d'Elsa

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona is one of the loveliest Tuscany villages and also has impressive views across the rolling landscape

Cortona

Crete Senesi

Crete Senesi

The Crete Senesi region south of Siena is a very lovely part of Tuscany with traditional villages and scenic countryside

Crete Senesi

Elba

Elba

The Tuscan island of Elba is a lovely combination of beaches and mountains, port towns and traditional villages

Elba

Empoli

Empoli

In the quiet town of Empoli you can explore the medieval piazza and surrounding streets

Empoli

Fiesole

Fiesole

Just north of Florence, Fiesole has lovely views across the city and also an impressive archaeology site with Roman and Etruscan monuments

Fiesole

Florence

Florence

The city of Florence is one of the most lovely cities in Italy, and home to a great deal of Renaissance masterpieces

Florence

Garfagnana

Garfagnana

The scenic Garfagnana in northern Tuscany is a region of steep forested mountains and traditional villages and towns

Garfagnana

Isola del Giglio and Giglio Castello

Isola del Giglio and Giglio Castello

The Isola del Giglio and medieval village of Giglio Castello are 16 kilometres off the coast of south-west Tuscany

Isola del Giglio and Giglio Castello

Lucca

Lucca

Lucca is one of the most important Tuscany towns, and one of the most beautiful towns in Italy

Lucca

Maremma

Maremma

The Maremma Regional Park is a scenic natural environment of beaches, reclaimed marshes and hills in southern Tuscany

Maremma

Massa Marittima

Massa Marittima

The medieval centre of Massa Marittima and the museums combine to make an interesting destination

Massa Marittima

Montalcino

Montalcino

The medieval hill town of Montalcino, in the Crete Senesi region of central Tuscany, is overlooked by its 14th century castle

Montalcino

Montefioralle

Montefioralle

One of the 'most beautiful villages in Italy', historic Montefioralle is a picturesque village in the Chianti region of central Tuscany

Montefioralle

Montemignaio

Montemignaio

The church and castle are the highlights in Montemigniaio village, Casentino

Montemignaio

Montepulciano

Montepulciano

The charming Tuscan town of Montepulciano also has lovely views across the region from its elevated position

Montepulciano

Monterchi

Monterchi

The small Tuscan hill village of Monterchi is best known for its rare painting by Piera della Francesca

Monterchi

Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni

The tiny village of Monteriggioni is one of the most intact fortified medieval towns to be found anywhere in Italy

Monteriggioni

Monticchiello

Monticchiello

Monticchiello is a lovely Tuscan hill village that retains its ancient defences and has lovely views

Monticchiello

Pelago

Pelago

Pelago village still retains its medieval marketplace, churchs and palazzos

Pelago

Pienza

Pienza

Pienza, UNESCO heritage site, is one of the most interesting small towns in Tuscany

Pienza

Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

The 14th century church is just one of the places of interest in old Pietrasanta

Pietrasanta

Pisa

Pisa

More than just the famous leaning tower, Pisa has an exceptional cathedral, baptistry and historic town centre

Pisa

Pistoia

Pistoia

Rather overlooked by visitors to Tuscany, Pistoia actually has an impressive cathedral in the historic town centre

Pistoia

Pitigliano

Pitigliano

Dramatically situated Pitigliano is one of the loveliest villages in southern Tuscany

Pitigliano

Poggio a Caiano

Poggio a Caiano

At Poggio a Caiano you can visit the Medici Villa, first Renaissance style villa in Italy

Poggio a Caiano

Poppi

Poppi

The small village of Poppi has an imposing 13th century castle

Poppi

Porto Ercole

Porto Ercole

Porto Ercole is a popular holiday resort on the Monte Argentario peninsula of southern Tuscany

Porto Ercole

Prato

Prato

Prato is the historic centre of textile production in Italy and has several historic monuments and museums of interest to visitors

Prato

Pratovecchio

Pratovecchio

There are several notable churches and monasteries in and near the medieval village of Pratovecchio

Pratovecchio

Radda in Chianti

Radda in Chianti

Radda in Chianti is a village in the steep wooded valleys to the east of the Chianti region of Tuscany

Radda in Chianti

Raggiolo

Raggiolo

The small village at Raggiolo is on the side of a hill surroundd by chestnut forests

Raggiolo

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

This village of medieval towers is one of the most beautiful, famous and visited in Italy

San Gimignano

San Miniato

San Miniato

Midway between Florence and Pisa, the hill town of San Miniato is a lovely place to break your journey and explore

San Miniato

Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro is well known as the birthplace of famous renaissance artist Piero della Francesca

Sansepolcro

Saturnia

Saturnia

The hot springs and series of waterfalls at Saturnia make it a very popular natural highlight in Tuscany

Saturnia

Siena

Siena

Siena is an exceptional medieval city in Tuscany with numerous impressive monuments

Siena

Sorano

Sorano

Sorana is a very well preserved medieval town in southern Tuscany

Sorano

Sovana

Sovana

At Sovana, listed among the most beautiful villages in Italy, you can also visit the Etruscan necropolis

Sovana

Stia

Stia

The quiet town of Stia has several buildings and artworks of interest to visitors

Stia

Talamone

Talamone

Talamone is a pleasant harbour town and gateway to the Maremma Natural Park

Talamone

Vallombrosa

Vallombrosa

At Vallombrosa you can visit the important abbey-monastery and the 11th century Hermitage of the Paradisino

Vallombrosa

Viareggio

Viareggio

The resort of Viareggio is one of the most popular in Tuscany and well known for its art deco architecture

Viareggio

Vinci

Vinci

The Tuscan village of Vinci is famous for being the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci

Vinci

Volterra

Volterra

Volterra has varied highlights, with an Etruscan museum, a Roman theatre and a medieval town centre

Volterra