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If you are looking for a holiday that offers beautiful landscapes, excellent food and limitless art and culture, then Tuscany is the destination for you. It is home to wonderful cities such as Florence and Siena, some world-famous wine regions and is the birthplace of the Renaissance. If you are now wondering how to start planning your trip, don’t stress, we have you covered! In this article we will bring together all the basic information you need for an unforgettable time in Tuscany.
You cannot go to Tuscany without visiting the region’s most famous city! Florence is a city rich in history and culture where you could spend weeks and still not see everything.
The city is home to some of the world’s greatest Medieval and Renaissance artworks, such as Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell ’Accademia, magnificent palaces, ancient churches, beautiful gardens and some wonderful places to eat.
If you only have a few days here, make sure to take a look around the renowned Uffizi Gallery, see David at the Galleria dell ‘Accademia and take the climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo on the opposite bank of the Arno for some spectacular views over the city. Take in the magical Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace and enjoy evening strolls along the Arno and the Piazza della Signoria.
To the south of Florence sits the Gothic splendour of Siena. This atmospheric medieval city is centred around its famous central square, Il Campo, the former Roman forum. It is here on this piazza that the world famous Palio horse race takes place with races between the city’s 17 different ‘Contrade’ in July and August. Race days are full of pageantry and fun rivalry between the traditional opponents each with their own emblem and colours which festoon the city. It is a fun time to visit the city.
The city is also known for its soaring medieval architecture. On Il Campo you will find the Palazzo Pubblico built between 1297 and 1310 with a fantastic Civic Museum containing some of the city’s medieval masterpieces. You can also climb the palazzo’s Torre del Mangia with its 500 steps for beautiful views over the city and the Tuscan countryside. Also, not to be missed is the magnificent city Duomo with its elaborate and colourful decoration both inside and outside.
Worth a short day-trip, the medieval city of Pisa is of course best known for its famous Leaning Tower! Sitting in the broad Square of Miracles, the tower is an impressive site alongside the often-overlooked gorgeous cathedral next to it. You can still make the climb to the top of the tower, which is an unforgettable experience! Make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
While in Pisa, also take some time to explore the city along the Arno. Along the way you will see the beautiful Clock Palace and the Piazza dei Cavalieri, the old centre of the city. Here you will see the striking Palazzo della Carovana and the prestigious Scuola Normale.
Tuscany is one of Europe’s best known wine regions and grapes have been grown here as far back as the 5th century BC. The famous rolling hills inland and coastal climate create a unique environment for growing grape vines with distinctive flavours. The region’s best-known variety is of course, Sangiovese, a red grape that is used together with other verities to make Chianti and other reds. The region is also known for its dry white wines and dessert wines.
If you want to explore Tuscany’s wine region, the best way to experience it is with a local expert. Italy & Wine tours offer you just that! They offer some of the best wine day tours, have over 10 years’ experience and strong relationships with local producers.
You can join a shared tour or a private tour where you will have the opportunity to visit 2 vineyards, a smaller family one and a larger winery. There are 26 different tour options to choose from, including a Brunello tour, a Vernaccia di San Gimignano tour or a Nobile di Montepulciano tour.
The tour can include a tour of the vineyard cellar and vines with the business owner or a local expert, several delicious wine tastings, a gorgeous Tuscan dinner and a short tour of the town or region where the vineyard is located. Transfers to and from Florence or Siena are included and the tour will take around 9 hours.
Cycling and Vespa Tours
Tuscany is a beautiful region calling out to be explored and what better way than on two wheels! With the region’s impressive landscapes being lined with cypress trees, olive groves, vineyards and historic hilltop villages you are guaranteed a memorable tour.
For the best experience, join Tuscany Cycle on one of their Vespa scooter or cycling tours. With the help of the experienced team, you will be shown the ropes and taken on a wonderful tour of the landscape around Chianti. As well as experiencing the landscape, you will also get to visit a wine and olive oil producer, where you will get to try both and learn about how they are made.
A traditional Tuscan lunch is included and group sizes are kept small to ensure a memorable personal experience in the picture-perfect hills. You do not need any experience to drive the Vespa as training will be provided, you simply need a driving license!
If you enjoy high-quality homecooked food, then you are headed to the right region. While Italian food, such as pasta and pizza, are known around the world, each Italian region has its own distinct culinary tradition.
Tuscan cuisine is fresh and simple using lentils, beans, bread, vegetables and fruit as a basis. The resulting dishes include a limited number of ingredients but are hearty and rich in flavour. Most meals will come with some unsalted bread, a local tradition and flavour that many visitors find challenging. Persevere, it is great for mopping up those delicious sauces! This bread is also served as a snack with liver pate or as fettunta, where it is grilled and then olive oil, garlic and salt is added on top.
Some typical dishes include ribollita, which is a vegetable and bread soup made to use up all the leftovers, pappardelle alla lepre o al sugo cinghiale, which is fresh pappardelle pasta with hare or wild boar. Game meat is a popular choice in Tuscan cuisine, adding a deep flavour to stews and pasta dishes.
One of the best ways to experience the full breadth of Tuscan cuisine is to join a local food tour, cooking class or one of the region’s many traditional restaurants!
Tuscany is a large region with many different landscapes to explore and things to do. Where to stay during your trip is going to depend on what sort of trip you are going for.
If you want to mainly stay to the region’s main cities, then it is probably best to base yourself in Florence or Siena. There are excellent public transport connections from these cities and you can always hire a car or join an excursion if you want to spend some time exploring the countryside. You will find a great variety of accommodation available too from cheap hostels, to standard and luxury hotels. Renting a room or an apartment is a good option if you want to save money on buying food, as you can cook for yourself and can also enjoy the city more like a local.
If you are planning to explore the Tuscan countryside, consider staying at a family farm. You get to enjoy a far more personal experience of the region and in some cases can even help out. You could also hire a whole villa in the countryside and use it as a base for relaxing in and exploring the stunning rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards. If you go for this option, it is a good idea to hire a car to give you the flexibility to explore more widely.
Tuscany is a popular international tourist destination with excellent links via air, rail and road.
The region has two international airports, Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa and the smaller Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence. Most flights land in Pisa which has brilliant links to the rest of Italy and Europe. From Pisa you can easily access the rest of the region by rail, bus or by hiring a car. If Pisa is not a good option for you, you can also consider flying to Milan, Bologna or Rome, which offer a better variety of flights.
You can also take the train to Tuscany with most travellers using the Bologna to Rome service, which stops at Florence. Alternatively, you could also take the line along the Tyrrhenian Coast from Rome to La Spezia and Genoa. It stops in the Tuscan resort towns of Grosseto, Livorno, Pisa and Viareggio. Trenitalia runs both these routes and you can book tickets for your trip directly on their website. Prices vary, but are reasonable, especially when booked in advance.
If you are looking for a budget travel option to Tuscany, consider taking one of the long-distance coaches provided by Flixbus. They have very cheap routes from Rome, Venice and Milan to Florence and other major Tuscan cities. The coaches are comfortable and reliable, but often take a lot longer than travelling by train.
We hope this article helped you plan your journey to Tuscany and wish you a pleasant trip!Back to overview
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.