You’ve likely heard about the incredible beauty of Tuscany: its Renaissance-era architecture and art, and unique landscape. There are many different cities, towns, and villages throughout the area that are well worth a visit while you’re traveling around. Each region remains distinct from its neighbors and offers visitors a glimpse at its history, culture, traditions, and life. Below are the 10 best places to visit in Tuscany that are an absolute must when you’re in the area.
Situated quite central to the other cities in Tuscany, Lucca is known for its still-standing city walls and large piazza. What you’ll love most about this city is its buzzing atmosphere as you walk down some of the main streets contrasted with its quiet sanctuary when you turn a corner into a smaller alleyway. Endless walking and admiring, seeing the city from the Guinigi Tower, and having a picnic along the city wall are all highlights of Lucca. For more information, visit my article on the “10 Things To Do In Lucca”.
Because a trip to Tuscany just wouldn’t be complete without taking the infamous photo of you “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Aside from a good photo opportunity, there’s not too much else to see here, so only plan on making a short half-day, if that, visit. For more information, visit my article on “4 Reasons Why It Might Not Be Worth It To See The Leaning Tower Of Pisa”.
An incredibly unique city in Tuscany, Siena is divided into different families, providing lots of rich culture, history, and tradition that can be seen. If you’re lucky, you might even visit on a day when these families are celebrating: hundreds of picnic tables will be placed in the streets, flags with their coat of arms will hang high, members of said families will wear scarves with their coat of arms, and a big feast will be had. Aside from this, another special aspect of Siena is a large horse race track right in the middle of the city. If you’re planning a visit to Siena, be sure to look up when a race will be on and try to coordinate your visit.
4. San Galgano
Though Tuscany (and Italy, in general) is full of cathedrals, this is one you should not miss. A little out of the way, San Galgano is one of the most interesting and unique cathedrals you’ll come across. What San Galgano lacks in color and detail, it more than makes up for with its enormous awe-worthy interior that lacks a roof. Walking through the abbey’s dirt covered ground as you stair up at the sky will leave you with an inexplicable feeling. For more information, visit my article on “The Abbey Of San Galgano: A Must-See In Tuscany”.
Given its hillside location, the town of Volterra boasts stunning views of the landscape below alongside the rustic allure found within the city walls. Be sure to head a few steps outside the walls to see the Roman Theater (don’t bother paying the entrance fee) that was excavated in the 1950s and, as with all of the cities throughout Tuscany, have a wander about the streets and alleyways without a map to guide you.
As the capital of Tuscany, Florence is the most visited city in the region, as well as one of the most populous. People flock here to get a glimpse into the city’s culture, art, and architecture. Many will recognize the Florence Cathedral, Michelangelo’s “David” statue, and the Ponte Vecchio bridge as some of the key symbols of Florence. For more information, visit my article on “The Top 8 Things To Do In Florence”.
7. San Romano in Garfagnana
Climbing up into the mountainous region of Tuscany is where you’ll find San Romano in Garfagnana. Its location makes getting to this community rather difficult, however, it’s well worth the drive. There isn’t much to do within the area itself (aside from being awed at the landscape and architecture), but the drive is beautiful and the vantage point is unbeatable. While there, head to Fortezza delle Verrucole for a bit of history and some picture-perfect scenery.
8. Cinque Terre
Though the five seaside villages that make up the Cinque Terre aren’t technically in Tuscany, they’re close enough to make a trip there an absolute must. Unlike anything you’ve come across in Tuscany thus far, the villages along the Cinque Terre are comprised of small brightly colored buildings packed on top of each other overlooking the sea. Not just a delight for the eyes, you can do various water sports, go for a swim, sunbathe on the rocks, and eat fresh seafood at a number of different restaurants. For more information, visit my article on the “5 Reasons To Visit One Of The Towns Along The Cinque Terre”.
9. San Gimignano
Found in the province of Siena, this small walled town is known to locals as the “Town of Fine Towers”, as it been able to preserve a handful of tower houses. This all combines to give San Gimignano a unique skyline, which you can see if you head to the south of the town. As you walk around, you’ll be surrounded by its fascinating medieval architecture. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to make a stop at the famous Gelateria Dondoli for a delicious scoop of gelato (just be prepared to wait in the queue).
10. Destination Unknown
Why not just pull out a map and place your fingers on a spot in Tuscany or, if you’re really adventurous, get into a car and just start driving without knowing where you’ll end up. Part of the magic of Tuscany is having your breath taken away where you least expect it; in a town you’ve never heard of, turning a corner into an alleyway and being surprised, or walking into a local restaurant with no English menu and having the best meal of your travels. Regardless of where you go, Tuscany will not disappoint.