Unforgettable things to do in Tuscany

updated 7/11/2023
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The list of things to do in Tuscany is almost endless. It's almost impossible to be able to cover everything in one trip. Our rundown of Tuscany highlights is a great place to start.

The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.

1. Discover the wine and vineyards of Chianti

Drinking local wine is one of the best things to do in Italy, and the vineyards between Siena and Florence produce some of the country's finest wines thanks to a mild climate year-round. Chianti scenery is stunning too so it's also the perfect place to gaze at typically romantic Tuscan views.

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This tailor-made gastronomic journey in Tuscany and Amalfi Coast gets your senses tingling. Taste the most wonderful and freshly made Italy food in Naples one day and enjoy the most beautiful views of the Amalfi Coast the next. Experience Italy's smells, tastes, feels and sights when travelling from Florence to the Amalfi Coast.

Romantic Chianti wine country between Florence and Siena © Dmytro Balkhovitin/Shutterstock

2. Truffle hunting is one of the top things to do in Tuscany

Tuscany is well known for truffles and truffle hunting. But one of the best things to do in Tuscany if you want to hunt down the biggest variety of the much-prized fungi is to go to San Miniato. You'll find this famous truffle town strategically placed on top of three small hills overlooking the lower Arno Valley, between Pisa and Florence.

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Tasting truffles in San Miniato is one of the best things to do in Tuscany © StevanZZ/Shutterstock

3. Explore the ancient hill town of Cortona

Many people visit Cortona for its unforgettable views over Lago Trasimeno. But this charming hill town on the Valdichiana Plain also attracts attention for other reasons, particularly since it shot to fame in 2003 as the film location for 'Under the Tuscan Sun'. As a result, it can get crowded, especially in summer.

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Exploring hill towns like Cortona is one of many unique things to do in Tuscany - @ Shutterstock

4. Discover the unspoiled Monti dell’Uccellina

Tuscany's coast is where to find the best beach holidays in Italy and also the forest-covered Monti dell’Uccellina or the Uccellina Mountains. These mountains are a part of Maremma Regional Park — a beautiful region in southern Tuscany which is also known for its coastal plains, marshes and stunning, untamed interior.

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A wild beach Monti dell’Uccellina in the south of Tuscany © Shutterstock

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5. Make a pilgrimage to the mountain top La Verna

La Verna is the 13th-century mountain retreat of St. Francis of Assisi and is now one of Tuscany's major pilgrimage sites. It's still a thriving Franciscan monastery today, although many visitors come to explore and admire the views of the Apennines as come to pay homage. Lesser known than Assisi and usually quieter, La Verna also doesn't feel as touristy or commercialised as its more famous counterpart.

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Sanctuary of La Verna in Tuscany © Shutterstock

6. Get lost in The Uffizi in Florence

Set aside at least half a day for one of the top things to do in Tuscany - an exploration of the Uffizi in Florence. Considered to be the finest art collection in Italy, the three-floor gallery also contains the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art. The surrounding city of Florence, one of the most beautiful places in Italy, makes for a great setting to see such a collection.

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With this tailor-made Trip Back In Time, you have a great opportunity to discover Florence and its awe-inspiring art and astonishing architecture.

The Uffizi is one of the major attractions in Tuscany Italy - Shutterstock

7. Go walking on Alpi Apuane's well-marked trails

The Alpi Apuane is a botanical wonderland in northern Tuscany where you can walk the marked paths networking the area, as well as longer routes which let you hike through the Alpi Apuane valleys.

Home to over 300 bird species, the Alpi are also known for their vast beech and chestnut forests and series of dramatic marble quarries. However, if you want colour visit in spring to see the area's spectacular wildflower displays.

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Alpine refuge, Alpi Apuane. Alpine refuge of Val Serenaia on the Apuan Alps in Tuscany © Shutterstock

8. Gaze at Piero della Francesca's masterpieces in Arezzo

Although Tuscany is awash with art, there are a few must-sees and the Piero della Francesca fresco cycle in Arezzo is one of them. You'll find it in the San Francesco Basilica but plan as no more than 10 visitors can view the frescoes at one time.

Once you've gazed at the art make time to wander around historic Arezzo. If this handsome city seems familiar, you may recognise it as one of the locations on its right, you may also recognise it as a location from the award-winning 1997 film, 'Life Is Beautiful'.

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Fresco of the Madonna crowned by angels inside the church of San Francesco (Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy) © Shutterstock

9. Wander the streets of San Gimignano

Visiting San Gimignano - one of the most iconic hill towns in Italy, a perfect destination for a day trip from Rome, is one of the best things to do in Tuscany. Also known as Delle Belle Torri, its skyline is dominated by 15 impressive medieval towers.

The town attracts hordes of tourists in summer but it's still a delight to explore and possibly one of the reasons Italy is second only to New Zealand in the most beautiful countries in the world.

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Stay at a beautiful hotel in San Gimignano, a medieval hill town halfway between Florence and Siena. Tuscany is known for its wines and food and that's what you'll be exploring on this tailor-made trip to Wine and Food in Tuscany- several wine and food pairings await. All are hand-picked by your local travel specialist.

The many medieval towers of San Gimignano, Tuscany Italy © Vaflya/Shutterstock

10. Give in and be a tourist in Pisa

Visiting Pisa is one of the best things to do in Tuscany at any time of year. Of course, the main attraction is Campo dei Miracoli which is centred around the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa — undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark.

However, you can't possibly miss Campo's vast Romanesque cathedral and Camposanto is where to see some of Italy's most extraordinary tombs and frescoes. Unsurprisingly, Pisa is always very busy in the summer. All big sites are busy in summer, so it's a good time to look at the 6 best alternatives to Italy's famous landmarks.

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Visit the Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa, Tuscany - Shutterstock

11. Walk around the ancient city walls in Lucca

Lucca has some of Europe's finest Romanesque buildings and it's an easy city to explore, you can even take a walk or cycle round the ancient city walls. The entire circuit is four kilometres round and lined with trees, if you want to avoid crowds, visit in the mid-afternoon.

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Aerial view of the walled town of Lucca © Shutterstock

12. Discover open-air art at Il Giardino dei Tarocchi

Tuscany is where to find Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, home to one of Italy's oddest modern art collections. Il Giardino dei Tarocchi translates as The Tarot Garden, and it's just five kilometres from Capalbio. All artworks are by Niki de Saint Phalle and the garden took 17 years to complete.

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Capalbio, a little ancient medieval town in Tuscany, Italy © Shutterstock

13. Sample island life on Giglio

Take to the coast of Tuscany and discover the island of Giglio. Less travelled than its famous neighbour Elba, which is home to one of the best beaches in Italy, Giglio is still relatively undeveloped. Known for pretty stone villages and views, it's also good for beaches, water sports and mountain hiking.

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The island of Giglio, Tuscany Italy © jackbolla/Shutterstock

14. Hit the hot springs at Bagno Vignoni

Tuscany isn't short on spa towns, but only Bagno Vignoni offers you free spas. This tiny village an hour south of Siena has its natural hot springs and doesn't charge visitors to use its outdoor sulphur pools.

Don't miss the Medici-era pool in the main square, although not open for bathing it looks marvellous and if that intrigues you might also like 25 fun facts about Italy you didn't know.

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The small town famous for its hot water springs in Tuscany, Bagno Vignoni © Shutterstock

15. Stay local in the romantic hill towns of Tuscany

Hotels in rural Tuscany don't appear on the list of the world's strangest hotels, however, they're often very good for more leisurely sightseeing and can often be truly outstanding.

Castello di Velona south of Montalcino is a perfect example. This former 12th-century castle sits in the open countryside only 30 minutes drive from Siena. Each bedroom is individually designed, there's a spa and the Tuscan restaurant showcases Castello di Velona wines.

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View of Montalcino town, Tuscany, Italy © Shutterstock

16. Book an olive oil-tasting tour

Well-heeled Castellina in Chianti formerly stood on the front line of the continual wars between Florence and Siena, and its walls and fortress bear testimony to an embattled past. Traces of a more distant era can be seen at the Ipogeo Etrusco di Montecalvario, a complex of subterranean sixth-century-BC Etruscan burial chambers, carved into the summit of a small hill five minutes walk north of the village.

Castellina’s one sizeable church is the neo-Romanesque San Salvatore, which is notable only for a single fifteenth-century fresco and the mummified remains of the obscure St Fausto. But what brings in the tourists to Castellina is, of course, wine and olive oil. The local vintages and olive oil can be sampled during the tours at several places in town.

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Going on a wine and olive oil tour - one of the best things to do in Tuscany © Shutterstock

17. Roll through the Tuscan countryside in Val d'Orcia

A tortuous route leads through the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage landscape. This part of Tuscany has been landscaped since time immemorial, with the Val d’Orcia, south of Siena, representing quintessential Tuscany: clusters of cypresses, ribbons of plane trees, vineyards on the slopes and farms perched on limestone ridges.

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Asciano with Val d'Orcia © Shutterstock

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updated 7/11/2023
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