Sweet, Green Landscape, Toscana, Italy
Regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance, the Toscana, Italy enjoys one of the most impressive art and architecture legacies in the world. The Tuscany was the birthplace of magnificent artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli or Donatello that created superb art works.
As we write this, the Tuscany boasts seven World Heritage sites: the historical centers of Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Pienza, the square of the Cathedral of Pisa, the Val d’Orcia and the Medici Villas and Gardens.
Next to the stunning Tuscan cities and historic villages, the Tuscan countryside is also delightful: the gentle Tuscany hills, the vineyards that produce the famous Chianti wine or the scenic Val d’Orcia.
Here are some of our suggestions that’ll make your Toscana, Italy stay memorable.
The Gentle Tuscany Hills of Val d’Orcia
Val d’Orcia extends from the hills south of the city of Siena. It features harmoniously farmed hills and picturesque, medieval towns such as Montalcino with its prestigious wines and Pienza, the ideal town of the Renaissance.
The iconic thicket of cypresses of San Quirico d’Orcia is protected by the Val d’Orcia Natural Artistic and Cultural Park and is located on a hill overlooking the historical Via Cassia that linked the towns of Rome and Florentia (Florence) in Roman times.
San Gimignano, the Manhattan of the Middle Ages
San Gimignano is a small walled town in the province of Siena. It is especially famous for its remarkable medieval towers that proudly stand out from the landscape and have earned it the nickname Manhattan of the Middle Ages.
From seventy-two, there are still sixteen towers standing, and Torre Rognosa, which is 51 m or 167 ft, is the oldest and among the best preserved.
An edict of 1255 forbade private citizens to build the towers taller than the Torre Rognosa, also called Torre dell’Orologio, Clock’s Tower in English, which was the highest at the time, but this rule was ignored by some powerful families.
Visit the Chianti Hills Region: Chianti Vineyards and Chianti Wine
It was in the middle of the 19th century that Baron Bettino Ricasoli developed the Chianti formula: 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca. Until then most Chianti wine was mostly made with only Sangiovese grapes.
Over the years, Chianti wine makers have experimented with different compositions but for a wine to be called Chianti it has to contain at least 80% of Sangiovese grapes.
Montepulciano, Southern Tuscany
Of Etruscan origin, Montepulciano is a town with a very long history. Worth visiting is the Cathedral of Montepulciano or Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta that features a masterpiece triptych depicting the Assumption of the Virgin by Taddeo di Bartolo from the Sienese school. The Chiesa di San Biagio is also a monumental church and an example of a late Renaissance Greek cross plan.
Also, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano produced in the surrounding vineyards is considered one of the best wines in Italy by wine connoisseurs.
Volterra, the Etruscan Alabaster Town in Toscana, Italy
The small town of Volterra is known as the city of alabaster, a tradition dating back to Etruscan times. It has a very interesting historical center of Etruscan origin that includes the well-preserved Porta dell’Arco gate from the 3rd century BC.
Other landmarks are the Etruscan Walls, the Porta Diana gate, a Roman theater from the 1st century BC, a Romanesque Cathedral and the medieval Medici Fortress among others —very impressive monuments for such a small town.
The Natural Park of Maremma, Southern Tuscany
The Parco Naturale della Maremma was the first natural park of the Tuscany region and it includes unspoiled areas of coast. The Maremma used to be populated by cattle breeders called Butteri who rode the Maremmano horse on their distinctive saddle. You could loosely compare them to the cowboys. The Maremma marshes were drained under Mussolini and repopulated with people from other Italian regions.
Viareggio, Tyrrhenian Sea, Northern Tuscany
At the beginnings of the 20th century the coastal town of Viareggio enjoyed a time of great prosperity and it earned the nickname, La Perla del Tirreno, Tyrrhenian’s Pearl in English. Today it is still known as a seaside resort and for its famous carnival.
The promenade known as La Passegiatta along the sea concentrates the most important monuments in Viareggio and sees the Carnival’s parade every year with its traditional masks Burlamacco and Ondina.
Other interesting places you can visit are Certaldo, believed to be the birthplace of Bocaccio, the author of the Decameron; the pristine hills of Montopoly in Val d’Arno to the east of Pisa, the towns of Siena, Florence, Pienza… Click the button below to checkout our hand-picked selection of amazing Tuscany pictures.