The beautiful region of Tuscany along Italy’s west coast is one of the most popular places to visit in a country that already is very popular itself with travelers.
There are many great reasons to visit Tuscany; the fantastic local wines and regional foods of the area, the stunning beaches, the museums with a wealth of renaissance art in places like Florence and the quaint small towns and villages of the countryside.
Places like Siena, Florence and Lucca are chock full of fantastic art, sculptures and architecture, but the outlaying countryside features castles, vineyards and picturesque rolling hills. This is where you will often find the best Tuscan specialties and many of the vineyards offer wine tasting tours too. The most famous regions are Montepulciano, Chianti and Montalcino. Although they are best known for their red wines, the whites from these regions have been steadily improving over the years. Wine tours are a very popular activity. If you are feeling adventurous, there are numerous opportunities to take a cooking course also.
It can be hard to choose the best places to visit in the area, but it is possible to take in larger cities and a visit to the countryside in one trip. A day trip walking through Florence or Siena is a great way to start your adventure, and then perhaps arrange a walk or horseback ride through the country hill towns. All of Tuscany is filled with stunning national parks offering everything from solitude to rivers, beaches and archeological digs.
Like many of the ancient towns of Tuscany, Monteriggioni sits atop of a hill. Built in the 13th century, this medieval town looks much like it did when it was built, although you will of course find everything modern inside the old city walls. It is like visiting and outdoor museum. Very close to Siena and Florence is Colle val d’Elsa. It sits along the pilgrim route of ‘Via Francigena’, for travelers headed to Rome from Central Europe during medieval times. Colle val d’Elsa is known for the crystal glassware that is still made here.
Siena is a fantastic place to spend a few days. Few cities in Italy rival the sheer beauty that you will find here. Siena’s Old Town alone could keep you busy for days, but the entire city has much to offer. The magnificent architecture that is in pristine condition yet built 100s of years ago will never fail to amaze you. Do as the locals do, grab a gelato and have a stroll through the ancient streets in the evening. The people are very proud of their city and will point out many places of interest if you ask.