Here are some places in Tuscany that one can’t miss. We all know that this Italian province is abundant in specific landscapes and vineyards where important towns remain strong throughout centuries but given that I went to visit during summer, I found out that one can head out to Tuscany for a summer vacation as well.
So, have pasta in one of the gorgeous villages with a glass of local Chianti, visit some magnificent landmarks, and then just get to the beach for a gelato and a plunge into the Tyrrhenian Sea. (Click for a short video posted on the blog’s Facebook page.)
Where is Tuscany in Italy Map
Tuscany Italy is a region in the central part of the country that stretches along the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian coast. Given that Florence is its capital, you can only imagine how important artistically and architecturally this region is worldwide.
I was amazed that I was able to see where Dante Alighieri was born, for instance, but also to stop by the village that makes some of the best wines in the world. There is also the Leaning Pisa Tower, the old Lucca town where gladiators once fought, and the port of Livorno which was established by the House of Medici in the 16th century.
Things to do in Tuscany
When it comes to things to do in Tuscany, this post will bring all the places in Tuscany that I was able to visit thus far. It will include the best beaches in Tuscany but also some of the most important towns and villages. There are more articles to come about each of them separately, so stay tuned. (The easiest way not to miss any of the following posts would be to sign up to the blog’s mailing list and have the link delivered right into your Inbox as soon as the article is live.)
As for beaches, the Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean that splashes the west coast of Italy. Some beaches are more natural and others are not. There will be more on the blog about each of those few that I managed to see (Tuscany Beaches: What to see) but I will also mention them here.
The above photo is from Viareggio. This is a popular resort with a line of expensive shops along the beach divided among local restaurants. They offer food and refreshments but also facilities such as changing rooms, toilets, sunbeds, and umbrellas. (Details will be included in one of the following posts.)
If you would like a more relaxed option, visit Marina di Bibbona where the beach is less crowded. Since the greenery comes close to the shore, the sea color is also prettier here. On the other hand, if you want to visit some of the landmarks in the morning and then enjoy the rest of the afternoon by the sea, you might find Marina di Pisa to be a better option or the beaches near Livorno that are the most famous in the region. When you go south, you will find the lovely Tangram beach in Follonica.
Places in Tuscany
History buffs (myself included) will be thrilled by the Lucca town. Firstly, you will walk through the 16th-century gate adorning the fully preserved walls, stroll around the town’s narrow streets, and even find a square where ancient Romans organized gladiators’ fights. Today, this is the spacious piazza that is still called the Amphitheatre Square (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro) where you can enjoy your espresso or pizza.
I was charmed by the curving narrow allies that keep small shops and cafés nicely tucked in. And just imagine walking out to a small square with Giacomo Puccini’s monument, the famous opera composer who was born right next door.
This is a small village about 50 km from Livorno. Not only that it’s interesting because of its population of 131 according to the 2011’s poll, but Bolgheri is also popular due to its wine production. When you stroll around this lovely village, don’t be surprised by the number of wine shops.
The wine that was declared the best in the world in 2019, even better than the French Bordeaux, is called Sasiccaia and produced by Bolgheri’s Tenuta San Guido estate. The village thus found its way to the wine lovers’ map.
Even though Pisa is regarded as a cliché because of the ever-so-popular Leaning Tower that attracts millions of tourists annually, Pisa is so much more than that. If you are visiting Livorno or Lucca, don’t skip Pisa since it is only 15 minutes away from Livorno by train and about 20 from Lucca. Tourists mostly take the train to get close to the Tower, but I got off at the central railway station. It will allow you to stroll for about 3 km along gorgeous pedestrian areas, small allies, hidden shops, and local cafés.
When you get to the town’s cathedral where the 11th-century Leaning Tower was supposed to be a bell tower, it will be clear why so many people rush to Pisa. Tourists jostle around to get a photo of ‘holding’ the tower or they wait for 40 to 50 minutes to climb up to the observation terrace, and you will hardly get any seemingly good photo of the place with no tourists in it.
I was lucky to be here with Željana and Duško, we took lots of photographs when the crowds left. (And enjoyed some great pasta next to the Miracle Square!)
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I have to admit that I didn’t know anything about Montecatini before I went to Tuscany Italy. My amazement was thus greater when I found that the place is famous for its thermal springs where the world’s jet set came to rest and heal. One just needs to see the signs along the central avenue with names of the famous Hollywood stars, musicians, and writers who spent time here. The healing springs are available throughout Montecatini but Terme Tettuccio was my favorite.
Also, don’t miss the hilltop village above. It’s called Montecatini Alto that is easy to access by the local funicular. Take a walk and have some traditional ravioli here. It will provide a typical atmosphere of sitting among Tuscan walls with some breeze and a lazy local cat lying down next to the oleander tree… Qhé bello!
Just imagine the city that was established by the House of Medici in the 16th century as ‘the perfect town’ where everyone is welcome. A lot of taxes were abolished for those who came to do business but also some personal penalties were forgiven. This is the place to see the old and the new fortress along the canals known as the New Venice.
Livorno is now one of the most modern places in Tuscany and the third most populated after Florence and Prato. Shops are lined up and covered along the main avenue. Make sure to stroll to Republic Square and the Covered Market. (A sweet pastry with rice can be a perfect snack choice!)
Florence is a special place. It didn’t even matter that it was too hot for being outside in the sun. Nothing could have stopped me from rushing around and seeing the landmarks. Expect a lot of tourists at the famous 15th-century Duomo, also known as the Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
The decorative Giotto’s Bell Tower is stunning with all the marble that came from Carrara, the same place in Tuscany from where Michelangelo took his sculpting material. And then just continue walking through the central area with that lovely ancient atmosphere typical for the city that was once one of the richest in Europe. You will pass by the Uffizi Gallery and the Michelangelo’s David replica along with a couple of original 16th-century works of art displayed at the piazza. (They are all on the list of things and places in Tuscany one has to visit when traveling here.)
Not very far from the gallery there is the famous Ponte Vecchio or the Old Bridge that spans the shores of Arno River at its narrowest. It’s not the typical bridge given that it houses various stores, and jewelry shops, so you have to be allured by beautiful pieces that you can buy. Well, it can always serve as a souvenir, right?
Since you are in Florence, try not to skip touching the boar’s snout. The popular fountain sculpture should be ‘fed’ with a coin that is to fall into the grid if the year is going to be fruitful and abundant for you. How very Florence-like!
PS: Only an hour or so from central Tuscany, there are the beautiful Cinque Terre villages in the Liguria region. Of course, I went to see them!
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