First and foremost, Tuscany is picture-postcard-perfect. With vistas of gentle golden yellow and soft greens dotted with proud cypress bordering long-established olives and vines that are watched over by delicately perched villages – the views are as iconic as they are romantic.Home of the Renaissance, of the Italian language and of Dante Petrarch and Boccaccio; Tuscany - and its capital Florence, a World Heritage Site – is the birthplace and resting place of some of the world’s most famous and most loved artistic and architectural jewels. The Etruscans left remarkable funerary remains, the Romans made their mark with monumental sculptures, and as to Giotto, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo or Botticelli, their masterpieces are still admired today in churches and museums throughout the region. Inextricably linked with the arts, Tuscany is also famous for its refined cuisine flavours where a passion for chianti and a love for Slow Food encourages appreciation without moderation. Allow our hoteliers to introduce you to the beauty of the countryside, the sea and the mountains, Tuscany is as much a masterpiece as the ones that call it home. Thanks to our hotels, discover easily the main attractions, things to do and what to visit in Tuscany.
Getting to Tuscany
Two international airports will welcome you to Tuscany - Pisa and Florence. If you’re driving then that will allow you to spend a little more time admiring the beautiful landscapes of northern Italy, but if you do arrive by car, or hire one at the airport, our hoteliers want to remind you that the macchina (car) is non grata in most of the historical centers of the towns and villages of Italy – so always double check with them before you take a drive. Alternatively, arrive by train, just keep in mind that timing and cost need to be factored into your decision.
Best time to go to Tuscany
With a Mediterranean climate as gentle as its hills, Tuscany can be visited throughout the year. Without being cold, its winter temperatures can be a little cool for outdoor exploring. If you want to see the best of Tuscany, then our hoteliers strongly recommend the inter-seasons (spring and autumn) where discovering the land of the Medici is pleasant and only carries one small caveat – the risk of showers. Those who love the heat however should come in summer, just remember to pack your cappelli (hats), ombrelli (umbrellas) and your pazienza (patience).
The blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the green of the Natural Parks, the white of Carrara marble, the gold of the fields, the deep red of the chianti ... Tuscany is an artistic masterpiece you can touch, smell, taste and walk through. Run your hands along the remnants of the Middle Ages, breathe in the magnificence of the Renaissance, stroll from palace to palace, look up at seigniorial towers and sumptuous duomo, relax in animated piazze, and see for yourself the mastery of ancestral know-how. Everywhere you go in Tuscany it feels like it was taken from the pages of classic literature and gallery collections. Tuscany’s only flaw? You’ll want to return quickly, if you want to leave at all. Follow the recommendations of our hoteliers and discover the main attractions and top things to do in Tuscany.
The sumptuous city of the Medici cannot be missed. Greet Michelangelo's famous David on the forecourt of the Palazzo Vecchio, succumb to the charms of Venus painted by Botticelli among more than 1500 works of the Galleria degli Uffizi, admire the rich facade of the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore and contemplate the city from the top of his dome. In the distance, the medieval Ponte Vecchio will show you the way to the district of Oltrarno, kingdom of craftsmen and trattorias.
Clinging to three hills of reddish clay, Florence's former great rival has lost none of its medieval charm with its brick houses and palaces, ochre-tiled roofs and alleys running down to the heart of the city, the piazza del Campo. This is where every year for the last 400 the Palio takes place - a crazy race of horses lasting just minutes and celebrating ancient city rivalries. Even James Bond couldn’t resist the races in the Quantum of Solace!
You might be tempted to sum up the pretty city of Pisa only by its famous leaning tower. But make sure you explore a little more of the city beyond the inevitable tower-supporting photo. The tower itself is the campanile of the adjacent cathedral, where the galleries of the cemetery (Campo Santo) include rich frescoes of the XIV-XV century. Take time to head to the peaceful quays located on the Arno River and exploring the charming palaces.
Well protected by the verdant setting of its 4km of ramparts (perfect for walking or cycling), Lucca is a pink and ochre jewel of the medieval era. Admire the facades of palaces, enjoy the shadow of its narrow streets and do not miss a visit to the Duomo di San Martino, a masterpiece of the Romano-Pisan style. And, no you’re not dreaming, those are oak trees at the top of that tower. That is the Torre Guinigi which, at 45m offers the best views of this city famous for its olive oil and silk.
Feet in The Water
Legend has it that at birth Venus dropped seven pearls from the necklace she was trying to put into the Tyrrhenian Sea. This is how Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Pianosa, Giannutri, Gorgon and Elba were born, the 7 islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, small paradises for hikers, divers and lovers of the sea. Elba, the largest of them, is not only full of natural beauty, but has a rich historical heritage including the memory of its most famous prisoner: Napoleon 1st.
Head in The Clouds
It is often forgotten but Tuscany is also a region of mountains whose ranges rise as high as 2,000m. The Apuan Alps might not be famous for their dramatic peaks but are well known for their chief export: Carrara marble. Since ancient times these mountains have been the home of "white gold" so pure that Michelangelo came, in person, to choose the blocks in which he would carve his masterpieces. If the marble doesn’t necessarily hold any appeal, then the natural parks and cultural treasures are still well worth some exploring.
"Cooking like your mother is good, but cooking like your grandmother is even better," says a Tuscan proverb. And indeed, the cuisine here has its heart firmly in the past in the best possible way. Regional cuisine is inspired by centuries-old recipes and traditions, such as decorating aromatic herb dishes (Etruscans) or not salting bread, the legacy of a quarrel in the Middle Ages between those in power and those who refused to pay the salt tax. Crostini, bruschetta, charcuterie, pasta, bistecca (beef) or lampredotto (tripe) are a must in Tuscan cuisine, where slow food originated, and the focus is on simple, local and seasonal.
A rustic and warm atmosphere is the setting in this Florentine restaurant, where perfectly represented local cuisine is cleverly brought up to date. Our hoteliers recommend the eponymous dish, the cibe, with chicken and eggs in a broth. And for those with a big appetite, then the menu is full of gourmet temptations.
La Beppa Fioraia
In the pretty climbing streets of the Oltrarno, not far from the ancient walls of Florence this restaurant presents a refreshing bucolic charm. Beautiful presentations, seasonal flavours and a welcoming atmosphere are the perfect introduction or conclusion of a visit to Boboli Gardens or the Pitti Palace nearby.
La Locanda dei Tintori
Finding this restaurant might take a little searching, but the warm welcome of the owners and a menu filled with invigorating and mouth-watering flavours will refresh you with more than enough strength to take on the steep streets of Siena once reluctantly leave.
This pleasant restaurant in Lucca, located close to the historical center, is a perfect match for the flavours of the season, mixing them with bold associations between tradition and modernity, with a touch of exoticism. Sweet to the palate and to the eye with presentations pretty enough to eat – thankfully you can.