A guide to things to do in Tuscany
Birthplace of the Renaissance and rich in rustic countryside, Tuscany holidays offer plenty to do, from its heartland to its coast. Whether you’re a culture vulture looking for art, craftsmanship and fine wines, or instead are looking for family fun in the sun, Tuscany proves time and again why it’s the golden heart of Italy. Here’s a selection of the sights you simply need to see.
Visit wine country in the foothills of Chianti
It’s no secret that many of the finest wines in the world come from Tuscany. Those of you fond of a good and wholesome Chianti will no doubt take delight in visiting the very place where it’s grown, allowed to age and bottled for your enjoyment.
Wine tours give you a good insight into the processes behind this ancient craft with contemporary processes. And of course, the option of tasting the tipples is always well-received by visitors as well.
Get inspired by the masterpieces of the Uffizi in Florence
Everyone knows that the Renaissance began in Florence, a time of free thought, motivational ideas and a supreme belief in the power of the individual. Paintings, sculptures and other forms of irreplaceable art are the hallmarks of that wondrous age. And in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, you have the chance to explore the works of Leonardo da Vinci, as well as Bellini, Lotto and Moroni.
On the more contemporary side, there are also masterworks here by the talented hands of Rembrandt and Chardin, with plenty else to appreciate too.
Taste the truffles
Make no mistake when we tell you that truffles in the wild are a rare and delicious find. Both black and white varieties exist of this sensationally-sweet fungus, and in Tuscany, nature’s bounty is part of the region’s charm.
You’re going to have the opportunity to buy truffles wherever you roam, but for an authentic experience, get out into the smaller towns in the foothills. In San Miniato, you can see how the locals make the most of these enticing treats, go on a truffle hunting expedition or visit the Truffle Festival.
Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Holidays to Tuscany are incomplete without sampling the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa for yourself. The pristine white cathedral is magnificently offset by its endearingly clumsy tower, which leans in ways that just boggle the mind.
Luckily, modern master architects and engineers have ensured that the tower is completely secure. While it’s never going to topple, it’s always going to retain its trademark slant.
Explore the Tuscan archipelago
For those of you spending your days by the shore, don’t miss the opportunity to take a mini-cruise out across the waves. It gives you the chance to see the historic island of Elba, as well as other sunny islands around the way, such as Montecristo and Giglio. The water is blue, the skies are clear and there’s plenty of chances to sightsee.
Get the kids active at adventure parks
Tuscany’s strong tourism angle makes it a brilliant destination for families. There are lots of places to roam around these parts, from the sedate to the sensational. A good example is Pinocchio Park Collodi in Pisa, where bronze statues depicting the famous Italian fable line paths through a mystical forest.
Prehistoric Park Peccioli, also in Pisa, was built after many ancient fossils were discovered there, and today is home to plenty of masterfully-modelled dinosaurs. There are also the Acqua Village Water Parks in Fallonica and Cecina, together with Donoratico’s Cavallino Matto, a theme park full of rides and fun.
Take a cooking class
When we think Italy, we think food. Yet in Tuscany, they have their own unique ways of preparing pasta and savouring their meals, which makes Tuscan cooking techniques slightly different to the conventional Italian kitchen style.
Luckily, there are plenty of local experts who are more than happy to take you through the basics, as well as the more advanced steps, on specialised courses in which you’ll have the chance to prepare some truly mouthwatering meals.
From making your own pasta and pizza to baking bread in the Tuscan tradition, you’ll have the chance to take home some choice skills that’ll make your meals at home all the more delectable.
Tour Tuscan towns by train
And by this, we mean a charming steam train from days gone by, always popular with the little ones. And let’s not pretend you won’t be the one wishing you were driving and pulling on the whistle. Steam train tours across Tuscany are slow and languid, which gives plenty of time for talks about the history of the region, as well as numerous stops at some choice points along the winding route.
Tuscany’s culinary legacy is something we all can get behind, and train tours factor that in as they wind down the track. Heading south, you’ll have the chance to stop and visit a chestnut farm where sacks of the robust treats are filled and stacked, ready to be delivered. While further along the line is the chance to try some of the truffles that make Tuscany so rich in flavour.
Riding through the hills
Stunning Siena, fascinating Florence, peerless Pisa and plenty more besides – the towns and cities of Tuscany are a joy.
But it’s the rolling green and gold fields of the countryside, dappled by streams of sunlight, that always keep us coming back.
It may sound like a scene from a film, but it’s something that can be enjoyed on a cycling tour or via bike rental, and it makes for a wonderfully liberating way to see the sights. For an added dose of Italian chic, rent a Vespa scooter rather than a bicycle, and cruise like a local through the sunshine.