Tuscany, with its rolling hills, picturesque landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, is a region in central Italy that has a firm fan club in pop culture – you’ve probably seen it in countless TV shows and movies. But let me tell you – it deserves all the hype – and more! A holiday to Tuscany offers an excuse to experience Italian life beyond popular cities like Florence and Rome.
Tuscany offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a truly Italian way of life – La Dolce Vita. The best way to experience the region’s charm and authenticity, in our opinion, is through rustic stays and exploration of offbeat villages. In this article, we will delve into that perfect road trip in Tuscany and the concept of agritourismo. We will also highlight some offbeat villages that unveil the hidden treasures of Tuscany. Let’s go….
Renting a car in Tuscany
If you’re keen to explore authentic Italian life in Tuscany, we highly recommend renting a car from the airport you land at. You can compare prices and book a car here
Hotels and Agro Stays in Tuscany
Agro stays, also known as agriturismo, provide a distinctive opportunity to experience Tuscany’s rural life firsthand. These accommodations are often charming farmhouses or country estates, where visitors can stay and embrace the region’s agricultural traditions. Agro stays offer comfortable lodging, traditional Tuscan cuisine, and a chance to participate in farming activities like grape harvesting, olive picking, or cheese making. Do not underestimate the luxuries offered by these stays – a lot of hotels in the area walk the fine balance between maintaining their rustic charm while offering bespoke luxury really well.
The most popular region for agro stays is the Chianti region, famous for its vineyards and wineries. Staying at a Chianti agriturismo allows guests to witness the winemaking process, taste exquisite wines, and enjoy breathtaking views of the vine-covered hills. An amazing option here is Villa Sassolini. But since Chianti is one of the most popular options, it can often be quite expensive during peak season! This is why we would recommend visiting Chianti on a day trip and staying elsewhere, especially if you are visiting Tuscany during peak season.
A couple of such options include Conti di San Bonifacio Wine Resort or Borgo San Vincezo in Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its picturesque landscapes. Agriturismos and hotels in this area provide a serene escape amidst rolling hills, cypress-lined roads, and vibrant sunflower fields. Guests can relax, enjoy farm-fresh meals, and explore nearby villages, making it an idyllic retreat. We stayed in the hamlet of Castelnuovo Barardenga and would highly recommend a cute villa in this part.
If you are on your honeymoon or budget is not a constraint, we highly recommend a stay at Castello Di Velona – a truly special hotel that captures the essence of Tuscany! It is the kind of place you wouldn’t want to leave – and truth be told, you needn’t leave it. The views, the experience, and the food will leave you spellbound!
Offbeat Villages in Tuscany
While larger Italian cities like Florence and Milan often steal the limelight, Tuscany’s offbeat villages offer a glimpse into a quieter, more authentic side of the region. These hidden gems are brimming with history, local traditions, and charming architecture. We highly recommend exploring a few of these during your time in Tuscany
- Pitigliano, also known as the village with ancient caves. Visit the Orsini Fortress, explore the Jewish Quarter, and indulge in local delicacies at the village’s quaint eateries.
- Montepulciano, a medieval hilltop town known for stunning views. Stroll through its narrow streets, visit the beautiful Piazza Grande, and explore the ancient wine cellars that produce its famous Vino Nobile wine.
- Volterra, a testimony to the rich history of Tuscany. Visit the Roman Theater, the Etruscan Arch, and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. This will give you an opportunity to witness traditional alabaster craftsmanship, a specialty of the region.
- Anghiari, a charming village famous for its medieval character. Wander through its stone-paved streets, admire the 13th-century walls, and visit the Museo della Battaglia. It is so peaceful here, you’re bound to fall in love
- San Gimignano: Known as the “Town of Towers,” San Gimignano is famous for its medieval skyline adorned with 14 remaining towers. Explore the UNESCO-listed historic center, sample the local Vernaccia and drink in the Italian air!
Things to See and Do in Tuscany
Tuscany is a region of extraordinary beauty, where every corner seems like a postcard-worthy scene. From rolling hills and vineyards to medieval villages and breathtaking coastlines, Tuscany offers countless photogenic spots. Here are some beautiful and photogenic locations in Tuscany:
- Val d’Orcia: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a photographer’s dream. The gentle, undulating hills, cypress-lined roads, and charming farmhouses offer a quintessential Tuscan landscape that you will definitely want to photograph.
- Pienza: Known as the “Ideal City of the Renaissance,” Pienza offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The Piazza Pio II, with its well-preserved architecture and panoramic vistas, is a must-visit spot for photographers.
- San Gimignano: Famous for its medieval towers, San Gimignano’s skyline is an enchanting sight. Explore the narrow streets, capture the ancient architecture, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top of the town.
- Cinque Terre: Although technically not in Tuscany, the colourful villages of Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast are a short distance away and you can combine a visit to Cinque Terre with your trip to Tuscany. The vibrant houses perched on cliffs, overlooking the azure sea, provide endless opportunities for stunning photographs.
- Florence: Chances are you will land at Florence airport in order to reach Tuscany. So do spend a day at the beginning or end of your trip exploring the birthplace of Renaissance. Florence offers iconic landmarks like the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and Piazzale Michelangelo. The city’s architecture, art, and picturesque streets make it a treasure trove for photographers.
- Montepulciano: This medieval hilltop town is not only famous for its wine but also for its photogenic qualities. The Piazza Grande and the surrounding streets provide captivating backdrops for capturing the essence of Tuscany.
- Lucca: Encircled by medieval walls, Lucca is a charming city with narrow streets, picturesque squares, and well-preserved architecture. The city’s unique atmosphere and stunning views from the Guinigi Tower make it a photographer’s paradise.
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa: Located in Pisa, this iconic monument is a must-visit spot for photography enthusiasts. It is also easy to combine a visit to Pisa with a relaxed vacation in Tuscany. Play with perspectives and capture creative shots with this famous leaning tower.
- Abbey of San Galgano: The roofless abbey, with its Gothic architecture and a legendary sword in the stone, provides a dramatic and mystical setting for capturing ethereal images.
- Saturnia Thermal Baths: The hot springs in Saturnia offer not only relaxation but also a stunning natural backdrop. Capture the cascading waterfalls and steam rising from the thermal pools for a unique photography experience.
- Everywhere you go you will find olive oil, wines, cheeses, and pastas sources from local vineyards and groves. Make sure you take your time to relish all the local food as it is truly the highlight of any stay in Tuscany.
And that’s it. Everything you need to plan an amazing trip to Tuscany. Tuscany is a visual feast, offering countless photogenic spots at every turn. Whether it’s the landscapes, historical sites, or cultural gems, Tuscany’s beauty will leave you so inspired. One thing is for sure – you will definitely not feel like coming back!