For those wanting to stay off the beaten track, choosing which Tuscany town to visit on their holiday can be a real challenge. This beautiful Italian region is home to idyllic landscapes, a heart-stopping countryside, captivating architecture, charming medieval towns, and quaint villages. The best way to explore Tuscany is by car, which will enable you to witness unsurpassable allure from up close as you head off your elegant Tuscany farmhouse or cottage. Wondering which destinations to include for the most authentic Tuscany adventures? Here is a small, illustrative list to get you started!
1. Cortona (Arezzo)
This traditional-walled town featuring elements of the ancient Etruscan civilisation provides captivating views of the magnificent Lake Trasimeno and the surrounding valley. And, if wandering the Cortona region feels familiar to you, chances are you get subconscious images from the popular Under the Tuscan Sun movie (and book) filmed here. Despite its small size, Cortona is packed with tourist attractions and sites worth visiting, such as the:
- Diocesan Museum – A gorgeous Beato Angelico painting is on display here.
- Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca (MAEC) – Plenty of archaeological sites holding fascinating artifacts.
- Santa Margherita Sanctuary – Feel free to visit the lovely churches and chapels.
And, don’t leave without tasting the famous Cortona red wines. Your palate will thank you!
Just outside Siena lies Montepulciano, one of the finest representatives of Renaissance architecture. This picturesque medieval town was brought about by the wealthy Medici family some five hundred years ago. In fact, its architecture is so genuine that you won’t find any major construction being made since the late 1500s. The beating heart of Montepulciano is its centre, the Piazza Grande, where you can admire the brick exterior of the imposing Duomo while pampering yourself with a glass of locally-produced Nobile wine.
Nicely tucked in the Serchio river, Lucca offers an inviting step back in time. Unlike most Tuscan villages and towns, it does not sit on a hilltop rather than a lush plain field. As for the traditional Renaissance walls that used to help fortify the town, they are tree lined and given an alternative (modern) role – to provide visitors and locals alike with a vantage point to indulge in prestigious views of the beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets of the town. As you walk along the streets, you will also get to the charming Piazza dell’Anfiteatro that hosts a series of restaurants, bars, and shops. And, if you are lucky, you may happen to visit Lucca during one of the many concert recitals that take place in the atmospheric San Giovanni church, since Lucca is also the birthplace of Puccini.
Don’t be surprised if you hear this small town being referred to as Little Jerusalem. Pitigliano is a town where Jews and Christians used to live in perfect harmony and peace until 1622. For that reason, you will also come across the Jewish Museum of Culture that speaks of Jewish history. Besides, many shops in the city centre will even treat you with free local Jewish delicacies called Sfratti (dough-wrapped biscuits with honey, walnuts, orange peel, and nutmeg). Other than that, the arresting hilltop town of Pitigliano owes its distinct look to the tufa stone (red volcanic stone) it sits on and the tile-roofed, tiered buildings. Before you go, do check out the underground caves and tunnels. Or have a guide tour you inside the labyrinth rooms and passages that date back to the Etruscan times!
Now that you have found out how exciting and soul-pleasing it feels to blend genuine Tuscany experiences with modern-day allures, time to relax. And, feel free to spoil yourself with a meaty barbecue or a glass of the finest champagne at hand while gazing at ravishing views and planning the next day’s outing from the comfort of your luxury Tuscany villa!