An Introduction to Tuscany, Italy
Tuscany is a region in central Italy, delimited by the Apennine Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea. One of the most important cultural landscapes of the Renaissance, Tuscany is a fantastic place to visit.
With a diverse natural landscape that encompasses the green valley of Chianti and the Argentario coast’s stunning beaches, plus amazing cultural hubs like the cities of Florence and Siena, Tuscany is the perfect region for your vacation.
Must See & Do in Tuscany
If there is one place worth visiting in Tuscany, that is Florence, the region’s capital city. Florence is the cradle of the Renaissance, and the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore is a real masterpiece: from the cathedral’s huge dome, you can enjoy an incredible view of the city.
Other must-sees in Florence are the beautiful Ponte Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums worldwide.
As internationally well-known as Florence is Pisa. The city’s symbol is the Leaning Tower, one of Italy’s main tourist attractions. But Pisa has much more to offer, like its beautiful cathedral and the stunning scenery along the river Arno.
Siena is another must-visit in Tuscany. The historic old town with its impressive Piazza del Campo (the main square) and the 100-meter-high tower called Torre del Mangia will leave you speechless. The famous Palio di Siena, the traditional horse race happening every July, is an unmissable event!
The city of Lucca is less-known than Siena but equally beautiful. Also known as the “City of 99 Churches”, there is a small church on every corner of Lucca. Another characteristic of Lucca is the 4-kilometer-long city wall.
Tuscany is also a popular destination for its countryside. The Chianti area, worldwide famous for its wine production, offers breathtaking landscapes, small villages, and gorgeous castles.
Another place you should consider visiting in the countryside is the Val d’Orcia. The green hills, the romantic farms, and the medieval villages make the Val d’Orcia the perfect spot to relax during your vacation.
Tuscany is also a great holiday spot if you want something more adventurous and active. The Parco Nazionale dell’Arcipelago Toscano has many trails for hiking, horse riding, and cycling. It is the largest marine park in Italy and includes the stunning island of Elba.
If relaxation is the essential element you seek during your holiday, don’t miss a visit to the Saturnia hot springs. This natural theme attracts thousands of visitors every year. The picturesque waterfall of Cascate del Mulino, the turquoise pools, and the sulphuric waters make the Terme di Saturnia a perfect vacation plan.
The Tuscany coast is another must-see. The so-called Costa d’Argento (literally “Silver Coast”) rises at the bottom of Monte Argentario, and its beaches are truly fabulous.
Secret Gems of Tuscany
The Tuscan Maremma hides the most beautiful beach in the region, Cala Violina. It is part of the Riserva Naturale delle Bandite di Scarlino. The name of the Cala is special: it refers to the type of sound that is produced by walking on the sand (“violino” is the Italian word for violin), which is made up of fine quartz. To render Cala Violina even more amazing, the sea waters that lap the beach are crystal clear.
Food & Drink of Tuscany
The traditional cuisine of Tuscany is a perfect harmonization of two principles: simplicity and quality. Tuscan cuisine is mainly based on peasant traditions, with poor ingredients cooked with that special touch to render the food amazing.
Pappa al Pomodoro is a staple in Tuscany. Everyone enjoys this vegan-friendly soup made with Tuscan bread, garlic, tomatoes, basil, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Another classic of Tuscan cuisine is the Ribollita. This dish is a great way to reuse leftovers: the name literally means “reboiled”, and it was traditionally made by reboiling leftover minestrone. The dish’s main ingredients are black cabbage, beans, and bread.
Tuscany also has a relevant culinary tradition centering around meat.
Trippa and Lampredotto are typical dishes of the peasant tradition, which use every part of the animals (those two dishes are made of offal).
Bistecca alla Fiorentina is probably the most popular Tuscan dish. The T-bone steak is a must-try if you are visiting Tuscany!
For dessert, you should try Castagnacco, made with chestnut flour, raisins, and pine nuts, seasoned with salt, olive oil, and rosemary. The result is a dense cake perfect for tasting both warm and cold!
But Tuscany is culinary excellence for another reason: wine. Montalcino and Montepulciano are two classic red wines. Another amazing red wine? Chianti, of course!