Famous for the arts, Tuscany has something for everyone, from spectacular coastline, mountainous regions, museums, rolling countryside, fine wine, great food. The reasons for visiting this beautiful corner of the world are endless.
The first time you visit a new area, the most enjoyable part is going out and seeing all the sights, and experiencing the atmosphere and local cultures.
A villa holiday in Tuscany offers so much, from visiting Renaissance palaces, impressive monuments and Romanesque churches built hundreds of years ago to the historical works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to name but two. When you've seen as much as you can bear of the arts Tuscany still has so much more left to offer.
Set in the south-east of Tuscany, Arezzo is in the middle of four valleys on the hillside. The town is one of the most important cities of the Etruscan federation. The walls surrounding the town were built in 1324! Outside the city walls you will experience fantastic countryside and glimpses of backyard olive trees, vegetable gardens, and flowerbeds.
Thought to be a fortified Umbrian city, passed to the Etruscans between the 7th and 8th centuries BC. Cortona was sold to the Florentines in 1411 Built on the top of the ‘Monte Sant' Egidio, Cortona is surrounded by powerful walls, smoothed down by centuries and winds, along which the ancient gates open in correspondence to the roads coming up from the valley. The visitor looking around from the top walls can admire one of the widest and harmonious views in Italy, the rich and immense Val di Chiana, limited on the horizon by the Siena mountains, foremost the Amiata and the Cetona; and closer up the wide expanse of the Trasimeno lake.
Very rich archaeological findings are exhibited in the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca in Palazzo Casali, foremost the renowned Etruscan lamp of the 5th century BC.
The town centre has preserved it’s medieval appearance and was originally built from of a set of concentric circles, connected by narrow streets and steps. Marina di Bibbona, on the coast, is a modern and well-equipped seaside resort offering offering good accommodation, food and sports facilities. The beaches are lined with woods giving it a natural feel. The landscape is mainly Tuscan vine and olive cultivations.
Marciano della Chiana
This is a little town a few kilometres far from Foiano . The area is rectangular in shape and was built between 100 and 1250, when it was ruled alternatively by Arezzo,Perugia, Siena and Florence.
The door tower with is bell dominates the town, and the eleventh century church of Sant'Andrea and Stefano contain paintings by Bartolomeo della Gatta representing the Virgin with the Child and Saints, as well as many works by local artists. Walking through the narrow stone alleys of Marciano which start from the access door of the small village, situated under the Tower of the clock, you breath indeed a relaxing atmosphere that puts us again in peace with ourselves: it seems really to be in a place out of time; all that is around us transmits an unbelievable feeling of peace and serenity that would make you desire to remain forever here.
A much larger city with approx 59,000 inhabitants, it is not only one of the most fascinating towns in Tuscany but is also in a particularly beautiful position, with lovely environs. The town is the capital of the Tuscan province of the same name. It preserves its medieval character to a remarkable degree, and has been largely unspoilt by new buildings.
It’s beautiful Gothic buildings include the Cathedral and Palazzo Pubblico, as well as numerous churches.
The Campo is one of the most remarkable squares in Italy. The seventeen Contrade or wards into which the town is divided still manage to play an active part in the life of the city, culminating in the famous Palio horserace which has survived as perhaps the most spectacular annual festival in Italy, in which the whole city participates.
The town is built on a Y-shaped ridge and spreads into the adjacent valleys; the streets are consequently often steep, and to pass from one part of the city to another it is often necessary to cross a deep valley. For this reasonv and also because its treasures are unusually scattered, several days are needed for an adequate visit. From the town there is an extensive and varied panorama which includes Monte Amiata and the metalliferous hills, as well as the clay downs of Asciano and the wooded district of Montagnola. To the north, the scenery changes once again, with the densely cultivated hills of the Chianti.
San Gimignano is a charming hill town of 7000 inhabitants, which has preserved its medieval appearance more completely than any other town in Tuscany and stands 334 mts above the sea level on the site of a small Etruscan settlement dating from the Hellenistic period (third to second BC). Its history begins around the Tenth Century.
The town is famous for its numerous towers which make it conspicuous from a great distance and provide one of the most remarkable sights in Italy. It is possible to walk along the 13C walls from which there are fine views of the rich agricultural farm land which surrounds the town. Volterra
The jewel of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance art, dominates the whole valley of the river Cecina from its birth to the Thyrrenian sea, from a hill 550 m above sea level. History has left its marks in Volterra from the Etruscan period to the 19th century with artistic and monumental traces of great importance. You can admire them simply strolling on the streets of the historic centre or visiting the three city museums: the Etruscan Museum, the City Art Gallery and the Museum of Sacred Art. Volterra is a town to experience little by little with its atmosphere and culture offering visitors a unique experience.
Tuscany has a variety of beautiful beaches stretching along the coast, here are a few of the favourites:
The Versilia area is exclusive and expensive, famous for its summer night life. If you want to see this area at it’s best go in the height of the summer as many of the shops and restaurants close at the end of September and don’t open again until May. The beach in the Versilia is very wide and long being 1km long stretching from Forte dei Marmi in the north to Viareggio in the south.
Forte dei Marmi and Lido di Camaiore are the higher end areas, where most of the beach is taken over by deckchairs and umbrellas managed by professional companies that also provide changing rooms, showers, bars with snacks and pasta. You won't find any "free of charge beach" along here, you will need to go to Pietrasanta for these. There you can bring your own umbrella, towels, cooler and sit down wherever you want. The water is clean but the currents are usually strong, something to be watchful of with people in your group who aren’t strong swimmers. Versilia is more about the bathing and being in the place to be seen Evenings are bet spent strolling on the beach side promenade lined with restaurants overlooking the sea and enjoying a romantic meal at sunset.
As you head south, the beaches get shorter and more narrow with small woods behind them. Again the current is strong around near Pisa so if you have people who aren’t strong swimmers you are better suited to Marina di Pisa, where the beach is protected from the open sea by large rock walls that have been piled to act as barriers making it much more suitable for families.
Beaches here include: Antignano, Quercianella, Castiglioncello, Vada di Rosignano Marittimo, Cecina, Marina di Bibbona, Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo, Riotorto-Piombino
Here you will find some of the most popular beaches in all of Tuscany. From Antigano down to Rosignano the waterfront is actually reef not sand but it still possible to bathe here, we advise you purchase some water shoes from the many souvenir and beach shops available to climb over the rocks. Needless to say snorkelling in this area is good.
From Rosignano down to Riotorto the beach turns into small pebbles or coarse sand, the beaches tend to be very short before you reach a barrier of rock into the sea but there are lots of them. The water tends to be calmer in this area in general.
The beaches in this region include Follonica, Castiglione della Pescaia, Marina di Grosseto, Principina di Grosseto and Monte Argentario.
This area, also known as Maremma, is the most popular in Tuscany with the Italians and increasing numbers of foreigners. There are long stretches of fine sandy beaches and also some rocky areas, there are ample free beaches for you to choose from.
The Marina di Alberese beach is good for families but can get quite busy.
To the north of Castiglione, the Cala Violina is a lovely beach at the end of a 15-minute walk along a woodland trail. In this area, parking is generally around a 15-20 minute walk from the beach but the beaches are worth the effort.
Solmar Villas in Tuscany
All our Tuscany villas have pools and are carefully chosen and approved by our staff. Our high standards ensure that we only select the very best villas in Tuscany to rent for our clients.
We also have a full selection of holiday villas in Fuerteventura, the Balearic Islands, and Albufeira as well as the beauty East Med destinations of Turkey, and Cyprus and the idyllic Ionain Islands Lefkas, Ithaca, Meganissi and Kefalonia
Click here to see our villas in Tuscany
What to do in Tuscany and Surrounding Areas
There are numerous museums throughout Tuscany, we recommend these as a 'must see'.
The Bargello Museum
Primarily a sculpture museum, her you can see early Michelangelo marbles and Giambologna bronzes and then on to a room full of famous works by Donatello, considered by many the greatest sculptors.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the world's top art museums - it houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Botticelli and Michelangelo. Lots of sculptures too.
The Chianti Region
World famous for it’s wine ‘Chianti’ offers visitors a large selection of activities including Medieval villages, castles and walled towns. Chianti's gentle hills are alluringly sketched by miles and miles of vineyards that each season color the landscape in different hues. Hills in shades of green, purple, red and yellow attract thousands of visitors every year.
Between Florence and Siena you will find many farms, wineries and wine cellars that proudly offer their products. Big, small, old or new wineries in Chianti allow us to experience the real taste of the wine. You just need a good Chianti map and a hearty stomach to start your wine tasting tour in Chianti, either by car and by bus.
Siena's Gothic Cathedral
Siena's Gothic cathedral is full of treasures, including its marble pavement, Piccolomini library frescoes and incredibly ornate interiors.
The Grotta del Vento, or Wind Cave, offers the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of underground caverns and the incredible creations made by water droplets in thousands of years.
Poppi Zoo Park for European Fauna
Visit this one of a kind zoological park that allows you to see local Tuscan and European creatures up close, all just as beautiful as or more so than the exotic species found in most zoos.
Tuscany is fantastic for cycling enthusiasts of all levels, from amateur cyclists to anyone just wishing to pedal calmly while enjoying the beauty of the region. You can choose to stay on the paved roads or go off road on mountain bikes to get back to nature. Every region within Tuscany offers visitors planned routes.
Florence and Siena have an abundance of large shops and brand name boutiques alongside smaller workshops run by local craftsmen, neighbourhood and crafts markets. Smaller towns and villages also are home to local craftsmen and weekly food markets. For brand name and Italian fashion designer clothes, shoes and house items, there are several outlets in Tuscany you should head to.
Shopping means also regional hand-crafted products specific to their area, for example, in Volterra, you have the alabaster, in Scarperia in Mugello you have knives, in Casetino you have the "panno casentinese" a typical orange wool, in Montelupo Fiorentino you have ceramics and in Colle Val d'Elsa glass.
Thermal Spas of Saturnia
Saturnia's thermal baths are made of several springs stretching from Mount Amiata to the hills of Albenga and Fiora and reaching Roselle and Talamone. The warm sulphurous waters of Saturnia were well-known by the Etruscans and Romans and have a temperature of 37.5 degrees! In addition to the outdoors hot spas there are also 2 fabulous waterfalls well wroth a visit, the Cascate del Mulino and Cascate del Gorello.
The Cascate del Mulino are probably the most famous natural springs in Tuscany. The waterfalls are made of several natural pools of warm thermal water, as well as a relaxing waterfall. They are open to the public and free throughout the entire year. The only negative part is parking. During high-season, it can be really hard to find a spot where to park and it is easy to get a parking ticket.
Saturnia and its thermal springs are certainly another gem of in the treasure that the Maremma offers, an area where wild nature and history melts perfectly, making Tuscany the perfect destination for your holidays in Italy!