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18 Unforgettable Things To Do In Tuscany, Italy

I have to say, after visiting Tuscany numerous times over the past decade, I've completely fallen in love with this magical region of Italy. From sipping iconic Brunellos to getting lost in tiny hill towns, Tuscany has given me so many awesome memories. Let me share some of my favorite things to do based on my adventures!

1. Stroll Through Pienza

This tiny hill town in Val d’Orcia totally transports you back to the Renaissance, rebuilt in the 1500s by Pope Pius II to be the "ideal town." I happily wandered the car-free lanes for hours, geeking out over the palaces, churches, and main square that legit look like they're from a painting. Be sure to sample the local Pecorino cheese and shop for traditional crafts from local artisans. But my favorite part was taking in the killer panoramas of vineyards, olive groves, and undulating hills from Piazza Pio II. Breathtaking!

2. Hike the Val d'Orcia

The Val d'Orcia is quintessential Tuscan countryside, with endless fields dotted by solo cypress trees. I laced up my hiking boots to traverse this drop-dead gorgeous UNESCO-protected valley, following dirt trails from Montalcino to Monte Amiata. I passed through seas of olive trees and vineyards, stumbling upon tiny hill towns lost in time along the way. You can also trek part of the ancient Via Francigena pilgrim route for some jaw-dropping vistas. But beware, I got lost for like 2 hours!

3. Marvel at Leaning Tower of Pisa

No trip to Tuscany is complete without seeing Pisa's famous leaning bell tower. Located just an hour outside Florence, this iconic marble tower has been tilting precariously to one side for centuries now. After roaming the perfectly manicured lawns of Piazza Dei Miracoli, I obviously had to snap some cheesy "holding up the tower" pics with my parents. Don't forget to check out Pisa's striking cathedral and baptistery too. But the tower is da bomb!

4. Explore Medieval Siena

From its snail-shell-shaped central plaza to an intricate black-and-white striped cathedral, historic Siena instantly transported me back to old medieval times. I spent hours blissfully wandering the narrow cobblestone lanes, peeking into palace courtyards, and soaking up all that gothic atmosphere. Make sure to see the mind-boggling marble flooring and epic Piccolomini library inside the 13th-century Duomo. And try to catch the legendary bareback Palio horse race in summer! I sadly missed it by a week.

5. Get Lost in Lucca

Wandering the web of narrow lanes in the stupidly charming city of Lucca completely won me over. Encircled by imposing wide Renaissance-era walls, I pedaled a rickety bike on top of the ramparts to take in bird's eye views of terracotta rooftops and church spires. Below, I discovered a maze of tiny alleyways choked with towers and stately mansions. Resting in the shady piazzas, I was serenaded by talented street musicians playing everything from Puccini to Pink Floyd covers! Don’t miss the show-stopping ornamented facade on the Romanesque Duomo di San Martino.

6. See Michelangelo's David

For art lovers like me, no trip to Florence is complete without a pilgrimage to see Michelangelo’s 17-foot masterpiece David, arguably the most famous sculpture ever made. Housed in the Accademia Gallery, this mind-blowing statue exemplifies the Renaissance humanist spirit. Gazing up at it, I stood transfixed by Michelangelo's skill in transforming a discarded hunk of flawed marble into a perfectly proportioned human figure. The sheer artistry is nuts!

7. Climb the Duomo's Dome

The crowning glory of the Florence skyline is the magnificent Duomo with its iconic red dome. After gaping at its gilded facade, I scaled 463 narrow stone steps to experience 360-degree views of the sea of red-tiled rooftops. From the top, I peered down at the baptistery and bell tower, appreciating Brunelleschi’s engineering feats. Don’t miss the brilliant brickwork up close! Pro tip: Go early to beat the crowds.

8. Explore the Uffizi Gallery

For art aficionados, Florence's Uffizi Gallery is a must, ranked among the world's best museums. Following the u-shaped marble corridor, I was blown away by countless Renaissance masterpieces by Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and more. I could have spent days gaping at the lifelike portraits, Mediterranean goddesses, and Biblical figures. With advance reservations, you can skip the notoriously long lines.

9. Cross the Ponte Vecchio at Sunset

Spanning the Arno River, Florence's medieval Ponte Vecchio dazzled me with its jewelry shops lining the bridge in tiny wooden structures dating back centuries. Pausing mid-bridge at sunset, I took in truly magical golden hour views of the river and the city beyond. There's no better place that capture Florence's essence of mixing commerce, history, and beauty all in one.

10. Indulge in Bistecca alla Fiorentina

In Florence, Steak achieves an art form with Bistecca alla Fiorentina. These mouthwatering Tuscan steaks arrive cooked to perfection and 2 fingers thick from local Chianina cows. I savored wonderfully tender, juicy slabs paired with fruit-forward Tuscan wines at iconic eateries like Mario’s and Camillo Trattoria. Don’t skip the white beans, the perfect accompaniment! Just make sure to wear stretchy pants.

11. Admire Santa Croce Basilica's Frescoes

This grand Franciscan church is one of Florence’s finest examples of over-the-top Italian Gothic design. I was awestruck by the vast interior covered in brilliant Renaissance frescoes and tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and more master artists tombs. Don't miss the peaceful cloisters, old chapels, and on-site leather school. The museum houses stunning Cimabue and Giotto originals. Total artwork overload!

12. Tour San Gimignano's Medieval Towers

This spectacular medieval "Manhattan" is crowned by 14 crazy-tall stone towers that look torn from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. I explored the narrow streets, climbing endless stairs to the top of the towers for panoramic views over the remote Tuscan hills. Make sure to sample the local Vernaccia white wine with notes of saffron and lavender. The vibrant ceramic shops in lively local piazzas are bursting with beautiful handmade pottery.

13. See Volterra's Etruscan Ruins

I took a scenic drive up to this beautifully preserved ancient hill town that transports you back 2,000 years. Walking through the Etruscan gate from the 4th century BC, I felt like I was stepping into a time machine. Don't miss the remains of the Roman theater and medieval palaces. The renowned Guarnacci Museum houses 600 cinerary urns that provide a glimpse into the mysterious Etruscan culture. Alabaster artisans have carved this fine translucent gypsum stone here for centuries.

14. Experience Small Town Charm

Beyond the famous cities, Tuscany's little hill towns completely stole my heart with their rustic old-world village vibe. I adored wandering the stone lanes of Montepulciano, sampling its famed Vino Nobile red wine. Pienza's cypress-lined main street looks like it’s from a movie set. I took an unforgettable cooking class inside a farmhouse just outside Siena where we made pici pasta by hand. Charming towns like Cortona, Anghiari, and Monticchiello deliver serious Tuscan magic.

15. Tour the Postcard-Perfect Val d'Elsa

This gorgeous valley between Siena and Florence contains some crazy scenic medieval villages. I explored San Gimignano’s soaring grey stone towers, Monteriggioni’s walled fortress, and Certaldo’s Boccaccio heritage sites. The ornate palazzos of Colle di Val d'Elsa charmed me, as did tiny Barberino Val d'Elsa perched dramatically on a wooded hillside. Each one was lovelier than the next!

16. Hike Cinque Terre Trails

I took a day trip from Tuscany to visit the string of five technicolor fishing villages along the Cinque Terre coast. Traveling by local train and boat, I hiked the awe-inspiring cliffside trails between the towns, sampling seafood caught fresh that morning. The spectacular views of Vernazza and Riomaggiore from the trails and kayaking the shoreline are forever seared in my memory! Just don't look down.

17. Marvel at Siena Cathedral's Black & White Marble

Standing inside Siena’s mind-blowing Duomo complex, I was overwhelmed by the crazy Gothic architecture and artistry. I craned my neck to stare open-mouthed at the intricately carved facade, trippy inlaid mosaic marble floors, and gloriously frescoed library ceilings. The eerie illuminated medieval crypt and perfectly preserved works like Nicola Pisano’s marble pulpit left me speechless. An absolute must-see!

18. Explore Off-the-Beaten-Path Mugello

Just north of Florence, I discovered the wooded hills and rolling valleys of the unspoiled Mugello region. I spent days blissfully rambling along quiet trails under the Tuscan sun, touring medieval monasteries and sampling hearty cuisine at local trattorias in charming villages like Scarperia and San Piero. With its abundance of nature and lack of tourists, Mugello offered a peaceful countryside escape from the crowds. Bellissimo!

Clearly, I'm a bit obsessed after my travels to this Italian paradise. With its jaw-dropping scenery, world-class art and wine, and fairy tale villages, Tuscany has something for everyone. Have I convinced you to visit? Let me know if you have any other questions! Ciao!

This post first appeared on Budget Travel Tips | Resources And Good Plans, please read the originial post: here

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18 Unforgettable Things To Do In Tuscany, Italy


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