Tuscany is more than just a popular place to visit in Italy. It is a brand.
When planning an itinerary for Italy, many travelers want to go to Tuscany and soak up that Tuscan sun they’ve heard so much about.
So what is Tuscany? And what can you see once you get there?
What Is Tuscany?
Tuscany is the fifth largest region in Italy. Its area is 22,987 km/8,877 mi, which makes it roughly the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey or the country of Belize.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany.
Tuscany Map | Mappa Toscana
Tuscany is bordered by five other regions: Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche, Umbria, and Lazio.
That means that not only is Tuscany a great region to visit on its own. But it is a good base for exploring other parts of Italy, including Cinque Terre (Liguria), Bologna (Emilia-Romagna), and the hill towns of Umbria. It takes approximately one to 1.5 hours to travel by high-speed train from Florence to Rome.
Where to Go in Tuscany
Popular cities and sub-regions to visit in Tuscany include:
- Chianti sub-region
- Tuscan islands, including Elba
What Can You See in Tuscany?
Tuscany is home to some of the most famous symbols of Italy, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Michelangelo’s David statue (located in Florence).
Tuscany is also home to some of the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. In fact, entire cities in Tuscany are UNESCO sites. These include:
- Historic Centre of Florence
- Historic Centre of San Gimignano
- Historic Centre of Siena
- Historic Centre of the City of Pienza
- Medici Villas and Gardens near Florence
- Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (includes the Leaning Tower)
- Val d’Orcia
You could easily plan a one-week itinerary visiting only Tuscan UNESCO sites. But there are many ways to tackle a Tuscany itinerary. Here are some typical ways to plan a one-week stay in Tuscany.
Itineraries for Tuscany
Some of the following itineraries include two to three days in Florence. You can read more about what to do in Florence here.
Florence, Siena and Chianti countryside. Siena is about one hour away from Florence by car and 1.5-2 hours by train or bus. In between them lies one of the most famous areas in Italy for wine — Chianti. Spend at least one night in Siena in order to experience its medieval mood by night. Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, and Radda in Chianti are three of the best-known villages within Chianti (sometimes called Chiantishire in English).
Florence, Siena, and San Gimignano. See itinerary above. But instead of stopping in Chianti, go further south to San Gimignano. This city of medieval towers — “medieval Manhattan” — is a UNESCO site.
Florence, Pisa, and Lucca. Pisa is well-connected to Florence thanks to it being Tuscany’s international airport hub. A lot of people do a day-trip to Pisa, but I recommend spending at least one night there, even though you can see the Leaning Tower and nearby sites in a few hours. Pisa is a pretty town and home to a large university, so there is often a buzz here at night that you won’t find during the day. Lucca is an elegant city, surrounded by walls. Its center is based around the plan of a Roman amphitheater that was once here.
Florence, Cortona, and Arezzo. East of Florence is Cortona, the town made famous by the book Under the Tuscan Sun. Many tourists are drawn to Cortona because Frances Mayes’s vivid, loving descriptions of the town, so it can get packed in the high season. Nearby is the town of Arezzo, whose San Francesco church has an unmissable fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca. You may also wish to combine this itinerary with side trips to Sansepolcro and/or Anghiari.
Where to Stay in Tuscany
Al Mercato B&B. Siena. Basic accommodations but very close to the center of Siena. A practical choice for a one-night stay if you’re on a budget.
Borgo Magliano Resort. Magliano in Toscana (near Maremma, southern coast). This is a self-catering resort with a large swimming pool and a restaurant. Borgo Magliano Resort sits on a hill across the valley from the lovely little medieval town of Magliano and is a short drive away from olive groves, vineyards, and the beach. I have stayed here with my family at least three times and it seems to be a hit with families from Italy and Europe.
Hotel Botticelli. Florence. I am not particularly loyal to hotels or brand names, but I am to Hotel Botticelli — for a good reason. This comfortable and elegant hotel is near the Mercato Centrale, a fantastic food market in central Florence.
Hotel La Cisterna. San Gimignano. This hotel couldn’t have been in a better location. It fronts the piazza of the same name and my room had a small balcony from which I could view the Tuscan hills. Quiet, clean, a good value. I was very pleased and would have stayed longer had my itinerary allowed it. One thing to note is that if you’re driving, it’s rather complicated to get to the hotel while properly observing ZTL restrictions. That’s just part of the deal when staying in a UNESCO Heritage Site. I had to park rather far away, but the city center streets are made of smooth brick, so you can easily wheel your suitcase from point A to B.
Il Molinaccio di Montepulciano. Montepulciano. This is the kind of rustic property I dream of. Large rooms with sturdy farmhouse furniture, a manicured lawn giving way to one of the best-looking swimming pools I’ve ever swum in. Breakfast was ample (didn’t expect scrambled eggs!). A purring cat lazed on the patio chairs when it wasn’t chasing lizards and beetles. The place makes its own wine, which is to be expected in a place like Montepulciano.
Last Updated: April 8, 2021