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Tuscany villas - the perfect way to spend a holiday in Italy

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Tuscany villas - the perfect way to spend a holiday in Italy

Home > Regions > Tuscany

Tuscany is a delightful region and arguably the most well-known and visited. Offering a rich combination of culture, historic cities, antiquities, agreeable climate, friendly locals and therefore encapsulates everything that is beautiful about Italy.

Tuscany is a delightful region and arguably the most well-known and visited. Offering a rich combination of culture, historic cities, antiquities, agreeable climate, friendly locals and therefore encapsulates everything that is beautiful about Italy.

It's undeniably a region where past and present merge harmoniously. The famous cities of LuccaPisaSiena and Florence offer magnificent gothic, Romanesque and renaissance buildings and works of art and therefore home to numerous talented artists and writers, such as Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Dante. It is this rich mixture of art and history that defines the region and sets it apart from its counterparts and for this reason almost stands aloof from the rest of Italy, holding its own counsel with its steadfast ways and traditions.

 

The resorts

The regional landscape is very diverse, from the rolling hills and vineyards of the Chianti region around Siena to the rugged coastline around Argentario and the Apuan Mountains in the north. "Chiantishire" is the stretch between Florence and Siena and still houses some of Tuscany's most charming villages such as Castellina, Radda in Chianti and Gaiole. Slightly further to the west of Siena are some of Tuscany's best-preserved medieval towns, San Gimignano and Colle di Val D'elsa just a couple to mention but we could list them forever. For those loving the mountains, the rugged area to the north of Lucca, called the Garfagnana, is a treat. This area offers pretty stone villages perched on hilltops, especially in and around the towns of Bagni di Lucca and Barga.

Arezzo - a lesser visited hill town of Tuscany and because of this it escapes the swarm of tourism and overpricing this can bring. Its small medieval centre however packs in some great finds. The sloping Piazza in its heart is an enchanting place and lovely for a coffee, aperitif or dinner stop. Great to visit on the first Sunday of every month for the renowned antiques fayre and one of the best in the region.

Cortona - famed for being the oldest hill town in Tuscany it can also claim to be one of the most scenic too. Its picturesque centre is a wonderful jumble of twisted streets climbing precariously up to its old fortress. The town itself is set among the usual terraced slopes of a Tuscan town typically covered in olive trees and vineyards with views from some of the town out on to Lake Trasimeno. A real jewel to visit.

Florence - the regional capital of Tuscany and its most populated city. Lying in a valley on the banks of the river Arno in the heart of the olive and vine covered hills it is immediately entrancing.  Not only holding some of the world's most famous art work such as the Michelangelo's "David" and Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", but also host to the outstanding and imposing Duomo in the centre of its streets and the celebrated Ponte Vecchio one of the cities most illustrated landmarks. Florence is a gastronomic delight of pavement cafes and restaurants that line its roads coupled with great shopping potential and all of this and its major sights are in easy walking distance of each other.

Forte dei Marmi - an extremely popular and upmarket seaside town for the Italians in the nearby cities. Situated on the Tuscan coast just down from the Italian Riviera. It first rose to fame in 1960s as a destination to be seen in. A pretty town named after its Fort in the centre with a long stretch of sandy beach framed by the back drop of the Apulian Mountains.There is a long pier in its centre, offering far reaching views across the Tyrrhenian Sea and plenty to do and see, a great family resort.

Livorno - is Tuscany's third largest city and one of Italy's largest ports. The old port is the area to visit here and extremely charming. The fishing boats escape back into its pathway of picturesque canals and quant historic bridges. It's known for being a lively and culturally diverse city and a great place to shop and sample seafood freshly caught on the day.

Lucca - a great base to explore the surrounding Garfagnana and Apulian alps but well worth a visit itself. Renowned for its well-preserved renaissance walls which surround this enchanting medieval city centre with its cobblestone, tree lined streets. It's a dream of a place where you can just ramble aimlessly with ease as much of the city is free from traffic.     

Mareema - this part of the Tuscan coast is stylish but subtle, where you can disappear on a dune line beach shielded by tall swaying pine trees. Stretching between Livorno and Grosseto it has such a variety of shoreline from long stretches of coast, black rock, forest covered hills, marshes and thermal baths. 

Montalcino - a picturesque hill op town and probably most famous for its Brunello wine. It's a sleepy relaxing place where you can amble through its cobbled streets and take in the atmosphere of the middle ages frozen in time. Then you can climb to the top of the hill and marvel at the stunning valleys below of Tuscan countryside and surrounding valleys filled with vineyards, olive trees and other small hamlets.

Montepulciano - The highest of Tuscany's hill towns with break taking views from its walls and forts over the surrounding countryside of Umbria and Southern Tuscany. Housed on a narrow ridge of volcanic rock its is most famous for it so named local wines, some of the best in Italy. A wonderful place to visit and offers a quieter meander through its medieval streets than some of the bigger towns of the region. Some wonderful enoteche dotted through the enchanting streets to sample the local produce and wines.

Pisa - mostly famous for its leaning tower, there is still so much to be discovered in this young and cosmopolitan of cities. It's an unexpectedly gem of a University town not only for its renowned tower and the surrounding square and architecture but also its beautiful setting along the stretch of the Arno River. This city has enough architecture to rival any of its neighbouring regional counterparts with a dozen or so churches and palazzi scattered around its historic centre.   

San Gimignano - Tuscany's most famous hill top town with a picture-perfect fortress where you can watch some unforgettable sunsets over the Tuscan landscape and beyond. Despite it being busy in peak seasons it still retains an enticing medieval charm and is simply a beautiful place to visit. Afterwards enjoy a passegiata meandering around the streets taking in the odd gelato stop and onwards for an early evening drink near the Piazza steps.

Siena - in medieval times this was once a capital to rival Florence and the largest of the regions hill top conurbations. We believe it remains Tuscany's most enchanting city and one that cannot be missed when visiting the area. With it's the tallest tower and stunning cathedral in its central piazza, which leads out to a web of winding city streets, all a joy to be explored while taking in the gothic architecture of the period, not to be rivalled in any other spot.

 

Top things to do in Tuscany

Shopping - Shopping is a favourite pastime in Italy and Tuscany offers great style and quality, especially in fashion, leather and also home design and furniture as well as antiques. For clothes shopping, Florence is second to none with fantastic boutiques and out-of-town designer outlets. Arezzo houses the largest outdoor antiques fair in its square and you can also find outdoor antique fairs in Lucca and other towns.

Walking - The scenery in Tuscany is so varied that no two walks are the same. Popular areas for walkers are the Garfagnana valley, an area of national parkland, the Apennine mountains, with the beautiful beach forests of the Orecchiella National Park but we loved exploring the Island of Elba. It's wonderful mountains with its lush wooded interior, old mines clear waters, wild landscapes and with over 63 hikes to choose from there is something for every level or walker and also interest - ranging from Napoleonic history to seeking out its wild flora and fauna. 

Sights & landmarks - There is no shortage of famous landmarks in Tuscany, from the most popular leaning tower to lesser known Roman theatre in Volterra.  The most stunning landscapes in our opinion is the Chianti region or Chiantishire as its known worldwide. With its iconic vineyards and olive groves all easily accessible by local winding roads, it's the perfect place to while away the hours just driving or cycling around for the day. You will also find an abundance of stop offs too for sampling local cuisine or the local tipple, a picture postcard and photographer's dream landscape in any season.

The arts, museums & history - With world-renowned culture and heritage for art lovers and pilgrims alike, Tuscany is an endless treasure trove of delights. We love in particular one of the most important Italian artists - Sandro Botticelli. A true Florentine and some would say one of the big influencers of the Italian renaissance, The Uffizi Gallery is the best place to see many of his works and even has a Botticelli room, all newly refurbished adding more space for visitors, enabling one to spend longer taking in the various masterpieces.

Food & drink - An unmistakable ingredient in Tuscan life is its cuisine; good traditional food using fresh ingredients and is full of flavour. Tuscan vegetable soup is delicious as is the famous Florentine steak. Expect to see plenty of wild game on the menu and lovely rice dishes served with a mixture of meat and chicken. It goes without saying that the region also produces copious amounts of wine, with Chianti being the most famous and Brunello di Montalcino being considered to be the best.

Sports & activities - Italy is not known for its golf but for golf lovers, Tuscany really does steal the march with courses around Florence, Montecatini Terme, Punta Ala, Tirrenia and Orbetello amongst others. With its temperate climate, perfect for golfers there are some great courses. The largest and we think one of the most picturesque in Europe is Castelfalfi. With a lake course that can be challenging but in particular the mountain course is really challenging. Other activities of interest include sailing and diving (especially along the more southern coastline around Argentario), horse riding and fishing.

Boats & sailing tours - Centred around the coastal resorts of Tuscany there are many trips to be enjoyed or self-drive motor boats to try. A real treat for us on a family holiday - so much so we had to visit twice was the Motobarca Mickey Mouse, a wonderful day out for all the family. One day was spent adventuring around the Island of Elba where we were lucky enough to see dolphins and another day was swimming with the very tame fish around a local ship wreck, visible on a clear day from the boats edge, they set sail from Marina di Campo.

Beaches - Sugary sands framed by pine groves and low-slung hills provide much of the scenery along the Tuscan coast, therefore you won't have difficulties finding the perfect spot. We love the beaches within the regional park of Maremma at Marina di Alberese. But if it's family friendly you require then perfect for children is the long sandy beach on Elba at Marina di Campo. If hustle, bustle and people watching is preferred then in the peak of the season the Versilla area is famous for its partying and summer nightlife. 

Events & festivals - The region is drenched in culture, therefore expect an array of festivals to cater for all, particularly in the summer months, ranging from simple flag waving village affairs to the world-famous horse racing Palio di Siena and the Viareggio carnival. A favourite for us is the Monteriggioni Medieval Festival in July famed in particular for the elaborate costumes - said to be the best in Italy. Visitors are welcome to join in medieval games, watch artisan crafts and enjoy the local produce whilst dancing the night away with firework displays every night to end the days processions.

 

Getting around and to Tuscany

By far the best way to discovery Tuscany is by car, giving you the freedom to explore its many treasures. Trains and buses are easily accessible and arguably a preferable way to commute between the larger cities in the region. For local trips, buses can be in frequent and unreliable so not recommended. For those arriving by aeroplane, Pisa Airport is the main International Airport along with Amerigo Vespucci airport in Florence. Bologna and Genova airports in the neighbouring regions of Emilia Romagna and Liguria respectively are also within easy reach.

 

Tuscany weather & best time to visit

Each season can offer something special in Tuscany, in the south, particularly on the coast boasts a milder climate all year around and in the north the air is cooler as it becomes more mountainous. For the most pleasant time and quieter on the tourist front is early to mid-spring and late summer early autumn.

 

Why visit Tuscany?

With Tuscany being such a popular region, there is a wide range of villas for rent. The picture-perfect renovated farmhouse is the most popular choice of accommodation nestled into the rolling countryside. For those looking to explore the region with a budget there are many converted into rustic apartments with shared pools for smaller groups. The medieval hill towns gaze adoringly down on the rows of cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves with the carefully positioned villas and farmhouses holding proud positions on the undulating landscape.

Tuscany is generally renowned for its beautiful countryside, however, it is often overlooked that Tuscany is a region that has a coastline and we highly recommend some of our beautiful sea view Villas in Tuscany where you can enjoy the delights of a beach holiday but also get to explore inland. The region offers a landscape that has the most lasting charm. It has an abundance of medieval towns that are second to none and a sheer beauty that it difficult to rival. A simple walk becomes a joy in these surroundings and you are faced with hundreds of years of civilisation. Strolling through medieval streets, you will fall upon endless art and architecture that that cannot be rivalled.

For those simply wishing to relax, the beaches are lovely and most countryside properties have a swimming pool, perfect for lazy days to soak up the beautiful surroundings. The combination of coastline, mountains, countryside and beautiful towns and cities such as FlorenceSienaCortonaLuccaMontepulciano (and we could go on) is truly hard to match. For an unforgettable Italian holiday we highly recommend you choose a villa in Tuscany with private pool.

 

 

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