Guide to Tuscany
Enchanting cities of art and medieval villages nestling among the soft hills
An internationally famous tourist destination, Tuscany boasts a wealth of picturesque landscapes, artistic beauty and fascinating historic centres such as Florence, the heart of the Renaissance.
The greatest attractions for the region’s visitors are the cities of Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Siena, along with a number of gorgeous smaller towns. A trip to San Gimignano with its high medieval towers is absolutely recommended. Or a tour to Pienza with its town centre preserved almost unchanged ever since the Renaissance. Or a visit to Suvereto – without a doubt one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Here at the very latest, no one can help falling in love with this region, its towns and villages world famous for their art and architecture. But the natural environment is well worth exploring too. Wandering through the softly rolling hills – planted with the slim cypress trees that give the landscape its characteristic appearance – you’ll come across vineyards at every turn. This is the origin of red wines as well known and well loved as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano and Tignanello. To get a more intensive look at the area, Monte Amiata (1738 m) is the perfect opportunity for an excursion to untouched natural surroundings. This inactive volcano is a popular skiing destination in winter, and in summer a great place for trekking fans, especially as its peak offers an incomparable view out over the whole of central Italy. And then of course, there’s the sea and the extremely varied coast: including the wild Maremma, where the butteri herd their cattle on horseback. Or the coastal town of Viareggio, famous for its art deco architecture. Forte dei Marmi is stylish and smart, and the resort of Punta Ala has been a popular meeting place for the elite for many years. Off the coast in the Tyrrhenian Sea lie the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago – according to legend, they were formed from the pearls of a crown once accidentally dropped into the sea by the goddess Venus.
The climate of Tuscany is generally mild but with substantial differences from one area to the next, according to the proximity to the sea to the west or to the Apennine mountains to the north and east. During the winter months temperatures rarely fall below zero except in the higher mountains such as the Alpi Apuane, where it is coldest. The period from November to April generally sees the most rain. May and October are considered the best months for visiting the region: these months, apart from the occasional shower are generally sunny. Average summer temperatures are usually around 23-25°C. July and August are the hottest months, June and September are generally very pleasant.
Everyone encountering this city immediately feels the great fascination of Florence. There is a palatable air of history in every corner, a sense of art, culture and harmony at every turn. It was also the birthplace of the Renaissance and of Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language. The entire historical centre of Florence was adopted onto the UNESCO’s list of world cultural heritage sites. Its central square, where every visitor ends up sooner or later, is the Piazza della Signoria, forming a harmonious ensemble with the majestic Palazzo Vecchio. Only a few steps away is the world famous Uffizi art museum, including works as well known as Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is well worth visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia too, simply to admire Michelangelo’s impressively male David, over four metres high. The Florentines focus all their energies and ambitions on art, be it under the roofs of the characteristic wooden jewellery stalls on the Ponte Vecchio or in the many little workshops and outlets for arts and crafts on the left bank of the Arno. Particularly Forte Belvedere with its Piazzale Michelangelo and the lofty town of Fiesole offer visitors a uniquely beautiful panorama of the old city.