15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany

updated 12/2/2021
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There are so many things to do in Tuscany. You won't cover them all in one trip to Italy. But try our Tuscany highlights, they're a great start. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.

1. San Miniato truffle tasting is one of the top things to do in Tuscany

Tuscany is well known for truffles and truffle hunting. But if you want to hunt down the biggest variety of the much prized fungi, head for San Miniato. You’ll find this famous truffle town strategically placed on the top of three small hills, looking out over the lower Arno Valley, between Pisa and Florence.

Explore San Miniato beyond truffles on an English-speaking guided walk round town.

Tasting truffes in San Miniato is one of the best things to do in Tuscany © StevanZZ/Shutterstock

2. Explore the ancient hill town of Cortona

Visit Cortona for its unforgettable views over Lago Trasimeno. This charming hill town on the Valdichiana Plain has always attracted attention. But it shot to fame as the film location for 'Under the Tuscan Sun', so you can expect it to be quite crowded now, especially in summer.

Discover the secret Cortona on a two hour private guided tour of the town.

Exploring hill towns like Cortona is one of many unique things to do in Tuscany - shutterstock

3. Go wild about unspoiled Monti dell’Uccellina

Monti dell’Uccellina, or the Uccellina Mountains, stretch along one of Italy’s unspoiled coasts. They're part of the Maremma Regional Park in southern Tuscany, also known for its coastal plains and marshes. The untamed interior here is stunning too, and don't miss climbing in the forest-covered hills.

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4. Make a pilgrimage to mountain top La Verna

La Verna is the 13th century mountain retreat of St. Francis of Assisi, and now one of Tuscany's major pilgrimage sites. It's still a thriving Franciscan monastery. And although many visitors come to explore, admire the wonderful views of the Apennines or pay homage, La Verna is far less touristy than Assisi.

Pilgrimage in comfort on a full day tour of La Verna with private transport.

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5. Get lost in The Uffizi in Florence

Set aside at least half a day to explore the Uffizi in Florence. It's considered to be the finest art collection in Italy, and the three-floor gallery also contains the world's greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art. To avoid the inevitable queues in Florence, book a skip the line small group tour of the Uffizi.

The Uffizi is one of the major attractions in Tuscany Italy - shutterstock

6. Go walking on Alpi Apuane well marked trails

The Alpi Apuane are a botanical wonderland and you can walk their trails in northern Tuscany. Clearly marked paths network the area, and you'll find longer routes for valley hikes.

The Alpi are also home to over 300 bird species, and known for vast forests of beech and chestnut. You can see dramatic marble quarries here year round. But if you want colourful wildflower displays, the best time to visit is in spring.

Book Villa Lucrezia near the historic centre of Lucca. It's a good base for hiking the Alpi Apuane.

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7. Gaze at Piero della Francesca masterpieces in Arezzo

Tuscany's awash with art, but the Piero della Francesca fresco cycle in Arezzo is one of the region's must-sees. It's in the San Francesco Basilica and no more than 10 visitors can view the masterpiece at one time.

Once you've gazed on the fresco cycle, make time to wander around historic Arezzo. A handsome city in its own right, you may also recognise it as a location from the film, 'Life Is Beautiful'. If you want to learn more, take a three hour private walking tour with local guides.

8. Wander the streets of San Gimignano

Remarkable San Gimignano is one of Tuscany's iconic hill towns. Also known as Delle Belle Torri, its skyline is dominated by 15 medieval towers. Go exploring round the ancient town streets. But be aware, the town can get very crowded in summer.

Visit in autumn instead. It's truffle season in San Gimignano. And if you want rare fungi guaranteed, you can go truffle hunting and have lunch with a local expert.

The many medieval towers of San Gimignano, Tuscany Italy © Vaflya/Shutterstock

9. Give in and be a tourist in Pisa

Visiting Pisa is one of the best things to do in Tuscany at any time of year. Of course the main attraction is Campo dei Miracoli, centred around the legendary Leaning Tower. the city's main attraction.

You can't possibly miss the Campo's vast Romanesque cathedral and Camposanto is where to see extraordinary tombs and frescoes. Unsurprisingly, the city's very busy in summer. So cheat a bit, avoid the queues, and take an all-inclusive tour of Pisa with local guides.

Visit the Campo dei Miracoli in Pisa, Tuscany - shutterstock

10. Walk round the ancient city walls in Lucca

Lucca has some of Europe's finest Romanesque buildings and it's great to explore on foot. Take a walk or cycle round the ancient city walls, the entire circuit is four kilometres and lined with trees. The best time to avoid crowds is mid-afternoon.

And if you want a more in-depth experience, think about walking the Lucca city walls with an expert local guide.

11. Discover the wine and vineyards of Chianti

Visit vineyards between Siena and Florence where they produce some of Italy's finest wine. The climate's mild here year round and it's a perfect place to gaze on romantic Tuscan landscapes.

Many local estates welcome visitors and you can book wine tastings at most before you go. Alternatively, let someone else do the driving and take a full day Chianti wine tour from Florence.

Romantic Chianti wine country between Florence and Siena © Dmytro Balkhovitin/Shutterstock

12. Embrace open air art at Il Giardino dei Tarocchi

Tuscany is where to find Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, home to one of Italy's oddest modern art collections. Il Giardino dei Tarocchi translates as The Tarot Garden, and it's just five kilometres from Capalbio.

All artworks on display are by Niki de Saint Phalle and the entire collection took 17 years to complete. It's a fun day out for children and adults. But if you want a deeper insight into the art, take a tour of the gardens and Capalbio from Civitavecchia.

13. Sample island life on Giglio

Take to the coast of Tuscany and discover lesser known Giglio. An underdeveloped island compared to nearby Elba, it's known for pretty stone villages and panoramic views.

Mountain hikes, beaches and water sports are good here too. If you feel like discovering Giglio for yourself, stay at Castello Monticello on the island's east coast.

The island of Giglio, Tuscany Italy © jackbolla/Shutterstock

14. Hit the hot springs at Bagno Vignoni

Tuscany isn't short on spa towns, but Bagno Vignoni lets you spa for free. This tiny village an hour south of Siena has its own natural hot springs, and doesn't charge visitors to use its outdoor sulphur pools.

Don't miss the Medici-era pool in main square. It's not open for bathing, but looks marvellous. And if you want to fully immerse in Bagno Vignoni, book a stay at Albergo Le Terme overlooking the springs.

15. Stay local in the romantic hill towns of Tuscany

Hotels in rural Tuscany make for easier sightseeing, and they can also be outstanding. Splash out and book Castello di Velona south of Montalcino.

This former 12th century castle sits in open countryside only 30 minutes drive from Siena. Each of its spacious rooms is individually designed, and the hotel features a spa, as well as a Tuscan restaurant showcasing Castello di Velona wines.

Ready to travel to Italy? Find out about the best time to go and the best places to see and things to do in Italy. For inspiration use the Italy itineraries from The Rough Guide to Italy and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

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updated 12/2/2021
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