Rolling hills with vineyards, olive trees, Italian Cyprus and walled cities on top of hills... here are my top tips for visiting Tuscany.
1. Florence and Sienna are equally worth a visit
Your tour will no doubt start or end in Florence, try to make it to Sienna as well. These are the biggest cities in Tuscany and while Florence has more art, Sienna is more of a compact “walled city on a hill” with a beautiful central piazza. Sienna is also famous for its separate communities within the city.
2. Watch the Sunset at The Piazza Michelangelo
In Florence, grab a bottle of wine (which is cheaper than water) and watch the sun set from the piazza Michelangelo. You’ll see couples and families enjoying the sunset together over the Duomo.
3. Wines are Named for Regions
Chianti, Montepulciano... You can drive right through these regions and stop at 400-year-old vineyards along the way. Drive responsibly.
4. Volterra is Real
Remember the “Volteri” vampires in Twilight? That city is a real place, Volterra. No vampires here, just a beautiful old city.
5. Orvieto is a Worthy Day Trip
Orvieto is close to Rome (few hours day trip) and is not only a glimpse of Tuscan living, they are famous for their white wine, duomo and tunnels below the city. If you are short on time and can only make a day-trip to Tuscany I would recommend Orvieto.
6. Pit Stop in Pisa
Pisa is not technically in Tuscany, but seeing as there is not a heck of a lot to do in Pisa, you might consider stopping through as you traverse the middle of the Italian boot.
7. Avoid Peak Summer Holidays
Consider staying at a villa (or AirB&B home) for a truly unique, serene experience. We stayed off-season (in February) and practically had the place to ourselves, amazing! Even in the off-season, Tuscany has enough tourist infrastructure that we got around fine, attractions and shops were open.... and we had little crowds or summer heat.
8. The View from San Gimignano's Towers
Go to the top of the bell towers in San Gimignano. There are 4 distinct towers atop that city and the views are amazing... rolling hills, vineyards and farms.
9. Shop in Small Towns
Avoid the big markets in Florence, a lot of pushy vendors and very crowded. I much preferred shopping in the smaller towns throughout Tuscany.
10. Take It Slow, Enjoy the Countryside
Get outside for some of that famous Italian light! Go for a picnic or a hike.... weather permitting the smaller towns and countryside is the best part about Tuscany.