Millions of tourists flock to Tuscany each year. They’re attracted to the lure of Florence, internationally known for the culture, art and history that has made it a must-visit destination of a lifetime. A holiday to Florence alone is guaranteed to be jam-packed with exciting adventures. Yet, off the beaten track, the region has much to offer the adventurous traveller. Hidden gems, bursting with character and charm, are often overlooked by first-time travellers to this iconic part of Italy. If you’re looking to have a different experience in Tuscany, here are some of the activities you need to consider.
A Visit to Volterra
History greets you at every turn in the old city of Volterra, otherwise known as the “city of alabaster”. Whether you’re a history buff or just fascinated by the past, Volterra is the place to visit. Make your way to the Guarnacci Museum to learn all about the ancient Etruscans who once inhabited this city; and while you’re at it, don’t forget to add the Etruscan tombs and the ancient Roman Theatre to the list! Once you’ve whetted your appetite for the bygone eras, head to the Ecomuseum of Alabaster where you will learn more about the story of this iconic location.
After you’re full of knowledge, unwind by walking through the medieval streets. Volterra is known to be quieter than the typical Tuscan tourist spots, which means you can enjoy Tuscany in the peace and quiet you need to appreciate it truly.
The Pleasant Piaggio Museum
For those who admire motorcycles, a visit to Pontedera’s most beloved museum is a must. Home to the most extensive collection of motorcycles in Europe, the Piaggio museum has more than 250 examples of transport – from mopeds and trains to ships and planes. The museum was initially made to preserve the heritage of one of Italy’s oldest companies, but it’s become so much more than this.
The Amazing Apuan Alps
Home to an extensive array of flora and fauna, the Apuan Alps are a stunning scene not to be missed, especially if you catch sight of one of the many birds in flight. The Alps have been made famous by their marble, yet the carpet of life beneath them dates back to the prehistoric era. Also, according to the latest figures, there are just over 1300 caves to explore in the area.
The Marvellous Medici Estate
The 800-year-old village of Castelfalfi was once owned by one of Italy’s most powerful families, the Medici. It’s surprising, then, that this village was almost abandoned in the 1960s. Even to this day, many tourists miss this Tuscan spot on their visit.
The estate is a 2,700-acre resort, complete with vineyards, olive groves and trimmed gardens. Here, a Tuscan harvest is made into many full-bodied wines. The village, as well as its wine, offers an array of activities, from cycling and pools to restaurants and cooking classes.
The Wonders of Wine
Any trip to Tuscany must include a vineyard visit for a taster, and what place would be better than the oldest in the entire country – Barone Ricasoli? The 11th-century village castle overlooks the landscapes and marks the ancient tradition of wine-making. The timeless Chianti Classico was invented here and it is here where you should taste this incredible part of Italy’s history, overlooking the Tuscan valleys where the grapes grow.
The Village of Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci is arguably the most famous Italian to ever live. You’ll find his influence in much of the renowned Tuscan tourist spots, but have you ever considered a trip to his hometown? The town is small, made up of around 14,000 Tuscans, tucked up in a hillside north of Empoli. A hike up to the village takes about three hours but the journey is worth it, guiding you through luscious olive groves and vineyards.
The town itself has a marvellous example of a 12th-century castle, the one which Leonardo himself would have admired as a boy. It also houses a museum dedicated to everything Da Vinci, focusing on his art, inventions and scientific discoveries.
The Antiques of Arezzo
The charming town of Arezzo should be visited for many reasons. Perhaps the most compelling is the monthly antique fair that sees the streets of the medieval piazza filled with wares. The treasures you will find here will be outstanding, whether you decide to buy them or not is up to you and your bartering skills.
The Peaceful Pitigliano
Known as the Little Jerusalem, this hilltop village is one of the most tranquil spots in the entire region. Once the home of a large Jewish community, the museum and landmarks showcase the remarkable history of this place. What’s more, the medieval architecture alone is worth the visit.
The Enchanting Elba
Elba is a small island off mainland Tuscany. Known as a little pocket of paradise, this place is an idyllic sanctuary that offers unparalleled views and tasty seafood. For those looking for something to get the blood pumping, the island hosts plenty of hikes, bike trails and kayaking for visitors to try.
The Tasty Truffles of San Miniato
Another medieval hilltop town – of which Tuscany is famous for – appears on our list. It’s not the architecture or history that attracts us this time, but the food that’s on the menu. The town of San Miniato is celebrated for its white truffles that grow in the forest that surrounds it. Cooking classes or decedent dining experiences will offer you the chance to try these fantastic foods for yourself.
The Sensational Palio di Siena
This centuries-old tradition is a favourite pastime for the locals. The iconic horse race held in Siena’s Piazza sees competing teams run for victory. The city comes alive with the sounds of shouting and galloping horses, creating an electric atmosphere you won’t want to miss. The event is held twice throughout the year, once in July and another in August. Seats fill up quickly, so get there early to get a great view.
Of course, these are just eleven of the magnificent things you can expect from Tuscany. Quality Villas is proud to have this wonderful region as one of the places we host luxury villa holidays. Tuscany is by far one of the most picturesque parts of Italy, and with countless activities that entertain and amaze, we will not be surprised if you come back time and time again. Get in touch today to discover more about Tuscan holidays, or take a look at what holiday villas we have in the area.