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Tuscany - Rustic simplicity and Renaissance finery

Boasting a blend of delicious food, beautiful wine and the birth of Renaissance, Tuscany is classic Italy. The region’s most prized art and historical relics reside in the larger cities, while hilltop medieval towns offer comfortable, inexpensive villa holiday living and breathtaking views of rustic vineyards and olive groves. Whether you come in search of pure relaxation and rural charm or an experience packed with local culture and tradition, you will fall in love with Tuscany.

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Volterra

This beautiful hilltop city occupies a breathtaking position overlooking vast expanses of the famous Tuscan landscape. Volterra is not as well known to tourists as the neighbouring city of San Gimignano, but offers a wealth of historical and artistic treasures as well as some wonderful architecture. These include two beautiful castles, a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and a number of Etruscan sites. The town also boasts a beautiful domed cathedral built in a Romanesque style. Volterra is also famous for its alabaster crafts, which are for sale in abundance throughout the city. The surrounding valleys and countryside are perfect for touring by car, and the vineyards of the Chianti region are also not far away, where you can learn more about how this world famous wine is made.

  • 1hr fromPisa

Lucca

With its medley of piazzas, churches, galleries and narrow streets surrounded by a 4km perimeter of 16th century wall, Lucca is a true hidden gem. Take a walk along the cobbled streets and witness the stunning ancient architecture and medieval houses, or visit the Duomo di San Martino cathedral and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. Lucca is perfectly situated only 20 minutes from the centre of Pisa and the breathtaking leaning tower, plus Pisa airport is just a 30 minute drive away.

  • 30mins fromPisa

Pontedera

Pontedera is a bustling town between Pisa and Florence and is the home of the Piaggio company that manufactures the famous Vespa scooters. The centre is home to many chic boutiques, shops and pavement cafés, most of which can be found along the pedestrianised main street and there are also many fine restaurants to discover. Located in the Province of Pisa, you can explore this historical city after just a 40 minute drive.

  • 30mins fromPisa

Arezzo

Renowned for its thriving jewellery industry, Arezzo is set on a hillside in south east Tuscany dominating the marvellous valleys of the Arno and Tevere rivers. A town of friendly citizens, artistic masterpieces and stained-glass marvels, the area is also home to splendid landscapes filled with famous monastic settlements, century-old trees and Romanesque parishes.

  • 1hr 40mins fromPisa

Cecina

Cecina is a popular coastal town situated 33km south of Livorno. The town offers something for everyone with a good variety of restaurants, beaches, harbour and waterpark (Acqua Village). A large pine forest between the centre of Cecina and Marina di Cecina is home to many birds and small animals.

  • 40mins fromPisa

Cortona

Founded by the Umbri - the original Umbrian peoples, as long ago as 1,000 BC then conquered by the Etruscans, the picturesque and historic town of Cortona stands atop a hill and affords the visitor views of southern Tuscany as far as Umbrias Lake Trasimeno. As well as numerous art galleries and museums, the famous old town is home to some fantastic restaurants and a good selection of shops whilst historians and culture seekers will find a varied range of churches and palaces as well as ancient Etruscan burial sites to visit. Of more recent interest the town was the setting for "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes.

  • 2hrs fromPisa

Castagneto Carducci

This village, situated on a hill, was once surrounded by walls, but is now dominated by the castle of the Della Gherardesca family who to this day still live there. Wonder through the cobbled streets where there are churches and historical buildings to see as well as a number of restaurants and shops. The coastal town of Marina di Castagneto Carducci is only a 15 minute drive away where a stunning beach can be discovered and seafront restaurants.

  • 1hr fromPisa

Montepulciano

Built upon a crest of a hill, Montepulciano is renowned as a treasure chest of late Renaissance architecture due to many palaces that were built. Located 60km southeast of Siena, the town is famous for its elegant churches and excellent wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Climb up through the narrow streets with a number of shops and restaurants to the main square, Piazza Grande.

  • 2hrs fromPisa

Pomarance

The small hilltop village is set amid rolling Tuscan countryside. The area combines a rich history with an interesting natural environment. Geothermal energy occurs in the nearby area, which is now used to produce electricity. If you wish to explore further afield, the picturesque town of Volterra is just half an hours’ drive away, whist the city of Pisa with its rich history and architecture, can be reached in under an hour-and-a-half. If you would like to spend a day at the beach, the beautiful Etruscan coast is perfect for a day trip – under an hour’s drive away, and offering some lovely, sandy beaches.

  • 1hr 15mins fromPisa

Siena

This stunning medieval town is simply not to be missed. The magnificent fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is the heart of the city’s ancient parishes which compete with each other in the famous Palio – a heady mix of medieval pomp, pageantry and passion, culminating in a crazy, bareback horse race around the Campo. The city’s main sights, including the extraordinary black and white striped cathedral, plus shops, ice cream parlours and restaurants, are clustered close to the square in a maze of narrow medieval streets.

  • 1hr 45mins fromPisa

Certaldo

Home of the family of Giovanni Boccaccio, poet of ‘Vita di Dante’, Certaldo is a red brick hilltop town located in the Chianti region of Tuscany. Wonder along the car-free streets and visit the Palazzo Pretorio or Palazzo Giannozzi, or discover the handful of restaurants and shops. Certaldo is conveniently located just 15 minutes’ drive away from the popular nearby towns of Poggibonsi and San Gimignano.

  • 1hr fromPisa

Colle Val d'Elsa

Located at the heart of Tuscany, Colle di Val d’Elsa is a lovely hilltop town overlooking the Elsa valley. The town is located on the ancient Via Francigena – an ancient pilgrimage route that leads from Canterbury, through France and Italy, ending in Rome. Colle di Val d’Elsa is also famous for producing around 15 percent of the world’s crystal. From here, you can also get out and about to experience the best of Tuscany. The beautiful city of San Gimignano with its beautiful skyline of traditional rooftops and towers is just a 30 minute drive away, whilst you can also find yourself within the heart of the Chianti wine region within half and hours’ drive.

  • 1hr 30mins fromPisa

Donoratico

You can enjoy the best of both worlds at the laid-back resort of Donoratico – lazy days on the golden sandy beaches of the nearby Etruscan coast, and fascinating days out exploring the beautiful scenery and hill towns just inland. Donoratico is located on an olive grove and vineyard covered plain between the sea and the mountains, offering peace and tranquillity whilst being easily accessed via the motorway from Pisa and Livorno to the north, and Grossetto and Rome to the south. Just a short drive away from the beach and resort of Marina di Castagneto, Donoratico offers a small selection of shops, restaurants and bars, including three supermarkets. The town also has a train station which can be a cost-effective and relaxing way to visit historic Tuscan cities such as Pisa and Florence. Inland from Donoratico, the typical Tuscan hill town of Castagneto Carducci is just a 10 minute drive away, where traditional restaurants provide the perfect vantage point for watching dramatic sunsets over the coastal plain and out across the Ligurian Sea.

  • 2hrs fromPisa

Gaiole in Chianti

Situated within the world-famous Chianti wine producing region, Gaiole in Chianti is positioned between Siena, Arezzo and Florence, making it the ideal base for sight-seeing. The town features a number of shops and restaurants and is surrounded by picturesque landscapes of gentle hills covered with fields of vineyards and olive groves.

  • 1hr 50mins fromPisa

Montaione

Situated on a hill in the Elsa Valley and surrounded by typical Tuscan countryside, Montaione is a busy little town right in the heart of the Chianti region. Originally an ancient Etruscan and Roman settlement the town now has many modern conveniences, shops, banks and traditional restaurants. The larger towns of Florence, Sienna and Lucca are all within easy driving distance and other attractions such as Volterra and San Gimignano are only around 30 minutes drive away.

  • 1hr 15mins fromPisa

Peccioli

Peccioli is a quiet town located between Ponsacco and Volterra. Positioned on a hill, the town is recognisable due to the church bell tower that stands tall over the lower architecture. The historic center of the town offers small shops, cobbled alleyways, monuments, churches and a handful of restaurants. There is also the Fortress of Catruccio Castracani to visit and the Saint Colombano feast is held in the town every September.

  • 45mins fromPisa

Pistoia

The province of Pistoia is quite large, including both flat valleys as well as hilly and mountainous sections, including the Valley of the Ombrone river, the Valdinievole and the Pistoia Mountains, where you can go skiing. The area of Pistoia is also very well known for the cultivation of plants and flowers exported all over the world, with a long tradition of local nurseries being passed down generation after generation. Thermal baths are another important resource for the province of Pistoia and The thermal baths of Montecatini and Monsummano can boast of waters with beneficial health effects and thus are much sought after by anyone wishing to take care of themselves, as well as treat themselves to spa treatments. These are the thermal baths which hosted nobility and royalty, as well as more recent movie stars, through the centuries. Outdoors and sport lovers will love the Pistoia Mountains, both in the summer and in the winter, when the ski slopes and lifts are open. Pistoia is located in the so-called "Tuscan chocolate valley", an area that extends between Pisa, Pistoia and Prato in which we can find some of the most renowned Italian artisan chocolate makers known in Italy and beyond.

  • 50mins fromPisa

Rosignano Marittimo

Rosignano Marittimo is a small hilltop town with a number of local restaurants and cafes to discover. The town is situated inland alongside the coastal town of Rosignano Solvay, with Livorno only a 30 minute drive away. The popular town of Cecina is also only a 15 minute drive south.

  • 40mins fromPisa

Your Tuscany Villa holiday

Outdoor pursuits in Tuscany Image

Outdoor pursuits in Tuscany

Tuscany remains essentially rural in character, with its climate and terrain perfect for outdoor adventures. Rolling hills, serene lakes and plunging valleys are ideal for horse riding, cycling and walking trips.

Learn to cook regional food with local chefs, sample a wave of famous wines, or simply take a wander into the countryside to enjoy the vibrant seasonal colours. Sunflowers are in abundance in June; observe the grape harvests in late September, or be there for the October arrival of porcini mushrooms and truffles.

Retail therapy in Tuscany Image

Retail therapy in Tuscany

Tuscany is known for its high quality leather goods, crystal, terracotta and lace, but the region is also home to factory outlets offering the height in designer fashion.

The sophisticated shopping delights of antiques, local crafts, souvenirs, jewellery and art can be found in all the main towns. While dazzling colours, noises and aromas will draw you to the authentic outdoor markets selling everything from food to furniture. Sample the freshness and quality of local produce to capture a taste of rustic Tuscan life.

Hints of history in Tuscany Image

Hints of history in Tuscany

Striking buildings, galleries and treasure-crammed cathedrals set Tuscany apart as one of the top cultural destinations in the world. Visit some of the most beautiful cities in Italy to uncover this rich trove of art and architecture – each celebrating its own unique place in history.

The region boasts many traditional festivities throughout the year, marking historical events and medieval tournaments that took place centuries ago. Festivals of music, arts, dance and film also offer visitors the chance to join in the Tuscan atmosphere.

Local cuisine in Tuscany Image

Local cuisine in Tuscany

A feast for the senses, Tuscany is home to the very finest home-grown food. With a world-renowned reputation in wine and olive oil production, you can expect to sample the most delicious natural fare - all cooked and lovingly prepared from scratch.

Sun-drenched trattorias are the perfect place to soak up the Tuscan way of life, where eating out is a real event, while pizzerias, restaurants and village eateries serve only traditional cuisine to ensure the true flavour of Italy lands on every plate.

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For the Tuscany holiday season.

Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Tuscany holiday season

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Not to be missed...

  • Visit Florence for the day – start at the wonderful Duomo that dominates the city’s skyline; take in Michelangelo’s famous Statue of David over lunch at the Piazza della Signoria and tour Italy’s greatest art gallery, the Uffizi.
  • Take a twilight walk along Florence’s ancient Ponte Vecchio bridge, lined with jewellery shops and famous for inspiring marriage proposals.
  • Explore the peaceful, narrow streets of charming Lucca with its Renaissance walls, Romanesque churches, Roman amphitheatre and delicatessens.
  • Take a boat trip from Piombino to Napoleon’s exile, the Isle of Elba, and enjoy the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. A cable car ride to the top of Monte Capanne offers magnificent views.
  • Visit a world famous attraction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

    Visit one of many natural thermal baths across the region for a spa therapy treatment to enhance your wellbeing.

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Tuscany reviews verified by reevooReevoo

Sights / Places to go
9.2
Night life
6.7
Overall rating
9.2
Scores 9.2 out of 10 based on 179 reviews
Reviews and scores from the last 12 months.
9 out of 10

John

Wirral Couple
+
Volterra is brilliant. Loads of amazing towns and villages.
Reviewer left no comment
Confirmed stay: 17 September 2016
Published on: 11 November 2016
10 out of 10

Sally

Cumbria Couple
+
Beautiful countryside and stunning landscapes.
Italian driving.
Confirmed stay: 28 May 2016
Published on: 03 June 2016
Views and opinions in these reviews are solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of James Villa Holidays (JVH). JVH provides no assurances regarding the accuracy of the information and cannot accept liability for complaints, loss or damage resulting from the article. It does not form part of the contract made when a holiday is booked with JVH and the information provided is not intended to be a rider or replacement to the booking conditions. Reference to the service or product of a third party, is not an endorsement or recommendation and JVH accepts no liability as a result of complaints, loss or damage arising from their use.
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