GMT +1 hour
A rural haven of vineyards, emerald hills and olive groves
Rural Tuscany is stunning landscape punctuated by rolling hills, exquisite architecture and historical hilltop towns. Immerse yourself in enchanting Siena’s vibrant culture, with its beautiful buildings, fine art and rich history. Its medieval centre boasts the magnificent including Palazzo Comunale and is riddled with churches and museums.
Best time to visit
From May to October. However for touring and sightseeing, the quieter periods of the year are best. Beaches and outdoor swimming pools are closed from November to March.
Upon approaching this magnificent medieval hilltop town the striking skyline can be seen framing the surrounding hills from miles away. The thirteen lofty square towers that dominate San Gimignano were built by noble families in the 12th and 13th Centuries when the town’s position, on the main pilgrim route from northern Europe to Rome, brought it great prosperity. By city ordinance, none of the towers could be taller than the 167ft Torre della Rognosa, part of Palazzo Podesta. Today only one of the towers, the Torre Grossa, is open to the public. For a small town, San Gimignano is utterly charming, rich in works of art, spectacular piazzas, noble buildings, and fine shops and restaurants. Since the Middle Ages its population has dwindled to less than 8000, and its serenity and beauty have made this place one of the most popular destinations in Tuscany.
The tranquil village of Figline Valdarno sits on the banks of the River Arno, south of the city of Florence. The region has become renowned for the amount of Pleistocene-era fossils that have been uncovered, and the first human settlements date back as far as the stone age.
Gentle hills carpeted in sprawling Tuscan vineyards undulate throughout this picturesque region, which has been made famous by the wine of the same name. The landscape is dotted with historic cities, towns and villages, including the riverside city of Gaiole in Chianti which itself is surrounded by charming villages and striking castles and churches.
Built on three hills surrounded by well-preserved walls, the city of Siena is a delight to visit. Located in the heart of Tuscany, it is one of Italy’s best-preserved medieval towns and is filled with fine examples of Gothic architecture. Sample world-famous Tuscan wines at nearby vineyards and visit the idyllic countryside that surrounds the city. If you’re visiting during July or August then don’t miss the chance to attend the Palio in Siena – the most famous bareback horserace in history – where the riders and their steeds strut past the crowds in colourful finery.
This small walled village sits on a hilltop in the countryside just west of Florence. If you’re looking for a destination that offers seclusion yet is within easy reach of Tuscany’s main attractions then this is an ideal choice.
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I’m sitting on the medieval walls of Volterra perched high above the Tuscan landscape. Close family by my side, a glass of Chianti in hand and the faint sounds of an unknown opera drifting from an open window.
Local families are gathering for the daily sunset spectacular and as time goes by the whole scene is bathed in a mellow orange glow as far as the eye can see; punctuated only by rows of cypress trees standing proudly erect across the endless countryside. This is the Tuscany you dream about and see in the glossy travel photos. But it’s real and simply breath taking.