What are the five best things to see and do in Tuscany?

Hayley Bosch

You simply can’t explore Tuscany without visiting Florence; but the Italian countryside has more to offer than the splendor of Florence. Explore the rolling vineyards or bike along a walled city, there’s so much to discover in Tuscany. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s take on the five best things to see and do in Tuscany:
 
1. Bike along the walled city of Lucca. Rent a bike and ride along this historic wall that dates back to the 16th century. Beautiful trees line the wide path that is literally on top of the wall. Inside the fortress, you’ll find 99 churches, cobblestone streets and open-air markets.
 
2. Cheer on at Il Palio di Siena. It’s a tradition that has been part of Siena for centuries and has evolved very little. Twice each summer — July 2 and August 16 — 10 horses and riders representing one of Siena’s 17 city wards race around the Piazza del Campo. It doesn’t get much more local than this, when the square fills with onlookers and everyone cheers for their rider.
 
3. Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa. One of the most-visited spots in Tuscany, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will blow your mind. The fact that it’s still standing today is jaw dropping. Climbing up to the top, winding up the spiral staircase, you can actually feel the odd angle of the tower. The views from the top are fabulous and the lawn in front is always filled with tourists taking the same photo: holding up the tower with two hands.
 
4. Explore the Uffizi Gallery. It’s one of the most famous museums in the world — and for good reason. Originally built to house administrative and judiciary offices of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery filled with masterpieces by great Italian artists like Botticelli, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Strolling through the great halls, you can’t help but ogle at the stunning works of art.
 
5. Discover the vineyards. Tuscany is known for its wine and the vineyards throughout the region are a great place to get a taste. From Chianti to Montalcino, the Italian countryside produces some of the best wine in the world.

  • On June 12, 2012
    answered the question:

    What is the best time of the year to visit Tuscany?

    The tiny villages and ancient cities in Tuscany attract tourists year-round, but the best time of the year to visit depends on your travel style. If you’re looking for festivals and a bit of culture, plan your trip around one of the many celebrations that take place throughout the famous wine region. From the exciting Palio horse race in Siena’s main piazza (July 2, Aug. 16) to the bountiful harvest at the various vineyards, there’s always something to do.
     
    Tourists flock to Tuscany at the usual times — early spring, Easter, early summer. That’s when the beautiful Italian countryside’s vineyards stand up to any postcard-quality image you’ve seen. Travelers who want the best weather should aim for the spring and early summer, when mild temperatures hover around 70F and 80F. But be sure to visit before the heat and humidity kick in around July. And avoid going in August — many Italians close up shop for the late summer month and take their own holiday.
  • On June 12, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where is the best shopping in Tuscany?

    Offering some of Italy’s best shopping, Tuscany is a fashionista’s dream come true. With Florence as its anchor, Tuscany’s shopping scene includes haute couture from designers like Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci; beautiful gold necklaces and bracelets from shops on the Ponte Vecchio; and handcrafted leather belts, wallets and handbags from the School of Leather.
     
    But other Tuscan towns have plenty to offer as well. In the ancient city of Lucca, shop in the open-air markets alongside locals who are picking up produce for dinner — marvel at the Italian ladies carrying their goods on their heads. You can uncover some real gems here. Whether you’re buying a loaf of fresh Tuscan bread or browsing the array of antiques, these markets are a great shopping experience.
     
    If you do seek antiques, our Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest trekking to Arezzo. On the weekends, Arezzo hosts a top-notch antique market, Fiera Antiquaria, where you’ll find everything from paintings and prints to jewelry and sculptures.
  • On June 12, 2012
    answered the question:

    What is the best thing to bring home from Tuscany?

    Tuscany is known for its wine and though you’ll have your fair share while in the beautiful countryside, you simply can’t leave without a bottle or two of your own. Whether you tour a vineyard in Chianti or stop by the neighborhood vinoteca for a bottle of red, wine is a must in Tuscany. Not only is it the most famous region for wine in Italy, but it also produces some of the best. Red wine goes with Tuscany like oranges go with Florida — it’s just natural. You’ll also find that you can get delicious wine for a cheap price.
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  • On June 12, 2012
    answered the question:

    What are the five best things to see and do in Tuscany?

    You simply can’t explore Tuscany without visiting Florence; but the Italian countryside has more to offer than the splendor of Florence. Explore the rolling vineyards or bike along a walled city, there’s so much to discover in Tuscany. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s take on the five best things to see and do in Tuscany:
     
    1. Bike along the walled city of Lucca. Rent a bike and ride along this historic wall that dates back to the 16th century. Beautiful trees line the wide path that is literally on top of the wall. Inside the fortress, you’ll find 99 churches, cobblestone streets and open-air markets.
     
    2. Cheer on at Il Palio di Siena. It’s a tradition that has been part of Siena for centuries and has evolved very little. Twice each summer — July 2 and August 16 — 10 horses and riders representing one of Siena’s 17 city wards race around the Piazza del Campo. It doesn’t get much more local than this, when the square fills with onlookers and everyone cheers for their rider.
     
    3. Climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa. One of the most-visited spots in Tuscany, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will blow your mind. The fact that it’s still standing today is jaw dropping. Climbing up to the top, winding up the spiral staircase, you can actually feel the odd angle of the tower. The views from the top are fabulous and the lawn in front is always filled with tourists taking the same photo: holding up the tower with two hands.
     
    4. Explore the Uffizi Gallery. It’s one of the most famous museums in the world — and for good reason. Originally built to house administrative and judiciary offices of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery filled with masterpieces by great Italian artists like Botticelli, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Strolling through the great halls, you can’t help but ogle at the stunning works of art.
     
    5. Discover the vineyards. Tuscany is known for its wine and the vineyards throughout the region are a great place to get a taste. From Chianti to Montalcino, the Italian countryside produces some of the best wine in the world.
  • On May 11, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Tuscany?

    From Florence and Pisa to Siena and Grosseto, there are thousands of luxurious places to stay. It’s hard to narrow it down to just five; but someone has to do it. Here’s Forbes Travel Guide’s take on the best places to stay in Tuscany:
     
    1. Villa San Michele. Perched on a hilltop above Florence, Villa San Michele is housed in a former monastery. This romantic hotel dates back to the 15th century and offers views of Florence that seemingly last for miles. With a swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens, you can soak up the Tuscan sun. Each of the 46 rooms is outfitted with antique furnishings and great views.
     
    2. Il Falconiere. Originally built as a beautiful Tuscan villa in the 17th century, Il Falconiere still retains that welcoming charm. Located in the hills of Cortona, this Relais & Chateaux hotel has just 22 rooms. The elegant décor allows each of the rooms to have its own personality, while remaining luxurious at the same time.
     
    3.     Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. At this hotel you get the spectacular service and accommodations that Four Seasons is known for, with a hefty dose of history and art. From the museum-like lobby lounge to the palatial Royal Suite, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is fit for a king. Whether you stay in a guest room in the 500-year-old Palazzo della Gherardesca or a room in the 16th-century convent, you’ll be rolling in history.
     
    4. Castel Monastero. Housed in an 11th-century castle in Tuscany’s Chianti region, Castel Monastero is unique experience. The surrounding medieval village called Monastero dell’Ombrone adds to the pleasure. All of the rooms are decked out with beautiful Tuscan-style furnishings and modern luxuries like flat-screen TVs and mini-bars.
     
    5. Il Pellicano. Sitting on Tuscany’s coast, Il Pellicano is a beautiful resort where you can escape from it all. This Relais & Chateaux property has six cottages in addition to its main building and each room is as delightful as the next. Surrounded by impeccably landscaped gardens, the luxurious guestrooms offer stunning views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the courtyard and the fragrant gardens.