3 unusual or strange places to visit in Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy
A scene in Tuscany, Italy (Image by Thomas Fabian/Flickr)

Tuscany has many beautiful monumental cities and countryside locations to visit.

This region of Italy also has some more unusual and often strange attractions to take in along the way. The following are three locations which are definitely worth a visit in on a holiday in Tuscany.

1. Museo della Figurina di Gesso e dell’Emigrazione (Museum of Plaster Casts and Emigration)

While the two subjects of this museum appear to be disparate, there is a definite connection between them in this small Tuscan town. Coreglia Antelminelli became famous between the 18th and 20th centuries for its intricate and beautiful figurines. These were crafted from gesso (plaster) at the up to 30 factories in the town.

Museo della Figurina di Gesso e dell’Emigrazione
Museum of Plaster Figurines and Emigration (Image by PxHere)

The figurines include a range of religious icons, mythical figures and famed monuments, crafted using difficult-to-make plaster casts. With so many factories in the town, many of the locals got involved as figurine salesmen. They went travelling around Europe and other areas in the world to seek new opportunities and markets.

The salesmen travelled in small groups, with the work of sculpting the figurines and selling them divided among the members of the groups. This led to many of the nomadic craftsmen staying away from Coreglia Antelminelli and settling down elsewhere in the world.

As more people heard about the opportunities abroad, younger members of society joined the numbers of salesmen. They also wanted to look for a better way of life. However, due to so many craftsmen leaving the town, in the late 19th century and early 20th century the number of factories producing the plaster figurines dropped to only two, located on the outskirts of the town.

The Museum of Plaster Casts and Emigration offers exhibits relating to this emigration, allowing inhabitants in the area to check into their family history.

2. Torre Guinigi, Lucca, Tuscany

There were originally as many as 250 defensive tower houses in Lucca, Tuscany. However, these days only around nine remain in the heart of the ancient walled city. The Guinigi Tower House is 125 feet in height and is one of those remaining tower houses. It is also one of the most interesting.

Torre Guinigi, Lucca
Torre Guinigi, Lucca. Tuscany (Image by Lucarelli/Wikimedia Commons)

Wealthy silk merchants built the tower in around 1384, but no one is sure exactly when the rooftop garden was installed. However, from drawings in the city, it appears to date back to around 1600.

The beautiful garden makes this tower house unique in Lucca. Spending time up there also offers beautiful 360-degree views of the surrounding city. Visitors are warned, however, they have a climb of 230 stairs to reach the garden!

3. Historical Torture Museum in San Gimignano, Tuscany

Nestled in the city of San Gimignano in the heart of the beautiful landscapes of Tuscany is a rather gruesome museum. It displays horrifying instruments of torture dating back to medieval times.

One of the terrifying devices on display in the museum is the Maiden of Nuremberg. This large sarcophagus has a swinging door, which when opened reveals scary metallic spikes, just waiting to impale the victim. The walls of the sarcophagus are very thick, meaning the torturer would not hear the victims’ screams.

Historical Torture Museum
Historical Torture Museum in San Gimignano (Image by epbechthold/Wikimedia Commons)

However, the museum doesn’t just concentrate on exhibiting these objects, as they are involved in calling attention to modern human rights abuses too. Their website states their commitment is to show how human beings have been tortured throughout the centuries and to work towards combating modern-day torture practices.

The Historical Torture Museum has sponsored various exhibitions of their more interesting torture devices across the world. These travelling exhibitions also go to remind that torture still exists in this world, while not using the same devices. The museum partners with a similarly gruesome place down the street, the Museum of the Death Penalty.

Enjoy a tour of fascinating Tuscany this year and take in all the normal attractions and sights. However, also make time for some of this region’s weirder sights.