Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy and is popular for many reasons, including its historic cities, unique landscapes and delicious wines. Here we explore just some of the highlights of Tuscany on a vacation in Italy.
1. Arriving in Tuscany
When traveling to Tuscany from the USA or UK, there is one international airport in the region and that is the Galileo Galilei Airport in Pisa. Alitalia, easyJet and Ryanair offer regular flights to and from the city. The airport was named for the famous scientist of the same name, who was born and raised in Pisa.
Car rental is readily available at the airport to start you off on your Tuscany adventure and the train system in Tuscany is also excellent. However, the city of Pisa itself is worth visiting before heading to other locations in this beautiful region.
2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
No visit to Tuscany would be complete without viewing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or Torre pendente di Pisa as it is known. This freestanding bell tower is located next to the city’s cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo, or Cathedral Square. The Romanesque cathedral and tower are two of four structures in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).
The tower was designed to be perfectly straight, but during its construction in the 12th century, problems occurred. It seems the soft ground on one side of the tower could not support its weight. By the time the tower’s construction was complete in the 14th century, the tilt had increased. However, efforts in the late 20th century did partially correct the tilt.
The Tower of Pisa now stands at approximately a 10-degree angle, making it the perfect spot for a fun image to share with your friends.
3. Siena and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Next stop on our tour of beautiful Tuscany is the historic city of Siena, where the Cathedral is a must-visit destination. Constructed between 1215 and 1263, The Duomo (or Cathedral) is set in a piazza just above the main Piazza del Campo. It is a massive, Gothic building filled to the brim with treasures.
The exterior itself is striking with its stripes of greenish-black and white marble. However, this design continues in the interior of the cathedral. Here, treasures by Michelangelo, Donatello and Pisano can be viewed. There are also beautiful frescoes by Bernardino di Betto, also known as Pinturicchio.
Even the floors are decorated with beautiful, storytelling mosaics. There are also 56 inlaid marble panels in the cathedral, designed by 40 of Siena’s leading artists between the years 1369 and 1547. The only exception to the rule is a panel by Pinturicchio, who hailed from Umbria.
An interesting note is that the cathedral was originally planned to be enlarged. As evidence of this, a wall can be seen sticking out on the right of the building. While work did start in the early 14th century on the expansion, this was stopped short by the Black Plague. Regrettably, this killed much of the population.
However, even with its sad past, the wall now features a platform, accessed through the Museo dell’Opera close by. This offers a magnificent panoramic view over Siena.
4. Chianti, its vineyards and fine wine
Among Tuscany’s diverse and beautiful landscapes are the vineyards of Chianti, an area rightfully famous for its wines. Here the rolling hills are laced with rows of grapes, nestling between quaint villages, farmhouses and luxurious villas. Both Siena and Florence lie in this area, making this the perfect place to take day trips outside the major cities.
Explore the enchanting towns Gaiole, Greve and Radda. Here you can learn the traditions, history and the many variations of each town’s special brand of Chianti wine. Of interest to note, the Etruscans and Romans have left traces of their time in this area of Italy. This means there are plenty of fascinating ruins and fortresses to explore along the way, while enjoying some of the best wine tours.
Experience Tuscany this year – its landscapes, treasures and history and take home memories and a couple of bottles of good Chianti wine.