Under The Tuscan Sun: 14 Top Things To Do In Beautiful Tuscany

Tuscany

Updated On: June 06, 2024 by   Esraa MahmoudEsraa Mahmoud

With vineyards as far as the eye can see, a name synonymous with a rich culture and magnificent landscapes, Tuscany in Italy has earned its place on the list of must-visit vacation destinations. With its charm, Tuscany has captured the hearts of many generations over the years. It is full of fun things to do.

The Tuscany region is in central Italy and covers over 23,000 square kilometres. It borders the provinces of Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche to the northeast, Umbria to the east, and Lazio to the southeast.

Along with the incredible scenery, the region is famous for being the cradle of the Etruscan civilization, one of the wealthiest civilizations in Italy and the Mediterranean. The Etruscan civilization left its mark on the city, leaving many traces and exceptional works of art across Tuscany.

In Tuscany, it is not a matter of what to do; instead, it is about narrowing down the things to do while there. Being the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance has left Tuscany with approximately 500+ museums and historical locations that will leave you in awe. From its wine to its jaw-dropping streets and breathtaking landscapes, here are some of Tuscany’s best things to do.

Take a Walk Around the Galleria dell’Accademia

Bursting with several Renaissance masterpieces, Florence is the dream destination for all art lovers. On top of the list for any art-lover is the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s famous works. The Galleria includes some spectacular sculptures flawlessly created by the Renaissance artist.

While the Galleria includes many marvellous works, David’s statue remains the show’s star. Located at the Tribune, a particular area in the Galleria dell’Accademia, Michelangelo’s David is regarded by many as one of the best works of art ever created by humankind. The jaw-dropping 14.0-foot marble statue depicts the Biblical hero David. The figure is simply brilliant and will blow you away with its beauty.

Although the Galleria is famous for Michelangelo’s works, it also offers its visitors pieces by other well-known artists, such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Alessandro Allori, and Orcagna.

Another thing to look up while visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia is its recent section, the Museum of Musical Instruments. The section features some unique old instruments by Stradivari and the piano’s inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori.

While you might have to stand in a long line to enjoy the majestic walls and sculptures of the Galleria, we assure you it is worth it! However, we recommend you book your ticket online if possible; that would prevent you from waiting in line for so long.

The Florence Cathedral: Time for Some Climbing!

Under The Tuscan Sun: 14 Top Things To Do In Beautiful Tuscany

Another must-see destination is the Florence Cathedral, AKA Duomo di Firenze, in Tuscany’s capital, Florence. Located at the Piazza del Duomo, the Florence Cathedral is an exquisite view, but its dome (Duomo) steals the show every time, with its lantern standing out in the historic centre. It is almost impossible not to be mesmerized by its sight.

After enjoying the cathedral and lighting a candle for a loved one inside, look up to see the Last Judgment by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari frescoes spread across the dome’s ceiling.

To enjoy the place, you must climb the narrow steps to the top of the Duomo. The cathedral is 114 meters tall, and to reach the top of the Duomo, you must climb 463 steep steps…. Yes, you read that right! While you may doubt your decision on the way up huffing and puffing, once you take step number 463, you will know why this was a must.

The view from the top is simply out of this world! You will get to see the whole of beautiful Florence and the entire spellbinding historic centre. Entry to the cathedral is free; however, you need a ticket to climb the dome. You can buy a combo ticket to enjoy the complex of buildings, including the cathedral dome, Giotto’s Campanile, the Florence Baptistery, and a couple of other places.

Florence’s Old Bridge!

The historic Ponte Vecchio, AKA Old Bridge, is probably the most recognized symbol of Florence after Brunelleschi’s soaring red dome topping the Duomo. The 14th-century bridge features distinguished three lower arches that spread across the Arno River at its narrowest point.

Sited on street level, the Ponte Vecchio is lined with several shops and crowded with locals and tourists taking a stroll or snapping photos of the colourful palazzi lining the riverbank most of the time. Florence’s bridge is a must-visit while in Tuscany.

Galleria Degli Uffizi: Italy’s Most-visited Museum

Under The Tuscan Sun: 14 Top Things To Do In Beautiful Tuscany

Conserving a decent number of unique artworks and masterpieces within its wall, the Galleria Degli Uffizi is a must-visit in Tuscany. Home to the work of Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raffaello, among others, the Uffizi Gallery welcomes a million visitors every year.

The museum is organized in a meander of artworks exhibited roughly in chronological order. The Uffizi Gallery offers the chance to look at great works like Doni Tondo by Michelangelo, The Ognissanti Madonna by Giotto, Madonna of the Goldfinch by Raphael, and The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, to name a few.

As one of the world’s most famous and oldest museums, the wait to enter the Uffizi Gallery could go on for a long time, so we recommend you book your tickets to enjoy the Gallery without the hassle of the long wait.

Leaning Towards the Pisa’s Leaning Tower!

Under The Tuscan Sun: 14 Top Things To Do In Beautiful Tuscany

Although there is more to the city of Pisa than just the tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa remains one of the most iconic tourist spots in the city and Italy. A fun fact about the tower is that it wasn’t always leaning; it was meant to be perfectly vertical, but it started leaning during its construction thanks to the soft ground beneath it that didn’t correctly support the tower’s weight.

The Pisa Tower, the most tilted building in the world, holds the Guinness World Record for being the most tilted building. It is positioned in the open space known as the Campo Dei Miracoli, the field of miracles, and was a miracle of medieval engineering on its own.

Besides taking some brilliant photos, there are many fun things to do while visiting the Pisa Tower. You can now climb the stairs inside the tower to reach its famous tilting top, which was not allowed until recent years. Like most tourist locations in Tuscany, booking your ticket to visit the tower in advance is highly advised.

Florence Charming Competitor!

While some consider Florence the most charming city in Tuscany, others say it is Siena. Rich with history, Siena is the home of the oldest bank in the world, Banca Monte Dei Paschi di Siena, which was founded in 1472.

The beautiful city of Siena, encompassed by olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti, is home to several breathtaking historical places, including the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, one of the most beautiful churches in the world. The church is an absolute piece of art inside and out, and it would make a fun day trip while in Tuscany.

Siena may be charming in the daylight, but the city is even more enchanting at night! If you make it to Siena, stick around for a lovely dinner at a restaurant and stroll in the city’s narrow streets. These are just some of the many amazing things to do in Siena.

Lucca…. A Place You Fall in Love with!

Celebrated for its perfectly preserved defence walls and its “100 churches,” the city of Lucca is another must-visit stop on your trip to Tuscany. It is situated at the foot of the Apuan Alps and is less than half an hour from the coast of Versilia. You will need at least one day to enjoy the beauty of Lucca.

Unlike many other Tuscan cities, Lucca is not a hilltop village, making the city an excellent place for people with mobility issues or those not fond of climbing. Lucca has many historical sites of the Roman amphitheatre that can be seen in the shape of the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and the archaeological remains.

Another top thing to do in Lucca is to visit its several main attractions like the Piazza of San Michele with its beautiful Church of San Michele in Foro, the Basilica of San Frediano as well as the Clock Tower and Guinigi Tower, among others. Lucca is full of fun things to do!

The Green Valley!

You can’t make it to Tuscany without visiting that sumptuous green valley of Val d’Orcia. Having the best of everything, Val d’Orcia is full of medieval castles, vast farmhouses, roads lined with cypress trees, outstanding vineyards, and olive groves, in addition to golden fields of grain and sunflowers.

Located in southern Tuscany, Val d’Orica extends between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto. Like many locations in Tuscany, it is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Try to have at least 2 days to spend in Val d’Orica, one where you go to visit the area’s museums, ancient abbeys and castles and the city of Pienza, AKA the “Ideal City” thanks to its phenomenal Palazzo Piccolomini. On the second day, you can just chill in one of the region’s thermal hot springs, like the ones in Bagno Vignoni or Bagni di San Filippo.

Eat, Pray, and Stay at a Tuscan Villa!

Movies, like Eat, Pray, Love, and Under the Tuscan Sun, have unconscionably created the dream of visiting Tuscany and staying in a nice place to enjoy its beauty. What’s a better way to do that than staying in a Tuscan Villa?

While the region’s cities and towns are divine, there is no harm in enjoying some isolation as well. You can have that by renting a Tuscan farmhouse or villa. You can even have your perfect Tuscan gateway by staying in a villa with a functioning vineyard or olive farm…. How cool is that!

Fancy a Gelato?

While the rest of the world has ice cream, Italy, especially Tuscany, has gelato… what a sweet treat! Many people argue that gelato was invented in Florence, Tuscany. Whether this is true or not, the gelato is worth the try! Make sure to grab a gelato, or several for that matter, while in Tuscany and enjoy it while walking around the beautiful Tuscan streets.

To get perfect gelato, the ingredients must be in season, the colours must be natural, and the gelato must be refrigerated. Do not trust a gelato that has been piled high!

Roll the Pottery Wheel in Tuscany!

One of the top things to do while in Tuscany is recreate Demi Moore’s memorable scene from the film Ghost, where she makes pottery. While it may not be as good-looking as in the film, making pottery in Tuscany is a must-do. It is one of the best experiences to have while in the region.

Tuscany is full of many great artisans known for their exceptional craftsmanship. You can enjoy sitting behind the pottery wheel and making something of your own in several places. We recommend you check Artisan Anita Russo’ boutique and Officina Laboratorio Ceramica in Florence and Terrabruga Studio in Cortana.

Wine Tasting? How About Olive Oil Tasting!

If you think you know what a good olive oil tastes like, think again! Olive oil is one of the most iconic foods in the region of Tuscany, and FYI, it tastes NOTHING like the one you buy from your grocery store.

The olive oil harvest in Tuscany usually occurs in late October or early November and continues into December. If you visit the region around that time, go on an olive oil tasting.

For a good olive oil tasting, check out Le Baccanti Tours. You’ll visit an olive oil press and have a tasting session with an expert guide. Finally, you can have your favourite varieties shipped to your home address to ensure you don’t forget the exquisite taste.

You can also go for the extra virgin olive produced in Lucca with a tasting at Fattoria di Fubbiano. Consistently rated among the best olive oils in the world, you can tour the farm and the XVII-century villa while learning about the making process. They also make excellent wine, so two birds with one stone!

Eat, Eat, and Eat!

A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without enjoying some of the country’s famous cuisine. Tuscany is not exceptional to the rule; the region is renowned for some mouth-watering authentic foods that will keep you going for more! The area is filled with many restaurants, cafès, and pizzerias.

Like the rest of the Italian cuisine, Tuscan cuisine is based on simple, fresh ingredients that still deliver a rich, to-die-for flavour. This is why the dishes served are based on the fresh ingredients in the market that week.

Be that as it may, choosing where to eat abroad is not always easy; you could eat at an expensive place with bad-quality food. Our advice to avoid this is to pay attention to the number of locals eating there; if many locals eat at a specific place, then grab a seat and enjoy your meal!

You must also try the region’s street food between your meals while in Tuscany. After all, if you genuinely want to explore a city, you must eat like its locals! And what’s a better way to do that than eating the city’s street food.

Try the lampredotto in Florence, which is the cow’s fourth stomach. This food is so prevalent in the city that you will probably have to stand in a long line of people from different backgrounds united by their love for the lampredotto.

Another food to try is the Torta di Ceci in Livorno, a cake made of chickpea flour; it is so yummy and simple. The locals take their torta with a glass of spuma Bionda, an aromatic, fizzy, old-fashioned drink still famous in Livorno. Make sure to eat it with a good sprinkling of black pepper.

For Tuscan people, a warm Schiacciata with olive oil is worshipped. In local bakeries all over Tuscany, you can find plain Schiacciata or a Schiacciata with olives, tomatoes, or onions. Sometimes, it is stuffed with cheese and ham, as well.

Dated back to the beginning of the famous festival, Saint Joseph’s Day, Frittelle di Riso brings the festive smell of fried food and sugar. Deliciously light and sugary, Frittelle di Riso is local street food related to Siena.

These are just a few street foods you must have while visiting Tuscany.

Saving The Best For Last…. Wine Tasting!

Having a wine tasting in Tuscany is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list! Besides its picturesque medieval towns and harmonious landscapes, Tuscany is famous for being the home of great wine. There are many ways to explore Tuscan wine on your own through organized wine tours, cooking lessons, wine tasting, and wine cellar tours.

While the Chianti Classico and the whole area of Chianti stand out as the best-known wine-producing valleys and regions, many other places in the region are known for their award-winning fragrance, colours, and, most importantly, their flavour.

To name a few, Brunello di Montalcino is a rich, full-bodied wine with a distinct personality. Going farther east, the Vino Nobile is also produced near Montepulciano. The Orcia DOC is also the newest addition to a long list of unique flavours working to establish a reputation.

It doesn’t stop here; the whole region of Tuscany doesn’t fail to provide many other fine wines like Morellino Scansano, Lucca and Montecarlo, Cortona, and even along the coast in the area of Bolgheri. Many of these areas are well organized, with itineraries mixing traditional flavours and wines with the “Strada del vino.”

Tasting wine in the city may be a unique experience, but nothing beats the romance of heading out for a wine tasting at a vineyard. Whether you choose to do it in the city or at a vineyard, wine tasting is certainly one of the best things to do while in Tuscany.

Conclusion

While we tried to include as much as possible in this article, there are still many more activities to do under the Tuscan Sun. Be it the food, the scenery, or the rich history, Tuscany has always been and will always be a perfect gateway for a vacation to break from routine, relax, and enjoy some fine wine.

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