What to do in Tuscany. This is one of the question that we receive the most. Tuscany, roughly a triangular shape, is situated in central Italy. It is surrounded by Liguria to the west, Emilia Romagna to the east and Lazio and Umbria to the South. The Ligurian and Tyrrhenian sea border its western side while the Apennine mountains hem it in to the east.
A brief history of Tuscany
Tuscany is bathed in history that predates Roman times. Indeed there are traces of the Etruscan civilisation in towns like Volterra or Populonia and an archaeological museum in Artimino, Carmignano.
Many fortified towns such as San Gimignano or Monteriggioni, in the heartland of Tuscany, are a reminder that in Medieval times City States, also known as communes, were the norm and would constantly be at war with one another.
The famous rivalry between Florence and Siena, that started at the time, is still alive today! The cradle of the Renaissance period with its abundance of art and architecture is definitely Florence.
The very same city was one of the centers of the Risorgimento movement and even the first capital of Unified Italy in the 19th century. As Tuscany gradually shifted from agriculture to industry, more and more modern cities like Prato grew around their historical centers. Prato hosts one of the most famous contemporary art museums in the region: the Pecci museum.
What to do in Tuscany: activities, visits and entertainment
Though Tuscany is renowned for its architecture and rich history, one should not forget its abundance of natural diversity. It has high mountains, pristine beaches, rolling hills and well maintained terraces of vines and olive trees. Due to its varying terrains, cyclists from all over the world come to train there.
Mountain enthusiasts can choose from a long list of sports ranging from rock climbing to downhill biking, hiking to skiing. The town of Abetone, perched at 1,388 meters above sea level on the Appennine mountains, is a small ski resort that offers a wide range of mountain activities.
The main river in Tuscany is the Arno, which flows through two major cities: Florence and Pisa. It is the second biggest river in central Italy after the Tiber and has had a strong influence on Tuscan history and wealth. Water is ever present in Tuscany, whether it be in the form of irrigation canals or sulfurous hot water springs such as Saturnia.
The sea and coastal regions of Tuscany also offer great stores of entertainment and delicious cuisine. During the summer, Tuscans migrate to the seaside whether they want to relax with their families and take in the fresh sea breeze or go clubbing with their friends. Fans of nature will love the Tuscan archipelago with its many islands and natural reserves. There are also charming towns, a stone’s throw from the beaches, that offer great wine, food and culture such as Bolgheri.
What to eat in Tuscany: a paradise for foodies and wine freaks
Though Tuscany is in part industrialized, it retains a strong agricultural identity and food culture. Driving through the Tuscan countryside, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, one can easily understand that the region is one of the biggest wine and olive oil producers in the world.
Book a few days at an Agriturismo (farm stay) to see the production of local delicacies up close. And then, of course, don’t forget to taste them, especially in Chianti.
Tuscany’s main airports are Florence and Pisa. Cities like Milan and Rome are quickly reached by high speed train from Florence. One can also hire a private driver for an airport transfer in Florence.
And if you feel like island hopping to find the best beaches, there are always the ports of Piombino and Livorno that will connect you to the Tuscan islands.