If you don’t know by now, that I’m entirely in love with Italy, the culture, the food, then where have you been?! Over the last 7 years, we’ve really got to know the country, Tuscany in particular and have been as a couple, with newborns, as a family and even on a girly trip. There’s a fair few posts on this blog about our various trips to Italy, but I thought now was the time to post my Top 5 places to visit in Tuscany, as we’re all thinking ahead to summer, aren’t we?…
Top 5 places to visit in Tuscany
I’m going to keep it short, sweet and to the point – pure inspo only! So if you want to visit Tuscany, these places are a must-see, so pop them on your itinerary and enjoy!
(If you want any personal recommendations for food, eating out, where to visit etc, then just head over to my instagram and send me a DM).
Number 1 – Pisa
Pisa is incredibly under-rated as a city to explore and spend time in. I think most people don’t look far beyond the busy tourist-swamped leaning tower. But no visit to Tuscany is complete without spending a couple of days there, in my mind.
My advice – start over by the train station (there’s a good multi-story car park there too) and work your way up Corso Italia, perusing the shops. Then veer of this main street to discover some of the lesser-known squares or “piazzas”. You can grab some great aperitivo in Piazza Chiara Gambacorti. Make sure you explore this side of the river Arno, as it’s simply fantastic, then cross the river at the Ponte di Mezzo. Again, make sure you veer of course, but you can make your way easily to the leaning tower from there, stopping in shops, bars and trattorias on your way.
Want to know more? Check out my post on visiting Pisa for more suggestions.
Number 2 – Firenze aka Florence
The jewel in the Tuscan crown, no holiday in Tuscany is complete without a trip to Florence. One of the most enchanting places on earth and one of my all-time favourite cities. Florence is busy all the time and crazy busy in summer, so be prepared (especially if you want to hit the hot-spots and galleries…which are a must!). I prefer to go early in the season, April/May or later in Sept/Oct as it’s still sunny, warm and just slightly less chaotic.
Florence is easily accessed by train (not expensive either!) and parking is possible, though a tad stressful for the less experienced or “ballsy” driver. Car parks are small!
I’ve stayed in some amazing air bnbs in Florence and we often make a day-trip in from other parts of Tuscany. Either way, spend as much time as you can afford in this great city, as there’s so much to do and it’s nice to do it at a leisurely pace.
My advice – get there early, to stroll around before it gets too hot. If you go during summer, seek the shade for lunch. I know us Brits find it hard to not bake ourselves in the sun, but honestly, it’s not pleasant being a sweaty mess over a leisurely italian pranzo. Seek the shade, order some wine and enjoy. Places off the main squares are much cheaper, but it’s not crazy prices to dine with a view either.
Want to know more? Check out my post about one of the most romantic evenings in Florence (and my favourite place to wow visitors with!).
Number 3 – Lucca
I can never visit Tuscany without yearning for Lucca. I don’t know what it is, but this city enchants me! In fact, I could see myself living there for a year and just drinking it all in. Not only is it impressive in that it’s a walled city (a wall big enough to stroll and cycle along), but it’s got personality and feels less touristy than some of the other large Tuscan towns. It’s the city of music, hosting outdoor summer concerts and festivals and the shaded streets of shops are perfect to get lost within. We always drive and have found parking within the city walls (if you go early enough), but there’s street parking outside the city walls too. Just watch for the residents spaces and one-way streets!
My advice – yes it’s the tourist spot and won’t be the BEST food in Lucca, but it’s definitely worth having at least a coffee on Piazza del’Anfiteatro, a glass of wine is preferable. It’s such an amazing spot to look at this circle of houses, apartments and restaurants. Not to be missed. Oh and hire a tandem bike with your significant other and cycle the perimeter walls.
Number 4 – Forte dei Marmi
Not many people think of golden beaches when they think of going on holiday in Tuscany. Well, I know I didn’t. Forte dei Marmi has fast become a regular haunt of mine, on a Wednesday morning to be precise, due to the most AMAZING designer/luxury market they have. You can buy cashmere, ceramics and the most amazing leather handbags. Forte dei Marmi is where Italians holiday in Tuscany, it’s where people go to be seen and it’s full of luxury villas and private beach clubs.
My advice – if you fancy a treat, it’s worth spending the day at one of the beach clubs, hire a couple of loungers and have lunch (and cocktails) at the beach restaurants and bars. There are loads to choose from, so just stroll along the promenade and take your pic.
Number 5 – Volterra
Volterra is the closest large town to where our family live in Tuscany and without fail, we visit there every single trip. It’s still a working town, full of locals and although the tourists love it, it doesn’t feel like it’s over-run. The locals still hang out there and eat there, so that’s a great sign! It’s an ancient city and for those film-buffs amongst you, it was the backdrop from the film series Twilight. There’s lots of history in this town, so just get lost exploring.
My advice – head there early, enjoy a coffee at L’ Incontro and stroll the shady streets before having a leisurely lunch. Make sure you head to the top of town for the amazing views and the best leather shop going!
Bonus, Number 6 – San Gimignano
I’m throwing this one in for good measure, as it’s hard to ignore! If you are planning a holiday in Tuscany, then there are a plethora of amazing towns, villages and cities, but San Gimignano, sat atop its hillside, it certainly one of the most visually impressive. It’s history has it rivalled against Volterra (my favourite of the two) and its skyline of medieval towers are quite stunning.
My advice – it gets busy! There is plenty of car parks on the winding road up to San Gimignano, but in the summer months, they get full. So go early so you can make the most of it and make sure you have some award-winning ice cream at Gelateria Dondoli.
Want to know more? – Have a little watch of this IGTV to get the flavour…
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Did you catch Part 1? Well in this instalment, we visited Pisa as a family & the beautiful hilltop village of San Gimignano. Full blog post & details of where we went, what we ate & any local tips is live on hollygoeslightly.co.uk now (also linked in my bio). Grab a cuppa (or Prosecco if you wanna be authentic) & have a watch. Part 3 of the trilogy coming soon! For now, I’m back off to Italy…again
So there we have it, my Top 5 places to visit in Tuscany. Now…this barely even scratches the surface and doesn’t even touch on the smaller towns, or beaches, or marinas. BUT, it’s a start and in my opinion, you can’t have a holiday in Tuscany without visiting these (six) places.
If you have any questions, just comment below, or DM me on instagram.
You can see all of my Italy posts on the blog, but if video is more your thing, then check out another IGTV that you might enjoy of our holiday in Tuscany.
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