The 5 Most Beautiful Villages in Tuscany
So You’ve booked your airfare to Italy and have arranged a car rental. Now what? There are so many wonderful destinations in Tuscany that it’s difficult to know which you should visit on your vacation. All Tuscan villages have interesting restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars, but each has an amazingly varied and interesting history on show in their many buildings and museums.
If you are short of time on your vacation to Tuscany here is a small, diverse selection of villages and towns that will give you an excellent feel for the fascinating past and present of this stunning region of Italy.
The scenic village of Lucchio, in Lucca Province, with the sparse remains of its ruined medieval castle and quaint stone village houses, blends into the side of a mountain. The castle, dating back to the 11th century, was built to control the main road that followed the river Lima between Pistoia and Garfagnana.
Reached, with some effort, by walking up a narrow, winding road, this isolated, old stronghold blends in to the rocky outcrop so well that it is sometimes difficult to see where the rocky mountaintop ends and the village reborn from the castle ruins begins. The village streets are really just narrow walkways. From the old castle are stunning views of the Lima River Valley and surrounding villages.
San Casciano dei Bagni
Nestled in the Tuscan hills south of Siena, this traditional Tuscan hillside town has winding streets that lead to a hilltop tower. Places of interest include the Collegiata dei Santi Leonardo e Cassia, with its Gothic facade, the Fighine Castle, and the small church of San Michele Arcangelo, dating from 1191.
This picturesque town is the home of the thermal Fonteverde Spa, with roots dating back to the 17th century – the spa treatments include mud therapy, massage, and inhalations. There are 42 thermal springs in the surrounding countryside.
Known for its Brunello red and its extra-virgin olive oil, this small walled town, in the remote and steep countryside south of Siena, is renowned for The Duomo (San Salvatore). At the Piazza del Popolo you’ll find the Palazzo Comunale and the 14th-century La Loggia.
In the San Francesco church, renovated in the 18th-century, are frescoes by Vincenzo Tamagni. Just outside the town is the stunning Romanesque monastic church of Abbazia di Sant’Antimo.
Located in Val di Greve, between Florence and Siena, Greve comes alive during the September Greve Wine Festival, the region’s largest wine event. The old part of town features a triangular square, Piazza Giovanni da Verrazzano, where you can purchase fine local produce.
Medieval buildings here include the 11th-century Santa Croce Church, with paintings by Beato Angelico’s school, and a triptych by Bicci di Lorenzo. The former San Francesco convent now houses the Museo di Arte Sacra, with its important collection of paintings, sculptures, and religious artefacts. Just outside of the town is the Santo Stefano Church, which displays a Madonna with Child painting, dating from the 13th century.
Known as the ‘medieval Manhattan’, this walled village lies 56 km south of Florence. The village itself was founded in the 6th century and is sited on the old route that pilgrims took, from Northern Europe to Rome. A famous feature of the village is the 13 remaining towers that date from1150. As well as these towers, which were built by the wealthy when the village was an important centre for trade, its walls, gates, and palaces are intact.
Sites of interest include The Duomo, The People’s Palace, The Museum of Sacred Art, and The Archaeological Museum. You can also visit a nearby winery to sample Tuscany’s famous white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
We believe that the best way to enjoy a vacation in Tuscany is to rent a holiday home. There are so many beautiful and historic Tuscany villas for rent that you will be spoilt for choice.