Things To Do In Tuscany
On the west side of Italy along the edge of the Tyrrhenian sea sits one of Italy’s most popular and well-loved regions. Marked by quintessentially Italian cities such as Florence, Pisa, and Siena, and known for its sprawling hillside views, Tuscany has solidified itself as a go-to Italian vacation destination for all types of people. Grand in size and multifaceted in its geography, culture, and history, the Tuscan region of Italy provides many exciting, fun, and memorable activities.
Known for its gorgeous countryside and unparalleled wine country, Tuscany offers a wealth of outdoor activities that celebrate the rich, fertile land and the wonders of the seasons.
During September and October, the world-famous Tuscan wine region of Chianti begins its yearly grape harvest. Hardworking locals spend the months harvesting perfectly ripe grapes for the world-renowned wines crafted from the region. The harvest is celebrated in nearly every town, from Impruneta and Greve In Chianti to Montescudaio and Montalcino, by huge feasts, festivals, and special events.
To get in touch, literally, with the wonders of Earth’s bounty, mushroom, chestnut, and white truffle picking is another popular event during September and October. Next to delicious wine, there is nothing that defines the Tuscan culture more than food. The richness of the fertile soil allows for a bountiful growth of these rare crops, which are searched for and harvested throughout the deep woods and forests.
If tasting rather than harvesting is preferable, the Tuscan locals celebrate their cuisine through Sagre, food festivals that are dedicated to specific local products. Usually held during March through November, guests can attend these festivals and try an array of foods. There is a Sagra for nearly everything, from truffles and seafood to steak and boar.
OUTDOORS & SPORTS
With its stunningly eclectic geography, Tuscany lends itself well to a variety of outdoor activities and sports. Most notably, the Tuscan hills and mountains set the ideal stage on which to hike and ski. No matter what skill level of hiking one desires, the hills of Garfagnana, Lunigiana, Alpi Apuane, Maremma, and Mugello offer varying levels of difficulty and a wide variety of wonderful views to take in along the way. A hike in Tuscany can reveal everything from mountain views of the Alpi Apuane to a panoramic view of the coast along the path of the Abbey of San Rabano. Skiers rejoice in Abetone, the ski resort of choice by Tuscan locals. Two hours outside of Florence near the border of Emilia Romagna, Abetone offers slopes that appeal to both expert and amateur skiers alike.
The roadways are said to be the best way to experience Tuscany, and L’Eroica, a non-competitive cycle event in October, allows those over the age of 15 to do just that! Cruising along the gravel roads of Tuscany transports cyclists back to a time where epic cycling battles would take place.
For a more relaxing way to enjoy Tuscany’s outdoor delights, Saturnia’s open air spas are an ideal choice. Also, Le Cascate Del Mulino, known as the windmill falls, is located in the Province of Grosseto. This natural wonder is an open-air thermal bath that operates day and night and is free to the public.
For indoor enjoyment, Tuscany stuns with its long list of educational museums and historic monuments. Located in Florence are some of the world’s most highly regarded museums, including the Uffizi, Accademia, and the Museum of Bargello. These museums hold some of the greatest accomplishments of art and sculptures, including Michelangelo’s statue of David. The monuments that Tuscany has to offer are equally as impressive. Nearly every town, from Florence to Siena, has an elegant cathedral to explore and admire, and the city of Pisa boasts the legendary leaning tower.
A stroll through Tuscany’s world class museums or a visit to any of its iconic monuments is truly an adventure through the evolution of Renaissance art. So much so that Tuscany is referred to fondly as, “The Cradle of the Renaissance.”
For a truly enchanting experience, listen to the Gregorian chants in the Sant’Antimo Abbey. Home to monks who preserve the ancient practice of meditative chanting, this holy space honors the religious traditions that are so near and dear to the hearts of Tuscans.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS
Thanks to the many great cities that comprise Tuscany, there is a special event or festival to be experienced during nearly every month of the year. Ranging from religious, to food focused, to simply a celebration of a town, festivals are a key aspect of the Tuscan culture that offers everyone the chance to enjoy Tuscan life.
In the heart of Tuscany, the city of Siena celebrates the Palio, two monumental horse races which honor the Madonna di Provenzano in July and the Assumption of Mary in August. This competition pits up different contrade, or districts, of the city’s neighborhoods against one another by choosing a horse and jockey to represent each district. The event is so spectacular, it is broadcast on television and is celebrated with many feasts, parades, and banquets. Held at the Piazza del Campo in Siena, this event attracts thousands of spectators and encapsulates the pride and passion the Tuscan people have for their home.
Another massive event held in Tuscany is the Carnevale di Viareggio, widely considered to be the most remarkable carnival celebration in all of Europe. For the last 144 years, every February the streets of Viareggio are flooded with enormous, colorful, paper-mache floats, residents in amazing costumes, and hordes of confetti. Parades, held on Sundays, march through Viareggio’s promenade during the four-week event, as a testimony to the artistic ability and commitment of the Italian people.
For sports fans, there is nothing like experiencing Calcio Storico Fiorentino, one of Tuscany’s oldest traditions. A traditional Italian sport, this game blends ancient soccer with rugby and wrestling to create a one of a kind sporting event. Florence holds a tournament each year in June, during which four teams (each representing a part of Florence) dress in medieval costumes and compete for neighborhood glory.
During June and July, a three-week long music and cultural festival, Pistoia Blues, is held in the historic center of Pistoia. International superstars have been known to take the stage at this event, making it a must-see for music fans.
ONLY IN TUSCANY
For those looking for a unique Tuscan experience, the region offers a wide variety of activities that highlight Tuscany’s best qualities and appeals to large groups, private groups, and families.
Whiz along the winding roadways of Tuscany on a Vespa, the iconic symbol of Italian design and practicality. Take a painting or drawing class and create a work of art to take home. Attend a hands-on cooking class and begin to learn the mastery behind simple, rustic, Tuscan cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients. Visit any of the many fashion outlets in Florence, ranging from affordable styles to designer pieces. Indulge in some Italian gelato in Florence’s historic center, home to some of the country’s most well-known and well-loved gelato shops in all of Italy.
The wonder and excitement that Tuscany has to offer is limitless. From delicious cuisine and world class wine to expansive hillside views and bustling cities. With art, history, and culture at the heart of this region, Tuscany is the ideal place for vivere l’Italia!
The team at Trips2Italy did a wonderful job planning our trip 5 years ago for our honeymoon and did another great job for our trip earlier this month.
Emily was so quick to answer our questions and planned the perfect trip. When we had some weather related travel issues, Ana got us moving as did the Milan office.
Our hotel was the best we've stayed in so far and all the plans/tours were such fun.
We truly couldn't have planned a better trip ourselves and we will continue encouraging others to use Trips2Italy.
My husband & I recently returned from the Tuscany/Cinque Terre escorted tour. We had an incredibly wonderful trip!
The itinerary was well planned and included the best that Tuscany & Cinque Terre have to offer. We really enjoyed the classy wine-tasting experiences & the boat ride to Cinque Terre.
In addition to the escorted tour, Trips2Italy assisted us with customization of our own itinerary. We could not be more pleased with Emily at Trips2Italy. Her communication was excellent, including prompt responses to emails and well-researched answers to questions. She organized a terrific trip for us!
During an overseas trip, we have huge peace of mind in knowing that there will be assistance available in case of a problem situation. Trips2Italy gets top marks for this. Due to a minor glitch, we had occasion to call the Trips2Italy 24 hour Emergency Assistance number. Tommaso immediately answered the phone, took care of the issue and followed up with us to assure that all was proceeding smoothly. Emily and Tommaso, thank you for our amazing trip to Italy!!
First of all, THANK YOU for the most incredible trip we have ever taken! I cant say enough great things about the locations you picked out, the hotel rooms, and even the fine details of what kinds of views our rooms had. We also really appreciated the small touches like the Champagne and treats at each of our hotel spots. No small detail was gone un-noticed. It truly made the world of a difference in our experience!
We absolutely loved Italy!!
Lake Como is hands-down our favorite. We hope to return there again someday. Possibly for an Anniversary trip? 🙂 We hope to spend more time in Como, but also explore some of the other sides of the lake when we return.
We loved the Itinerary. For never going to Italy before, it's hard to know what we would like/dislike, but I think Andrew and I are on mutual agreement that we could have done without Milan. While we appreciate the history, I think we could have stuck to just Florence and Rome for the "city" vibe of our trip. We absolutely loved Lake Como (Like I said) and all of our experiences in Tuscany. I wish we would have done more food tours, similar to the ones we did in Rome, but again, thats not something we could have known without going through the experience. It was cool to eat like a local, and go off the beaten path of tourist spots. We could have also skipped the Vatican. Although it's a one-in-a-lifetime thing to see, we aren't particularly religious people, so the significance of it was sort of lost on us. It was great to see the sistine chapel while we were there though. That, I would recommend.
We stuck to your planned itinerary for the entire trip, which was exceptional. We do not feel like we "missed out" on anything in Italy. With that being said, the schedule was so jam packed that we really didn't have a lot of leisure time to wander the streets, with the exception of 1 day in Como, 1 day in Siena, and our last day in Sorrento. While we feel like we got the most "bang for the buck" with our itinerary, I think we both under-estimated how jam-packed our schedules would be and I think we both agreed that we would have toned down the tours a bit if we were to do it all over again. Again, with that being said, we learned a lot in each place we went and having a guided tour did help us make the most of the time we had in each city, because it showed us what to spend our time on and what to skip. So, I suppose its a catch-22. We certainly feel like we had an incredible experience and each day we learned something more and more valuable to take back and share with our friends and family.
We have a few more friends getting married soon and considering planning their honeymoon. I have already recommended you to one of our couple friends. I cant imagine NOT going through a planner like you for such a trip, and we wished you did trips like this for other countries too!
Thank you again for all of the time, effort, details and special touches you put to making our Honeymoon simply incredible. Your Italy is certainly beautiful, and we feel that you helped us experience it in the best way possible.
Thank you again!!
Kate & Andrew S.