7 of the most beautiful wine tasting destinations for travel snobs

20 of the most beautiful places to visit in Tuscany

The romance of Tuscany has kindled many an imagination from writers to painters to philosophers and film crews over the centuries. From all our collective trips to this famously beautiful area here are 20 of our favourite sparkling jewels in the Tuscan crown…

Elba Island – a laid back Tuscan island turned trendy under-the-radar destination

The largest Island of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago Elba is rich in history dating all the way back to the Ilvati tribe and later The Etruscans, The Romans and in 1814 Napoleon himself was exiled here. Now it’s an increasingly trendy under-the-radar destination for those in the know and makes a beautiful place to visit in Tuscany. Visit for the impressive fortresses and Napoleonic residences, the laid back island atmosphere and to make the most of the beautiful sandy beaches and clear blue sea which could almost rival the Caribbean!

Beautiful drone footage of Elba island…

My cool and unusual hotel pick for Elba Island – Hotel Barracuda

Siena – Italy’s loveliest medieval city

Siena Tuscany

The Ancient city of Siena is easily one of the prettiest places to visit in Tuscany, although be prepared for crowds! It’s full of amazing medieval buildings and the fan-shaped Piazza il Campo, where the world-famous ‘Palio’ horse race is run twice a year. The square can be seen in all its glory in James Bond ‘Quantum of Solace where it was the location for a spectacular chase scene! There are a host of grand palaces and municipal buildings around the ‘centro storico’  including Palazzo di Publico at the base of Torre del Mangia which must be climbed for truly breathtaking views of the city below.

A video showing why Siena enchants so many of its visitors…

Our cool and unusual hotel pick for Siena – Villa Scacciapensieri

Lucca – a picturesque city known for its well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling the historic centre

Much quieter than Sienna Lucca is dominated by its almost completely intact city walls. As the city grew and evolved the walls were maintained and have now become a sort of high park around which you can walk or cycle whilst admiring the beautiful historical city within. Traces of Lucca’s ancient history are still visible in the shape of its piazza’s and the archaeological remains beneath some of it’s most prominent churches and the red rooves and white walls of the old residences add to the charm of this compact little city.

A beautiful Lucca vlog…

Florence – the beautiful capital of the Tuscan region and home to Renaissance art and architecture and an iconic cathedral

From Ponte Vecchio to the Uffizi Gallery. Michaelangelo’s David to the greeny grey marble of the Duomo Florence is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Stroll through its ancient streets and you will feel like you’re part of a painting yourself. It’s a shoppers haven too, with wonderful weekly vintage markets around the Duomo and of course the famous jewellery and leather shops on and around the old bridge. It is also a vibrant place for a night out with fantastic pubs and wine bars to choose from and restaurants of course! As with all Italian cities, I suggest avoiding eating on the main piazza’s and exploring some of the side roads instead! Also, if you have a chance take a bus up past the beautiful aristocratic villas of the merchants of old and have a drink in Fiesole whilst enjoying panoramic views of the city stretched out before you!

An Expedia guide to Florence…

My cool and unusual hotel pick for Florence – Il Salviatino

Chianti wine region – stunning scenery and world-famous wines

Chianti

The Chianti Wine district is everyone’s perfect picture of Tuscany. Red roofed houses clad in bright climbing flowers, quaint streets, gentle emerald green hills covered in vineyards and enough wine tasting establishments to satisfy the most discerning connoisseur! If you’re a foodie this is also the place for you, with numerous restaurants and agritourism serving up delicious locally sourced traditional dishes such as Spaghetti al Vino RossoRosso, Ragu or the more modest but equally delectable Ribollita. I recommend hiring a car to get the best of the district as public transport can be very limited.

A vacation vlog in the beautiful Chianti region by 4k drone…

My cool and unusual hotel pick for the Chianti region – Hotel Villa Casalecchi

Collodi – a pretty medieval village with connections to the author of Pinocchio

Collodi Tuscany

Collodi is among Tuscany’s famous villages. It is another fortified village with a tumultuous past and has been keeping residents safe for centuries. Today. Collodi has long since left its war-ridden past, but residents have worked diligently to ensure the city remains historically preserved. It’s also famous for having given the author of Pinocchio, Carlo Lorenzini, his pseudonym (originally from Florence he spent part of his childhood there and took its name, signing his works as Carlo Collodi) and they even have a whimsical Pinocchio Park to celebrate the wonderful connection. Other activities in Collodi include strolling through its Italian style garden and Villa Garzoni. If you happen to visit during the last week in August, you will encounter the celebration of Saint Bartholemew, among Collodi’s most notable celebrations.

Drone footage of the beautiful Collodi village…

Val d’Orcia – a region filled with quintessential Tuscan landscapes and pretty villages

Val d'Orcia

The rich and harmonious landscapes of Val d’Orcia that traverse the River Orcia in southern Tuscany are among the most beautiful in Europe. Golden fields of wheat and sunflowers, olive groves and vineyards make up just some of the patchwork of this breathtaking valley. Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 Val d’ Orcia’s vibrant nature, punctuated by ancient hill towns has been the inspiration for many a Renaissance painting and is an absolute must on any visit to Tuscany!

A stunning cinematic journey through Val d’Orcia with drone footage…

My cool and unusual hotel pick for the Val d’Orcia region – Hotel Osteria Dell’Orcia

Pisa – an elegant city best known for its iconic leaning tower

When you hear the word Pisa, you automatically think of the famed landmark, but Pisa is not merely a leaning tower, but the city surrounding it. Withing Pisa you will see countless impressive sites including classic Roman and Gothic architecture along with the world-famous Renaissance Piazzas around every corner. Although you will be awestruck by the spectacular architecture, do not merely choose to visit the largest churches alone. Consider a visit to Santa Maria della Spina. It is smaller than others but truly worth the trip.

4k drone footage of the beautiful tower of Pisa…

My cool and unusual hotel pick for Pisa – Villa Tower Inn

Volterra – a medieval hilltop town which offers stunning Tuscan views

Volterra

Definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tuscany, 1770 feet above sea level Volterra perches like a Gothic fairytale at the top of a rugged hill, as you wind your way around the hill and enter the town through the intricately sculpted gate in the medieval walls it is very easy to see why Stephanie Meyer chose this as the home of the ‘Volteri’, the oldest and most powerful vampires in the world! Refreshingly the town hasn’t cashed in on this connection and, whilst you will find the odd Edward keyring or fridge magnet among the other knick-knacks in the souvenir shops they by no means dominate the floor! The town is a real delight to stroll around with ancient piazzas, and churches and spectacular views of the land around it. Stop for a delicious Calzone on the main street and you won’t be hungry for hours!

Beautiful 4k drone footage of Volterra…

Castello di Ama – a beautiful vineyard where wine and art meet!

Wine is a must in Tuscany and among the top-rated vineyards in the region is Castello di Ama. One visit to this immensely beautiful part of the country will engulf you in Italy’s remarkable wine culture. One of the most beautiful wineries in Tuscany, Castello di Ama offers multiple wine tastings and tours, but if you want the true experience, consider a stay at their secluded and romantic villa. Castello di Ama is also home to Il Ristoro, their onsite restaurant in which diners are treated to a dining experience to cherish. Local wines are paired beautifully with local produce to enhance the meal.

Maremma – a pristine rural landscape along an unspoilt Italian coastline

To get away from the crowds in Pisa and Florence head out to the coastal area of western central Italy, Maremma. Originally marshland, it was drained and then became a wonderful under-the-radar destination in Tuscany. Here you can expect a wide range of landscapes including vineyards, long blue beaches, black rocks, wooded mineral hills, marshes, interesting archaeological sites, natural reserves, flatlands, and even thermal baths. There’s also plenty of other attractions in this beautiful Tuscan region including several art cities, natural parks, ancient churches, some great museums, Etruscan sites, and also medieval villages. If you want to be a bit more active then try windsurfing, kite surfing, biking, and hiking.

Beautiful Maremma captured on film…

San Gimignano – a pretty UNESCO hill town in Tuscany encircled by 13th-century walls

San Gimignano

Since 1990, San Gimignano has been noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring 13 ancient towers offering a unique skyline within the area. This ancient village is among Tuscany’s most notable sites and not only will you enjoy strolling the city and taking pictures of these remarkably well-kept buildings, but you will also enjoy an array of white wines harvested from the region. San Gimignano has a unique place in Tuscany’s history and is actually known as the Manhattan of the Middle Ages. A trip to San Gimignano will bring you back to the heart of Tuscany and allow you to connect with the region’s true roots.

Gorgeous San Gimignano captured by a 4k drone…

Pienza – an idyllic Tuscan village that began life as a model Renaissance city

The charming hilltop village of Pienza in the midst of the magnificent Val d’ Orcia is widely considered the ‘Ideal city of the Renaissance’ The entire place was the brainchild of the great humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini and architect Bernardo il Rossellino and was meant to exemplify the principles and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance. Pienza became the solid materialisation of these utopian ideals beginning with the harmonious trio of the cathedral, the papal palace, and the town hall.

Highlights of Pienza captured on film…

Arezzo – a city with museums, monuments, antique churches, shops and restaurants but away from the crowds! 

Arezzo is one of my favourite places in the world let alone Tuscany! This compact and colourful city sits atop one of the many Tuscan hills and showcases some of the best examples of Florentine architecture outside of Florence itself. The wonderful Piazza Grande with its many coats of arms set into the surrounding walls is a really wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by. If you climb up to the top of the city you are met with a beautiful vista of rolling Tuscan hills and vineyards. The city is quite alternative and during July becomes alive with music and artisan markets. Best of all although Italians have cottoned on to the merits of Arezzo the rest of the world tends to skip it, meaning that you don’t have to deal with crowds of tourists and inflated prices, but instead have the space to enjoy a really authentic Tuscan experience.

A film of pretty Arezzo…

Poggio al Casone – a charming wine resort set among 40 hectares of organic vineyards

A visit to a vineyard is nice for an afternoon, but Poggio al Casone is much more than just an ordinary vineyard. What you will find at Poggio al Casone is a fully engulfed experience as this area of Tuscany is a spectacular wine resort. Here you can sample local and exceptionally crafted wines with a variety of apartments available for nightly rental large enough for any size group. Educate yourself about local wines in a fun and inspiring environment. Visitors can enjoy the picturesque countryside and truly relax in this stunningly beautiful vineyard.

Monteriggioni – a walled town in Tuscany known for its medieval fortifications and watchtowers

One of the more unique aspects of Tuscany is Monteriggioni. It is a classic Medieval walled city in the Tuscan region of Italy. Monteriggioni was built to protect the city and its residents from invaders. It is located at the peak of a tall hill, so views from the city’s towers are unimaginably beautiful. Another aspect of Monteriggioni that visitors and locals alike enjoy is the lack of traffic within the village. Due to the narrow streets and out of the way location, traffic is almost nonexistent here, so children can roam without fear of traffic accidents.

Beautiful drone footage of Monteriggioni…

Forte dei Marmi – a chic seaside town in Tuscany known for its beaches and upscale boutique stores

Forte del Marmi is not merely a chic, hip town in Tuscany, but one that dates back to the 16th century during the Roman era. This fortress was responsible for bringing marble to the surrounding areas as the local marble quarry was one of the biggest industries within the city. World-famous beaches and luxurious accommodations are what is Forte del Marmi is known for among world travelers today. Elegance and picturesque settings make any trip to Forts del Marmi one to remember.

Beautiful drone footage capturing why Forte del Marmi is so popular…

Isola del Giglio – a stunning Tuscan island known for its wonderful beaches with crystal clear waters

Exploring the land is amazing, but sometimes, we must journey beneath the surface and into an oceanic environment to see what we want to. Isola del Giglio is the area in Tuscany known for an underwater adventure. This island is surrounded by spectacular crystal clear waters where snorkeling and diving is a must. Although all your time cannot be spent in the water, Isola del Giglio is home to some amazing beach settings as well. The mild climate of Isola del Giglio is what attracts so many to this truly beautiful part of Tuscany. Isola del Giglio attracts travelers from all walks of life and is also known for its up and coming restaurant scene. You will not be disappointed with this beautiful and remarkable coastal area of Tuscany.

A beautiful vlog of a trip to Isola del Giglio with 4k drone footage…

Montepulciano – a medieval hilltop town surrounded by vineyards and known for its Vino Nobile red wine

The beautiful and ancient hill town of Montepulciano is another must on the Tuscan itinerary. History buffs will love the town as it’s foundations can be dated back as far as 715 and the many layers of it’s past are uncover-able in the churches and museums of the historical centre. Wine lovers will also have a treat as the town has not one but two famous wines Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano.

A video showing why Montepulciano is so enchanting…

Mugello – a historic region and valley in northern Tuscany filled with enviable landscapes

Located in the northern region of Tuscany, Mugello is a beautiful under-the-radar destination in Tuscany to explore far away from the crowds. Both Rivers Sieve and Arno cross this lush green area of Tuscany. Throughout Mugello, you will see natural settings of far-reaching landscapes backed by uniquely preserved Renaissance villas. This area is known for its castles and many fairs throughout the year, so before visiting, be sure to research what is going on in Mugello. Mugello is not a bustling metropolis, but a small, intimate village ideal for the tourist looking to relax and take in the illustrious scenery. Bring your camera and enjoy taking pictures of the many sites around every corner of this remarkably beautiful region of Tuscany.

Where to stay in the Tuscan countryside…

I wanted to really immerse myself into the Tuscan experience so I opted for a stay at Laticastelli Country Relais, the former 12th-century castle turned elegant rural hotel. Surrounded by rolling hills and lush green woodland, it features traditional antique furniture, rustic exposed wood beams, a restaurant with brick arches, stone walls, wine cellar and a terrace and an infinity pool, both with mountain views.

Located into the beautiful Tuscany countryside just outside Siena, it’s base is an extensive estate covering around 1000 hectares, with its own vineyards, crop fields, olive groves, mills and livestock. It offers free parking and a choice of spacious rooms and some come with a jacuzzi, private terrace or a small garden. Pure bliss!

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Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children's theatre troop, lived as an au-pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa'd in Cuba and road tripped down America's west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. In between adventures she resides peacefully with her cat and ukulele amid the misty valleys and rolling hills of beautiful South Wales.

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