Tuscany, with its spectacular hill towns and scenery, is one of Italy's top vacation destinations. The region’s travel attractions include historic cities and art, great food and wine, medieval hill towns, beaches, and beautiful countryside.
It could be said that no other province has had more impact on Italian — and European — culture than Tuscany. With its wine-soaked villages, art-rich cities, swathes of olive groves and truffle fields, and modern-fashion powerhouses, Tuscany embodies la vera Italia. But this central region’s most relevant role will always be as the birthplace to the Renaissance, whose presence has been reinforced over the ages by the Botticelli masterpieces on the Uffizi’s gold-gilded walls and the earth-toned towers and palaces commanding the region’s storied towns.
Before you visit the birthplace of the Renaissance, here are a few things to note:
WHAT TO SEE
If you are planning to go to any major cities, make sure to plan a couple days in Florence, home of the Uffizi (Galleria degli Uffizi) and the Accademia (Galleria dell'Accademia), which house some of the most prominent and famous works of art, including Michelangelo’s David. Pro tip: grab a snack at the Uffizi’s rooftop cafe, which offers great views of the city.
Hop on a quick train ride to coastal Cinque Terre, a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline (technically just outside of Tuscany, but worth the trip); definitely try the seafood. Stop by Pisa on your way for a look at the legendary Leaning Tower of Pisa, which has been leaning for over 800 years.
Lastly, take some time to see the Tuscan countryside. An afternoon exploring the vineyards at the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia estate in the coastal region of Maremma, capped off with a tasting of its prized Merlot Masseto, is an afternoon well spent.
WHEN TO VISIT
Like many of its European neighbors, Tuscany’s tourist season peaks during the summer months, and the weather is similar to Southern California. Even then, the weather can vary from region to region in Tuscany, as its mountains and hills tend to remain cooler than its valleys and coastline. Many travelers choose to visit Tuscany during a shoulder season — April and May or October and November — when it is less crowded and the weather is a little cooler.
BEFORE YOU GO
Traveling from the U.S., you can stay in Italy up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa, as long as your U.S. passport is valid for at least 3 months after your planned return to the United States.
WHERE TO STAY
Forbes has a great article on finding your piece of paradise in Italy; you can read it here: Paradise For Rent.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
As with any vacation, don't try to pack too much in. Especially with any region with as much history as Tuscany, there is always more that you could do or that you could see. A vacation is not meant to be all about checking sights off a list or dashing from place to place to fit in as much as humanly possible. It's about enjoying yourself.
So do exactly that: enjoy yourself. Take a hint from the Italian concept of la bel far' niente — the beauty of doing nothing — and take a break from the business and running around every once in a while.
Leave some time to stop and sip a cappuccino. Above all, take in the sights and enjoy beautiful, historical Tuscany.
This is part 2 of our 2018 Dream Vacations series. Click here to view all.