If you can’t decide where to stay in Tuscany during your upcoming trip, this post should help you out. I will be detailing all the best areas to stay in Tuscany, from its world-famous cities to its charming smaller towns.
Perhaps you are planning a road trip around Tuscany and want to know what stops to include on your route. Or maybe you are planning a more typical vacation and simply can’t decide which of the many stunning locales would suit you best.
Either way, today’s post will help you plan your ideal trip to one of Italy’s most iconic regions.
Tuscany is a pretty vast area, so there are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to where to stay. With so many areas to discuss, I will give you a few quick suggestions to start with in case you are in a hurry.
If sightseeing is your top priority, then the popular cities of Florence and Pisa are top of the list. Whilst most of Tuscany’s towns boast stunning historic sites, Florence and Pisa are home to some of the most famous attractions and landmarks in the world.
Tuscany as a hole is known for being a very hilly region. Many of the local towns are located in the hills, which can make them difficult to navigate for anyone with mobility issues.
Pisa and the nearby town of Lucca are much flatter, making them great options for anyone who wants to avoid having to climb too many steep slopes.
If a beach vacation is what you are after, then the seaside town of Viareggio is the perfect place to go. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea,’ it boasts 10km of beaches. Lucca and Pisa are both just a few miles away for when you want to pop into a city for some sightseeing.
- Where To Stay in Tuscany: 20 Best Areas to Stay in Tuscany
- Florence, where to stay in Tuscany for first-time tourists
- Siena, where to stay in Tuscany in mediaeval town
- Val d’Orcia, where to stay in Tuscany in rural Tuscany valley
- San Gimignano, where to stay in Tuscany in mediaeval walled hilltop town
- Chianti, where to stay in Tuscany for wine tasting
- Lucca, where to stay in Tuscany for family
- Pisa, best area to stay in Tuscany on a budget
- Arezzo, where to stay in Tuscany for a local experience
- Pistoia, quiet area in northern Tuscany between Florence and Lucca
- Pitigliano, s small town in Tuscany to explore Etruscan history
- Certaldo, a photographic and picturesque small town in Tuscany
- Barga, a hilltop town in Garfagnana
- Pietrasanta, a coastal town west of Tuscany
- Collodi, a rural town easy access to Luccas
- Cortona, where to stay in Tuscany off the beaten path
- Fosdinovo, an ancient village in the historic region of Lunigiana
- Volterra, famous town for its Etruscan history
- Monteriggioni, a beautiful walled Medieval towns in Tuscany
- Forte dei Marmi, a seaside town on Tuscany’s west coast
- Viareggio, where to stay in Tuscany for beach holiday
Where To Stay in Tuscany: 20 Best Areas to Stay in Tuscany
Covering a substantial portion of northern Italy, there are tons of cities, towns, and villages to discover in Tuscany. I have whittled them down to the twenty best areas in Tuscany for you to consider visiting or staying in during your trip.
I have provided the top attractions and benefits from each area, so you can easily decide which most appeal to you.
1. Florence, where to stay in Tuscany for first-time tourists
The capital city of the Tuscany region, Florence is one of the most popular destinations for tourists to visit. Having been developing for over three thousand years, this is a fantastic place to stay to experience the echoes of all the ages the region has seen.
As the only true city in the region, Florence boasts the liveliest nightlife in Tuscany. You will find plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs to keep you entertained well into the night.
Florence is also super well connected to Italy’s rail system. Routes lead from Florence to most areas of the country, so it’s perfect if you are travelling around Italy or want to explore outside the city without a car.
Speaking of cars, driving into the city centre isn’t ideal, or easy. There’s very limited parking and many areas are only accessible by the local residents. If you are visiting here with a car, be prepared to leave it in the suburbs and use public transport to explore the city centre.
Considered the ‘cradle of the Renaissance,’ Florence is absolutely full of incredible historic sites. The central district has even been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of many in Tuscany.
The most recognisable building in Florence is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Duomo di Firenze Basilica. It looms over the surrounding neighbourhood with its huge red brick Brunelleschi Dome and soaring Giotto’s Bell Tower.
The lantern atop the magnificent dome of the cathedral is the highest point in Florence. Visitors can climb the 463 steps up to it for the reward of stunning panoramic views across the city. However, as one of the most visited places in the world, you will likely have to queue a while for the privilege.
Located in the Piazza del Duomo, Florence Cathedral is surrounded by various other attractions. The Baptistery of St John sits immediately to the west, a stunning accent to the larger cathedral.
The Museo Dell’opera Del Duomo is just across the street to the east of the cathedral. It houses numerous works by renowned renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello. Many of these were initially intended to be placed within the cathedral itself.
Just a few minutes’ walk from Florence Cathedral is the Galleria dell’Accademia. Home to such world-famous masterworks as Michelangelo’s David, this is an absolute must visit for any lover of renaissance art. Many of the works here were once part of the Medici family’s own collection.
The Uffizi Gallery overlooks the Arno River. The grand building houses the world’s largest collection of renaissance art, including a substantial number of Botticelli’s masterpieces, like the famous ‘The Birth Of Venus.’ It’s not just renaissance works though; the art here dates back as far as ancient Greece.
To appreciate the works of another of Florence’s famous artists, head to the Da Vinci Museum. Here you will find some of Da Vinci’s sketches as well as various inventions designed by the famous artist cum scientist. For more of Italy’s scientific legacy try the Museo Galileo.
Truly, you could spend weeks exploring all the stunning buildings, museums, palaces, and cathedrals scattered throughout Florence. Around every corner there seems to be another piazza, on every street another palazzo. This is the best place in Tuscany for longer vacations; you’ll never get bored.
Once you get tired of all the sightseeing, you might want to take a break to sample some of the exquisite regional delicacies. There are countless fabulous restaurants and cafes throughout the city to try.
Or see what you can find at Mercato Centrale. The popular food market is housed within a 17th century building. The various stalls sell all kinds of fare from street food, snacks, and baked goods to local produce, regional delicacies, wines, and cheeses that make delicious souvenirs.
Alternatively, head to Ponte Vecchio if you are more interested in shopping for keepsakes than lunch. The lovely mediaeval stone bridge spans the Arno River and is lined with vendors and small shops. It’s the perfect place to pick up small souvenirs and trinkets.
Stay In Florence If you’re looking for where to stay in Tuscany without a car;You would love to see Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in person; This is your first time visiting Tuscany; You will be travelling around Tuscany, Italy by train; You want plenty to do after dark;
Best places to stay in Florence:FIND BEST HOTELS IN FLORENCE
2. Siena, where to stay in Tuscany in mediaeval town
The beautiful mediaeval town of Siena is a wonder of history, legend, and enduring tradition. The winding cobblestone streets and ancient buildings lend the town a particularly romantic atmosphere. The city centre is impressive enough to have been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
No cars are permitted to drive within the city walls that mark the town centre. This just amplifies the historic character of Siena, offering plenty of space for relaxed strolls and romantic walks amongst the mediaeval houses.
The lack of cars won’t be an issue for most. Siena is fairly compact and it is comfortable to walk around all the major sights, most of which are contained within the central, walled area.
Despite all this, the crowds of tourists that flock to Siena each year can detract from the quaintness of the town. If you really want to experience the inherent charm of the historic city, consider visiting outside of the peak season.
At the heart of Siena is the Piazza del Campo, or Il Campo. The stunning central piazza is paved with vibrant red brick and considered to be one of the greatest mediaeval squares in Europe. The design of the square itself is worth noting, and one of several reasons it is one of Siena’s top attractions.
The paving is arranged into nine sections to represent the members of the ancient Council of Nine who once ruled the city. They are also designed to look like the folds of the Virgin Mary’s cloak, a nod to her status as the patron saint of Siena.
In addition to its various shops, stalls, bars, and cafes, the square is also overlooked by several impressive buildings. The grand, 13th century town hall, or Pubblico Palace, is the most notable. The crenelated façade resembles a fortress whilst the red brick matches the square perfectly.
The Torre Del Mangia tower was added to the town hall in the 14th century. At 87 metres high, visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the bell tower for incredible panoramic views of Siena.
Il Campo also hosts one of the most loved, traditional events in Italy, Palio. The biannual horse race is held twice each summer in July and August. Riders representing the seventeen city wards race around the piazza to honour Madonna of Provenzano.
Since the ride is bareback, jockeys often fall from their horses during the three laps around the square that constitute the race. However, the rules allow riderless horses to win, so even riders who fall can be victorious.
Like so many towns in Tuscany, Siena has plenty to offer for art connoisseurs. The Duomo di Siena, aside from being a magnificent work of art in its own right, houses works by Michelangelo, Donatello, and Berini.
Alternatively, if you’re bored of all the artwork based on religious subjects, then try the Museo Civico. Within the Museo Civico you can enjoy mostly secular art and frescoes dating back to the 1300s.
Once you tire of trawling around all the impressive historic sites, take the time to indulge in some of the local cuisine. Siena boasts various local delicacies such as pici, a variety of pasta that resembles particularly thick and doughy spaghetti, and ricciarelli, a soft marzipan biscuit.
Being in the Chianti region, you will also have plenty of exceptional local wine varieties to pair with whatever dishes you try.
Stay In Siena If You want to stay in a stunning, historic town; Attending the Palio di Siena horse race is on your bucket list; You don’t mind leaving your car outside of the city centre.
Best places to stay in Siena:
- Luxury: Grand Hotel Continental Siena – Starhotels Collezione
- Mid-range: Four Points by Sheraton Siena
- Budget: Albergo Chiusarelli
3. Val d’Orcia, where to stay in Tuscany in rural Tuscany valley
The land to the south of Siena is home to various small towns and villages scattered amongst the swathes of farmland, vineyards, and olive groves.
The Val d’Orcia is a stunning example of what you can expect from the Siena province. Val d’Orcia is such a lovely part of the region that the area as a whole has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The area is incredibly scenic, full of historic sites and rural villages. Stretching from the base of the hills south of Siena to the foothills of the Monte Amiata, there is tons of space to explore.
Like much of Tuscany, the area is heavily involved in wine production. There are so many vineyards and wineries in Val d’Orcia that the route that takes you through many of the most prominent towns is known as the Wine Road.
Many of the towns in Val d’Orcia are known for their own local varieties of wine. Montepulciano, for example, produces the Nobile di Montepulciano wine. The best place to sample this particular variety is at the Contucci Winery, with its history dating back over a thousand years.
Resting in the Siena hilltops, this charming medieval town has plenty more to offer than just wine. From the grand Montepulciano Cathedral to the 14th century town hall, Palazzo Comunale, there are loads of historic buildings for you to discover as you explore the ancient, narrow streets.
If nothing else, the views from here are phenomenal. Being so high, you can gaze out over the miles and miles of surrounding valleys and farms that stretch towards the horizon.
Pienza, on the other hand, is better known for its cheese than for its wine. Boasting the best pecorino cheese in Tuscany, you’d be mad not to try it from the source.
In fact, Pienza is so proud of their cheese that they hold the annual pecorino cheese festival each September. Don’t miss the cheese rolling competition, wherein contestants attempt to roll wheels of pecorino cheese as close as possible to a central goalpost.
If you’re not a fan of dairy, you can take in the historic sights instead. Whilst your friends are consuming their bodyweights in sheep’s cheese, you can explore the 15th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Piccolomini Palace and gardens, or the Diocesan museum within the Borgia Palace.
Just outside the town is the 7th century Pieve di Corsignano church with its 12th-century facades. Whilst the church may seem unassuming, it was the site of baptism for two popes, so it has some understated historical significance.
Rather than being famous for its produce, Bagno Vignoni is a popular tourist spot due to its natural hot springs. It’s a tiny, remote town that is perfect for a relaxing break for a day or two.
The star attraction is the Antiche Terme Romane Libere thermal swimming hole. The pale blue waters and trickling waterfalls create an exceptionally soothing natural atmosphere.
Montalcino is known for its distinctive Brunello di Montalcino wine variety. Other than its wine, the Fortress of Montalcino is the top attraction in this lovely little town. There are also various historic churches and palazzos to explore in-between visits to the various wineries and tavernas.
There is unfortunately no train station, which makes it tricky if you aren’t travelling by car. The resulting lack of tourists however makes it a particularly charming stop for road trips.
Stay South Of Siena If you want to explore a more rural area of Italy; you want to sample the best of Tuscan wine and cuisine; you are plotting a road trip and want to spend some time outside of the various cities.FIND BEST HOTELS IN MONTEPULCIANO
Best places to stay in Montepulciano:
4. San Gimignano, where to stay in Tuscany in mediaeval walled hilltop town
The mediaeval walled hilltop town of San Gimignano is recognisable even at a distance. The town is known for its striking skyline of soaring mediaeval towers that loom over the surrounding buildings.
Of the seventy-two mediaeval towers that once stood here as a symbol of the town’s wealth and might only fourteen still remain. That’s more than enough to create an impressive first impression, though it does leave you wondering how majestic it must have looked at its peak.
All the towers are impressive, but some are more revered than others. Torre Grossa is the tallest of all the towers, standing at 54m tall. Torre Gross is also the town hall and houses a museum of renaissance artworks at its base.
Meanwhile, the Torri Gemelle, also known as the ‘twin towers’ were built by the most powerful family in the city, the Salvuccis. They stand at the opposite side of the Piazza del Duomo from the Town Hall.
The towers are significant enough that the town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1990. However, they are far from all there is to appreciate in San Gimignano.
Numerous historic relics have survived the ages, such as the 13th cistern that Piazza della Cisterna is named for. Don’t forget to make a wish by tossing in a coin.
In addition to the mighty towers, most of the old city wall also still remains, as do several of its gates. The Arco deo Becci for one is still a busy thoroughfare.
The Rocca of Montestaffoli is somewhat less well preserved, now laying in ruin. However, the remains of the mediaeval fortress are now used as a pretty urban park.
Perched right at the top of the hill, on the western side of town, this is a stunning place to sit and watch the sun set over the valley.
San Gimignano stretches out well beyond those old city walls, with more historic sites found throughout the town and surrounding area. Beautiful medieval arched fountains, the fonti medievali, can be found in the woods just east of town.
Unlike many towns in the region, which focus of varieties of red wine, San Gimignano is famous for its Vernaccia di San Gimignano white wine. Pair it with traditional Tuscan cuisine served at the various excellent restaurants within the town.
Stay In San Gimignano If You want to witness the striking towered skyline for yourself ; You want to be completely surrounded by incredibly preserved historic buildings; Staying somewhere without crowds of tourists is ideal; You are tired of all the red wine in the area and want to mix it up with some white instead.
Best places to stay in San Gimignano:FIND BEST HOTELS IN SAN GIMIGNANO
5. Chianti, where to stay in Tuscany for wine tasting
Home to the hugely popular chianti variety of wine, the Chianti region is one that anyone visiting Italy will be aware of. As you would expect, there are Winery and vineyard tours aplenty here.
Stretching between Florence and Siena, it is also a good base for exploring both cities. However, there are plenty of smaller, rural towns and medieval villages to discover if you would rather have a quieter vacation away from crowds of tourists.
Chianti is home to Barone Ricasoli, the largest vineyard in the region and the oldest in Italy. In fact, the vineyard is one of the four oldest businesses in the world. Even if you don’t care for wine, it is worth stopping off to appreciate the history. If you need to clear your head from all the wine you’ve tasted, take a walk around the adjacent castle and gardens.
If, however, wine is what you are here for, then the town of Radda should be your next stop. The certified home of Chianti Classico wine, there’s no better place to sample the iconic variety. The annual Radda nel Bicchiere wine festival is the perfect opportunity to try wines from the various local vineyards.
Castellina in Chianti is a small town with a lot of history to explore. Another charming mediaeval town, there are various old palazzos and churches to admire. Castellina is also the location of some interesting archaeological sites.
For example, the Tumulo di Montecalvario, located in the north end of the town, is believed to be an Etruscan tomb. Meanwhile, the Etruscan Necropolis of Poggino rests just over a mile south of the town. The Archaeological Museum of the Chianti area offers a measured look at the discoveries in the region.
Montefioralle is a small village believed to be the birthplace of Amerigo Vespucci, the navigator and merchant after whom America is named. The tiny hamlet is located less than half a kilometre west of the town of Greve.
Greve is particularly known for its beautiful town square, hosting a Saturday farmers’ market and an easter Monday antique market. The higher points of the town look out over the various wineries that pepper the surrounding landscape.
Within the town there are several small museums to occupy you. The Museo del Vino is, as it sounds, a celebration of wine and its production. You can view instruments that have been used to make wine throughout the ages, or simply buy a bottle or two from the shop.
Meanwhile, the Museo d’Arte Sacra exhibits works by local artists in the ex-convent of San Francesco.
San Casciano is a little different from the other historical renaissance towns in the area. The town was rebuilt following its almost complete destruction during World War II. As such, there are rather fewer old buildings remaining, which just makes the ones that are here even more special.
A bit off the beaten track, San Casciano is much more laid back and local, so far less touristy. If you want to stay somewhere where you can experience a more authentic, everyday Italian way of life, this is a great opportunity.
Stay In The Chianti Area If you want a relaxed, rural base from which to easily explore both Florence and Siena; you really want to indulge in the world class wines of Tuscany; you want to admire the more understated relics of Italy’s history.
Best places to stay in Chianti:FIND BEST HOTELS IN SAN CHIANTI AREA
6. Lucca, where to stay in Tuscany for family
In a region known for its incredible history, Lucca still manages to stand out. From its exquisitely preserved renaissance era city walls, designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself, to the quaint cobblestone lanes, a walk through Lucca is like taking a step back in time.
Lucca has earned itself the moniker ‘City of One Hundred Churches’ and indeed the town is littered with them. Down seemingly every street you will stumble across yet another pretty, historic church dating back however many hundreds of years.
San Michel in Foro is a fine example of the kind of lovely structures to be appreciated in Lucca. Dating back to the 12th century, the church houses numerous statues, artefacts, and artworks within.
Set within its own piazza, San Michel is surrounded by shops, cafes, and restaurants from which to appreciate the view of the church.
If you want something even grander, head to Cattedrale di San Martino. The mighty cathedral was constructed in the 11th century and, with its high bell tower and sweeping dome, is as impressive as you expect of a Tuscan cathedral.
The cathedral is surrounded by gardens and fountains. Meanwhile, the inside is decked out with various frescoes and sculptures. The Museo della Cattedrale, right next door, houses even more relics and religious pieces for you to admire.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as all the palazzos and basilicas of Lucca are concerned. If you want to really appreciate how many historic buildings are packed into the city, you should climb the 230 steps of Guinigi Tower to appreciate the panoramic views from the top.
For such a small town, there are plenty of museums to explore. The Museo Villa Puccini is dedicated to the famous local composer Giacomo Puccini, within whose old home the museum is housed.
Alternatively, take a more macabre turn around the Museum of Torture. The medieval period is notorious for the many horrific methods and devices for dealing pain that were implemented. The museum showcases various old instruments and inventions.
In addition to the heavy renaissance influence throughout the town, Lucca is also known for its various archaeological sites. The remains of an ancient roman amphitheatre now form the basis for the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.
The Roman amphitheatre dates back to the first century A.D, when it hosted gladiator fights and shows. The modern plaza is a little less intense, hosting cafes, restaurants, shops, and a lively market.
For all that there is so much to see and do in Lucca, and such a particularly well-preserved historic atmosphere, the city remains largely undiscovered and underappreciated by the larger tourist crowds. As such, it’s much quieter than other, similar cities like Siena.
In many ways it’s that lack of crowding which helps to maintain the rich, ancient feel, along with the heavy restriction on cars entering the walled city centre.
It also lends a particularly intimate feel that makes Lucca perfect for romantic breaks and honeymoons.
Lucca is also much flatter than many of the hilltop towns throughout Tuscany. As such, it is easier for people with mobility issues to get around without having to worry about steep slopes.
It’s also a great place for those travelling with children. The flat ground makes it easier to manoeuvre prams, whilst little legs won’t have to struggle climbing hills.
Lucca is also just a few miles from the beaches of Viareggio, so you can easily pop out for a beach day and relax whilst the kids play in the sand and sea.
Stay In Lucca If You want to stay in a beautiful, historic town, whose atmosphere is not diminished by droves of tourists; You would find it easier to get around a flatter town, without the hills and slopes of most Tuscan towns; Being relatively close to good beaches would be ideal but you don’t mind needing to drive there; You are travelling with children;
Best places to stay in Lucca:FIND BEST HOTELS IN SAN LUCCA
7. Pisa, best area to stay in Tuscany on a budget
Home to one of the most famous landmarks in all of Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa is another top destination for tourists visiting Tuscany.
For all that it is home to one of the most famous attractions in the world, Pisa is actually one of the more affordable locations on this list.
The nearby airport is serviced by numerous budget airlines, so you won’t have to break the bank getting here. Likewise, there is plenty of low-cost accommodation to choose from too.
Since Tuscany is a particularly hilly region, Pisa’s relative flatness is another mark in its favour. Those with mobility issues or who would have trouble climbing the steep slopes found throughout Tuscany would benefit from staying here.
Being one of the larger cities in this guide, Pisa is one of the better options if you are looking for somewhere with vibrant nightlife. As a bustling university town, there are tons of bars and nightclubs catering to both the student population and tourists.
Of course, most who visit Pisa do so to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower has had its famous tilt since its erection in the twelfth century. Despite its wonky foundations, tourists are able to safely climb to the top of the tower should they wish.
Whilst the Leaning Tower is technically the bell tower of the adjacent Pisa Cathedral, don’t wait around to hear the bell ring. The bell is kept immobile and silent for fear that the vibrations of its tolling could pair poorly with the tower’s already precarious situation.
Whilst the Leaning Tower is unequivocally the main attraction, that doesn’t mean you should overlook Pisa Cathedral itself. The majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, with its dome, columns, and towering marble walls, is as grand as any to be found in Italy.
Don’t stop at just admiring the outside. Housed within are numerous gorgeous frescoes, paintings, sculptures and relics, all accented by the marvellous vaulted ceilings and sweeping archways.
The Cathedral and the Tower are located within Piazza del Duomo, often also referred to as ‘Miracle Square.’ The Pisa Baptistery and the cloistered Camposanto cemetery are also both within the plaza, along with various fountains, sculptures, and even souvenir shops. It’s the best place to come if you are visiting Pisa on a day trip.
If you have more time in the city then there are plenty of excellent museums to visit, particularly for lovers of art. Tuscany is known for being a trove of Renaissance art and history and Pisa is no different.
The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and the Sinopie Museum are both beautiful collections of ancient art, located around the Piazza del Duomo. If you want to see more of the city. The Palazzo Blu, the National Museum of the Royal Palace, and Museo della Grafica Palazzo Lanfranchi make a pleasant route along the Arno River.
With so much to see and do, and so many facilities catering to tourists, Pisa is a great option for anyone travelling with children. There is plenty to keep them occupied as well as a wide range of dining options and international cuisines available to please even fussy eaters.
Just a couple of miles from the sea, Pisa is a great option for anyone who wants to combine sightseeing in the city with a relaxing beach vacation. The small resort town of Marina di Pisa ensures you will have all the comforts whilst you lay back in the sun, sand, and sea.
Stay In Pisa If Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is on your bucket list; You want to combine the conveniences and sightseeing of a city break with the comforts of a beach vacation; A flatter city, with fewer hills and slopes, would be beneficial for you; You are working with a tight budget for both travel and accommodation; You are travelling with children.
Best places to stay in Pisa:FIND BEST HOTELS IN PISA
8. Arezzo, where to stay in Tuscany for a local experience
Once one of the most important cities of the Etruscan civilisation, the long history of Arezzo can be observed in its beautiful buildings. With the city dating back to before the romans, at least as far back as the 4th century bc, there are tons of historical relics and features to discover.
With all its history and rural charm, Arezzo is a particularly beautiful town. So much so that you may recognise some of its streets and squares from movies. Particularly notably, Oscar winning film Life Is Beautiful was filmed here.
An up and comer that is growing in popularity, Arezzo is still far less touristy than many Tuscan towns. Located east of Siena, Arezzo is well out of the way of most of the more famous towns, so you won’t have to fight crowds for good photo opportunities.
The Piazza Grande is the centre of culture in Arezzo. The plaza has been around for centuries as buildings from various architectural periods have sprung up around it. It’s a great place to observe the various stylistic eras the city has gone through.
The Piazza Grande also hosts frequent markets, including an antiques fair on the first weekend of each month. Prior to their growing tourism trade, agriculture was Arezzo’s principal economic source. Make sure you look out for stores and vendors selling local produce and handicrafts to take home with you.
Arezzo’s best event is also hosted in the Piazza Grande. The Jousting festival is held twice a year, on the 3rd Saturday of June and the 1st Sunday in September. Traditionally, everyone attends in mediaeval dress to watch eight knights compete for a golden lance and the honour of their quarter of the city.
One of the principal attractions of Arezzo is the Church of San Francesco, or rather the artwork within. The Basilica houses the famous ‘Legends of the True Cross’ fresco. It is the largest of Piero della Francesca’s works and considered one of the primary masterpieces of the early renaissance period.
Arezzo Cathedral houses another significant work by Piero, the fresco of Mary Magdalene.
In addition to various other historic churches, palazzos, and piazzas, Arezzo also has quite a few interesting little museums. MUMEC, a museum dedicated to Technology and communications advances, offers a look at more recent history.
Meanwhile, the national Archaeological Museum of Gaio Cilnio Mecenato goes even further back into history than the ancient buildings of Arezzo.
Whilst Arezzo is charming, it is small and offers only a handful of attractions. You can comfortably visit all of the top sights in a day or two. As such, Arezzo is better suited to shorter stays and road trips rather than longer vacations.
Stay In Arezzo If you want to stay in an up and coming town that has still not been discovered by most tourists yet; you would rather avoid the crowds associated with the larger tourist towns; you want to attend the Arezzo jousting festival; you are planning a weekend break or plotting short stops on a road trip.FIND BEST HOTELS IN AREZZO
9. Pistoia, quiet area in northern Tuscany between Florence and Lucca
Located at the base of the Apennine mountains, Pistoia is a lesser-known city and wildly underrated. It combines all the modern conveniences and historic attractions that you would expect from a Tuscan town with stunning natural landscapes and resources.
Pistoia is located along the main road between the cities of Lucca and Florence, making it a convenient stopping off point on a road trip from one to the other. Alternatively, it makes a quaint and quieter base from which to explore them both.
Train lines connect Pistoia to both Lucca and Florence, as well as other destinations. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to travel around Tuscany a bit, but won’t be bringing or hiring a car.
Designated the Italian City of Culture in 2017, there is plenty to see and do in Pistoia. The Cathedral of San Zeno has parts which date back to the 10th century. The Palazzo dei Vescovi sits just across the Piazza del Duomo and houses several interesting museums within.
There are various other notable churches throughout Pistoia, such as the Ex Chiesa del Tau. Whilst this 14th century church may appear unassuming from the exterior, it houses some delightful ancient artefacts and frescoes.
One of the lesser-known attractions of Pistoia are the thermal baths. The smaller neighbouring town of Montecatini Terme is home to numerous public bathhouses. The water from the natural hot springs supposedly has healing attributes.
Whilst most Tuscan towns are known for their wines or cheeses, Pistoia is better known for its high-quality chocolate. The region in which it is located is known as the ‘Tuscan Chocolate Valley.’ Make sure to track down some of the world-renowned chocolate before you leave.
For all its art, culture, and connections, Pistoia remains largely undiscovered by the general throngs of tourists. As such, it is a wonderful place to stay if you want to enjoy experiencing life in an authentically local Italian town, whilst also having plenty to see and do.
Other attractions are the Zoo of Pistoia, Pinocchio Park in Collodi, Garzoni Garden, and the Fattoria di Celle. If you visit Pistoia in July, you will take part in the Pistoia Blues Festival and the Joust of the Bear (Giostra dell’Orso).
Stay In Pistoia If you want a quieter city from which to easily explore the busier towns; you are looking for a stopping off point between Florence and Lucca; you want to experience everyday life in an Italian city, undisturbed by crowds of tourists; you won’t have a car for your trip.FIND BEST HOTELS IN PISTOIA
10. Pitigliano, s small town in Tuscany to explore Etruscan history
Settled on, and carved into, cliffs towering over lush Greenland, Pitigliano offers a striking first impression as you approach. If you are travelling around the area, you should definitely swing by to at least witness the stunning town from the outside.
Nicknamed Little Jerusalem, Pitigliano offered a safe haven for Jewish people fleeing persecution in various surrounding Italian towns. That heritage can still be seen in Pitigliano’s Jewish Quarter. Although the Jewish population dissipated during World War Two, there are still kosher bakeries, delis, and little shops surrounding the synagogue.
With a history dating back to the bronze age, Pitigliano is bafflingly overlooked by most tourists. The Etruscan civilisation was prominent here and many marks of their society remain.
Etruscan tombs can be found all around the area, carved into the rock. The nearby town of Sovana is also home to an Etruscan Necropolis and the most significant Etruscan tomb of all, the Tomb of Hildebrand.
Many of the Etruscan tombs and sites in the area are linked by the Vie Cave, a network of subterranean tunnels and caves below the city. The narrow gullies and tunnels provide a thrilling labyrinth to trek through when you want a little adventure.
There are plenty of comparatively modern sights, if you prefer to stick to the renaissance influence that Tuscany is known for. The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is lovely, built of a warm, golden tan stone.
Or perhaps you prefer browsing museums. You could visit the Palazzo Ortini, a museum housed within a 14th century fortress. Or visit the Little Jerusalem Museum to learn more about the history of the once thriving Jewish ghetto.
Another smaller town with fewer sights to see, Pitigliano is better suited to being a stop on a road trip or shorter break, rather than a longer vacation. There is also no train station nearby, so it would be difficult to get to or around without a car.
Stay In Pitigliano If You want a quiet town, out of the way and unbothered by crowds of tourists; You are fascinated by Etruscan history; Exploring the winding tunnels and gullies carved into the rock around the city sounds exhilarating;FIND BEST HOTELS IN PITIGLIANO
11. Certaldo, a photographic and picturesque small town in Tuscany
High in the hills between Florence and Siena, Certaldo is a lovely village, largely unblemished by tourists. The town’s origins date back at least a thousand years, so there’s plenty of history for you to explore here.
The oldest part of the town is the walled Castello section to the east. Here you will find the old main road, Via Boccaccio, which serves in place of a piazza for hosting public events. Like most Tuscan towns, there are tons of little, ancient churches for you to discover dotted around the town.
Palazzo Pretorio stands at the east end of Via Boccaccio and dates back to the 12th century. Previously housing the local governance, as well as being the town prison at one point, the Palazzo Pretorio is now an art museum displaying works by local artists.
You will be able to spot the Palazzo easily by the numerous coats of arms that decorate the outer walls.
Another good spot to observe the works of local artists is the Museum of Holy Art. Rather than current artists, this museum houses works collected from local artists throughout the centuries.
Unlike several of the smaller hilltop towns on this list, Certaldo is connected to the national railway system, making it a viable stop for those travelling around Tuscany by train. The positioning between Florence and Siena makes it a sweet overnight stop for road trippers too.
Stay In Certaldo If you are planning a road trip around Tuscany, either by car or by train; you want to stay in a typical, rural town; you want to visit somewhere that most tourists don’t know about.FIND BEST HOTELS IN CERTALDO
12. Barga, a hilltop town in Garfagnana
Barga is a natural beauty, surrounded by a stunning landscape of luscious valleys. The town has a local charm, with none of the contrived trappings of bustling tourist hotspots. If you want to experience everyday life in an Italian town, Barga is a great option to consider.
North of Lucca, Barga is well out of the way of most tourist routes. Only the most wandering of road trippers wind up here. With far fewer tourists than many other towns in the Tuscan region, this is a great place to go if you just want to escape into the peace and quiet.
The town itself was mostly built during the renaissance period. As such, there are numerous period features for you to enjoy. The 15th century aqueduct is particularly notable. The sweeping arches of the waterway cut through the forest and across the valleys with grand aplomb.
The Romanesque Cathedral of San Cristoforo is another key part of Barga’s history you should pay a visit to.
Whilst the castle-like structure itself was constructed some time before the 11th century, many decorative additions have been made to the façade over the centuries, making it a curious blend of historic styles.
Some of the beautiful churches to visit are Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata and Chiesa del Santissimo Crocifisso; historical palaces are Palazzo Podestà, Palazzo Angeli Palazzo Pancrazi, and Palazzo Balduini.
Stay In Barga If You want to stay surrounded by nature; You are looking for a quiet town, well out of the way of most tourists; Sightseeing is not a priority.FIND BEST HOTELS IN BARGA
13. Pietrasanta, a coastal town west of Tuscany
Just to the north of bustling Viareggio, Pietrasanta is a charming coastal town in the west of Tuscany. Pietrasanta boasts a number of conveniences. Its proximity to the city of Lucca and the beach resort town of Viareggio is just one.
If you want to attend the Viareggio Carnival, but want to be able to escape the crushing crowds and extortionate hotel rates, Pietrasanta offers a neat alternative. It’s just removed enough to be quieter, even in carnival season, without being a pain to travel back and forth.
Pietrasanta itself is known as a haven of the arts. You will find lots of galleries and workshops belonging to local artists. Having been an international hub for artists for years, you can also find statues and Bronze sculptures scattered throughout the streets.
The Piazza Duomo public square is frequently host to temporary installations of impressive sculptures and artworks. The piazza is surrounded by restaurants and cafes, so you can sit at one of the street side tables and enjoy the artwork with your meal.
Expect to find some more unusual pieces in Pietrasanta, rather than just the Renaissance style works you will find throughout Tuscany. ‘Big Bench’ is a good example. The oversized, green bench sits on the hills above Pietrasanta, offering a quirky photo opportunity, and excellent views, for anyone who climbs the steps to sit on it.
Stay In Pietrasanta If A convenient location, close to both the sea and the popular sightseeing town of Lucca is ideal; You want to attend Viareggio Carnival but don’t want to be stuck amongst the crowds or fleeced for carnival season; hotel rates; You love art and want to view some interesting modern installations.FIND BEST HOTELS IN PIETRASANTA
14. Collodi, a rural town easy access to Luccas
Collodi is a tiny village just a few miles east of Lucca. If you are looking for a quieter town, with a village like atmosphere, and plenty to do for kids, Collodi is well worth considering.
The town is linked to the name of Carlo Collodi, the author of the Pinocchio fairy-tale and has really run with the connection.
Pinocchio Park is the best example, an entire theme park styled around the iconic tale. There are endless whimsical art installations to discover, themed rides, and numerous little attractions and entertainments.
If you are shorter on time, you could just visit the Pinocchio statue instead. Just across the road from the park, the giant statue is impossible to miss, looming over the surrounding area.
Alternatively, you can spend the day at Garzoni Historical Gardens and Butterfly House. The botanical gardens are a wonder to explore, with various levels of beautiful plants and gardens decorated with sculptures. Meanwhile, anyone who isn’t scared of insects will love getting up close to the exotic species within the butterfly house.
Being so close to Lucca, Collodi is a great place to consider if you want to explore the city but don’t want to stay amongst the crowds of tourists.
Stay In Collodi If you are looking for a quiet town with plenty of attractions for children; you have a particular love for ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’; you want to stay in a more rural town, with easy access to Lucca.FIND BEST HOTELS IN COLLODI
15. Cortona, where to stay in Tuscany off the beaten path
Cortona is a small but historic town south of Arezzo. Settled in the hilltops, Cortona offers a quaint Italian village feel. If you are looking for a relaxed town, away from the hustle and bustle of tourist cities, where you can experience everyday Italian life, Cortona is for you.
Whilst it may be little, there is plenty to keep you occupied here. Museums, fortresses, and archaeological sites are scattered all around the town.
The area is particularly rich in Etruscan history, with hundreds of Etruscan tombs discovered in the surrounding region and within the town itself. Meloni and Tanella are two burial sites currently being excavated. Who knows what artefacts and Etruscan secrets will be uncovered?
The town is focused around its two public squares, Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Signorelli.
Piazza della Repubblica dates back to roman times. It is overlooked by the town hall, with its grand clock tower and stone staircase. The piazza is ringed with cafes and restaurants, making it a lovely place to stop for a meal and take in the historic atmosphere.
Piazza Signorelli is right next to Piazza della Rupubblica. On the 4th Sunday of each month, the piazza hosts an antiques market. It’s a great opportunity to hunt for some unique souvenirs, and also to mingle with the locals.
There are various historic relics to discover throughout Cortona, from centuries old palazzos to even more ancient gates and cobbled streets. If you prefer looking at history in a more controlled environment, there are plenty of museums to keep you busy.
The Etruscan Academy Museum is on Piazza Signorelli and houses various Etruscan artefacts, as well as more recent Tuscan relics. Alternatively, the Diocesan Museum houses delightful works of renaissance art.
Stay In Cortona If You want to stay in a smaller town with a local atmosphere; You want to stay in a super rural town, well away from the cities and their crowds of tourists; This is not your first time visiting Tuscany.FIND BEST HOTELS IN CORTONA
16. Fosdinovo, an ancient village in the historic region of Lunigiana
Well out of the way of most major cities, Fosdinovo is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a quiet retreat. Rather than droves of tourists, you will be able to mingle with the locals in the cosy tavernas and family run restaurants.
The main star of Fosdinovo is the 12th century Castello Malaspina. The mighty fortress still towers over the surrounding valleys. Rather than serving as a defensive structure, the castle now acts as a unique B&B, as well as a gallery for the artists in residence.
Whilst the town of Fosdinovo itself is small, the surrounding hills are full of small settlements boasting plenty more bars, restaurants, and historic sites to discover. Whether by car or by foot, the winding roads make a lovely scenic route through the trees and farmland.
Although it’s an inland town, Fosdinovo is only a few miles from the sea. You will be just a short journey from the comfortable beach town of Lerici. Lerici has its own castles and relics to explore, so it’s worth making the trip down even if you don’t want to laze on the beach all day.
Stay In Fosdinovo if You want a quiet, rural town; Mingling with locals in cosy tavernas is your goal; Being reasonably close to comfortable beaches would be ideal;FIND BEST HOTELS IN FOSDINOVO
17. Volterra, famous town for its Etruscan history
Midway between Pisa and Siena, Volterra makes a good stopping off point to plot into your road trip route. Although small, the charming town has enough historic sites and attractions to make it well worth spending a day or two here.
The town’s mediaeval history is apparent throughout. From the mighty Medici Fortress to the ancient cathedrals and churches with their gilded halls, there is plenty to see within the old city walls. The remains of an ancient roman amphitheatre and bathhouse are preserved close to the town centre.
Volterra is another town steeped in Etruscan history. The ruins of an Etruscan Acropolis lay just outside the town, along with some old burial grounds. The Mario Guarnacci Etruscan Museum has been celebrating the area’s heritage since the 1700s, displaying various relics from the ancient civilisation.
With so many historic periods and civilisations represented within the town, Volterra is ideal for anyone who enjoys getting hands on with history. The town allows you to get up-close with the physical remnants of so many old, lost cultures.
Stay In Volterra If you are plotting a road trip between Pisa and Siena; you are fascinated by Etruscan history; you enjoy exploring old ruins;FIND BEST HOTELS IN VOLTERRA
18. Monteriggioni, a beautiful walled Medieval towns in Tuscany
Monteriggioni is a particularly tiny village, just north of Siena. The main attraction of Monteriggioni are the impeccably preserved mediaeval walls that surround the town, defending the small handful of buildings within. Two historic gates, Porta Franca and Porta San Giovanni allow visitors to pass through the looming walls.
The walls of Monteriggioni are best appreciated as you approach them. The mighty stone walls are interspersed with defensive towers jutting into the sky, creating an impressive skyline.
Less of a residential town and more a quirky shopping and dining destination, Monteriggioni contains a small history museum, along with a few restaurants, small hotels, and craft shops.
Aside from taking in the historic atmosphere and enjoying the local cuisine, there is very little to do in Monteriggioni. It serves well as a brief stopping point on a longer road trip or journey, but I wouldn’t recommend you spend a longer vacation here.
Stay In Monteriggioni If you are looking for places to explore surrounding Siena; you are looking for a quirky place to stop and shop before heading into the city; you are planning a road trip around Tuscany and are looking for a unique location to spend a single night.FIND BEST HOTELS IN MONTERIGGONI
19. Forte dei Marmi, a seaside town on Tuscany’s west coast
Just north of Pietrasanta, Forte dei Marmi is a lovely little seaside town on Tuscany’s west coast. Just along the beach from lively Viareggio, and a little more removed from the city of Lucca, Forte del Marmi offers a more laid-back beach vacation, away from the worst of the tourist crowds.
Whilst it’s less crowded than Viareggio, don’t expect this to be some sleepy rural town. The beaches are still full of sun loungers for the many people who come to relax on the sand.
The various beaches of Forte dei Marmi back onto a road lined with numerous restaurants. You won’t need to worry about packing a picnic for your beach day when you can get a delicious, cooked meal within a few minutes’ walk of your beach lounger.
If you find yourself getting bored of lazing on the beach, you can always take a hike into the hills overlooking Forte dei Marmi. Aside from the beautiful, verdant landscape, there are castles and local historic sites to be discovered within the valleys.
If you are hoping to attend the Viareggio Carnival but don’t want to pay out the nose for accommodation, Forte dei Marmi is a great alternative. It’s just a comfortable walk along the beach to Viareggio.
Stay In Forte Dei Marmi If You are looking for a less crowded beach resort town; Relaxing on the beach is your main goal ; You are planning to attend Viareggio Carnival but are looking for cheaper accommodations for your stay.FIND BEST HOTELS IN FORTE DEI MARMI
20. Viareggio, where to stay in Tuscany for beach holiday
Known as the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea,” Viareggio is a gorgeous seaside resort town. If you are looking for a quiet, seaside location, this is not it. Viareggio is very popular with tourists, and it’s easy to see why.
Boasting 10km of beaches, Viareggio is a paradise for anyone who wants to spend their vacation relaxing on the sand. Backed by the La Passeggiata boardwalk, you are never far from whatever comforts you need to make your time here idyllic.
La Passeggiata runs for 3km along the main stretch of Viareggio’s beaches. The boardwalk is lined with cafes, ice-cream shops, restaurants, and shops. Aside from being super convenient for grabbing snacks to take to the beach, this is also a wonderful place to come for dinner right by the sea.
Being on the west coast of Italy, Viareggio experiences some truly stunning sunsets. If you are looking for a romantic date night idea, simply pick a restaurant with sea views and be there when the sun goes down.
Aside from its incredible beaches, the main attraction here is the Carnival of Viareggio. One of the most popular carnivals in Europe, swathes of tourists flock here every year to party. Keep that in mind if you don’t like crowds.
With all the demand for accommodation around carnival season, hotel prices in the area soar. They also book up fast. Keep that in mind if you plan to visit in the month leading up to lent.
If you are interested in the inner workings of the carnival, head to Viareggio Carnival Citadel. The citadel is an oval of sixteen warehouses where you can watch the parade floats being built. There’s also a museum and multimedia theatre to offer visitors more information about the festival.
In keeping with that vibrant, party legacy, Viareggio is a great place to go for exciting nightlife, despite being a smaller town. There are also a couple of cities pretty nearby if you find the evening entertainment of Viareggio isn’t to your liking.
Viareggio is just a few miles away from both Pisa and Lucca. If you find yourself growing bored of spending your days lazing on the soft sand, it’s no trouble to just pop over to either city for a day of sightseeing. You can be back at a beachfront restaurant in time for dinner.
Stay In Viareggio If You are planning a relaxing beach vacation; You want to stay by the sea but within easy reach of sightseeing cities like Pisa and Lucca; A vibrant nightlife is important to you; You plan to attend Viareggio Carnival.FIND BEST HOTELS IN VIAREGGIO
Tuscany is a beautiful part of the world, with stunning natural landscapes, glorious beaches, and gorgeous cities full of art, culture, and history. It’s no wonder that so many people dream of travelling here, or struggle to decide which particular part to spend their time in.
I hope this post has helped you better appreciate and understand what all the various locations of Tuscany have to offer. I’m sure you will have come across a few towns that have captured your heart.
Whether you are looking for various locations to plot out a road trip adventure around Tuscany or just the one area to settle down for a relaxing break, you are now just a few steps away from your dream vacation. All that’s left is to find and book your ideal hotel, or hotels.