Art, culture, tradition, and delights for the palate in the midst of painterly landscapes: Tuscany is one of the most popular vacation regions in Italy. And it’s where Pinocchio hails from!
Pinocchio, the wooden puppet with the long nose, was born in Tuscany.
Come along with us and the little rascal ever curious to check things out, as we introduce to you a few of the highlights of one of Italy’s most beautiful regions.
San Gimignano, town of towers
14 remaining medieval house towers of what originally were 72 in number rise proudly into the sky above this small Tuscany hill town. They were status symbols erected by the town’s most prominent families or houses.
The enchanting medieval town lies halfway between Siena and Florence.
The “town of towers” as San Gimignano is also called was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990.
Just stroll through the narrow streets and sense the ghosts of yesteryear: that’s the motto here.
Even in the side alleys there’s plenty waiting to be discovered.
Secret tip for art lovers: In San Gimignano we discover Andrea Roggi’s gallery named “The Circle of Life”. This Tuscany native and sculptor creates works in bronze.
His themes are love and life. The close connection with Tuscany shows in his choice of typical elements like the olive tree and the cypress for his sculptures .
We had already become aware of his works of art while at the Castelfalfi Resort. Click here for my report on that splendid 5-star resort.
Siena, university town
Siena sits right in the heart of Tuscany, ensconced in the hills of the Chianti wine-growing region.
The duomo with its facade of dark green and white marble counts among Europe’s most beautiful and picture-perfect cathedrals.
However, the town is most famous for its Palio delle Contrade – the horse race on the Piazza del Campo.
The slightly sloping square blazes in a warm terracotta hue. The Piazza is regarded as one of Italy’s most beautiful town squares.
Round about the Piazza pulses the life of a university town. This is where the Palazzo Pubblico and the city hall with the Torre del Mangia dominate.
The tower rises to a height of 87 meters and offers a spectacular panorama view of the entire town.
Aside from these monumental structures, the town’s angled, narrow streets captivated us.
Little wonder that Siena’s historical core was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Tip for your sweet tooth: Be sure stop in the Pasticcerie Nannini for delicious pastries to go with your coffee and don’t forget to dig their gelato!
Florence, city of culture
Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance. This is where many famous artists created their masterpieces, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Sandro Botticelli and the sculptor Michelangelo.
The city sits on the banks of the Arno river and is surrounded by gentle hills that help make Florence one of Europe’s most spectacular cultural sites.
Under no circumstances to be missed is a visit to the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most famous art museums.
And, no less worth a visit is arguably the most famous work of art in the world — the marble statue of “David”.
What charms the city also has on offer in the winter is described by our author Isabella in this article (in German).
Steeped in history: Volterra
About 50 kilometers from Siena, Volterra mirrors the entire history of Tuscany. Its historic buildings are reached through the city gate, the Porta all’Arco.
The best-known structure is the Palazzo dei Priori on the main square. It is the oldest city hall in Tuscany, dating from the 13th century.
This small medieval town is not as famous as its neighbors Siena or Florence. The upside is that it has been spared their hectic tourist traffic.
Volterra radiates a captivating charm. A visit is well worth it!
Restored mountain village Castelfalfi
Castelfalfi sits between Florence and Siena. Just a few years ago, Castelfalfi was still a ghost town, a “paese fantasma” as the Italians call their abandoned villages.
In 2007, the TUI travel company invested 250 million euro to buy the derelict village, restore it and revive it as a picturesque vacation resort.
See here for my review of Castelfalfi and its resort.
Cantina Marchesi Antinori
For wine lovers, we recommend a visit to Cantina Marchesi Antinori in Bargino.
The Antinori family owns one of the largest vineyards in the Chianti Classico region.
The Florentine architecture studio Archea designed an impressive winery that also makes the hearts of architecture fans beat faster.
In any event, Walter was so impressed, that he devoted its own article to the winery.
Our thanks go to …
Many thanks, dear Pinocchio, for the guided tour of your birthplace. It was truly beautiful in Tuscany. We’ll be back. No doubt about it!
Great thanks also to our friends Conny and Mario for the convivial and entertaining days you shared with us.