Your Ultimate Guide To: Tuscany


Known most famously as the birthplace of Renaissance art, Tuscany is one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. Home to more UNESCO heritage sites than South Africa, Argentina and Australia, the history of this beautiful place runs throughout every inch of the region, and with stunning landscapes, mountain ranges and beaches, there is nowhere in Tuscany that doesn’t look like a picture-perfect postcard! The romanticism of Italy is truly heightened throughout Tuscany, as the influence of Renaissance art has managed to hold back the test of modern times, so where else would be better to escape to, from all the (albeit necessary) technology usage of the last 18 months?! But don’t be fooled into thinking that the entirety of Tuscany is the same, as every city, town and landscape has its own unique charm and character, and we’re here to talk you through some of our must-see Tuscan highlights. Whether you’ve been dreaming of Florence, the region’s capital, hoping to get lost amongst fields of sunflowers or yearning to taste the locally made wine and culinary brilliance of Italy’s gastronomic capital, Tuscany is ready and waiting for your arrival!

What to See and Do

Art Galleries / Florence

If galleries are what you’re after, Florence is the place to visit. From the Uffizi to the Palazzo Pitti, the city’s many galleries are filled with some of the most famous works of art that the world has ever seen. With mesmerising pieces by Michelangelo, the renowned founder of Renaissance art, to Leonardo Da Vinci and everyone else in between, be prepared to be left speechless by the incredible artworks that these galleries house. Although the art in the internal spaces of the city’s endless galleries are what a lot of people come to see, don’t miss out on soaking up the enchanting character and beautiful heritage of Tuscany’s capital. Snapshots of the past stand tall in the shape of The Duomo and the Column of Abundance, the architecture of the streets transporting you back to years gone by. Despite this, the city is also somehow incredibly chic and modern, so don’t get so lost exploring the past that you forget to appreciate the contemporary additions to this beautiful city. Florence and the surrounding rolling Tuscan hills and countryside, offers Italy’s best sides in unison, a combination not to be missed!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As well as Florence and Pisa, Tuscany has five more UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are not as well-known as the aforementioned cities. If you are wanting to truly immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of Tuscany, these five smaller sites will be the way to do it on a quieter scale, compared to their popular counterparts. Siena is internationally known for its Palio, an ancient tradition that takes place twice a year during July and August, but it also boasts a stunning combination of Italian gothic and medieval architecture. San Gimignano is a quaint town close to Siena, that captures the complete essence of Tuscany, from art and architecture to enchanting landscapes and delicious “Made in Tuscany” produce. Nestled amongst the amazing landscape of the Orcia Valley, is Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II, with a historical centre made of fascinating mystery. The Orcia Valley in which Pienza sits, was also made a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for it’s simply breath-taking landscapes complete with explosions of colour and cypress trees. The final of Tuscany’s UNESCO sites is The Medici Villas and Gardens, twelve villas and two gardens that were Renaissance-era summer residences for the infamous Medici family. Home to important pieces of art from the Renaissance era, take a wander and explore how this powerful family lived.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower of Pisa Cathedral, which it stands behind. After the cathedral and the Pisa baptistry, the tower is the third-oldest structure in the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral Square, and you’d join many others in thinking that it is the age of the structure that has contributed to its four degree lean. You would, however, be mistaken! An unstable foundation was the main cause for the tilt, but the tower actually began to lean during its initial construction! Despite knowing the soft ground on one side was unable to support the structure’s weight, construction continued and the lean got worse as it went on. Fortunately, the tower was stabilised twenty years ago during an eight year project, so it is safe to stand next to and to climb its 296 steps – or 294 if you’re climbing the north-facing staircase, where there are two less steps to make up for the difference in height from the ground! And of course, don’t miss the opportunity to take one of the most touristy photos that there is; you all know the one we’re talking about!

Where to Stay

La Bandita Townhouse

Nestled in the humble village of Pienza, La Bandita Townhouse is where beautiful Tuscan landscapes meet medieval passages. Set against a beautiful hillside backdrop, this former convent is richly designed with the history and heritage of Pienza in mind; combining crisp colours, old and new fusion, wood-beamed ceilings and beautiful exposed stone walls. Formed of twelve enchanting guestrooms, this stylish country house is your perfect Italian escape. Richly designed in relation to the history of the town, La Bandita Townhouse is a loving acknowledgement to the heritage of the Tuscan town. Decorated with spaciousness and light in mind, La Bandita is a luxuriously humble space, in which to relax, unwind and recharge between your adventures exploring the region.

Be mesmerised by the villages’ medieval architecture, wander through wonderful vineyards and olive groves, chat with locals about the stories of the town, try their gorgeous artisan cheeses and discover some of Pienza’s many trattorias. As one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, La Bandita Townhouse couldn’t be more ideally situated for explorations of Pienza! Remember to have your tastebuds tantalised at The Townhouse Cafe, the delightfully intimate in-house restaurant with dishes made from only the freshest local ingredients. Enjoy the delicious traditional Italian cuisine and treat yourself to a glass or two of Tuscan wine as you watch the surrounding landscape transform at dusk, into an explosion of breath-taking colour!

Locanda al Colle

Perfectly situated in Tuscany’s beautiful hills of Camaiore lies the charming converted farmhouse of Locanda Al Colle. Set in the Tuscan seaside province of Versilia, this boutique hotel is just minutes away from the coastline renowned for its unspoiled beaches and the Apuanian Alps, the ultimate Tuscan breath of fresh air. Owned by Riccardo Barsottelli, be prepared to join Riccardo and his friends at their informal dinner parties in the hotel restaurant, as you experience the character and charm of this Tuscan farmhouse in real time. And be sure to take advantage of the complimentary gazebo at the Beach Club Il Cavallone, just a ten-minutes drive from the hotel!

With twelve individually designed rooms and suites, feel immersed in the country-house style whilst you indulge a mixture of 1920’s vintage designs combined with touches of 50s and 70s style, a homage to the travels of its owner. Filled with king-size Simmons World Class beds, alluring rain showers and serene terraces, at Locanda al Colle you will be surrounded by the quiet and tranquil atmosphere of this beautiful region, in perfect harmony. This Tuscan farmhouse is filled with artwork and has become a haven for design enthusiasts and architecture cognoscenti, looking for a peaceful escape closer to the coast of Tuscany. So wake up to the smell of fresh homemade bread and pastries and soak up the magnificent charm of this beautiful region.

If you’re looking for some more inspiration, be sure to check out the owner’s story of Locanda al Colle here.

Villa Gilda

Welcome to the storybook haven of Villa Gilda. With 8,000 square metres of land decorated with magnificent olive groves, colourful citrus trees and mesmerising views of the Apuanian Alps, this is your ultimate Tuscan escape. Nestled in Montignoso, a town between the famed beaches of Forte dei Marmi and the lush green hills of Tuscany, this former private family villa has opened its doors to the public and offers spectacular traditional Italian hospitality in all its splendour. Surrounded by glorious greenery, Tuscany’s art towns, Gulf to Poets and hiking experiences, Villa Gilda perfectly places you center-stage in its rich history, nature, art and culture.

Formed of seven different deluxe rooms and suites, indulge in the Italianate styles, marble bathrooms and enchanting views of the Tyrrhenian Sea - this boutique hotel is a real natural paradise living on the Versilia coast. After a long day of boat trips, boutique shopping and a plethora of wine tasting opportunities, tantalise your tastebuds at the wonderful Gilda Restaurant. From fresh seafood dishes to traditional Versilian specialities, enjoy only the freshest seasonal ingredients whilst you indulge in the lush Mediterranean greenery and wondrous views. And be sure to head down to the Gilda Beach Club, one of the most refined and stylish beach clubs in Versilia! Allow yourself to sample paradise whilst you take advantage of the stunning beaches of Forte dei Marmi!

Villa Lena

Only a 45 minute drive from Pisa and an hour from Florence, is the blissful Villa Lena. Nestled within 500 acres of beautiful untouched woodland Villa Lena is a place in which you can completely immerse yourself in the beauty of Tuscany, whether that be through their delicious homegrown cuisine, creative workshops or via walks through the grounds with a four legged friend - yes, they welcome pets but the villa mascot Igor is ready to keep you company should you so desire! Unwind with a book amongst the olive groves and vineyards or by the pool, take part in workshops run by their rotating artists in residence and soak up the beauty of the rolling Tuscan hills as you roam freely and live slowly.

Each of Villa Lena’s 15 rooms and six apartments have been beautifully designed by the owners to create a space of utter relaxation and elegant bohemian luxury, with unique marble bathrooms, giving your stay a sleek sophistication like no other. The communal spaces within Villa Lena have been meticulously designed to promote arctic expression, with art from the resident artists adorning the walls. Combining the artistic history of the region, with stunning culinary flavours, panoramic views and breathtaking sunsets, Villa Lena is the perfect place for a secluded getaway, to slow down, take a breath and soak in the beauty of Tuscany.

A special note: On the 2nd of September Villa Lena is hosting a spectacular poolside meal under the Tuscan sky to celebrate the changing of the season. With brilliantly created cuisine from American chef Sasha Grumman using ingredients grown fresh on the property, join the Villa Lena community in ringing in the changing seasons on this special night! For more information, please click here.

If you’re looking for some more inspiration, be sure to check out the owner’s story of Villa Lena here.

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