Timelessly alluring, for many Tuscany embodies the very best of Italy. Striped with vineyards and olive groves, the viridian landscapes are impossibly picturesque and wonderfully fertile; in Tuscany’s ancient towns, galleries and churches are bursting with fine Renaissance art. From the mist-draped hills of the countryside and the extraordinary traditional cuisine, to the memorable skylines of its medieval cities and wealth of artistic masterpieces, the region is an embarrassment of riches.
Medieval treasure troves in Italy’s dazzling heart
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April, May, June, July, September, October
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Heaven for any wine lover, this beautiful medieval hill town is surrounded by breathtaking views of the vineyards that produce its famous vino nobile. In addition to its liquid delights, Montepulciano’s winding streets are bursting with Renaissance buildings, stunning churches and charming piazzas.
Stunning Siena is the embodiment of a beautiful Gothic city. Siena’s maze of medieval streets snake away from its central piazza, which fans out like a scallop shell; its dramatic cathedral wears its eyecatching stripes boldly both inside and out, and at every twist and turn towers soar into the skies. Despite having an incredible collection of unmissable art works within these ancient walls, Siena is no museum: this vibrant city buzzes with characterful restaurants, divine pastry shops and colourful boutiques.
The teetering towers of San Gimignano rise strikingly from the green, pastoral landscape. This walled Estruscan town is one of the most photogenic in Tuscany, and beyond the torres and winding medieval streets it has incredible frescoes in its beautiful churches.
Florence is undisputedly the star of Tuscany, and the city’s bold terracotta Duomo defines one of the most iconic skylines in all of Italy. The city may be small but with so much treasure packed into the Renaissance palaces, wonderful churches and incredible galleries it really takes some exploring. The world-renowned Uffizi Gallery is home to such treasures as Michaelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi amongst many other priceless pieces. One of Florence’s other pleasures is its cuisine: fiorentina dishes celebrate the best produce found in the region.
Less visited than some of Tuscany’s more famous towns, pretty Arezzo still has porticoes and piazzas aplenty and the views from its Medici fortress are breathtaking. However, the true draw of this ancient town are its churches and chapels: they are rich treasure troves brimming with astounding Renaissance art, from frescoes and busts to fascinating jewelled artefacts.
Silvery groves of olive trees and verdant vineyards surround the sapphire waters of Italy’s fourth-largest lake. This serene Umbrian lake lies by the Tuscan border, and its sparkling shores are dotted with medieval hill towns. Lake Trasimeno is the perfect spot to relax and simply take in the wonderful scenery of Italy’s heartland.
Enjoy a leisurely Italian 3-course feast at Trattoria da Bruno. This typical Umbrian restaurant serves up regional fare to give you a taste of local life.
The capital of Umbria, Perugia is a lively university city filled with ancient remnants. It’s home to amazing artworks, cobbled alleys, picturesque piazzas and magnificent Estruscan walls. If you can tear yourself away from wandering the shadowy, romantic streets, don’t miss the National Gallery of Umbria, which presents regional masterpieces from the 13th to 19th centuries. Perugia is also known for its festivals celebrating chocolate (October) and jazz (January).
Dramatically flanked by the bulk of Monte Subasio, the holy town of Assisi is a medieval gem set amongst the wooded slopes of the Valle Umbra. The impeccably preserved historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and showcases a continuous history of art and architecture that stretches back to medieval times – the pinnacle of which is the St Francis Basilica.
The Basilica of St Francis is the star of the show in Assisi, and an important Christian pilgrimage site. Split into the upper and lower sections, the series of vibrant frescoes inside is one of Italy’s most famed works of art and depicts the life of St Francis. Painted by late medieval masters from the Tuscan and Roman schools, the Basilica displays an incredible quality and range of works. The Basilica’s crypt also contains the elaborate tomb of St Francis himself.
Hand picked destinations
Take in the sweeping panoramic vistas of Umbria, and you’ll immediately see why it’s known as the green heart of Italy. The densely wooded hills of this rustic, landlocked region are studded with medieval hill towns which guard historic and artistic treasures.
Glittering like a sapphire amongst the vibrant green hills and craggy mountains, Lake Garda is a destination that has it all. Italy’s largest lake has been inspirational for centuries, with its crystalline waters, characterful towns and picturesque vineyards.
Loaded with the charm and beauty of its more famous neighbours, Lake Iseo sees just a fraction of the visitors, therefore making it the perfect place to soak up atmospheric alleyways, elaborate churches and impossibly beautiful vistas of northern Italy.
Timelessly alluring, for many Tuscany embodies the very best of Italy. From the mist-draped hills of the countryside to the wealth of artistic masterpieces, this region is an embarrassment of riches.