Tuscany is truly one of the regions with the most diverse array of attractions in the world. Its stunning landscapes range from the jagged snow-capped peaks of the Alpi Apuane north of Pisa to the gentle vine-laced hills and sunflower-drenched fields of the Chianti and the sandy beaches of Viareggio.
There is no shortage of history and art either – Florence hogs the limelight in this department but other cities like Pisa, Siena and Lucca or the Etruscan sites in the south shouldn’t be missed either. The smaller towns like Montepulciano, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Pienza and Volterra, with their historic architecture, charming cobblestone streets, vineyards and gorgeous surroundings are also must-visits. Then there’s the sublime food and wines, and colourful festivals like the Palio in Siena or the Viareggio Carnevale, with its massive paper-maché floats. You could spend a lifetime in Tuscany and not experience everything the region has to offer!
Therefore, as a visitor, it really is important to plan an itinerary that allows you to go slow and immerse yourself in the many wonders of Tuscany. Hire a car, take your time and enjoy Tuscany! To get you started with your itinerary, here are a few suggestions to help you create your moments of pure serenity, delight and awe in Tuscany.
Stroll along the shores of Lago di Massaciuccoli
This reed-filled lake lies just north of Pisa, near Viareggio, and is famous for its birdlife. For a moment of serenity, go on a stroll along the extensive network of boardwalks at sunset. The sounds of the birds chirping, and the sight of the shimmering lake and the tall reeds swaying in the breeze are absolutely enchanting.
Bike tour on Lucca’s walls
Lucca is a beautiful town that can trace its history to the 2nd century B.C. These days the town is perhaps most famous for its fully intact Renaissance-era city walls. For moments of delight and awe, get to know the city by hiring a bicycle and cyling atop the walls. There are also bicycle tours.
Learn about one of Italy’s most famous icons
The Vespa is without doubt the most iconic scooter around. There’s just something about this scooter that makes it quintessentially Italian. For the design/history buffs, a visit to the Piaggio Museum is a must, if only for some moments of pure delight!
Visit the Calci Charterhouse
The Calci Charterhouse is a stunning Carthusian monastery located in Calci, at the foothills of the Monti Pisani about ten kilometers from Pisa. The Charterhouse was founded by a group of Carthusians in the 14th century A.D. but its current baroque façade stems from the 18th century. Thanks to the drawing power of the nearby Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Charterhouse remains well off-the-beaten-path, and that’s great news to travellers wishing to quietly explore the monastery and learn more about the Carthusians. Be prepared for many moments of serenity and awe!
Join a Tuscan cooking course
Arguably one of the best ways to get to know the locals and their traditions is to participate in a cooking course. Learn how to make pasta the traditional way, as well as the sauces and other typical Tuscan fare. One cooking course I absolutely loved is offered by Cuoche in Vacanza. For many unforgettable moments of delight, join a Tuscan cooking course!
Have a picnic!
Agriturismos are scattered around the Tuscan countryside. Drop by any one of them and ask for a tasting session of their products (these typically include cheeses, olives, olive oil, fruit, balsamic vinegar and jams/biscuits) and buy a basketfull for a picnic. Get some wine at the closest vineyard and all you’ll need do next is find the perfect spot for a picnic for plenty of serenity and delight! This won't be hard to do in Tuscany.
Keith Jenkins is Founder and Publisher of the Velvet Escape luxury travel blog. Based in Amsterdam, Keith left his ten-year investment banking career to travel the world and carve out a new career as a travel blogger and social media advocate. He has visited more than 70 countries across six continents and is also the co-founder of the Global Bloggers Network, a community of more than 2,000 individual and corporate travel bloggers.