Tuscany seems like it has been painted from the brush of Michelangelo with a dash of Da Vinci thrown in for good measure. Tuscany, a green travel dream, has an ethereal charm with each small town and village more breathtaking than the last.
In Tuscany villages, you can take in some of the best art, while sipping merrily on some of the most delicious wines in the world. A handy guide on straying off the beaten track to sample some of Tuscany’s hidden delights and soak in the sun.
Fancy a trip down the middle ages? Well, no need to find a time machine – just mosey on over to Anghiari, a small medieval town 30 kms from Arezzo. Considered by many as one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy” this tiny town played centerfield to the Battle of Anghiari in 1440 and is still considered a tiny jewel in Tuscany.
Nestled between the rivers Arno and Tiber, Anghiari is a village you must visit and you will find yourself falling in love inside the huge 13th century walls of the town.
Don’t do what a typical tourist does – visit Barga for the day as this little gem is yet relatively free from the hordes. At 410 metres above sea level, it is dominated by the Pania della Croce, a mountain in the Apuan Alps. Lose yourself in the cobblestone streets, hike up to the cathedral, stop and browse. Burrowed in the Garfagnana region, this town may be small but it will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
A small charming town nestled in the Chiana Valley of Arezzo, Cortona is enveloped by ancient stone walls that can be traced back to the Etruscan and Roman times.
Cortona stands around 1968 feet above the sea level and looks down on the surrounding valley and the beautiful lake Trasimeno. With such panoramic views and such attractions as the Diocesan Museum, the Santa Margherita Sanctuary (patron of the city), and the Girifalco Fortress, this town is a must-visit any traveller’s list.
At a distance of 50 km from Florence, travellers, writers and tourists usually overlook this unique town. Why? We have no absolutely no idea. With all the gourmet ingredients required to make a summer sizzler, this little village has it all – medieval citadels, ancient watchtowers, beautiful frescos – all perched at a height of 678 m above sea level.
Fosdinovo, Massa Carrara
If you have a craving for old medieval castles, then this little municipality is right out of a fairytale. You can even live inside the old castle of the Malaspina family (they were the rulers of the duchy of Massa).
Also visit for the Festival of Fosdinovo held in July and the Forza del Sorriso Festival or the Strength of the Smile Festival usually held during the third week of August.
Massa Marittima, Grosseto
Known as a “slow town” of Italy, Massa Marittima was founded by the Etruscans. The history of this city is interlinked with the nearby copper and silver mines. These mines are integral in giving this city its old world ambience and rustic charm.
Massa Matittima is divided into three areas, La Citta Vecchia (old city), La Citta Nuova (new city) and The Borgo. Architecturally diverse and intriguing, the most popular attractions here are the Palazzo Communale, Piazza Garibaldi, Il Duomo and the Palazzo Pretorio. Visit the castles of Perolla and Tatti – of great interest to historians and tourists.
This is where (if we believed in fairytales) Cinderella would have married Prince Charming. The wine would have definitely flowed freely as this is the birthplace of the world famous Brunello red wine.
Resembling a 16th century post-card, not much has changed in this old town since. Surrounded by charming olive groves, your eyes will feast on the beautiful red and yellow flowers, majestic oak trees and scenic roads driving through the most picturesque vineyards. Add Montalcino to your list if you haven’t already, for don’t you know, a glass of red wine is good for the heart.
This medieval town enjoys the distinction of being one of the best preserved towns in Italy. When you visit, you will feel that time stands still and you are back in the 13th century. With 14 towers, it is one of the few walled cities in the world that is still intact. The famous Dante even mentioned Monteriggioni in his epic poem Inferno.
Visit this town in July for the Medieval Festival of Monteriggioni, one of the most popular medieval festivals in Italy. The whole city plays dress up and goes back in time, the streets are bursting with enthusiastic people all clothed up in old medieval costumes and there is a general sense of nostalgia and enchantment in the air.
This city was build by the Renaissance humanist Pope Pius II and is now a “world –wide heritage of humanity” a tittle given by UNESCO.
Enea Silvio Piccolomini wanted to build the entire village as an ideal Renaissance city therefore it was the first town in Italy to have urban planning concepts and was a symbol of the great Italian Renaissance. The famous cathedral, Cattedrale dell’Assunta boasts of stunning paintings from the distinguished Sienese artists of the time.
Turn back time and revel in the beauty of this quaint little town. Perched atop a volcanic tufa ridge, it is also known as Little Jerusalem for its Jewish Quarter which is an absolute must see. The old synagogue has also been restored and it is worth visiting.
Wander down Pitigliano’s charming little streets or visit the Etruscan caves, whatever you decide to do in this old world town will be an absolute treat.
Radda in Chianti, Siena
A wine village in central Italy, Radda is surrounded by breathtaking vineyards and will be absolutely perfect for that selfie. This town is your one-stop shop for all things wine. The Chianti hills are speckled with picturesque castles that are also worth visiting. This is where Chianti Classico is made, after all.
When you visit Radda choose to stay in a wonderful B & B or an old Tuscan Villa. Live the grand Italian life, even if it is for a couple of days.
The origins of this town can be traced back to the year 1000 AD. The castle that once belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family is now open for the public and you can tour the palace and its ancient walls and understand its history.
Come July and August and the city plays host to various festivals like the Serate Medievali and Calici di stele. This town in steeped in fascinating architecture, delectable wineries, historical houses and lovely B&Bs. In case you are planning a trip to Tuscany, you must come here and immerse yourself in the magic of this authentic medieval village.