Tuscany is the place Italian dreams are made of. World-renowned food and wine, gorgeous rolling green countryside, ancient and medieval towns perched atop hills, great shopping, famous art, and a beautiful, often overlooked coastline. While one could easily spend weeks, months, or even years exploring all that Tuscany has to offer, we have narrowed it down to the top ten things to do. Some of these you may have heard of, and some may be brand new, but they are all totally worth it.
1. Say hi to David
Michelangelo’s famous statue has been holding court in Florence for centuries, so do not miss your chance to stop by and say hi to the biblical hero. It is a model of Renaissance perfection, and a great stop on your way to visit the rest of Florence’s incredible art history.
2. Eat wild boar in San Gimignano
While this medieval town is most famous for its incredible views, and ruined towers still lining the walls of the city (and you should definitely visit those too!), San Gimignano is also smack dab in the middle of wild boar – or cinghiale – territory. If you are a meat eater, do not miss your chance to try this meaty, gamey relative of your favorite pork dish.
3. Ride a boat around Monte Argentario
This small peninsula sticks off the side of Tuscany, and is the perfect seaside retreat. Rent a boat at one of the two small port cities, and spend a day zooming around the sea, searching for hidden coves for a quick swim or a nap. Don’t forget to hit up the market beforehand for a tasty boat picnic.
4. Harvest your own olive oil
Tuscany is one of Italy’s major olive producing regions, and during the harvest time (October/November) it is all hands on deck. Almost all olive producers will be looking for some hard workers to help shake down the olive trees and bring the olives to the press. Earn your dinner by doing a bit of manual labor, and then taste the bright oil as it comes out of the press – you will never have had anything like it!
5. Run with the horses in Siena
Siena is known for its Duomo, incredible architecture, stunning views, and a significant horse race, held twice each summer. If you can get there in early July or mid-August, prepare to be wowed by the powerful horses and bright decorations.
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6. Have a nice Chianti
Perhaps Italy’s most famous wine, Chianti is produced in Tuscany. Many winemakers are happy to show you around the vineyard, and then offer a taste of the fruits of their labor. Wine always tastes better at the source!
7. Photo ops in Pisa
Pisa’s famous leaning tower is an iconic site in a cute city. Make sure to stop by, and come up with some fun photo poses beforehand.
8. Cook and eat some beans
Tuscans are famous for their love of beans – if you take a Tuscan cooking class, you can see this firsthand, and learn how to make them yourself – along with many other Tuscan specialties. Recipes are truly the best souvenirs!
9. Go to the theater in Lucca
This ancient Roman town is still in great shape – and even hosts a several millennia-old amphitheater!
10. Escape in Cortona
While Cortona has seen a surge in popularity since it was featured in “Under the Tuscan Sun” movie, the rush of tourism has done nothing to diminish its unique charm. Avoid it during the high season, but definitely seek out its unique art and culinary treasures.
While Tuscany is a large region, you can easily access all of it from Florence. There is a small airport outside of the city, or you can reach Florence via taxi from Rome, just over an hour away.