About my trip to Tuscany…
I’ve visited Tuscany a couple of times before, in fact quite a few years ago. Once it was a trip to Florence and another time a short trip to the countryside. But it was my dream to do a road-trip and visit as many charming little hilltop towns as I can. All that while staying in a beautiful Tuscan villa among the vineyards and olive trees of course! Drinking red wine and eating cheese! 😀 And this Spring my dream came true… The best part is I shared the experience with my best friend so that made everything that much more special.
This blog post is not intended to be a travel guide so I won’t be sharing tips on where to eat or what tourist attractions to visit. I wanted to do a blog post as a photo diary of all the beauty we saw on our 5-days journey and images from 12 towns we visited. Most of them are small towns as that was what we wanted this trip to be all about.
Charming towns, delicious food, best gelato, great wine, lots of walking and just taking in all the beauty that Tuscany has to offer. This time we didn’t visit Florence as we both visited it on some previous trips and as I said, this trip was all about smaller towns. But we did spent half day in Siena, a much bigger city but one of the most beautiful ones. Even if I already visited it, it’s a city that I can come back to over and over again. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos and that they will possibly inspire you for your next trip… 🙂
San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. It’s rich in medieval architecture and is one of the best-preserved Italian medieval towns. With city walls, gates, and 14 of its famous old towers remaining intact. These towers, characteristic of San Gimignano, once numbered 72. They were built by leading families competing with each other for prestige. San Gimignano may be small but we loved it so much that we returned few times (it didn’t hurt that our Tuscan villa was just on the opposite hill :D). To just wander the beautiful streets, exploring charming hidden corners, to admire its architecture and gorgeous little shops. I have to mention that we had a fantastic gelato in award-winning artisan gelateria Dondoli. Here are some fragments of beauty and charm of San Gimignano…
Volterra is a charming town situated in the province of Pisa, not far from Florence, Siena and the coast as well. It is well known for its Etruscan origins and for the many remains belonging to this era. Now noted primarily as an Etruscan and medieval art centre, Volterra is particularly renowned for its peculiar urban layout that reminds us of its Etruscan origins. People can still visit part of the majestic protective walls built during the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Volterra’s traditional industries are the extraction and artistic manufacture of alabaster and the preparation and drying of salt. Loved the atmosphere in this town and there are so many gorgeous shops and handicraft workshops. Especially interesting as souvenirs are alabaster hand-made objects, which Volterra is famous worldwide for.
Monteriggioni is a walled town known for its medieval fortifications and watchtowers. The castle walls offer views of the beautiful Chianti region. The history of Monteriggioni dates back to 1213, when the fortress was built for the Republic of Siena as a base against Florence. Today, the entire municipality has a population of about 10,000, with about 50 people still living directly in the historic castle complex. This small town is absolutely enchanting and charming and definitely worth a visit!
Siena is located in the central part of Tuscany and I already mentioned how much I love this city! It’s incredibly beautiful and charming and I’ll be definitely coming back when opportunity arises. Siena was one of the most important cities in medieval Europe, and its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year in Piazza del Campo.
Montepulciano is beautiful Renaissance hilltop town surrounded by a picture-postcard Tuscan countryside landscape. Thanks to its superb vineyards, the Montepulciano area is considered one of the finest winemaking regions in the world. It’s known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The town is without a doubt one of the most frequented and beloved tourist destinations in Tuscany. In Montepulciano you can find elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners.
Pienza is a small town in southern Tuscany in the beautiful valley called Val d’Orcia. It’s located about 20 km east of Montalcino and a few km to the west of Montepulciano. Pienza enjoys a strategic position dominating all the Orcia Valley with extraordinary views. It is widely known as the “ideal city of the Renaissance” and it’s UNESO World Heritage Site. Definitely worth a visit!
San Quirico d’Orcia
San Quirico d’Orcia is a tiny town located in Southern Tuscany and it was one of my favourite of the entire Tuscany trip, a real jewel! The historic centre of the town is incredibly charming and picturesque. Think medieval parish churches, paved streets and beautiful stone fountains… San Quirico was a very important stop in ancient times since it sat right along one of the pilgrimage routes, the Via Francigena, that connected northern Europe to Rome in medieval times.
Montalcino, west of Pienza, is a beautiful town located in the breathtaking Val d’Orcia Natural Park. It’s renowned all over the world for the production of its precious Brunello red wine, one of the world’s best and most appreciated Italian wines. Montalcino is also very rich in artistic treasures, charming arts and crafts shops, cafes, restaurants and wine bars. It has a really special medieval atmosphere.
I have literally two photos from this town as after a long day full of impressions, we arrived here later in the evening and it was raining heavily. Rain didn’t stop us from exploring and enjoying the special mood and empty streets but it did however, stopped me from taking photos. But here are those two taken at the same location before and after dark. 😀
Pisa is best known for its iconic Leaning Tower. Already tilting when it was completed in 1372, the 56m white-marble cylinder is the bell tower of the Romanesque, striped-marble cathedral that rises next to it in the Piazza dei Miracoli. Also in the piazza is the Baptistry with its renowned acoustics. We just made a short stop in Pisa because my friend haven’t yet seen the Tower so after that and a walk by the Arno river, we continued our trip. So here are just few images from Pisa…
Lucca is a city on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region. It’s known for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city centre and its cobblestone streets. Lucca is one of Tuscany’s most beloved artistic cities and it’s called the town of a hundred churches. It lies in the valley of the Serchio River and is almost surrounded by hills. The town is incredibly charming and we loved it!
San Miniato is perched on a hill, a short distance from the Arno and halfway between Florence and Pisa. The origins of the center, famous for the region’s typical, delicious white truffle, date back to the Etruscan-Roman era. The atmosphere of this little town is enchanting and it was one my favourite on this trip!
Certaldo was the last town we visited before driving back home to Croatia and I must say it’s one of the most evocative historic towns we saw in Tuscany. It has truly magical atmosphere! Certaldo was the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), one of the fathers of the Italian language and literature, author of the Decameron.
Hope you enjoyed this Tuscany photo diary and that it maybe inspired you for your next trip! I loved it so much just being there and living that Italian way of life for a few days. I’ll be coming back for sure! 🙂
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