Every region in Italy has its own beauty and interesting places to visit. However Tuscany is among my favourites. It is one of the most representative in Italy; good food and wine, green meadows yet also mountains and beaches. It is home to some of the most beautiful villages as well and also the most beautiful works of art in the country in Florence. Below are some of the places I visited in Tuscany, that are also the most popular attractions for a first time visitor. I visited in July, surely not the best season to visit the area in terms of greenery. However on the other hand it is a good time to visit vineyards that are at their best for photography.
Siena was my favourite town in Tuscany, neither too big nor too small. It is set on a hill and its historical centre is Medieval, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. A good starting point is Piazza Tolomei, home to the bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Next walk along Via Banchi di Sopra & Via Banchi di Sotto, which are narrow streets full of cafes and souvenir shops. These roads will lead you to the main square Piazza del Campo. This square is impressive; huge but also slanting. This is where the famous Palio is held twice a year. If you take Via dei Pellegrini you will end up at the back of the Duomo. The design of this cathedral is very unique, characterised by striped marble of darker and lighter shades.
This is the most photographed area in Tuscany. However as you can see from my photos, Summer is not the ideal time to go. To get the best shots I would suggest going in Spring to get the best of the greenery in the fields. Even though I visited in Summer I still went to photograph the most famous spots, the ones you see in wallpapers and adverts. However I will surely return to this magnificent place to get the best shots of this magical place.
This is one of those medieval villages that are typical of Tuscany. I loved it as it was not very touristic and full of beautiful spots for photography. Moreover there are delicious restaurants where you can try the typical ‘Bistecca Fiorentina’. You can also purchase some locally produced wine from one of the small shops selling typical local products.
The most remarkable attraction is the cute round square in Lucca; Piazza Anfiteatro. The city’s historical centre is surrounded by Renaissance walls and along its narrow roads you will surely see the numerous churches as well as the iconic Torre Giunigi; a tower on top of which are planted trees.
This lovely town is a must for anyone who is a fan of Roberto Benigni’s movie La vita è bella. The initial scenes of this Oscar-winning movie were shot here and you can actually see all the iconic places. Arezzo is a quiet town and is located on a hill. Like other similar towns, the main attractions include the main square; Piazza Grande and the Duomo.
Val di Chianti
Unlike Val d’Orcia, Summer is the ideal time to come here for some stunning shots of the vineyards at their best. These are my favourite photos from this region and watching sunrise and sunset over the infinite fields is a must. In Val di Chianti, where we were also staying, you can do several wine tasting activities hopping from a vineyard to another.
This may not be one of the most famous destinations in Tuscany; however it is home to Pinocchio’s author Carlo Collodi. Collodi is located at the footsteps of a hill in Pistoia’s province. The main attraction is in fact Pinocchio’s park, Villa Garzoni and its botanical gardens. Within these gardens there is also a butterfly house. It’s a magical place and this was my first time in a butterfly house. Taking good close up photos of butterflies is very easy here 🙂
Valle del Serchio
This is another hidden gem in Tuscany. Not a lot of people put this place on their to visit list. Yet it was one of my favourites. The scenery here changes to a more mountainous one as you drive further deep into the valley towards the Apennines. A famous landmark along the river is Ponte della Maddalena or Ponte del Diavolo. This place offers beautiful views over the peaks ahead. It is also a good place to stop for a nice picnic under the shade of the trees especially if you are visiting in Summer.
Last but not least is Tuscany’s capital; Florence. This is the ‘città d’arte per eccellenza’; the perfect example of a city bursting with art. Art is anywhere you look here; from the perfect facade of the Duomo to the imposing marble statues of Fontana del Nettuno and the Brunelleschi Dome. An aerial view of the city already conveys the perfection in Florence’s architectural style. Florence apart from being the home of the Italian language, it is also where Renaissance began. Visiting Florence after years of studying Italian felt like living a dream. If you love Italian culture, than make sure to visit Florence one day.