Long before “Under the Tuscan Sun,” Tuscany was one of Italy's top tourist destinations. Of course, since the bestselling book and hit movie came out, the traffic through this part of Italy has increased several times over. If you're not so interested in crowds or seeing what everyone else has already seen, then you may want to consider visiting a different part of Italy - but if it's Tuscany or bust, then rest assured you'll be charmed here just like everyone else is. And if you've got a little time to play with, you can even get away from most of the crowds, too.
Where to Go & What to Do
The main city in Tuscany is Florence, and it's a must-see city for several reasons - not least because it's the birthplace of the Renaissance. Even if you don't like art history, you'll want to spend some time here. It's a beautiful and bustling city with a medieval heart, and more world-famous art than you can imagine. Nearby Siena is a crowd favorite, usually for day trips from Florence, and is simply a pleasure to wander through. San Gimignano isn't accessible by train, but hop on a bus and you'll be treated to a hilltop town with lots of towers and plenty of charm. Like Siena, it's a popular day-trip destination, so to get the full effect you'll want to spend a night.
There are many smaller Tuscan hill towns which are great for exploring, either on day trips (especially easy if you've got a car) or with a day or two spent in each. You'll find several of them named in guidebooks - places like Lucca, Cortona, Orvieto and Montepulciano - but if you really want to get away from the bulk of the other tourists you'll need to find a town that's not in any guidebooks. And then cross your fingers.
Read: Ten Lesser Known Places to Visit in Italy.
Florence's airport is the largest in the area, although there are several other smaller airports throughout Tuscany. If you're coming from within Europe you should be able to fly directly into one of those smaller cities, but if you're arriving from elsewhere you're probably going to be stuck flying into Rome Fiumicino Airport instead and then taking a train to Tuscany. Start with a search for airfare to Italy
and see where that takes you.
Read Tuscan Soul Food.
Where to Stay
Tuscany seems to be overflowing with hotels to accommodate the sheer number of tourists who filter through each year, but for something a little more different and interesting you might want to try an agriturismo
- usually a room in a farm house where you're out in the country. They're usually quite like B&Bs, but with potentially even more charm. Browse through these Tuscany hostels
and Tuscany hotels
and book your room today - you'll probably find agriturismo properties listed under hostels, just look for "agriturismo" in the name.
For more information on Tuscany and the rest of Italy, don't forget to check out our Italy Travel Guide