Tuscany at a glance
With its unique history, artistic heritage and superb cuisine, Tuscany is sure to delight and inspire.
Known for its iconic Leaning Tower, Pisa is home to dozens of noteworthy historic sites, including the medieval political heart of the city, Knight’s Square, the dramatic Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Gothic cloister Campo Santo, or Sacred Field, where frescos from the 14th and 15th century have been preserved. It’s rich history and local art can be enjoyed in one of Pisa’s many museums and galleries.
The picturesque scenery in Pisa is one to admire, from the River Arno with its punctuated backdrop of colorful pastel buildings and bridges to the rolling Apennine Mountain range looming over the distant horizon where vineyards and small villages dot the Tuscan landscape. For a unique, relaxing experience, try a soak in one of the city’s nearby thermal natural springs, famous during ancient times for their healing properties.
Peacefully set at the foot of the Apuan Alps, hidden behind imposing stone walls, Lucca is a city thriving with ancient history - from the traces of the Roman’s to the archeological remnants of the 12th century church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata, the city’s first cathedral, not to mention a total of 99 churches to discover! Renaissance walls and towers were formerly used to show dominance and a powerful status, many of these walls (unlike other Tuscan cities) are maintained to this day. With lush greenery and trees lining the walls of Lucca - hire a bike for the afternoon cycle along the entire perimeter.
Siena has plenty of history, with strong local traditions of the 17 districts (“contradas”) and the Palio di Siena which is the largest annual event, taking place twice a year during the summer months. Siena’s must see’s include the Torre del Magia, where you take a 300 step hike to the top of the tower for stunning views across the city or for more breathtaking views (without the hike), is a visit to the Duomo di Siena’s “Panoramio”. If you are looking for something more educational then take a visit to the Baptistery - its interior is decorated by the Sienese artists and sculptors of the Renaissance, and for museum-lovers, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo is a must.
Perfect if you’re looking for:
- Picturesque scenery
- Historic attractions
- A multi-centre break
Pisa is a small city perfect for exploring on foot. A bus operates directly from the airport and train station for those wanting to get straight into the city center. There is also a mini train that takes tours of Pisa, stopping at all the popular sites.
Lucca’s magnificent walls can be explored on bike or by foot, they also have buses running along the old city for more excursions to local attractions. Walking around Lucca you’ll be able to take in their many churches – 99 to be exact!
Walking is pretty much the only way around in Siena, because it’s so small. Some of the attractions are stretched along three steep hills. Other places of interest within the centre is only accessible by foot as cars can’t reach.
If you a visting more than one Tuscan city we would recommend hiring a car.
Shopping in Tuscany
Pisa: Skip the tourist-like shops around the Piazza dei Miracoli and head straight to the city’s main shopping area located at the Corso Italia near the railway station and central bridge. Here you will find major retailers, well-known Italian designers and some special local boutiques selling a variety of things to bring home.
Take a stroll down one of the side streets to explore the variety of little open air markets or visit the bigger one at Piazza delle Vettovaglie near the city’s ancient towers. Open six days a week, this hundred year old market offers an authentic Tuscan experience.
Lucca: Lucca offers lots of shops and boutiques with pretty 20th century liberty facades along Via Fillungo. The city also has a plenty of luxury high fashion boutiques dotted around as well as gourmet food shops for nuts, cheeses, meats, honey and olive oils.
Siena: Although Siena is small, it’s great for shopping. The main shopping area is around Via Banchi di Sopra where you will find everything or head over to Via di Catta for local hand-made souvenirs.
Dining in Tuscany
Tuscan cuisine is influenced by hearty farm dishes that reflect both the sea and countryside. Yet each individual city has plenty of its own traditional dishes, many using ingredients such as beans, chestnuts, mushrooms, and pork. Discover Tuscan cuisine at its best, by going off the beaten track to find a hidden gem.
Must-try local dishes:
- Risotto con le Arselle: clams and rice cooked in a garlic stock.
- Sullo Scio: a Parmesan topped tagliatelle dish flavored with tomatoes, garlic and rosemary.
- Torta con i Bischeri: a pastry tart filled with a lemon, vanilla and nutmeg flavored rice decorated with fruit, raisins and maraschino.
Get your tailor-made city break itinerary
Osprey Holidays can create a fabulous short break to Tuscany designed completely around your needs. We can arrange whatever you need, including:
- All travel and transfers on days of your choice
- Accommodation from our handpicked range of hotels, to suit your budget and requirements
Our award-winning team can provide expert advice and recommendations, from general questions to tiny details. Contact us now for your tailor-made itinerary.
- Important information
Population 3.753 million Languages Italian Currency Euro Visa Information No visa required for EU citizens
- Average temperatures
(monthly highs °C)
- Distance from airports
Pisa International Airport Florence Airport