Things to Do in Tuscany - page 4
The Torre delle Ore in Lucca, otherwise known as the Clock Tower, is the city's tallest tower, dating back to the 13th century, although the clock that gave the tower its identity was added in 1390. The clock mechanism itself has changed over the years, but the one you see today is from the 1750s. Bells in the tower chime each quarter hour.
This tower is historic, and also features in a local legend. A 17th-century woman who sold her soul to the devil in order to remain youthful is said to have tried to stop the clock from chiming when she was supposed to pay her debt. She didn't reach the clock in time, and the devil collected her soul. She is said to haunt the tower still.
Florence’s Loggia dei Lanzi is a 14th-century open-air gallery featuring pieces by Renaissance sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Giambologna alongside sculptural works from Roman antiquity. Named for the Swiss guards of Cosimo I, the Loggia was a terrace from which the ruling Medici family presided over ceremonies in the Piazza della Signoria.
Set just off Tuscany’s coast, Giglio Island (Isola del Giglio) has long attracted visitors to its idyllic beaches, quiet coves, and scenic hiking trails. The island, which covers 9 square miles (24 square kilometers), has three small towns and a serene countryside that offers respite from the crowds on the mainland.
One of the grandest Renaissance buildings in Florence, the 15th-century Pitti Palace houses the Palatine Gallery, a collection of over 500 paintings dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The collection features works by Italian masters like Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Pietro da Cortona, and other European painters like Rubens and Velazquez.
In a city filled with artistic masterpieces, the San Marco Museum (Museo di San Marco) has the distinction of being home to Florence’s largest collection of paintings by Fra Beato Angelico. The 15th-century former monastery is also home to works by Fra Bartolomeo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Lorenzo Ghiberti.
The Sanctuary of Monte Senario, one of Tuscany’s most important religious complexes, sits high on a hilltop overlooking the lush Mugello Valley and within the Monte Senario Nature Reserve. Experience the Vaglia woodland and the holy sanctuary, where monks have lived and worked since the 11th-century, on a serene day trip from Florence.
One of Europe’s first hospitals, Santa Maria della Scala was endowed by Siena’s wealthiest medieval families, who also commissioned artworks to decorate the building. View the original frescoes and altarpieces inside the chapels and oratories of this historic hospital, now a museum, on a tour of Siena’s most important sights.
Pisa’s exquisite Church of Santa Maria della Spina (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Spina) is covered in intricate and fanciful stonework, a hallmark of the 14th-century Pisan Gothic style. With its fairytale exterior and magnificent Madonna of the Rose by Andrea and Nino Pisano inside, this church is a tiny gem and the perfect foil to the grandeur of the city’s Duomo.
Adjacent Florence’s Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest known pharmacies in the world. Established in 1221 by Dominican friars, the pharmacy still produces natural and herbal remedies, soaps, and fragrances displayed and sold in the historic shop.
Via Cavour (officially Via Camillo Cavour) is one of the main roads in the historical center of Florence, Italy. It was named in 1861 when two ancient streets, Via Larga and Via San Leopoldo, were joined. Visitors walking down certain sections of the street should look closely for plaques commemorating well-known people who once lived here. At the south end of the street is the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, which was once home to the famous Medici family during the Renaissance. Today it is a museum of art and architecture covering more than 400 years of Florence's history.
Several other museums are located on Via Cavour, such as the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum and the Crime Museum. Along Via Cavour, you will find plenty of hotels, restaurants, and shops as well as apartment buildings. You'll also see the Museum and Convent of San Marco. The road passes through Piazza San Marco as it heads north, eventually meeting up with Piazza della Liberta.
More Things to Do in Tuscany
Pit yourself against the genius of Leonardo da Vinci at this museum dedicated to the Italian luminary. Alongside dozens of working models of Leonardo’s inventions, a workshop gives you the chance to do some building of your own. With multimedia exhibits and hands-on displays, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum is a fun stop for kids and adults.
Siena is one of Tuscany’s most striking medieval cities, with soaring Gothic churches and lively piazzas—including the historic Piazza del Mercato. Site of the city’s market for centuries, this important square behind Piazza del Campo offers some of the best views in the city center over the surrounding countryside.
Florence is a city filled with quaint squares, picturesque landscapes and plenty of old-world architecture that’s ripe with European charm. This is particularly true amid its famous squares, and travelers agree that few are as beautiful as Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
A massive bronze statue of Ferdinando I de’Medici on horseback stands at the center of the square, with two notably strange fountains on either side. Visitors can relax in the sun and lounge as locals wind through the square on a busy afternoon, or duck into the Santissima Annunziata church, which was built in the 15th century and gave the square its name. Ospedale deli Innocenti—the oldest orphanage on the continent—also flanks the square and offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore the city’s past. Ceramic glazed reliefs of swaddled newborns line the façade and visitors can check out the circular stone where women could leave their unwanted newborns without fear of repercussion.
One of Italy’s most famous composers, Giacomo Puccini, was born in Lucca, and his childhood home has been converted into a museum dedicated to his life and work. Music lovers enjoy perusing the collection of photographs, librettos, awards, correspondence, and costumes displayed among the home’s original furnishings.
Science buffs of all ages marvel at the array of historic scientific and mathematical instruments at Florence’s Museo Galileo. Check out barometers, globes, and microscopes dating as far back as the 13th century, as well as a telescope that Galileo used. Engaging hands-on exhibits demonstrate the instruments’ inner workings.
Italy is famous for its fashion and design, and some of the world’s most popular luxury clothing and home decor brands come from this stylish country. If you love Italian elegance, visit Tuscany’s Barberino Designer Outlet to shop for designer brands from Italy at a deep discount.
The historic church of Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio is now one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in the heart of Florence. And with its excellent acoustics, and a blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, the auditorium is the perfect place to take in a concert or opera.
Gucci Garden, previously known as Gucci Museo, is a Florence museum that showcases nearly a century of history of the designer fashion label. Opened in Piazza della Signoria in 2011 along with a restaurant and bookshop, and reopened in 2018, Gucci Garden showcases everything the luxe brand is known for, from evening gowns to handbags and more.
Located at the heart of Tuscan wine country, Gaiole in Chianti is a tranquil Tuscan village these days but in medieval times it had great strategic importance, a fact borne out by the string of defence castles nearby, including Brolio, Vertine and Barbischio. The turreted, stone-built Castle of Meleto was first mentioned in 1256, when it was the property of the powerful Florentine Ricasoli family, and it has long been associated with wine making.
One of the leading attractions on tours of the Chianti wineries, the interior of the Castle of Meleto can be toured three times a day, with attractions including fabulously frescoed rooms, an 18th-century theater and the old wine cellars. Its vineyards are open for tours and the vinoteca for tasting sessions of award-wining red Chianti Classico as well as a sparkling rosé. Other gourmet specialties produced on the estate are also for sale, includegrappas, olive oils andprosciutto from the castle’s rare Cinta Senese pigs. As well as the La Fornace di Meleto restaurant serving up Tuscan dishes, the Meleto estate also offers apartments and rooms to let, with the use of two pools, and is a popular venue for weddings.
This popular attraction offers travelers one of the most comprehensive ways to see the history of Lucchese architecture and art come to life. Visitors can explore Roman ruins that date back thousands of years, and explore the halls of the famed museum, which are lined with priceless historic artifacts. The
prized cathedral, Duomo di Martino, combines elements of Lucchese and Pisano Romanesque architecture and is home to a number of tombs of fallen religious figures. Travelers should not miss the Volto, Santo, one of the nation’s most holy crucifixes that is widely-recognized as one of the most realistic representations of Christ on the cross.
Dedicated to one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum (Museo Leonardiano di Vinci) is housed in two adjacent buildings—Palazzina Uzielli and Castello dei Conti Guidi—in the historic center of Vinci. The collection features models of Leonardo’s weaponry, clocks, and flying machines, as well as his drawings and notes.
Though Milan is considered Italy’s fashion capital, Florence is home to some of the most historic fashion houses in the country, including shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. You don’t have to be a fashionista to appreciate the Ferragamo Museum, where the beauty and craftsmanship of the iconic shoes classify them as works of art, rather than simply footwear.
Palazzo Davanzati is a mansion-turned-museum in Florence that models what life was like in medieval Italy. Built in the 14th century, the palace contains more than 10 rooms beautifully and carefully decorated with period furniture and frescoes, as well as a courtyard and original stone and wood staircases.
The Tuscan town of Collodi was the birthplace of Carlo Lorenzini, the writer who dreamed up the world’s most beloved wooden boy. The town is also home to an old-school theme park dedicated to the adventurous hero Pinocchio, which welcomes younger tots with vintage rides and other gentle pleasures from the bygone days of fairy tales.
- Things to do in Siena
- Things to do in Florence
- Things to do in Pisa
- Things to do in San Gimignano
- Things to do in Chianti
- Things to do in Livorno
- Things to do in Umbria
- Things to do in Emilia-Romagna
- Things to do in Piedmont & Liguria
- Things to do in Perugia
- Things to do in Bologna
- Things to do in Lake Bolsena
- Things to do in Lazio
- Things to do in Veneto
- Things to do in Lombardy