46 Things to Do in Tuscany in 2022 (Ideas & Tips from a Local)

Things to Do in Tuscany – Art & Culture, Food & Wine, Shopping, Nature, Active, History & Monuments, and Museums

We all dream of passing time ‘Under the Tuscan Sun,’ seeing Michelangelo’s David statue in Florence, and zipping through the vineyards in a vintage FIAT 500. 

Tuscany, famous around the world for its wines, food, art, and architecture, is full of things to do, for all ages and interests. 

You’ll find gems inside Tuscan cities, along tiny lanes in villages, and out in the vineyards and hills. 

I first arrived in the area in 2003, so I’ve had some time (as a guide, trip planner, and resident) to sort out which activities are worth doing on a trip to Tuscany.  The list below only includes things I’d do myself, with family, or with visitors. 

Good To Know: I haven’t included anything that isn’t happening any longer post-pandemic.  I’ll keep the list updated.

You won’t find many things in Florence on the list.  If you’d like ideas on what to do there, check out our posts on The Best Things to Do in Florence and Our Favorite Things to Do in Florence at Night.

The list below is long, so I’ve divided it into the following categories:

  • Art & Culture
  • Food & Wine
  • Shopping
  • Nature
  • Active
  • History & Monuments
  • Museums

I hope you find some fun things to do on your trip to Tuscany! 

Contents

Map of Things to Do in Tuscany in 2022

Things to Do in Tuscany – Art & Culture

Photograph the Val d’Orcia

A dirt road and a few cypress trees in the summer after the harvest in the Val d'Orcia in Southern Tuscany, Italy.

The Val d’Orcia, or Orcia Valley, is in Southern Tuscany and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Its rolling hills are a vibrant green in the spring and velvety gold in the summer and fall. 

The entire valley is a photographer’s dream. 

Some of the most photographed sites include:

Celebrate Carnevale in Viareggio

Though not as well-known as Venice’s Carnival, the Viareggio Carnevale is famous throughout Italy and Europe. 

It’s worth a visit if you’re in town during the Carnevale period in early spring.  And, if you’re in the area during other times of the year, stop by the city’s Carnevale Museum to learn about how the floats are made and maybe see some being created in the huge hangars in the complex.

Read more in our post – Italian Carnival – 16 Not-To-Miss Carnevale Celebrations.

See Tuscany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

View of Florence, Italy and its Duomo from Giotto's bell tower.
Florence city center and Duomo

Tuscany is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites:

  • Florence historic center (1982)
  • Pisa’s Piazza del Duomo (1987)
  • San Gimignano historic center (1990)
  • Siena historic center (1995)
  • Pienza historic center (1996)
  • Val d’Orcia (2004)
  • Medici villas and gardens, in Florence, Vaglia, Fiesole, Prato, Cerreto Guidi, Quarrata, Carmignano, Barberino in Mugello, and Lucca (2013)
  • The Great Spa Towns of Europe, including Tuscany’s Montecatini Terme (2021)

Find Filming Locations

Piazza Grande in Montepulciano, Italy.
Montepulciano’s Piazza Grande, set from Twilight

Tuscany makes a pretty fabulous film set and you can find the set of many scenes throughout the cities and countryside.  Check out the filming locations for:

  • Twilight
  • The Gladiator
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • A Room With a View
  • Letters to Juliet
  • Inferno
  • And more!

Good To Know:  If you’re a fan of Letters to Juliet, stay at one of its sets – Borgo Scopeto, near Siena.  The 4-star hotel is gorgeous, the restaurant is delicious, and you can relax at the pool and wander the estate’s vineyards.

See a Concert

Macklemore performs at the Lucca Summer Festival in Lucca, Italy.
Macklemore at Lucca Summer Festival

We get our fair share of international musicians and bands here in Tuscany, but it’s also fun to go to an Italian concert.  There are a lot of smaller venues in the main cities, and some of the more well-known concerts are:

Firenze Rocks – Florence’s big music festival takes place in June in the Visarno Arena at the Cascine Park to the west of the historic center (easily walkable).  It’s a spacious venue and the event is well-organized.  Big names arrive every year.  2022’s lineup includes MUSE, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Nas, and Metallica.

Lucca Summer Festival – This festival takes place in multiple venues around Lucca and attracts incredible acts from many musical genres.  We took my son to see Macklemore and it was incredible! 

Pistoia Blues – Every July, Pistoia draws crowds for its jazz and blues festival. 

Tickets for all of the above can be purchased on TicketOne.it and you can find Firenze Rocks and Pistoia Blues tickets on Ticketmaster.

Perfect the Art of Aperitivo

Aperitivo on the table with white wine and cured meats.

Often, as visitors, we’re eager to check things off our list – visit this museum, see this statue…

One of my favorite things to share with friends and family who come to visit is aperitivo

It’s a bit like happy hour, but it’s for all ages, and it’s quite calm.  Before dinner, head out to a local bar for a drink and snacks.  Usually, the bar has a spread of delicious salads, finger foods, and little nibbles (not just peanuts and pretzels here, folks!). 

You can even make it into a dinner – we call it apericena (aperitivo+cena). 

To learn more, see our post Aperitivo – All You Need to Know About Italian Aperitif!

Find Your Favorite Renaissance Art

David statue in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery

If you’ve come to Tuscany seeking incredible Renaissance art, you’ve got quite the selection.  A few of the most popular works are in Florence:

  • Michelangelo’s David statue (Accademia Gallery)
  • Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (Uffizi Gallery)
  • Donatello’s David statue (Bargello National Museum)
  • Michelangelo’s tomb sculptures (Medici Chapel)

Looking for Michelangelo’s Art in Florence?  Want to learn more about a particular artist or style?  Contact guide Sashia for a personalized tour.

Choose Your Favorite Work at the Chianti Sculpture Park

Boys looking at a rainbow sculpture at the Chianti Sculpture Park in Tuscany, Italy.

The Chianti Sculpture Park is a hidden gem in the forest near Siena.  International artists submitted ideas for sculptures and 26 were invited to visit the park and make their ideas a reality. 

You can walk the trail through the forest and see the sculptures, which are all so different and interesting.  Kids and adults will love the percorso.

If you time it right, you can see a concert in the amphitheater. 

Soak Up Tuscan Village Life

Main square in Monteriggioni, Tuscany, Italy.
Monteriggioni

Tuscany is full of gorgeous villages, many scattered on hilltops.  Most don’t have sites to see – the beauty is simply strolling the narrow streets, having aperitivo at a café in the piazza, checking out the views from the city walls, shopping at a market, or people-watching.

We love spending time in Monteriggioni, Pienza, Montepulciano, Cortona, and Pitigliano, to name a few.

Cheer on an Italian Sports Team

Young boy watching a Fiorentina Serie A soccer (calcio) match in Florence, Italy.
Cheering for Fiorentina

Watching an Italian sport elbow-to-elbow with Italians is one of the best cultural experiences you can have while you’re here.  Of course, calcio (soccer) is the beating heart of the nation, but cycling and other sports are followed closely here as well. 

In Tuscany, you can catch sit in the stands of a Serie A soccer game.  Local teams include Fiorentina (Florence) and Empoli.  The other leagues are also fun to watch and can be just as exciting (and intense!). 

Good To Know:  If you want to go to a match, you’ll need to buy a ticket that’s attached to your ID.

Some famous cycling races pass through Tuscany (but not every year, so check the route):

  • Giro d’Italia
  • Tirreno Adriatico
  • L’Eroica (amateur)

Pistoia has a professional basketball team (Pistoia Basket 2000), and Florence has a professional women’s volleyball team (Il Bisonte Firenze).

Watch a Race at the Mugello Circuit

Spend an afternoon at the Mugello Circuit watching motorcycle or auto races.  The track hosts the MotoGP – Italian Grand Prix and will celebrate its 30 year anniversary holding the race in 2024.

Buy tickets in advance and expect large crowds and traffic.

Feel the Emotion at the Palio in Siena

Siena's Piazza del Campo full of spectators waiting for the start of the Palio horse race.
Pre-Palio in the PIazza del Campo

Twice a year, in July and August, the city of Siena (and visitors) fill up the Piazza del Campo for a bareback horserace.  That’s what is, but it’s so much more.

Siena’s Palio pits the city’s contrade, or neighborhoods against each other and the emotions run high.  Your contrada means everything and the people of Siena spend all year preparing for the races and the feasts, jockey selections, and more. 

If you can, find a ticket for a seat in the stands on the edges of the piazza or from a window that overlooks the piazza.  ‘Watching’ from the center of the piazza isn’t easy under the hot summer Tuscan sun.  And, if you need to go to the bathroom before the race, you’re out of luck.  It’s an experience, for sure (but one I won’t repeat!).

Even if you can’t make it to the race, you can enjoy the spirit of the occasion at neighborhood dinners (some are invite-only), post-race celebrations, and other festivities during the week.

Explore a Tarot Garden Inspired by Gaudi’s Parco Guell

Niki Saint Phalle spent over 20 years building this quirky, creative, colorful Tarot Garden, and she even lived inside one of the sculptures while she worked on the project.

You can visit the Tarot Garden (Giardino dei Tarocchi) near Capalbio, and after, head to the village for lunch or the sea for a swim!

Things to Do in Tuscany – Food & Wine

Go Wine Tasting

Antinori entrance in Bargino, Italy.

Tuscan wines are famous around the world, for good reason.  You’ve probably enjoyed a glass or two at an Italian restaurant in your hometown.  Now’s your chance to taste them at the source! 

You can visit small producers like Fattoria Sant’Appiano or giants like Antinori.  You can visit vineyards (although you should reserve, not just drop in), or taste wines at enoteche (wine bars). 

Some wines you may want to try:

  • Chianti Classico
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Super Tuscans (like Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello, Rondinaia, Solaia)
  • Morellino di Scansano
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano

We love:

Fill Your Belly at a Sagra

A sagra is a casual local festival, usually focused on food.  You’ll typically find the entire town (and maybe even surrounding towns) gathered outdoors in a main piazza or in the streets – think long tables, pitchers of wine, everyone chipping in by cooking or working the register.

There’s often music, play areas for kids, and other entertainment. 

If you have a chance, head to a sagra to see true Tuscan life.  Our visiting friends and family love going to a sagra when they’re here. 

You’ll find them throughout the year.  In Tuscany, we have sagre for grilled meats, porcini mushrooms, ribollita (soup), chestnuts, pasta dishes, wine, fritelle (pastries), and more.

Take a Cooking Class

Sure, it’s wonderful to indulge in Tuscan cuisine while you’re here.  But don’t you want to re-create it when you get home? 

If so, head to Jacopo and Anna’s apartment in Florence or home in the countryside of Montespertoli for a fun, entertaining, and informative cooking class that’s personalized for you.  If you’re in Florence, before the class you can head to a local market to shop for ingredients. 

If anything, after making ravioli by hand, you’ll appreciate it that much more when you have it at a restaurant!

Find a Favorite Cheese

Cheese and salame platter in Italy.

Pecorino (cheese made from sheep milk) rules here in Tuscany, but we do have other cheeses worth trying. 

Try ricotta, Maremma caprino (made from goat milk), and cacciota Toscana while you’re in the region. 

Taste them on a platter with local cured meats, or just head to the deli in the grocery store and pick out a selection for a picnic or apericena (aperitivo/cena – happy hour/dinner). 

If you can, head to the homeland of our pecorino – Pienza.  Try the cheese in all its forms – fresh, semi-aged, and aged.

Harvest Olives

Worker moving nets during the olive harvest in Tuscany, Italy.

Take part in harvesting our liquid gold (or green) – Tuscan olive oil.  You can join the harvest with a farm or agriturismo.  Even if a place doesn’t offer it, but you see that they have olive trees, check to see if you can help. 

It’s a lot of work setting up the nets, getting the olives off the trees, and collecting them in baskets and crates.  But, visiting the local frantoio and seeing your olives come off the press makes it worth it!  Then, sample the fresh oil on toasted bread.  We call it fettuntafetta+unta, or an ‘oily slice.’

We usually harvest in late October or early November.  

Become a Gelato Expert

Close-up of hand holding gelato cone.

We learn best by doing, right?  Go ahead, have a gelato (or two) every day!  Remember some of the rules of spotting a quality gelateria:

  • Produzione propria or gelateria artigianale (homemade gelato)
  • Pistacchio gelato is a dull greenish-brown, not bright green
  • Gelato isn’t piled high; instead, it’s in metal containers

Want to learn more?  Take a lesson at Gelateria Dondoli in San Gimignano.

Try Tuscan Specialties

Tripe stand in Florence, Italy.  Locals sit in seats eating their sandwiches.
Tripe ‘trippa’ stand in Florence

Tuscan cooking is peasant cooking.  Recipes used everything, including all parts of the animal and leftovers from the day before.  Some typical dishes you’ll find in the region:

  • Bistecca alla Fiorentina – a grilled, thick cut of steak with bone
  • Trippa alla Fiorentina – tripe cooked with vegetables
  • Ribollita – bread soup with vegetables
  • Panzanella – bread salad with vegetables
  • Pici pasta – a ‘fat’ spaghetti, often served with a garlic/tomato sauce
  • Torta di ceci – thick flatbread made with chickpea flour
  • Pasta al ragu di cinghiale – pasta with wild boar sauce
  • Ricciarelli – cookies from Siena
  • Schiacciata – like focaccia, but thinner and more chewy or crunchy
  • Pecorino – sheep’s cheese – try fresh and aged

Make your own panzanella or gluten-free panzanella at home!

Things to Do in Tuscany – Shopping

Shop at the Outlets

Find discounts on some of Italy’s biggest designer brands at Tuscany’s big outlets. 

If you’re looking for luxury brands, head to The Mall.  Otherwise, check out the international and Italian shops at Valdichiana Village. 

The Mall

The most well-known is The Mall, located in the Valdarno next to the small village of Leccio. You’ll find Italian and foreign luxury brands, including:

  • Gucci
  • Jimmy Choo
  • Moschino
  • Saint Laurent
  • Ferragamo
  • Tod’s
  • Tom Ford
  • Valentino
  • Versace
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Balenciaga
  • Burberry
  • Celine
  • Chloe
  • Coach
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Armani

It’s easy to get to it by car, but you can also take a shuttle from the Florence Santa Maria Novella train station.

Good To Know:  Don’t expect to find a Gucci purse for €50.  You will find some good prices on items from previous seasons and some made-for-outlet gear.  It is well-organized and a pleasant shopping experience. 

Space Outlet

Prada has its headquarters in the Valdarno and its Space Outlet carries Prada, Miu Miu, Helmut Lang, and Car Shoe clothing, shoes, and accessories.   It’s located in Montevarchi, at via Aretina, 403.  +39 055 919 6528.

Good To Know:  The quality and selection are hit-or-miss.  Go with low expectations and you may be pleasantly surprised. 

Space Outlet is best reached by car.

Barberino Designer Outlet

McArthur Glenn runs the Barberino outlet, north of Florence.  It’s laid out like a Tuscan village, and has brands like Adidas, Levi’s, Dolce & Gabbana, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger.  It’s pretty much like an outlet in the US, but the discounts aren’t as steep here. 

Valdichiana Village

Southern Tuscany’s best outlet mall, Valdichiana Village is also set up like a Tuscan village.  You’ll find international brands like Adidas, Crocs, and the Gap, but there are also a lot of Italian brands. 

Good To Know:  This outlet is right off the A1 Autostrada, so it’s an easy spot to take a break, especially if you have kids.  There’s a nice play area at one of the entrances.

It’s best reached by car, but you could reach it by train+bus, arriving in Arezzo by train and then taking a local bus to the outlet.

Look for Treasures at Arezzo’s Antiques Fair

The Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo has been running since 1968 and visitors come from all over Italy to find new treasures every 1st Sunday of the month (and the Saturday before). 

The fair’s heart is in Piazza Grande, and it spills out into small side streets.

You’ll find furniture, art, toys, watches, books, vases, jewelry, knick-knacks, and more.  Kids and adults will enjoy looking for their own special treasure.

Make a day of it and have lunch in one of Arezzo’s cozy restaurants, like Antica Osteria l’Agania or Trattoria il Saraceno.

Good To Know:  Loved checking out the antiques in Arezzo?  Wander the Oltrarno District in Florence for more gorgeous antique shops.

Shop at an Outdoor Market

Sant’Ambrogio market in Florence

Sure, you can head to an Italian grocery store or centro commerciale (shopping mall), but it’s much more fun to shop at an outdoor market. 

From clothing and housewares markets like the Forte dei Marmi market to colorful food markets like the Sant’Ambrogio market in Florence, you’ve got plenty of selection in Tuscany. 

Most towns have a weekly market, which usually has fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and cured meats.  It will probably also have shoes and clothing. 

Ask your lodging which markets nearby they recommend for visitors.

Find Your Favorite Tuscan Ceramics

Ceramiche Rampini entrance near Radda in Chianti, Italy.

I used to think that Tuscan ceramics were for old ladies, but now I love them (and I don’t consider myself an old lady yet). 

Italy has beautiful ceramics – if you love the art, you’ll want to check out the ceramics in Deruta (Umbria), Grottaglie (Puglia), Caltagirone (Sicily), or Vietri sul Mare (Amalfi Coast).

In Tuscany, Montelupo Fiorentino is famous for ceramics, as is Florence (home of Ginori porcelain).  My favorite Tuscan ceramics are in Chianti, at a tiny shop called Ceramiche Rampini.  Each piece is handmade, and you can ship gorgeous sets home for a reminder of your time in in the region.

Things to Do in Tuscany – Nature

Go Truffle Hunting

Pile of truffles with truffle dog sitting behind them.

Alba, up north in Piedmont may get all of the truffle fame, but Tuscany has its own famous tartufi areas, including San Miniato (Northern Tuscany, near Florence) and San Giovanni d’Asso (Southern Tuscany, in the Crete Senesi).

You can go on a truffle hunt with a hunter and his dog and later dine with your found treasures. 

San Miniato

Year-round, choose from many truffle hunting experiences in the land around San Miniato with Truffle in Tuscany.  They even offer virtual truffle hunting experiences!

San Giovanni d’Asso

In March and April, head out into the Crete Senesi to search for truffles, followed by a truffle-themed lunch. 

Later, visit the small Truffle Museum in the center of the village.  Make sure you call ahead to confirm it will be open.

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

This is a big activity for visitors in our area.  In fact, from spring to fall, many mornings we can spot at least one balloon in the sky. 

Rise early and catch a ride over the spectacular Tuscan countryside before breakfast. 

Tuscany Ballooning offers 1-hour flights in Chianti and Balloon in Tuscany has 45-minute or 90-minute flights in Chianti, San Gimignano, Siena, and Florence

If you see three little boys waving to you, please wave back!

Head to the Beach

Forte dei Marmi beach in Tuscany.  You can see the Apuan Alps in the distance.
Forte dei Marmi

The Tuscan coast stretches from Versilia in the north to the Argentario peninsula in the south.  Many areas are dotted with umbrellas and bagni, or beach clubs.  Other sections are wild, have dunes, or are part of a natural park. 

Although Tuscan beaches aren’t Italy’s best (that award goes to Sardinia, followed closely by Puglia), they’re still a fabulous place to relax, catch some rays, and soak up Italian beach culture.

We usually end up in Versilia, which is beautiful, close to Florence, and easy with kids.  Rent a spot at a bagno for the day and enjoy!

Check out our posts on Beaches Near Lucca and Beaches Near Florence!

Drive Through a Lunar Landscape

Beautiful light on the Crete Senesi near Asciano, Italy.

One of my favorite drives is the stretch of road from Taverna d’Arbia (south of Siena) through the Crete Senesi to the town of Asciano.  It’s a 19-kilometer rollercoaster road through the clay hills of Siena.

In the spring, the hills are bright green and dotted with farmhouses and cypress-lined roads.  In the summer, they’re golden, and in the fall following the harvest, they’re a velvety brown. 

The section of road can be driven on your way from Siena or Florence to any Southern Tuscan towns like Pienza, Montepulciano, Bagno Vignoni, or Montalcino.

It’s also an excellent road for cycling!

Ride in a 4×4 Through the Marble Quarries in the Apuan Alps

View of Carrara marble quarries in Tuscany, Italy.

See where Michelangelo sourced his marble for his famous statues, including his David.  He spent quite a bit of time in the Carrara quarries and you can too, in the back of a 4×4. 

After driving through the massive quarries, stop in the museum to learn about the extraction of the marble, the life of the workers, and other ways marble is used.

Soak in the Hot Springs

Saturnia hot springs in Tuscany, Italy as seen from above.
Saturnia hot springs

Love hot springs?  Well, you’re in luck.  Tuscany is scattered with them, and you can visit them for free, or at luxurious spa hotels. 

A few of them that are worth a visit:

  • Saturnia
  • Bagno Vignoni
  • San Casciano dei Bagni
  • Bagni San Filippo
  • Petriolo

Frolic in a Field of Sunflowers

A field of sunflowers in Tuscany on a sunny day.

Sunflowers make everyone smile, and if you’re in Tuscany during the summer, you’re sure to spot some.

The season isn’t set in stone, but the sunflowers here are usually blooming in July, and you may see some from mid-June or into early August.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to say exactly where they’ll be.  Farmers rotate crops so a lovely field one year may have something else growing the following year.

The good news is, there are fields of them all over, so if you don’t see any on your drive, just stop off at a gas station or ask someone at your hotel where the nearest field is.

Take a Boat Trip

That way you can tell all your friends ‘I’m on a boat!’ (That was for you, Andy Samberg fans.)

The best boat trips are around the Tuscan islands of Elba and Giglio.  Take a ferry to the island of your choice, and once there, rent a boat or join a boat tour

Many of Elba’s beaches are hidden from the land and only accessible by sea. 

The Monte Argentario peninsula is also best explored by boat.  Travel with Secret Boat (properly named) to some ‘secret’ locations around the peninsula or to Giglio Island.

Spend Time in a Nature Reserve

Canals in Natural Reserve Diaccia Botrona in Tuscany, Italy.
Natural Reserve Diaccia Botrona

Leave the incredible artwork and medieval villages behind for a day (or afternoon) and spend time with Tuscan flora and fauna.

Two of Tuscany’s best nature reserves are the Parco Naturale Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli (say that quickly ten times) and the Natural Reserve Diaccia Botrona

In San Rossore, look for deer, swans, owls, flamingos, rabbits, wild boar, squirrels, and red foxes. Lake Massaciuccoli is just one of Italy’s gorgeous lakes.

Take a boat trip through Diaccia Botrona’s wetland and keep an eye out for the 200+ bird species that call the reserve home during the year.

Things to Do in Tuscany – Active

Hike in the Hills or Vineyards

Hiking in Chianti

Tuscany is full of hiking trails.  You can choose to walk:

  • On trails marked by the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano – Alpine Club of Italy) with a red/white marker.  They are often well-marked on maps.
  • Along a vast network of strade bianche, white (gravel or dirt) roads.  They aren’t necessarily marked as trails, but you can connect them to create your own hiking route.
  • In vineyards and olive groves that are not fenced.

A few classic hikes in Tuscany:

  • Along the Via Francigena
  • Between castles in Chianti
  • In the Val d’Orcia below Pienza
  • In the Apuan Alps

Good To Know:  Check with your accommodation or someone nearby and confirm that it’s not hunting season (wild boar, pheasant, etc). 

Cycle or Walk Lucca’s Walls

Lucca enchants visitors and you’ll love wandering its streets, visiting its shops, and having lunch in the Piazza del Anfiteatro. 

See Lucca from above – walk or cycle the city walls!  Don’t be nervous – the walls are very thick, so you’re cycling on a wide, tree-lined path. 

If you’d like to cycle (kids and adults!), rent a bike from one of the many cycling shops you’ll find in town.  The route around the city is about 4 kilometers, which will probably take 30-60 minutes, depending on how fast you ride and how much ‘traffic’ you find on your journey. 

Otherwise, go for a casual stroll and enjoy the views, stop for photos, and maybe a coffee at the café. 

Buona pedalata – happy riding!

Climb a Tower

View of Giotto's bell tower and the city of Florence, Italy.
Giotto’s bell tower in Florence

Head up for the best views of Tuscan towns and the countryside.  Some of the area’s best tower climbs include:

Ski, Snowboard, or Hike in the Apuan Alps

Boy and snowboard instructor on slope in Val di Luce in Italy.
Snowboarding in Val di Luce

The Apuan Alps are an outdoor playground in the winter and summer. 

It’s a beautiful drive from Florence (on winding roads) and it makes an easy day trip.

Ski, snowboard, or sled in Abetone or nearby Val di Luce.  The prices are reasonable, and you can rent all your gear from the shops. 

You can also hike in the area during the summer and early fall.  Stock up on blueberries and the area’s raviggiolo sheep’s cheese and have a little picnic on the trail.

The Apuan Alps closer to the coast also have plenty of hiking trails for either day hikes or multi-day adventures.  Contact Versilia Trekking for help deciding on a hike or to have a guide come with you (recommended).

Walk the Via Francigena

The Via Francigena with Monteriggioni in the background.  You can see two hikers.
Walking the Via Francigena near Monteriggioni

Sure, it’s not as well-known as the Camino di Santiago, but the Via Francigena is one of the most important pilgrimage routes in the world.  It’s over 1900 kilometers long and connects Canterbury, England to Rome. 

It passes through Tuscany, from Passo della Cisa to Aquadependente. 

The most well-known Tuscan section is from San Gimignano to Monteriggioni (30 km, ~7 hours). 

The Via Francigena official site has an excellent map, itinerary, guides, and info on accommodation. 

Drive a Fiat 500 or Vespa in the Countryside

Country road in northern Tuscany with vineyards on both sides.
Northern Tuscany roads

Ok, so it’s not active like a bike ride or a hike, but I guarantee you’ll be using some muscles as you steer and navigate your way on the winding roads of the Tuscan countryside.

If you’re comfortable driving a car or scooter, join a tour and go for it!  If you wouldn’t drive a Vespa at home, please don’t try it here.  The roads and other vehicles are real!

There are some experienced companies based in Florence – Tuscany Bike Tours has a popular and fun Vespa Tour and 500 Touring Club runs and excellent FIAT 500 Tour.

Things to Do in Tuscany – History & Monuments

Be King or Queen for a Day at a Castle

Boys looking at a part of Castello di Brolio (Brolio Castle) in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy.
Brolio Castle in Chianti

You could spend every day of your trip visiting a new castle. 

Our favorite castle visit in Tuscany is Castello di Brolio, or Brolio Castle.  You can see the interesting castle grounds, soak up the spectacular views, and then stop in the winery next door for a tasting. 

In Greve in Chianti, you can visit Castello di Verrazzano’s Renaissance gardens and wine cellar, followed by lunch or dinner. 

Although it’s closed indefinitely to regular visits, if you ever have a chance to visit Castello di Sammezzano, don’t pass it up!  Check out these photos of the castle for an idea of what a unique and special place it is.

Want to sleep in a castle?  I send friends and family to Castello di Tornano

Visit an Abbey

Frescoes inside Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey in Tuscany, Italy.
Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey

Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore is located in a dramatic setting in Southern Tuscany.  Don’t miss the 35 incredible frescoes in the cloister – they’re worth driving out of your way to see!  If you time it right, you can hear the monks chanting.  And, when you’re finished, pick up a jar of honey in the monks’ small shop.

Not far away, just south of Montalcino, you’ll find Abbazia Sant’Antimo.  It’s a dramatic sight as you drive down to it.  See the inside of the Abbey, along with the pharmacy and the garden.  If you’re up to it, you can walk down from Montalcino, and then walk (or bus) back up. 

See Pisa’s Leaning Tower

Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Italy.  You can see the Leaning Tower on the left.
Pisa’s Piazza dei Miracoli

Although it’s not the only leaning tower in Italy, it’s definitely the most famous.

Train or drive to Pisa and then stroll to the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) for the classic photo of you holding up the tower (or some other creative gesture) and then climb the tower and explore the other monuments on the square. 

Find the True Sword in the Stone

In the Chapel of San Galgano you’ll find the sword in the stone.  Unfortunately, you can’t try to pull it out, as it’s covered in a transparent case after sneaky thieves tried to steal it. 

You may think the sword placement was inspired by the legend of King Arthur, but it’s actually the other way around. 

The story is based on Galgano, a rich, violent nobleman, trained in the art of war.  Galgano saw the angel Michael, who told him to change his ways, so Galgano decided to become a hermit.  He was led to the top of Montesiepi, where he ‘renounced his worldly desires’ and thrust his sword into the stone.’  This is where the sword in the stone is today. 

The legend probably passed to England with pilgrims on the Via Francigena, traveling between Canterbury and Rome.

You can visit the sword in the stone all year at the Abbey of San Galgano.

Things to Do in Tuscany – Museums

Visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum

Leonardo Museum in Vinci, Italy.
Museo Leonardino, Vinci

The Museo Leonardiano is located in Vinci, just a few kilometers from Leonardo’s birthplace, the small hamlet of Anchiano (you can actually walk a beautiful trail between the two places).

While there are multiple Leonardo da Vinci Museums, this one feels the most authentic – probably because this is where he was born. 

The museum is spread out in multiple buildings and showcases his birth home, a museum with his science and engineering models and exhibits, and a museum that displays reproductions of his art. 

Technology is used throughout the museum – with apps, holograms, and as part of the displays. 

Can’t make it out to Vinci?  Check out the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Florence.

Get Queasy at a Medieval Torture Museum

There are a few of these small museums scattered throughout Tuscany.  They exhibit original and models of medieval torture devices and explain how they were used.

You’ll find the museums in San Gimignano, Volterra, Lucca, Montepulciano, and Siena. 

An interesting look into a horrible part of history.

Visit the Piaggio Museum

Vespa parked against a wall in Italy.
Vintage Vespa

If you’re a Vespa fan, make the drive (or rent a Vespa?) to the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera. 

See the earliest Vespas and follow the evolution up to the present day.  There are 140 Vespas on display!

Along with Vespa models, you’ll find Piaggio’s other products, like the Ape and Moto Guzzi. 

We love their little shop – the colorful mini models make great souvenirs and gifts!

Good To Know:  No more dropping in – you need to reserve your visit.  Can’t make it to Pontedera?  The museum has set up a fantastic virtual tour.

Tuscany Travel Tips

Rent a car

Sure, you can visit larger towns and cities by train and most places by some form of public transport, but public transport can take forever and you’ll appreciate the flexibility a rental car gives you in Tuscany. 

Want to stop for a picnic in a vineyard?  With a rental car, you can!  Want to drive out to see the sunrise from a viewpoint in Castellina in Chianti?  With a rental car, you can!  Want to visit remote sandy beaches?  With a rental car, you can!

You can rent a car in a large city like Florence, but don’t rent it until the day you’re leaving the city.  Florence is a pain to drive around in and find parking.

Take a look at our posts on Renting a Car in Italy and Renting a Car in Florence!

Need to rent a car? I recommend checking out consolidators like DiscoverCars.com and AutoEurope.com for a round-up of the best deals from Italy’s principal rental car companies.

Stay in an Agriturismo

Don’t worry, an agriturismo is no longer a working farm holiday.  You don’t need to work in the fields to earn your dinner.  Instead, relax at the pool or enjoy a farm-to-table dinner after a long day of touring.

There are different levels of agriturismi – some are quite basic, while others offer a more luxurious experience.

I love agriturismo stays because you can literally touch nature – reach out and touch a grapevine or walk barefoot in the grass. 

Agriturismo stays are also perfect if you’re traveling with a baby, toddler, or small child.  There’s plenty of room to run around and many have play areas, activities like cooking classes, or farm animals.

Add Extra Travel Time

When you look at the map, the towns and cities of Tuscany look so close to each other.  And, they are.  But, the reality is that it takes a while to get from one place to another.  The roads are small and winding, and sometimes they’re gravel! 

If someone in your group is prone to carsickness, make sure you take the curves slowly and allow plenty of time for (scenic) breaks along the way. 

Keep Fueled Up

This pertains to fuel for your car and fuel (food and drink) for your body! 

While most Italian cities have some stores and restaurants that remain open during the day, smaller villages are likely to come to a stop after lunch for a few hours for the riposo, or rest. 

Make sure you have the food you need for the day (or evening) and keep your tank full. 

I hope this has given you some ideas of what to do in our beautiful and interesting region. Enjoy your time in Tuscany!

  1. Photograph the Val d’Orcia
  2. Celebrate Carnevale in Viareggio
  3. See Tuscany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  4. Find Filming Locations
  5. See a Concert
  6. Perfect the Art of Aperitivo
  7. Find Your Favorite Renaissance Art
  8. Choose Your Favorite Work at the Chianti Sculpture Park
  9. Soak Up Tuscan Village Life
  10. Cheer on an Italian Sports Team
  11. Watch a Race at the Mugello Circuit
  12. Feel the Emotion at the Palio in Siena
  13. Explore a Tarot Garden Inspired by Gaudi’s Parco Guell
  14. Go Wine Tasting
  15. Fill Your Belly at a Sagra
  16. Take a Cooking Class
  17. Find a Favorite Cheese
  18. Harvest Olives
  19. Become a Gelato Expert
  20. Try Tuscan Specialties
  21. Shop at the Outlets
  22. Look for Treasures at Arezzo’s Antiques Fair
  23. Shop at an Outdoor Market
  24. Find Your Favorite Tuscan Ceramics
  25. Go Truffle Hunting
  26. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
  27. Head to the Beach
  28. Drive Through a Lunar Landscape
  29. Ride in a 4×4 Through the Marble Quarries in the Apuan Alps
  30. Soak in the Hot Springs
  31. Frolic in a Field of Sunflowers
  32. Take a Boat Trip
  33. Spend Time in a Nature Reserve
  34. Hike in the Hills or Vineyards
  35. Cycle or Walk Lucca’s Walls
  36. Climb a Tower
  37. Ski, Snowboard, or Hike in the Apuan Alps
  38. Walk the Via Francigena
  39. Drive a Fiat 500 or Vespa in the Countryside
  40. Be King or Queen for a Day at a Castle
  41. Visit an Abbey
  42. See Pisa’s Leaning Tower
  43. Find the True Sword in the Stone
  44. Visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum
  45. Get Queasy at a Medieval Torture Museum
  46. Visit the Piaggio Museum