Rolling hills and cypress avenues, stone villas and hamlets, art-filled hilltop towns and long, relaxed lunches in the countryside with delicious food and wine. These are often the first things that come to mind when we think about Tuscany and while these are all at the very heart of Tuscany’s beauty, and what you have the chance to experience on our Tour of Tuscany with us – there is also so much more to this amazing region.
Here we celebrate just some of the highlights of Tuscany by sharing with you 8 things we encourage you to visit, do and embrace pre and post our cycling Tour of Tuscany.
1. Visit the Museo del Ciclismo di Gino Bartali
Gino Bartali is one of the ‘greats’ of Italian Cycling, having won many races including 4 Milan-San Remo, 3 Giro d’Italia, 3 Giro di Lombardia and 2 Tour de France. This museum in Florence celebrates his life by sharing stories of his exploits on the road and a display of the bikes that he used across his career. If you’re a cycling lover, this is well worth a visit.
2. Take a tour of the Uffizi with Paolo
From da Vinci’s paintings to Bernini’s sculptures, the Uffizi is home to the best of the Renaissance. However, if you’re like us and shy away from visiting galleries and museums because of the queues, then do as we did and take a tour of this magnificent museum of art with Paolo. Paolo is a local guide in Florence with huge passion and an incredible talent for guiding and storytelling. Aside from the wonderful experience of being shown the highlights of the Uffizi (and skipping the queues), a couple of hours with Paolo is a fantastic way to enjoy learning about Florence from a local and appreciating this amazing city as he says – ‘everywhere you turn, there is beauty’. Read more on our blog here.
3. Experience Arezzo and its Antique Market
Just an hour from Florence on the train, Arezzo is one of our favourite towns in Tuscany and particularly on the first weekend of every month when the antique fair comes to town. Amongst a treasure trove of antiques lining the streets, enjoy the atmosphere of buskers, barbers and restaurateurs creating a vibe and energy that makes for a perfect weekend in this less visited town or a great day out. Read more on our blog here.
4. Embrace your Artist Within
If you’ve always dreamt of exploring your creativity in the land where some of the greatest minds and artistic talents ever have lived, we encourage you to take this time for yourself post tour. Take the time to draw, paint, make your own jewellery or even your own perfume with a hands-on small group class in Tuscany’s premier art city, Florence. With classes ranging from 3 hours to 5 days and everything in between, you’re sure to find something that’s a perfect addition to your visit to this magical renaissance city. Or if you’re keen to venture further, this Painting Tuscany workshop takes in 5 Tuscan cities and 5 techniques over 5 days.
5. Visit Volterra, and its Etruscan past
If you’re interested in Etruscan history, then a visit to the walled medieval hilltop town of Volterra is a must. Stay on in San Gimignano at the end of our tour and take a day trip or stay overnight in stunning nearby Volterra. With traces of its Etruscan past still present in its walls, gates and the acropolis which date back to the 2nd century BC, the town also houses Tuscany’s most fascinating Etruscan museum and hundreds of funeral urns from the Hellenistic and Archaic periods, many of which are carved from the area’s famous alabaster and tufo rock. After a little exploring of the town’s Etruscan past, stroll through the centro storico, enjoy its timeless atmosphere and a little lunch in its narrow streets, and visit the beautiful galleries and shops with their stunning alabaster hand-made objects, which Volterra is famous for.
6. Experience a Sagra
- Festa della birra (Beer festival) on 28 June 2024 in Pescia
- Festa della ciliegia (Cherry Festival) from 7-9 June 2024 in Carmignano
- Sagra dell’ortica (Nettle festival) from 21-23 June 2024 in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
- Pizza in Piazza (Pizza in the Square) on 29 June 2024 in Pescia
- Sagra della bistecca alla Ferruzza (Ferruzza steak festival) from 28-30 June 2024 in Fucecchio
- Sagra del ranocchio (Frog festival) on 1 June 2024 in Florence
- Sagra del pesce (Fish festival) on 1 June 2024 in Certaldo
- Sagra delle Ciliege (Cherry Festival) on 1 June 2024 in Lari
- Griglie in festa (celebrating foods cooked on the grill) on 29 June 2024 in Pieve Fosciana
- Sagra della Zuppa (Soup Festival) from 27-30 June 2024 in Fauglia
- •Sagra del pesce (Fish festival) on 8 June 2024 in Castiglioncello
7. Rejuvenate in Tuscany’s thermal waters
Tuscany is the home of thermal baths and wellness in Italy. Since Roman times, ‘wellness pilgrims’ have paid tribute to the many thermal pools in the region that are rich in minerals, flow at high temperatures (up to 50C) and are used to treat many skin and respiratory conditions. From a day trip to the large limestone pools surrounded by nature at the Terme di Saturnia in the Maremma to an overnight stay at the luxurious Rapolano Terme in the middle of the rolling clay hills just south of Siena, where sufferers of rheumatism, arthritis and respiratory disorders have been soaking in the sulphurous healing waters for years, you are guaranteed to come away from a Tuscan thermal experience rested and rejuvenated. It is the perfect post tour indulgence.
Tip: if you do stay at Rapolano Terme, make sure you go to Terme San Giovanni for guaranteed relaxation with amazing views!
8. Relax in Monte Argentario
Follow in the footsteps of the locals and enjoy a few days on this beautiful southern stretch of Tuscany’s coast, where you’ll find very few international tourists. Here you’ll find beaches and amazing swimming spots, a beautiful national park with nature walks, excellent food and wine and a strong sailing and boating culture. Only 2 hours from Rome airport, it’s the perfect stopover pre or post tour to unwind and relax. Read more on our ‘7 days in Tuscany’ blog which takes in Florence, Lucca and Porto Santo Stefano here.