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Central Tuscany

Central Tuscany is an area within Tuscany with some charming towns and cities and a very distinctive landscape. As you enter this region, you will quickly notice the hills of central Tuscany, which give the area a distinctly alpine feel. This part of Italy is home to the mountains that run through the centre of Tuscany.

Just on the other side of the mountains lies Casentino National Park in the province of Arezzo, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty that’s ideal for all kinds of outdoor adventures such as cycling and hiking. Be sure to make your way up one of the peaks to watch the sunrise and take in stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

In terms of city and towns, Arezzo is an inland city that’s not to be missed. It has a monthly antique market that attracts antique dealers from all around Italy, and is famous for its jewellery production. Although the city is flat, it is engulfed by the hills and mountains, which makes for a beautiful backdrop.

Cortona also lies within central Tuscany, it’s a really lovely town that’s known its impressive Duomo Cathedral and for being the setting of the book and film ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’.

Those who enjoy shopping will want to pay a visit to Valdichiana shopping centre in central Tuscany, here you can take advantage of outlet shopping and grab some bargains.

The area of Val di Chiana is the only place you will find the Chianina cow. The Chianina beef is named after the valley that the cow comes from, it’s made into Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a well-known local delicious T-bone steak dish that’s served almost rare.

Central Tuscany

Can’t decide where to stay in Central Tuscany? Browse through some of the places below for further inspiration.

San Gusme

San Gusmè, a walled hilltop hamlet, is a charming Sienese backwater. Set 5 km north of Castelnuovo Berardenga, this tranquil spot has always been in Siena’s orbit. The medieval village only joined the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in the 16th century, after Siena’s definitive defeat. The Sienese gateway still bears Siena’s coat of arms, the Balzana. Stretches of the defensive walls remain, with parts incorporated into gateways. The hamlet is a place for picturesque views, including of the Sienese skyline, the Torre del Mangia and Siena Cathedral. This sleepy hamlet is more about mood than specific sites. Admire the church of Saint Cosmus and Damian, the local patron saints, and the church of Santissima Annunziata, with its quaint bell tower. Wander along concentric alleys, lapping up the timeless mood before retreating to a gourmet inn for creative cuisine or a homely café for wine and a plate of cured meats.

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Panzano

The historic centre of hilltop Panzano unfolds along quaint alleys, bounded by a stretch of battered city walls. Medieval Panzano was a pawn between the feuding powers of Florence and Siena so constantly changed hands. Architecturally, this fortified outpost suffered during the conflict but vestiges of its medieval heart survive, though not its castle. A walk along the walls allows for scenic glimpses of the countryside. Restaurants lining the walls offer views of the Chianti hills and vineyards. Instead, the café-lined main square is the place for lapping up the small-town atmosphere and contemplating lunch. Modern-day Panzano is the preserve of Dario Cecchini, an eccentric celebrity butcher so a meaty feast forms part of the Panzano experience. But first turn your mind to loftier thoughts: the loveliest Romanesque church around. San Leonino, a romantic parish church, awaits on the next hilltop, a reminder that the Chianti can do churches, too.

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Greve in Chianti

Greve represents the northern gateway to the Chianti, the first stop from Florence. The SS222, known as the Chiantigiana, or Chianti Way, winds its picturesque way from Florence to Siena, through this peaceful region, offering archetypal scenes of cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards.  At first sight, Greve may be a disappointment: it seems a slightly characterless, modern-looking town. Luckily, its main square is a redeeming feature, as are its restaurants, food and wine shops. The impressively arcaded Piazza Matteotti is surmounted by wrought-iron balconies of cascading geraniums. The shops under the arcades are crammed with an assortment of Tuscan treats, crafts and wines. The square is framed by a neo-Renaissance Town Hall. Above all, as Chianti’s commercial hub, Greve does the business, with its weekly market, September wine fair and a tempting wine route beginning outside town. Greve is a stepping-stone to Renaissance villas, castles, abbeys and wine estates.

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Castellina in Chianti

Castellina is one of the most charming hilltop villages in the Chianti. Set on the scenic Chiantigiana, it surveys symmetrical vineyards and wooded groves, a landscape dotted with low stone houses and ancient wine estates. Castellina’s name reveals its medieval function as a Florentine outpost. In the late 13th century it was the first site of the Chianti League, a group of three Florentine feudal castles, each responsible for a third of the territory. This strategic stronghold fell to a Sienese-Aragonese siege in 1478 but after Siena in turn fell in 1555, Castellina became a picturesque backwater. Tucked into its fortifications, Castellina looks much as it did in the 15th century. La Rocca, the mighty fortress, is now the town hall and home to a small archaeological museum, with tempting wine shops nearby. The circuit of walls encloses a warren of atmospheric backstreets with half-glimpsed views of the Chianti hills.

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Castagnoli

Castagnoli, south of Gaiole in Chianti, is a small, stone-built village surmounted by a medieval fortress. Known as the Rocca di Castagnoli, this stark fortress was besieged by the Sienese in 1478. This is Chianti castle country, with Castagnoli surveying Castello di Meleto, a medieval outpost which is now centred on a wine estate, even if the castle itself is also open for visits. From both the Rocca and the village extend views of spindly cypresses, olive groves, olives and vineyards. Rocca di Castagnoli wines are worth sampling before you set off to explore grander Chianti Classico estates. The countryside from Castagnoli south to Siena and east to Arezzo is higher, wilder and wetter. The wooded peaks are green and fresh with the scents of thyme, rosemary and pine. Deep chestnut woods provide ideal cover for wild boar, which often end up on your plate, paired by the local wines.

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Radda in Chianti

If Greve is the commercial brain of Chianti, Radda is its soul. With its small-town mood, picturesque Radda makes an appealing base for exploring wine country. Given its prime position between Gaiole and Castellina, Radda served as the capital of Chianti, and was the medieval capital of the Chianti League. The fortifications reflect Radda’s history as a borderlands and bulwark against Sienese attacks. Peace finally came to this area after Siena was incorporated into the Republic of Florence in 1559. Hilltop Radda retains its medieval street plan and imposing town hall. Formerly known as the Palazzo del Podesta, the 16th-century town hall displays heraldic shields on its façade. Radda is still bound by its defensive walls, with cobblestoned alleys fanning out from the main square. Today’s mellow scene is centred on the Casa Chianti Classico, a showcase for everything wine-related so come here to make sense of the Chianti spirit.

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Gaiole in Chianti

Hilly Gaiole is, of course, wine country but also castle country and cycling country. A decade ago, this sleepy market town was dubbed the world’s most idyllic place to live. Not much has changed since then so lap up the quality of life. This market hub is forever linked to the Ricasoli wine dynasty, whose ancestors supposedly launched the Chianti Classico brand in Brolio Castle. Apart from boasting of being the birthplace of Chianti Classico, Gaiole is celebrated in its own right. In medieval times it was one of the three capitals of the Chianti League, along with Castellina and Radda. The hilltop town is set among oak and chestnut forests but also surveys vineyards and olive groves. As a former military stronghold, Gaiole is ringed by medieval castles and fortified abbeys. The triangular-shaped main square is a stepping-stone to explorations of castles, cosy inns, wine estates and ancient abbeys.

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Lecchi in Chianti

South of Radda, Lecchi in Chianti lies at the foot of a hill surmounted by the tumbledown castle of Monteluco. The quaint hamlet is lined along the main road which rises upto Ama. With its distinctive stone houses and dignified church, this backwater looks much as it did in medieval times. It was then an area of great estates linked to landowners such as the Ricasoli wine barons. Crowning the hill is Monteluco castle, which dates back to 1176. The castle was a Sienese bastion but battered in attacks in the 15th and 16th centuries. The fortifications feature a ruined hilltop fort surveying the Massellone valley, backed by a limestone watchtower below. Local walks link Lecchi to the lovely hamlet of San Sano, complete with home-cooking in a quiet inn. Trails through vineyards fan out from Lecchi, including a walk to Localita Molinaccio for a summer swim in river pools.

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Castelnuovo Berardenga

Castelnuovo Berardenga sits on the southern border of the Chianti, somewhat overshadowed by Siena. For better or worse, its fortunes have always been tied to Siena. In 1555 this Sienese stronghold lost its encircling walls when Siena was defeated by the Florentine-led Medici Grand Duchy. Today, Castelnuovo is special for its peaceful atmosphere and sense of an authentic Tuscan style of living. The low-key charms include a couple of minor churches and a clocktower, remodelled from the original fortifications. Admire Vicolo dell'Arco, with its steep stone staircase and decorative arch. Such charms won’t detain you for long but it’s a soothing spot for contemplating the slow pace of life outside bigger Tuscan towns. In fact, Castelnuovo is a designated Città Slow for this reason. Beyond this former stronghold are a cluster of minor villas and wine estates. Essentially, treat Castelnuovo as a stepping stone to Siena and the southern Chianti.

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Arezzo

Situated mid-way between Florence and Perugia, Arezzo has not sold its soul to tourism. The city abounds in monuments but tourism is mostly muted in this underrated city. In a real sense, Arezzo is a hidden gem as it has built its fortune on jewellery. Arezzo was a major town in the Etruscan federation, thanks to its strategic position on a hill at the meeting point of three valleys. Today, it’s one of Tuscany’s wealthiest cities, as witnessed by the proliferation of jewellers, goldsmiths and an¬tique shops. The lopsided main square is a magnet for celebrations and strolls, as is the neighbouring Corso Italia. Culturally, the city belongs to Piero della Francecsa, the artist who has most left his mark on Arezzo. Medieval monuments cluster together in the northern part of Arezzo, including the Duomo, sheltered by the encircling walls of the 16th-century Fortezza, now a park with fine views.

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Cortona

Cortona’s appeal lies in its lofty setting, splendid views and medieval mood. Set close to the Umbrian border, 30 km south of Arezzo, Cortona is one of the most delightful hill towns in Tuscany. It was founded by the Etruscans, colonised by the Romans, and, after its sale to the Florentines in 1409, thrived under the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Cortona is perched majestically on a ridge of Monte Sant’Egidio, dominating the Val di Chiana. The approach road winds through terraced olive groves and vineyards, past villas, farms and monasteries.

Cortona is a tourism hotspot so its over-popularity is a given. The city’s slow burn was accelerated after the town found fame in Under the Tuscan Sun, a book which led to a film and a summer festival. Even so, once beyond the main squares, the crowds thin out. Luckily, there are enough quaint inns to restore any grumpy spirits.

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Monteriggioni

Spectacular Monteriggioni, north of Siena, is a medieval stronghold, encircled by well-preserved stone walls and fourteen towers. Like Montepulciano, this small hilltop town is emblematic of the Tuscan landscape. Often dubbed `the gateway to the Middle Ages,’ the walled outpost of Monteriggioni is the quintessential medieval town, bristling with fortifications. The hilltop town was built by the Sienese in the thirteenth century to protect their front line from their eternal rivals, the Florentines. Monteriggioni also grew wealthy as a strategic stop along the Via Francigena pilgrimage route. In terms of size and modern-day status, Monteriggioni feels more like a forgotten backwater. It is only when the popular summer medieval festival comes to town that Monteriggioni recalls its past importance, complete with feasting, falconry, jousting and battle re-enactments. Beyond the theatricality of the setting, there are few significant sights but a visit is worthwhile for the magical mood and monumentality alone.

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Montevarchi

Montevarchi is one of the biggest commercial centres of the Valdarno valley. It's a large town which is made up of mostly modern buildings however has a lovely medieval, central square. It's wealth of amenities and location on the edge of the Chianti makes it perfect to service the needs of tourists as they head into the Chianti hills.

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Cavriglia

Cavriglia is located on the top of a hill above the valdarno, on the edge of the Chianti. It's a quiet town, unknown to tourists but offers a good selection of services  and activities. Cavriglia has origins in the Etruscan times, but it was largely developed in the Roman era. This can be seen by the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista. It was an important point along the roman road that connected the Valdarno valley to the valley of Greve in Chianti. During the medieval period the Montaio Castello was the main stronghold of the area. It got completely destroyed during the fights between the Guelfi and Ghibellini in 1252, but was rebuilt and used as a defence point of the Florence area. In the early 1800s the various, small hamlets that make up the area around Cavriglia were united to create the Cavriglia municipality.

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Pianella

Pianella is a small village that is part of the municipality of Castelnuovo Berardenga. It's a rather modern village but only 15km from Siena and on the edge of the Chianti. It's a perfect village to be near on any self-catering holiday as has all necessities.

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Poggibonsi

Although not the prettiest of the Tuscan towns, Poggibonsi a small historical centre which is nice to walk around if in the town for lunch or to do some shopping. This is a working town with many small industries around it which provide it with a wide range of amenities making it the perfect town to visit for a first stop when stocking up for a self-catering holiday.

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Rapolano Terme

Rapolano Terme is a town which has a small historical centre and an extensive modern zone thanks to its development as a an important spa town and the local travertine activity. There are two large spa establishments which offer not only wellness centres but also beautiful pool areas with thermal water. The town is located on the edge of the area of Tuscany known as the Crete Senese which has characteristic clay hills.

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San Gimignano

San Gimignano, bristling with ancient towers, is often dubbed the `medieval Manhattan.’  The skyline has scarcely changed since the Middle Ages - yet the famous towers do, indeed, resemble miniature skyscrapers. San Gimignano’s towers were built in the 12th and 13th centuries by the magnati, or nobles, during the Guelf-Ghibelline conflicts. These windowless towers protected the wealthiest families in times of strife: families could retreat into the many rooms inside for months at a time. As well as defending the city, the towers served as status symbols: the higher the tower, the richer and more powerful its owner. Given its spectacular setting, San Gimignano is one of the most touristy towns in Tuscany but manages to rise above the masses. Come for its medieval mood but try and linger after the tour buses have left town. Reward yourself with a toast to medieval glory – in local Vernaccia wine, of course.

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Siena

This compact, pink-tinged city is a delight to discover on foot, from the shell-shaped Campo to the galleries full of soft-eyed Sienese madonnas. Siena is a Gothic city built on a human scale, and is effortlessly civilized and at ease with itself. Where monumental Florence has large squares and masculine statues, Siena has hidden gardens and moody wells. Siena has also made a virtue of conservatism; stringent medieval building regulations protect the fabric of the city.

In keeping with Sienese mystique, the city’s origins are shrouded in myths of wolves and martyred saints. The ancient republic flourished from 1147 until 1529, and shortly afterwards, Siena became part of the Tuscan dukedom. Change is anathema to the Sienese and the citizens are never more themselves than when celebrating the legendary Palio horse race. Still today, Siena’s tumultuous history as arch-rivals of Florence resonates in the souls of the Sienese, particularly during the Palio.

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Vagliagli

South of Castellina lies the scenic hamlet of Vagliagli, perfectly placed for the southern end of the Chianti wine route. This once fortified outpost is surrounded by beguiling wine estates that also date back to medieval times. The sleepy 13th-century hamlet is named after the `valley of garlic’ it surveys, with today’s views more of valleys and hilltops. Admire the handsome, stone-built village and parish church before setting off on a hiking trail, cycle ride or a picnic in the vineyards. The wine-tasting experience may be central to Valgliagli but the hamlet is also a stepping stone to the Chianti strongholds of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole. These beacons of small-town Chianti life are awash with temping wine and food shops linked to local estates. Together, this trio of tiny towns offer enough culture to make a change from estate-visiting. From medieval churches to small archaeological collections, it’s Tuscany in miniature.

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Volterra

Many Tuscan towns are authentically medieval, as is Volterra. Today’s city is delightful, less touristy than San Gimignano, Cortona or Pienza but arguably just as beguiling. Even so, it’s an authentic medieval city with an Etruscan sensibility. Perched on a majestic, windswept ridge overlooking the Sienese hills, Volterra commands its setting and remains the most Etruscan of Tuscan cities. Between the 8th and 4th centuries BC, Etruria Propria flourished as a confederation of 12 city-states in Central Italy. Enigmatic Volterra began as the Etruscan city-state of Velathri but became the important Roman municipality of Volterra in the 4th century BC. Scrape the surface of Volterra and discover the Etruscan spirit beneath. Expect temple walls recycled into Roman buildings and ancient epigraphs encrusted in Renaissance palaces. Walking round the defensive fortifications reveals views of this multi-layered medieval town, with its Roman and Etruscan walls, and the wide sweep of countryside below.

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Experience an official tuscany tour with

Tuscany Cooking class and local food shopping

“From the food market to the table”. Learn how to cook a proper meal as every Italian family does. Not only experience the cooking class but come with us to the local food market to choose the best products and ingredients to cook with. Learn some Italian words and phrases to feel like a local! We will take care of all these passages to lead you through an authentic experience, with the help of an expert local chef that will unveil you all the secrets of Italian cuisine. From fresh pasta to dessert, with other surprise dishes changing with the rhythms of nature, cook your own meal and then enjoy it with your friends and family and the other people in the class. You will see, nothing makes people closer more than sharing food, wine and good stories, sitting all together at table like a typical Italian lunch is.

from 131,79 US Dollar

CAR HIRE WITH DRIVER Countryside of Tuscany, CHIANTI land to explore and taste.

A wonderfull day with few stops for panoramic photos of the beautifull countryside of Chianti, guided from an English speacking professional driver with a confortable Mercedes E class, the lunch and wine tasting it will be on original Chianti winery on the heart of Chianti Classico where the costumer can eat the typical food from our land and taste our spetacular wines.
The pick up and the drop off will be by the Hotel or anywhere the client want in Florence city.

from 366,71 US Dollar

Bargello Museum Tour

Tour to one of Florence’s most beautiful and important museums: the Bargello Palace, renowned all around Europe for its incredible works of sculpture. It displays many important sculptures of Michelangelo and Donatello, along with other examples of minor arts.
HIGHLIGHTS
• Skip the line with your pre-reserved entrance tickets
• See the David and St. George by Donatello, the Bacchus and Tondo Pitti by Michelangelo and more!
• Spend two hours exploring the Bargello Museum with a professional local guide

from 45,84 US Dollar

Florence: E-Bike Tour

Join the guided group bike tour reach your destination easier by riding on your bike or an E-bike and enjoying Florence by going on two wheels.
Cycle down through narrow streets of the history of the cradle of the Renaissance, as you ride past you can admire the landmark monuments and learn about them from our professional and friendly guide.
See and photograph spectacular sights, such as the Santa Croce Church, Duomo, Piazza Signoria, and more of the heart of the medieval Florentine Republic. while taking in the magnificent art of Michelangelo and cycle over the River Arno.
TOUR HIGHLIGHT
• Cycle along the streets of Florence and on a guided e-bike tour with a professional and friendly guide
• Enjoy the stunning sights and landmarks of Florence in not more than two hours
• Get inside tips from your guide to make the most of your time in Florence, and Enjoy a Gelato at the end of your tour

from 81,94 US Dollar
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