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Tuscany is as idyllic as they say. This famous Italian region is postcard-perfect, cinematic, and authentic. It gives you a quintessential sense of charm that lives in the rolling hills with cypress trees, the numerous vineyards, the tasty cuisine, and, of course, the many historic villages. The red rooftops, the scent of the fresh products on the markets, the superb views from the hilltops, making a tour of the Tuscan villages is such an indispensable thing to do in the region as going to Florence and Pisa. It is among the expansive countryside that you find the simple, unrestricted beauty. And if travel stands for something, it’s this. Let’s board a Vespa (or Fiat) and head to the heart of Tuscany to be mesmerized by its magnificent villages.
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There’s something of a fairytale perfection in Anghiari’s panorama. As you drive a provincial road a hill arises in the distance looking like one big castle. By reaching it you encounter a fortified village with labyrinthine streets, old churches, and perched houses. The sight is very photogenic, Arrezzo province’s finest. Give yourself the pleasure to wander the narrow streets and have a meal at a village restaurant tasting fagiano tartufato (a pheasant with truffles), a local specialty. The village was a place of the famous Battle of Anghiari between Milan and the Republic of Florence of distant 1440 that lasted only one day and inspired Leonardo da Vinci to paint it. Curiously, the attempt of the genius artist failed and the oeuvre was never finished.
Casale Marittimo is a visual spectacle. With a sea of brick houses pressed together in a competition to reach the sky, it occupies one of the hills in the Pisa province next to the Tyrrhenian Sea. One of the best villages in Tuscany to visit, Casale Marittimo offers arched pathways, medieval walls, cozy courtyards, and an unlimited number of photo spots. Having a coffee with something sweet on one of its compact piazzas is an art of bella vita. If you’re hungry for more Tuscan village adventures, the nearby Guardistallo has an equal amount of picturesqueness. Don’t miss a chance to take a dip, head straight to the sandy beaches of Marina di Cecina.
The blue of the Thyrrean sea is such an essential part of Tuscan panoramas as the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia or Renaissance squares of Florence. And when it comes to the best Tuscan hilltop towns to visit the spectacular Castiglione della Pescaia is on top of the list. It’s the same iconic stone-clad streets, historic squares, windy streets, but with all-encompassing sea views. With a proud badge of the second most-visited destination in the region (preceding only Florence itself), this town is not your definition of a hidden gem. But it’s definitely worth visiting for the magical synergy of the aquamarine blue and the terracotta. And there will be beaches too, plenty of them. So be prepared for exploring the charming streets and museums in the morning and enjoying the sun lounging on one of the chic beaches in the afternoon.
Not only San Casciano dei Bagni is one of the best hill towns to visit in Tuscany for its pretty looks, but it also boasts a rich thermal leisure history. Here it’s easy to do as the Romans did, you can enjoy the pleasures of warm water in the preserved old bagni (thermal baths) that largely retain their old charms. Apart from wellness, the village has a few interesting sights like the Collegiate Church of SS. Leonard and Cassia, Turrito Castle, and a kaleidoscope of local eateries. If you choose to stay in the vicinity of San Casciano dei Bagni, the many agriturismo properties are a great pick for a relaxing holiday.
A testament to the elevated architectural thought of medieval Italy, Lucignano is a masterpiece of civic planning. Strictly elliptical in shape, it’s this kind of an ideal Tuscan village not only by the looks but by design too. Encircled by walls, protected by the fortress, overlooking the charming Chiana Valley, Lucignano is among the top destinations of Arezzo. Give yourself the pleasure of visiting every single church for magnificent interiors, self-indulge in local trattorias, walk inside the sleepy yet gorgeous Museo Civico, buy fresh fruits at the village market and feel the simple pleasures of the Tuscan way of life, no rush.
Literally carved into a rock, Pitigliano is a sight to behold. Located in the Tuscan province of Grosetto, this hill town looks like a scene from a fantasy movie. Nevertheless, it’s very real and open for an exciting discovery. Step inside this maze of ancient streets that remember the Etruscans and feature the superb views of the surrounding valley. Apart from a series of gorgeous piazzas and show-stopping churches, Pitigliano is also renowned for its Jewish heritage, there’s even a working synagogue inside the old city walls. Be sure to stay until the sunset when this wonderful Tuscan village is lightening up creating an even more magical experience.
Rising above the hills of Chianti, Barberino Val d’Elsa is eye candy. Its two streets are filled with restaurants and cafes that overlook the Tuscan countryside. The village was built on the ruins of the once-powerful town of Semifonte. Also, in medieval times it used to be an important stop along the road connecting Rome and Florence offering travelers a refuge. It keeps doing it today too, albeit with a great slow tourism proposition and bucolic views. Be sure to walk to Cappella di San Michele Arcangelo lost among the vineyards around the village. It features a replica of the iconic Brunelleschi dome of Florence Duomo and a fantastic setting on a viewpoint with 360-degree panoramas of the surroundings.
It’s easy to mistake Sorano for another immensely popular Italian destination Matera of recent James Bond fame. This Tuscan village also emerges from a tuff stone, there are cave pathways and dwellings, narrow streets snake between ancient buildings, and like Matera you have an awe-inspiring panorama of medieval perfection. The difference is that Sorano hasn’t been yet discovered by the mass tourism on a scale that Matera has and you can have a comfortable authentic visit without considerable crowds and hassle. Masso Leopoldino fortress is a must-visit here providing great bird-eye views over the village rooftops. The iconic bistecca alla fiorentina (beefsteak Florentine style) is usually prepared of the Grosseto cattle’s meat so having it in one of the restaurants of Sorano is a great addition to a visit.
It’s hard to get enough of the beautiful Tuscan villages, the more you visit the bigger is the wish to discover further. Suvereto is a jewel that should be on everyone’s list. The arched medieval passages, the overgrown stone steps, romantic castle ruins on top, this village looks like a painting from some Victorian 18th-century travel guide that Byron could have used during his Grand Tour of Italy. It’s hard to resist the charms of this place that takes you a few hundred years back in time. For architectural delights explore the Rocca Aldobrandesca fortress and step inside the Romanesque church of San Giusto and the Museum of Sacred Art. Suvereto is surrounded by the fantastic Val di Cornia natural area so you also have a chance to embark on scenic hikes full of Tuscan scents.
Complementing the lush Mediterranean greenery, Cetona is among the best Tuscan villages to visit in Siena province. The brownish-red streets are drowning in flowers here, the castle dominates the panorama and the food is mouthwateringly delicious. In fact, Cetona would work great for consuming the world-class Tuscan culinary proposition in a wonderful setting. Find a terrace of your choice and try the local superstars like pici (thick Siena pasta served with a variety of sauces), gnudi senesi (a gnocchi-like local speciality) accompanied by Chianti wine. Don’t miss a chance to grab some desserts like berriquocoli cookies and sweet panforte di Siena cake.
With a population of fewer than 20 people, an exceptional clifftop position above the Tyrrhenian Sea, and an abundance of curious sights, Populonia is one of the most unique villages in Tuscany. An ancient tree-lined road leads you to a castle with walls and several buildings inside. Once a city-state in the pre-historic Etruria and a large metallurgical center, today Populonia is a charming windswept village with lots of things to discover. After walking around the fortress be sure to also explore the surrounding Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park which features several ancient necropolises. All of it against the stunning blue sea background.