I doubt that any traveler interested in Europe would ask where is Tuscany. People do want to know where is Tuscany, Italy on a map, though. And, oh, yes, Tuscany is not a town; it’s a region.
Tuscany is known for art, castles, and wine. That’s the big picture, and discoveries are everywhere. Tuscany delivers as much in one region of Italy as some entire countries could, with almost 9,000 sq. miles and 4 million inhabitants. Some famous places to visit offer diversity, from hilltop towns to valleys and forests.
The Tuscan history and timeline begins with The Etruscans, who lived from the 10th to 5th centuries BC. The Roman period followed, then the Middle Ages and centuries of Republic Governments. The Renaissance ensued, defining the region under the monarchial dominance of the Medici Family. Let me answer, where is Tuscany Italy, and show you 10 famous places in Tuscany.
Where Is Tuscany In Italy
One of the largest regions of Italy, Tuscany is located in the central-western part of the country. Tuscany meets the Tyrrhenian Sea with approximately 130 miles of coastline and includes Elba Island, part of the Tuscan archipelago.
Further inland, Tuscany features portions of the Apenine mountain range, which spans almost the entire length of Italy. Florence, its capital, sits at the foothills. To the north, Tuscany borders the regions of Liguria and Emilia-Romana. To the south and east, Lazio, Umbria, and Marches are the neighboring regions.
It’s wise to focus on a small part of the country you visit rather than trying to see it all! This couldn’t be more true than Tuscany in Italy. It’s famous for many reasons.
Undoubtedly, the first thing that comes to mind when visiting Tuscany is its history and the arts. But did you know that Tuscany has some very famous beach destinations? That it has many hilltop towns and natural beauty away from the tourists to visit? It has hiking and mountain biking tours. And the food and wine, oh boy!
To ask where Tuscany is is to ask about its famous destinations. Tuscany is more than just one place. It holds such a selection of personalities to satisfy everyone’s expectations. Here are 10 destinations to help answer: Where is Tuscany?
Arguably the most famous city in not only Tuscany but all of Italy. The epicenter of the Renaissance started here—the capital of Tuscany, Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best-known sites are the Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, and the Galleria dell’Accademia, housing Michelangelos David. An afternoon Negroni and a nice steak Florentine completes the day! Insider tip. Try an off-season visit!
The City of The Leaning Tower. Located in the “Piazza dei Miracoli,” or Square of Miracles, the Romanesque white marble tower was already leaning upon its completion in 1372. Go ahead and climb to the top for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you are a first-time visitor to Italy, Pisa should be in the “Where is Tuscany” column. Also seen near the Piazza are the Monumental Cemetary, the Botanical Gardens, and the Lungarno-Pisa’s River Walk. Insiders tip. For great cafes, fresh pastries, gelato, and Tuscan soup with focaccia, go outside the Piazza and walk down lovely narrow streets.
Should your home base be Tuscany’s capital, a great day trip from Florence would be to Siena- another UNESCO heritage site. With its medieval brick buildings, Gothic architecture, and fan-shaped Piazza del Campo, Siena sits over three hills and is home to the famous Il Palio, a horse race held twice a year where bareback riders compete and represent the 17 wards of Siena.
Enjoy Siena slowly as you make your way through the narrow streets and steep stairs. You will eventually come upon the breathtaking Siena Duomo, built in the Gothic style from white stone and pink marble. Stop for an espresso and Siena sweets like Ricciarelli and Panforte. Insiders tip. The Palio takes place on July 2 and August 16
4. San Gimignano
If your travel plans and research answered, Where is Tuscany Italy on a map, then you should have located San Gimignano. Finding this top medieval town will check all the boxes- A walled hilltop city with natural beauty, picturesque piazzas, museums, churches, great food, and wine– yes, yes, and yes!
San Gimignano earned its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1990, one of 58 in Italy. San Gimignano once had over 70 tower houses, symbolizing the wealth and strength of the families of the day. Of the dozen or so that remain, a few are worth visiting, notably the Torre Grossa or the great tower in the Palazzo del Popolo. Also, the twin towers, Torri del Salvucci, and the devil’s tower, Torre del Diavolo. Insiders tip. Don’t miss some of the best gelato and their award-winning local wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Another Renaissance hilltop town with piazzas, cathedrals, and architecture is Pienza, nestled into the scenic landscape of the Val D’Orcia. Pienza was the concept of Pope Pius II, who was born there and wanted to renovate and reimagine the “Ideal Town” starting in 1459.
The recently renovated Duomo stands in Palazzo Piccolomini, the Pope’s residence and birth name, then relax in Piazza Pio II, Pienza’s main square. Find the Cathedral of Santa Maria with the Coat of Arms of the Pius on the façade, and visit the Palazzo Borgo, now a Diocesan Museum, with religious objects and sacred vestments donated from PiusII. Insiders tip. Take a ten-minute walk outside the city to a trail surrounded by olive trees, wheat fields, and cypress trees! Pieve di Corsignano.
For a perfect day trip to one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany, you must visit Montepulciano. Set between Val D’Orcia and Val Di Chiana in the southwest corner of the region, Montepulciano boasts some of the most stunning countryside views of hills and vineyards.
Journey back in time through the narrow main street, Il Corso, to visit beautiful palaces like Palazzo Cocconi and Palazzo Avignonesi. Undoubtedly, you will reach the city’s highest point, Piazza Grande, and find a place to sip the famous delicious Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and maybe a local street food- a lamb skewer called Arrosticini. Insiders tip. An uphill barrel rolling competition between the eight districts called Bravio delle Botti takes place on the last Sunday in August.
7. Val D’Orcia
This is the iconic valley of rolling hills, cypress trees, vineyards, and hilltop borghis of Tuscany, Italy. The small towns within the valley have been used as a film location for producers from Federico Fellini to Ridley Scott.
Within the valley of the province of Siena, along the Orcia River, are splendid towns of the Renaissance, like Montalcino, San Quirico, Radicofani, Pienza, and Montepulciano. These and other cities within the valley are located within the DOC wine zone, producing exceptional Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes. Insiders tip. Some of the best free hot springs and thermal baths are in the valley, like Bagni San Filippo.
8. Elba Island
When you research where is Tuscany, Italy, on a map, you don’t expect to go to an archipelago. Elba Island is the largest of the seven islands of the Tuscan archipelago and the third largest in Italy, following Sicily and Sardinia.
Perhaps most famous for Emperor Napolean’s exile in 1814, Elba has everything from archaeological museums to military fortresses, like Castello del Volterallo. But, of course, the clear blue water of the Tyrenein Sea may be the main attraction. Scuba, snorkeling, hiking, golfing, and mountain biking round out the many activities to make your visit to Elba memorable. Insiders tip. Consider visiting some of the best beaches in Tuscany during the off-season. The water may be cooler, but you can feel like a local.
Popularised by the film “Under the Tuscan Sky,” Cortona brings visitors for its charm and history. Entering from the city gates will bring you to the Piazza della Repubblica, Cortona’s main square.
The Etruscan Museum brings you a glimpse into past civilizations. Visit Santa Margherita Sanctuary, patron of the city, and Grifalco Fortress should be on your tour. Insiders tip. Visit the shops with handmade gifts of wood and leather and local foods like Ribollita and pasta with wild boar ragu!
Another spectacular Etruscan city in Tuscany to visit is Volterra. One of the 12 cities of the Etruscan League, Volterra is known as the City of Alabaster. Visit the Alabaster Museum in this walled hilltop town and the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum.
From the central Piazza, visit the Pallazzo Pretorio and the Pallazzo dei Priori, Tuscany’s oldest town hall, and the ancient Etruscan Acropolis surrounded by the Etruscan walls and gates. Insiders tip. A three-day “Volterra Card” gives you access to almost all the major sites.
FAQs about Tuscany’s Geography
Is Tuscany Close to Florence or Rome?
The region of Tuscany includes Florence, which is 170 miles from Rome, another region.
What is the Most Famous Part of Tuscany?
The most famous part of Tuscany may be the Val d’Orcia, the beaches, or the mountains.
What is Tuscany Famous For?
Tuscany is famous for its natural beauty, art, castles, and wine.