We’ve explored, felt and tasted what Tuscany has to offer (hint – it’s a lot!) and we’re giving you our insider tips on one of our favourite Italian regions. Journey through ancient sites, sample delicious food and be blown away by the area’s natural beauty. So jump in, buckle up and let’s go explore…
The Piazza dei Miracoli – the ‘square of miracles’ is Pisa’s crowning glory, housing the Cathedral and its bell tower, otherwise known as the Leaning Tower. If you’re visiting for a day trip we recommend booking tickets online beforehand and visiting early to avoid crowds. The best way to get here is by train as parking can be difficult; ensure you wear comfy shoes as it’s a bit of a walk from the station. Once you’re here take in the fantastic Corinthian architecture of the tower itself, and look out for the towers of lead counterweights keeping it from toppling over! Climb the stairs if you dare for a terrific view over the city. And don’t forget your signature photo pretending to hold the leaning tower up. The Cathedral of Pisa, built in the 11th century and the Baptistery of St. John are also worth a look.
Stay at Valle Gaia Campsite and enjoy beautiful views of the Tuscan hills, a large pool complex, the parc’s delicatessen and wine cellar.
This medieval hilltop town is said to be the birthplace of the skyscraper and once boasted 72 towers, as wealthy families vied to build the tallest. Fourteen remain but there’s still plenty of opportunities to admire where our desire to build tall began. Start at Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) in the heart of San Gimignano where you can see not only the Cathedral but also Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo del Popolo, the Loggia and various medieval towers such as Rognosa Tower, Chigi Tower, Grossa Tower and Salvucci Towers. Wander around with a Gelato (we love gelato world champion Sergio Dondoli’s creations, at Piazza della Cisterna 4) or take a horse and cart around to view the town in a more sedate and enjoyable way. For a bite to eat try D!Vineria only yards from the main square in San Gimignano great for wine, charcuterie and light bites.
Stay at Norcenni Girasole Club Campsite and settle in for some impressive views of the Tuscan hills, plus enjoy two pool complexes and cookery classes.
Your visit to the bustling capital city promises a history lesson whichever direction your wanders take you. The Trevi Fountain (Trevi Square) marks the terminus of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed 2,000 years ago, which transports the Salone Springs water a full 20km to the city. Make sure you take some coins for throwing in the fountain and remember, hold the coin in your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder, and visit early in the day to avoid crowds. For a fantastic panorama of the city, head to Villa Medici, near to the Spanish Steps – with its gorgeous gardens offering a lovely summer retreat and 360 degree vistas (there’s usually something worth catching at the galleries here too). Finish the day with a walk or taxi ride to Roma Sparita, Piazza di Santa Cecilia 24; a tasty gem tucked away in one of the most beautiful piazzas in Trastevere. Simply perfect pasta dishes with sauces like only a true Italian can make…
Stay at Camping Village Fabulous Campsite where there’s public transport available to take you straight into the heart of the Eternal City.
Cavallino Matto (Crazy Horse) Fun Park is the largest theme park in Tuscany set in pinewoods that run along the beach of the Mar Ligure at Marina di Donoratico, near Livorno. The park offers rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy, including the most hardened thrill seekers. Try Shocking Tower, Air Max and Project 1 – if you dare! We recommend you take a picnic to avoid expensive theme park prices, and get here early to beat the queues.
Stay at Ville Degli Ulivi Campsite On Elba Island, close to the lovely harbour of Marina di Campo with its huge, safe beach.
The Chianti Trail
Not just for wine lovers, the Chianti Trail runs between Florence and Sienna (take Chiantiagina-SR222), and through some of the loveliest scenery in Europe. If you do fancy a little wine tasting, there are lots of Chianti wineries and wine bars along the way, so make sure you don’t have to do the driving (or taste and don’t swallow!) Try the Vinoteca la Porta del Chianti on Via Castelguinelli, Figurine e Incisa Valdarno (open Thursday to Sunday). A friendly, atmospheric little spot with a great daily-changing wine-and-food menu, celebrating the very best of the region.
Stay at Norcenni Girasole Club Campsite book yourself onto one of the parc’s great value trips to Tuscany’s best bits, including Florence, Pisa and Siena.
Go Sunflower hunting
Travelling in July? Don’t miss the sunflower fields! Between mid-July – August the Tuscan countryside glows yellow when the sunflowers bloom in the summer heat. If you’re day tripping to see the town of San Gimignano you can stop off to see the sunflowers near Taverna di Bibbiano. Also if you’re visiting Siena off of the S408 you’ll find fields nearby – perfect for photography lovers.
Stay at Parco delle Piscine Campsite – Perched on the edge of the stunning hilltop town of Sarteano.
One of the staples of Umbrian cuisine, black truffles are served grated over pasta, mixed into sauces and in pâtés. They’re so pricey they’re are often referred to as Umbria’s black gold. You can sample a delicious bowl of truffle pasta at Camping Il Collaccio whilst enjoying panoramic views of the Umbrian countryside from the Porcello Felice (Happy Pig) Ristorante. Wash down with a suitably golden beverage – Aperol Spritz – Italy’s signature summer cocktail of choice.
Stay at Il Collaccio Campsite and book yourself in for some “Italian Mamma” themed cooking lessons while you’re here!
Outdoor hot springs at San Filippo
For an off-the-beaten track Tuscan experience, Bagni San Filippo is a small village of the Val D’Orcia in southern Tuscany. If you venture just outside you’ll find the beautiful calcified hot springs and waterfalls surrounded by the ancient woodland. Tuscany has a network of hot springs, but these are still something of a secret. Access is free to this natural beauty, too. We recommend comfy shoes and heading home after as you won’t come out smelling like roses due to the sulphur in the water! Just so you know…