Explore the major sights and delights of Tuscany

Tuscany is one of Italy's most loved regions, with its Cypress-lined rolling hills and green mountains instantly recognisable to all. If you're thinking of visiting Tuscany but don't quite know where to start, read on to find out about the major sights worth seeing in Florence, Pisa and Siena that help make it a place that picture books are made of...

The countryside of Tuscany © ronnybas - Fotolia.com

Florence

Referred to as one of the prettiest cities in Europe and considered the home of Italian Renaissance art, Florence is much admired for its historical and natural beauty. As the capital of Tuscany it's one of the busiest fashion centres, and half of Italy's craftsmen were once located here. Visit Via Roma for its boutiques and handcrafted leather goods' workshops.

The Ponte Vecchio, Florence © Perseomedusa - Fotolia.com

The River Arno is Tuscany's most important water source and divides Florence from East to West. The New Bridge gives picturesque views of both sides of the river but for a great panoramic shot of Florence visit Piazzale Michelangelo on the south side. From here you can see the medieval walk and the green dome of the synagogue, an iconic view of Florence.

The Great Synagogue of Florence was built at the end of the 19th century in Moorish style. It's a stunning building with bronze carvings, mosaics and marble covering every inch of the inside.

Sante Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Florence © Icononiac - Dreamstime.com

The dome of the Florence Cathedral dominates the skyline and dates back to 1420 where construction began on the site of a seventh century church. You can still see these remains inside the crypt. The cathedral is the fourth largest in the world and is free to enter. If you prefer museums there are several to choose from or take a stroll through one of the city's parks.

Pisa

Just one hour from Florence lies the small city of Pisa. On the map for its famous bell tower, Pisa attracts hoards of tourists who come to take pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa but it's not the only attraction here. The Piazza dei Miracoli, north of the old town centre, also houses other religious buildings: the Duomo Cathedral, a stunning Baptistery the largest of its kind in the country), and the beautiful Monumental Cemetery.

Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower © Saffron Blaze - Wikimedia Commons

You'll find several churches and museums throughout the city and the best way to explore Pisa is by foot strolling past palaces and mansions along the river banks or stopping in one of the cafes or shops of Borgo Stretto. If you do want to see inside the leaning tower, make sure you pre-book as visitor numbers are limited.

Siena

Siena is a gothic city at the centre of Tuscany, built on steep hills and dates back to the 13th century. Il Campo, the centre of the city is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy with cafes, restaurants and gothic palaces.

The Piazza del Campo, Siena © lapas77 - Fotolia.com

Other places not to miss in Tuscany include Vinci for its olive groves and vineyards, Certaldo for its traditional red brick houses and restored frescoes, and Lucca with its Renaissance-era city walls among other important historical sites. Wherever you choose you go, Tuscany is sure to charm and enchant...

Lisa Eldridge

Lisa Eldridge
Posted on Tuesday 18th February 2014 in: Culture Europe Excursions

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