When the idea of a holiday to Tuscany comes up, most of us naturally think immediately of historic cities like Florence and Siena: winding cobbled streets, bustling piazzas, world famous architecture and alfresco fine dining in the street.
And there’s every reason for us to think of Tuscany this way: the region is indeed home to some of the most iconic art and architecture, and some of the most charming cities, in the entire world. But if you’re looking for hotels or villas for rent in Tuscany, and you’re keen to see a different side of the region, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of options available.
To start with, Tuscany is about so much more when it comes to towns than just Florence and Siena: both are beautiful places where it is impossible not to be entirely intoxicated with beauty and charm, but there are also many other towns such as Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano and Arezzo which offer visitors different experiences and further opportunities to get an authentic taste of Tuscan city life, and Tuscan culture.
The plentiful small towns and villages also allow visitors to experience a way of life that is hard to find elsewhere: the slow pace and laid back atmosphere feels a world away from the major cities for which the region is famed.But if you’re looking for something completely different, and you want to explore Tuscany not just for its art, culture and heritage but also for its outstanding natural beauty and varied landscapes, below are some of the best places to look at when it comes to planning the itinerary for your trip.
The Etruscan Coast
If you’re visiting Tuscany in the summer months, it makes sense to make the most of the region’s warm, dry summers by heading to the Etruscan Coast. This stretch of coastline is full of wide, sandy beaches where you and your family can relax and enjoy playing in the sand and in the beautiful, blue flag beaches.
There are also plenty of rocky coves and secluded bays which are great photo opportunities, and make for perfect places to get some peace and quiet. The whole coast is a great place to enjoy the great outdoors, whether it’s by going trekking, cycling or horse riding. There are also lots of options available when it comes to water sports on many of the beaches, so you can rest assured that even the most energetic thrill-seekers in your group will have plenty to keep them occupied!
The Etruscan Coast is a location that feels a far cry from the busy cities of Florence and Siena, and even from the small and sleepy villages inland – it’s a real Mediterranean beach paradise, but it’s much less well known than the famous beach resorts of Spain, so you can be sure that you’ll get the relaxation and tranquillity that you’re looking for from a peacefully family beach holiday.
Elba and the Tuscan Archipelago
Elba is situated in the Tuscan Archipelago, and is the third largest island in Italy (after Sicily and Sardinia). The Tuscan Archipelago is a national park, and is the largest marine park in all of Europe –Elba, as its largest island, is its crown jewel.
For those who are interested in European history, Elba is probably a relatively familiar name. The island is famous for being the place where the immensely significant figure of the French Revolution and one of history’s greatest military minds, Napoleon Bonaparte, lived in exile during the year 1814. One of Elba’s many hiking trails leads to the house where Napoleon lived during this time, after which he famously returned to France to restore his rule before eventually being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
Along with the abundance of hiking trails and opportunities for mountain biking, Elba has lots of water activities to keep you occupied. In fact, the island’s beautiful beaches and sparkling blue water are really what make it so famous and desirable. With opportunities for snorkelling, diving, water sports, and just relaxing on the Caribbean-esque beaches, Elba is a true paradise and a haven for lovers of the outdoors.
The Apennine Mountains
Most of us think of Tuscany as a predominately warm weather destination, and the images we have of it in our minds are set to the backdrop of deep blue skies and the warm glowing of the Mediterranean sun. But when winter comes around, Tuscany’s varied landscape means it can offer an entirely different kind of holiday experience.High up in the range of mountains known as the Apennines, visitors can enjoy the unique experience of Tuscany dressed in white – and, as you can imagine, it looks like a true winter wonderland!
Outdoor activities abound, with tobogganing, snow shoeing, skiing and snowboarding all options for those looking to have fun in the powdery snow. There are plenty of ski resorts in the region, including the large Abetoneand the popular Monte Amiata, which is situated amidst one of the largest beech tree forests in Europe and is beautiful, peaceful setting.
In the summer months, the mountains are just as full of opportunities for outdoors adventures. Whether you want to go hiking, horse riding or mountain biking, there’s plenty to do that will keep you occupied and keep the adrenaline pumping – and all set to the backdrop of one of the most tranquil and visually stunning mountain regions in Europe.