Rolling Tuscan hills, perfect 2-lane country roads, ancient hill towns, cities, the beach, golf, mountain biking, Etruscan culture — wine, olive oil, truffles, local cuisine, vineyards, olive orchards, the Strada del Vino delle Colline Pisane & la historia Toscana all within reach by bicycle, car or train.
San Gimignano - 29 km (35 min)
This ancient, walled town became a ''comune'' in 1199. Currently it has 14 towers and is exemplary of Romanesque & Gothic architecture. Originally an Etruscan village named Silvia, in 450 AD it was named after the bishop of Modena, San Gimignano, who saved the city from Attila the Hun. At one point there were 72 towers, mainly due to prominent families flaunting their money and influence. In 1348 the plague killed most of the local populace, which debilitated the town's power and eventually led to San Gimignano submitting to Florence's rule in 1353.
Volterra - 32 km (38 min)
A neolithic settlement and important Etruscan center, Velathri, later known as Volterra, is believed to have been continuously inhabited since the 8th century BC. The well preserved Porta dell' Arco still stands from the 3rd century BC but the 3 faces who watch over the gate have had their features worn away over the last 2300 years. Over the centuries, Volterra has been under Etruscan, Episcopate, Florentine, Medici family and Grand Duchy rule.
Florence - 78 km (60 min)
Lauded for centuries, Firenze speaks for itself - the cradle of the Renaissance, the Medici family, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, the Uffizi, David, the Mona Lisa... Renaissance along with traces of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical and modern architecture can be found. Chianti, Super Tuscans, sangiovese, bistecca alla fiorentina, cuisine, fashion - Florence is a timeless classic. Firenze has it all.
For sightseeing purposes, generally when people refer to Chianti the geographical region, they usually mean the Chianti Classico subregion (this is because the greater Chianti region also covers a large portion of Tuscany) which is approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) with Florence to the north & Siena to the south. The 4 communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti are within the Classico subregion limits with parts of Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Casciano in Val di Pesa & Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in the province of Florence, & Castelnuovo Berardenga and Poggibonsi in the province of Siena also included within the Chianti Classico boundaries. The greater Chianti region covers a large portion of Tuscany & within its boundaries are several overlapping wine appellations or Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). The overall Chianti DOCG (which is also the greater Chianti region) covers all sangiovese-based Chianti wine and stretches from the western reaches of the province of Pisa near the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, to the Florentine hills in the province of Florence to the north, to the province of Arezzo in the east & the Siena hills in the south. Any Sangiovese-based wine made as per the Chianti guidelines from these regions can be labelled with the basic Chianti DOCG if the producer wishes to.
Siena - 78 km (68 min)
The historic center of Siena has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horserace held twice a year. Like other Tuscan hill towns, Siena was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (900-400 BC) by a tribe called the Saina, for which the city is named. The Etruscans were an advanced people who changed the face of central Italy, and Tuscany, also named for the Etruscans, was the heart of ''Etrusca''.
Lucca - 66 km (60 min)
Lucca is a city and comune on the Serchio, a fertile plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also the capital of the Province of Lucca. One thing for which it is famous is its intact Renaissance-era city walls. Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC.
Pisa - 50 km (40 min)
Straddling the River Arno just before it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea, this is the capital city of the Province of Pisa. Although known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city's cathedral), the city of over 89,940 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. Much of the city's architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics. Many people also don't realize that Pisa has wonderful beaches nearby.
Home to to the University of Pisa which has a history going back to the 12th century, there is also the mythic Napoleonic Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies as the best sanctioned Superior Graduate Schools in Italy.
A quick hop down the road...
Don't feel like driving much on a particular day? Within a few minutes from your doorstep, you can see LOCAL, nearby towns and sights like these: Palaia, Montefoscoli, Peccioli, Legoli, Montaione, Montelupio, and Lajatico where Andrea Bocelli performs every summer (this year it's July 30...):
Beaches in Tuscany
Many people are surprised by the beauty of the beaches in Italy, you'll see why. There are many, many beaches in Tuscany to visit, including islands like Isola d'Elba's beaches which are absolutely stunning.
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