Castles and ancient towns in Tuscany

What to see ideas, main areas of interest.

The Chianti area – Chiantishire

The Chianti province or often known to wine tourist as the Chianti shire. it is composed by the following comune (Italian town administrative area): San Casciano Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Poggibonsi, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga.

Greve in Chianti is surely worth a visit. It is a small picturesque tuscan village with a lively town square, where you can find many good restaurant and the discerning tourist can sample all tuscan wines in this little village. You can also visit the nearby Verrazzano Castle now transformed in farm/winery and villa.

It is also worth to spend some time in the nearby village of Panzano in Chianti, an ancient etruscan village, with his medieval well preserved castle.

Montalcino

Montalcino is an Italian comune famous for producing the Brunello di Montalcino wine. This little town is about 42 km from Siena and close to the nearby Monte Amiata.

It is a characteristic tuscan hill top town with well preserved medieval historical center. Its 13th century city walls are still intact. Chiesa di Sant’Agostino and the Duomo are probably the most interesting part of the old center. Like most medieval towns in Tuscany Montalcino is divided in contrade, with distinguishing colour and themes, twice a year they meet for a breath taking archery contest.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a medieval and renaissance town in the southern part of Tuscany about 74 km south east of Siena. It is worldwide famous for its high quality wines.

The town is famous for being mostly car free, and easy to walk. Main sights include: Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo Tarugi, Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, The Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Biagio.

San Gimignano

San Giminiano is a medieval walled small town, it is very famous for its towers and its white wine called Vernaccia di San Giminiano.

While cities like Bologna and Florence lost their towers due to urban renewal, San Giminiano managed to preserve them intact. In total there are 14 towers in the town, once representing each powerful family in the area.

Other sights are: churches Collegiata, and Sant’Agostino, Palazzo comunale di San Giminiano now a museum and gallery, famous to have been visited by Dante Alighieri representing the Florentine republic and also famous because of its frescoes.

Bolgheri

In the comune of Castagneto Carducci, under the province of Livorno. Bolgheri became famous in 1974 for its wine Sassicaia winning over several bordeaux wine in a event organised by the American wine magazine Decanter. In the area, farmers are growing some of the international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, however because of its mild and ventilated microclimate the wines have a superior quality.

Mugello

Mugello is a mountain area in the northern part of Tuscany, between Bologna and Florence. It is a green valley divided in part by the Sieve river one of the main affluent of the Arno river in Florence. Apart from the beautiful scenic sight, there are many Medicean Villas and Castles to be visited such as and the Villa di Cafaggiolo in Barberino di Mugello, Park and Villa Demidoff in Vaglia, the Palazzo dei Vicari in Scarperia.

Important motorbike events are held at the Mugello circuit, where the annual MOTOGP takes places attracting many Italians and international tourists. Also the scuderia Ferrari uses the Mugello circuit to test its F1 racing cars.

Certaldo

Certaldo is a picturesque hill top town in the Val d’Elsa area. For those interested in Italian literature it might be a nice surprise because it is the home town of Giovanni Boccaccio author of the Decameron. His historical house is open to the visitors as its nice medieval town centre.

Maremma Area

Maremma is a large area in the southern part of Tuscany bordering with Lazio, in the past mostly composed by marshland was drained by the Fascist regime, when also the malaria was defeated. Maremma is known because its Butteri, Italian style cowboys. The area has significant natural unspoiled beauty and named of the best Italian destination but often snubbed by the international tourists who prefer to stay around Florence, Siena and Pisa.

Lunigiana Area

Lunigiana is an historical administrative area that no longer exist however the people maintained local traditions. Nestled between the modern provinces of Massa Carrara (Tuscany) and La Spezia (Liguria), it is a land framed between the sea, the Magra river and the Appennini, Alpi Apuane mountain ranges. One one the most interesting point of this area is the climate, it is literally a microclimate between the sea and the mountains, having very temperate summers and winters. There are several castles in the hill top town and many are well worth a visit such as: Aulla, Arcola, Licciana Nardi. It is also a strategic point if you plan to visit the Cinque Terre.

Garfagana Area

This is another historical area now part of the Lucca province which maintained its traditions. Sometimes defined as the Tuscany best kept secret, nowadays attracts many visitors and holiday home buyers. It is a mountainous region in the northern Tuscany, nestled between the Appennini mountain range and the Apuan Alps it is renowned because of this natural beauty.

Under the province of Lucca it is well worth a visit Castiglione di Garfagnana, the ancient city walls and the Rocca (old castle) have particular historical interest. Not to forget Lucca famous for its ancient town center.

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