The Beautiful Cities of Tuscany
Nestled along the northwest Italian coastline is the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy. The region is world renowned for beautiful natural landscapes, good wine, fine cuisine, and rich artistry. Tuscany’s most famous city is the region’s capital city of Florence, but there is more to this beautiful region than just one city. The region is divided into ten different provinces, each with their own flare that contributes to the overall appeal of the region.
Arezzo is the capital city of the province of the same name and is the eastern-most province within Tuscany. Arezzo has deep Etruscan roots and is a currently a center for agricultural trade, also boasting machine, clothing, jewelry, and tourism industries. A visit to Arezzo would not be complete without enjoying the following:
Casa del Petrarca
Taste the following: Miseria e Nobilta Tuscan wine, Acquacotta (bread soup with porcini mushrooms).
Florence is the capital city of the province and region, and with 1.5 million inhabitants it is the most populated city in Tuscany. Florence was the home of the Italian Renaissance and attracts 1.7 million tourists each year, making it the 72nd most visited city in the world as of 2009. No trip to Florence is complete without enjoying the following:
Galleria degli Uffizi
Taste the following: Bistecca alla fiorentina (massive T-bone steak) and the region’s famous Chianti wines.
Grosseto is the capital city of the region’s largest province and is located just 14 km away from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city’s roots date back to the Middle Ages and throughout its history Grosseto underwent several periods of outside conquest and control. Visitors to Grosseto should not miss the following:
Cathedral of Grosseto
Taste the following: Schiaccia alla pala (oven-baked bread with oil) and Schiaccia con cipolle e acciughe (bread with onions and European anchovies)
Livorno is a port city in Tuscany located on the Ligurian Sea. The city was a major trading port for centuries thanks to its status as a duty free port, but when the city became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1868 that designation was lifted and the city declined in importance. Don’t miss the following when visiting Livorno:
Taste the following: leghorn variety chicken and Tuaca liqueur.
Lucca is the capital city of the central Tuscan province of Lucca. Located on the Serchio River, Lucca is famous for its still intact Renaissance-era city walls. The city has deep Etruscan roots and was a Roman colony starting in 180 BC. Lucca prospered in ancient times thanks to its important role in the silk trade. No visit is complete without seeing the following:
The old city walls
The Academy of Sciences
The province of Massa-Carrara is dominated by the twin towns of Massa and Carrara. Although the two towns are separate entities, with Massa serving as the capital of the province, they are considered the center of the province. The two towns are world famous for the extraction and production of their white and blue-grey marble. Tourists should not skip the following in Massa and Carrara:
The Malaspina Castle
One of the most renowned cities in Tuscany is Pisa, the capital of the province by the same name. Located at the convergence of the Arno and Serchio rivers, Pisa has roots going back to the 5th century BC when it was a port city that boasted trade ties with the Greeks and Gauls. No tour of Pisa is complete without stops at the following:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Church of St. Francis
Taste the following: Pizza and fine chocolates are served by many local restaurants, as well as traditional Tuscan wines.
Pistoia is the capital city of one of the smallest provinces in Tuscany. Pistoia is one of the lesser known cities within Tuscany, due in large part to its heavily industrialized economy. Nevertheless, Pistoia has a centuries old history with several architectural attractions within the old city center that draw tourists to the region year after year. Consider visiting the following sites in Pistoia:
Piazza del Duomo
Cathedral of San Zeno
Palazzo dei Vescovi
Prato is the capital city of the smallest and youngest Tuscan province. The province of Prato was established in 1992 from a portion of the province of Florence. Prato is most well known inside Italy for having the second largest number of Chinese residents in the country behind Milan. Be sure to visit the following sites in Prato:
Cathedral of Santo Stefano
Last, but certainly not least, is the city of Siena. The city serves as the capital of the province of Siena and the city’s historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Siena is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, thanks in large part to its art, architecture, and cuisine. No trip is complete with a visit to the following:
Piazza del Campo
Taste the following: Local specialties include Ricciarelli biscuits, Noto, and gingerbread