Just a Pack Contributor: Sara Monty | January 26th, 2022 | No comments

Looking to get off the beaten track and explore hidden gems in Tuscany? We’ve got some secret spots to share!

If you’ve already explored the best places to visit in North Italy and it’s time to head south, Tuscany is your next port of call. Seeped in history, Tuscany offers Italian culture, art, wine, and food at its finest. 

Tuscany is the birthplace of the Renaissance and the Italian language. It’s also the birthplace of iconic Italian figures like Dante Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michaelangelo. 

Nowadays, Tuscan cities like Florence, Lucca, and Siena are popular with tourists. But there are plenty of places to see if you want to avoid the crowds!

Home to rolling countryside, charming medieval hamlets, the world’s finest art, exquisite wine, and food that’ll have your mouth watering non-stop—Tuscany has something for everyone. It is a region rife with secluded nooks, ancient pathways, and delicious secrets.

So, are you ready to hear about some of Tuscany’s best-kept secrets?

Hidden Gems in Tuscany

When planning a trip to Italy, remember there is so much more to discover beyond the typical tourist trails that wind through its major cities. Here are some of the best off-the-beaten-track places and towns to visit in Tuscany. 

Montepulciano

view of Montepulciano Italy during sunset

Surrounded by vineyards, Multipulciano is one of the best hidden gems in Tuscany. This small settlement has a fascinating history that dates back to medieval times. Explore its many landmarks, like the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, the baroque Church of Santa Lucia, and the Museo Civico di Montepulciano

If you’re looking for an escape in the Tuscan countryside, Montepulciano ticks all the boxes. Feast on sumptuous food, sip delicious wines from the region and admire the rolling countryside surroundings from its hilltop location. Don’t forget your camera!

Pitigliano

The little town of Pitigliano is carved from volcanic stone and steeped in history. Built in 1598 into the side of a hill, Pitigliano is truly a sight to behold. It’s commonly known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ due to a significant Jewish presence from the 1600s.

Head to Pitigliano and spend the day wandering the medieval cobbled streets. Stop to admire the view, browse the quaint artisan shops, and grab a snack or two (or three or four). Be sure to sample Straffi, a traditional biscuit consisting of honey, walnuts, nutmeg, and orange peel encased in dough. 

If you’re a history buff, pay a visit to some of the town’s museums to discover artifacts from the Bronze, Neolithic, and Copper ages. Be sure to check out the Jewish Ghetto and the Duomo di Pitigliano before settling down at a restaurant terrace for dinner and a well-deserved glass of wine.

Volterra

If you’re staying in the Tuscan capital and looking for the best day trips from Florence, Volterra should be on your list. 

If you’ve ever read Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series then you’re probably familiar with this walled medieval city south of Florence. In the series, Volterra is home to the Volturi (rich, ancient vampires who rule over the vampire population).

In reality, Volterra is a center of Etruscan and medieval history with great cuisine and plenty to see. 

Val d’Orcia

Val D’Orcia is one of the best spots in Tuscany for anyone looking for unforgettable landscapes and plenty of photo opportunities. 

Its sweeping landscape dotted with olive groves is the very definition of perfection. A lesser-explored area, its gentle green valleys have often been the subject of Renaissance paintings.

Within these flowing hills are Pienza, known for its cathedral and delicious pecorino cheese, and the historical and cultural hub Monticchiello, both hidden gems well worth visiting. If you can, we recommend renting a car so you make stops along the way.

Monteriggioni

street views in Monteriggioni, italy

Monteriggioni is a picturesque walled town in the heart of Tuscany. Despite its small size, it’s well worth the visit. We recommend combining your visit with a day trip to nearby places like San Gimignano or Greve in Chianti.

Explore the perfectly preserved medieval town, take a walk around its walls, and stop off at the Fattoria Castello di Monteriggioni winery to sample some delicious wines from the region. 

Lari

Lari is a picturesque terracotta village with a charming castle. The view is incredible, and on an especially clear day, you can even see the leaning tower of Pisa in the distance!

If you’re a foodie, this is the place for you. Lari is home to several family-run butchers specializing in hams, sausages, and incomparable prosciutto. You can also visit a small pasta factory, Pastifico Famiglia Martelli, that crafts award-winning pasta from vintage machinery.

Another must-see is Antica Grotta di Stagionatura (it’s literally a cheese cave!) Here, you can sample delicious cheeses that have matured underground. Be sure to try tre latti, a cheese made from sheep, goat, and cow’s milk! 

San Miniato

San Miniato is a medieval town that sits on a hilltop overlooking the Arno River. If you’re looking for incredible architecture, maze-like cobbled streets, and small-town charm, Monteriggioni is undoubtedly one of the best hidden gems in Tuscany. 

Be sure to stop off in the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata and Chiesa di San Domenico, as well as the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Jenesien. End the day with some traditional fare at Ristorante Maggese, we recommend the cannellone Sanminiatese! 

San Gimignano

view of San Gimignano italy

​​San Gimignano isn’t truly a “hidden gem” because it’s a popular spot for tourists, but it’s often skipped by those who think Florence is the be-all and end-all of Tuscany. 

Famous for the 14 medieval towers that dominate the city’s skyline, San Gimignano is unmissable. Once upon a time, there were 72 towers built by patriarch families as a symbol of their wealth. 

Spend the day strolling through San Gimignano’s cobbled streets, browsing quaint artisan shops, and surveying the surrounding landscape from the top of Torre Grossa, the tallest tower in the city. It’s easy to fall in love with this picturesque hidden gem in Tuscany!

Greve in Chianti

Located just 30km south of Florence, Greve in Chianti is the perfect destination if you want to rent a car and explore the Tuscan countryside. The town itself features a main square, Piazza Matteotti, as well as some charming restaurants, bars, and artisan shops. 

But the best things to see and do lie just outside the village itself, in the rolling hills of the Chianti region. Explore endless vineyards where Chianti wine is produced, magnificent villas, and historic castles as you take in the picturesque beauty of this region.

We recommend a visit to the villa at Vignamaggio, which is now a winery and agriturismo. It’s said to have once been the home of Lisa Gherardini (The subject of Leonardo’s The Mona Lisa.)

Capalbio

Capalbio is a charming commune located in the province of Grosseto, 150km south of Florence. 

There’s plenty to see in this quaint Tuscan town, including the walls of Capalbio that surround it, the Church of San Nicola, and the Rocca Aldobrandesca, what remains of the ancient fortress. 

But Capalbio is most famous for its beaches. The coastline lies less than 10km from the city, where you’ll find pristine sands, turquoise waters, and a variety of sea-front restaurants serving fresh seafood. 

Isola d’Elba (Elba Island)

Tuscany is home to some of the best beaches in Italy, and there’s no better place to discover them than Isola d’Elba. The largest island in the ​​Tuscan Archipelago, Elba Island is idyllically situated between the Tyrrhenian and the Ligurian Sea. 

One of the best hidden gems in Tuscany, Elba Island is famous for its pristine coastline and being Napoleon’s place of exile 1814-15. Head there for a few days to bathe in the crystal clear waters, hike the Capanne Mount for spectacular views, and explore the historic Fortress of Volterraio perched at the top of the island. 

You can reach the main port of the island, Portoferraio, from the port of Piombino on the mainland. 

Fiesole

Nestled in the Florentine hills, less than a 30-minute bus ride from the center of Florence, Fiesole is a must-see. Hop on the bus up the winding hills and admire the stunning views of Florence below. 

There’s plenty to do in Fiesole. Visit the free museum run by monks and the Roman ruins that slope down the side of the hill, before stopping off for an aperitivo at one of the restaurants in the main square. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, hike to Monte Ceceri National Park and discover historic caves, breathtaking views, and hidden pathways. It’s said to be where Leonardo da Vinci found inspiration for his biggest flying machine Grande Nibbio. 

Tip: Head up at dusk to catch the sun setting over Florence from the Monastery of San Francesco or one of the various viewpoints in the town. It’s a view you’ll never forget!

Manciano

Located on a hilltop in the rolling hills of the Maremma, Manciano is another must-see hidden gem in Tuscany. This quaint medieval town is a great spot to explore from Pitigliano, as it’s located close by. 

Manciano’s main attraction is the Cassero, a 12th-century fortress that features a museum and a tower with sweeping views of the town. 

Be sure to visit the Museum of Pre and Proto-history in the Valle del Fiore and the numerous Etruscan and Roman ruins dotted around Manciano. 

Pistoia

Although there are plenty of things to do in Florence, sometimes you just want to see what else is out there! Situated a 35-minute train ride outside of Florence, Pistoia is a hidden gem often overlooked by visitors to Tuscany. 

Pistoia has a rich history and plenty of things to do. Visit the Medicean Fortress of Santa Barbara, the majestic church of San Giovanni di Fuoricivitas, as well as the underground tunnels of ​​Pistoia Sotterranea.

Bagni San Filippo

If you’re looking for peace, quiet, and relaxation, Bagni San Filippo is the ideal spot to recharge your batteries. These remote hot springs are situated in the province of Siena and make for a great day trip from one of the larger cities in the region. 

Featuring stunning natural thermal pools, there are plenty of hidden spots to discover. Don’t settle for the main areas, keep walking until you find the more secluded, deep turquoise pools. Remember to bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water! 

Lajatico

Lajatico is known for being the birthplace of Andrea Bocelli, so naturally, a visit to the house where he was born should be on your list! An art-filled town, you’ll often find pop-up galleries here and street art covers many of the town’s walls. 

Its landmark attraction is the Teatro del Silenzio, an open-air theatre funded by Bocelli himself. Check out the timetable for performance times to catch a show you’ll never forget. 

Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano is a stunning bay town situated on Monte Argentario. Shaded by the surrounding mountains, it offers pristine beaches, turquoise seas, and a bustling port. 

There are plenty of things to do here, including mountain biking on the mountain and boat trips to the nearby islands of Giglio and Giannutri.

Treat yourself to a fresh seafood dinner at one of the seaside taverns as you watch the fishermen docking their boats for the day.

Sorano

Another hilltop town in Tuscany, Sorano is like a smaller version of Pitigliano as it’s also perched on a cliff. It’s located close by, which makes it a great spot to visit if you’re already heading to Pitigliano. 

Explore the town’s cobbled streets and be sure to visit the nearby Città del Tufo Archeological Park, which is home to an array of unique cultural treasures. 

Saturnia Hot Springs

Another great spot for hot springs in Tuscany, Saturnia is the perfect relaxation retreat. You can choose to visit the hot springs yourself or settle down for a few days in one of the surrounding spas.

According to legend, the waters are a gift from the Gods that possess special healing powers. Whether that’s true or not, the waters are rich in mineral deposits making it the perfect spot to relax and unwind. And, of course, snap some pictures for Instagram!

Lucignano

Situated in the province of Arezzo, Lucignano is a charming hidden gem in Tuscany well worth visiting. 

This medieval town is home to the Tree of Love, a masterpiece of Gothic jewelry housed in the Palazzo Comunale Museum

Be sure to visit the Church of San Francesco, with its stunning frescoes, and the Collegiata Church, whose staircase mimics the shape of Lucignano.

Hidden Gems of Hiking in Tuscany 

Antro del Corchia

For those that like the more rural scenery, there are some wonderful hiking opportunities. In the northern part of Tuscany lies the Apuan Alps and within it Antro del Corchia, one of the largest cave systems in Italy.

The walk itself is two hours and takes you through openings filled with stalagmites and stalactites and an underground fossil lake. Quite a sight to behold!

Foreste Casentinesi National Park

To the east, you will find the Foreste Casentinesi National Park. An expanse of greenery and forest with a multitude of crisscrossing pathways to explore. Given the number of tracks, some are lesser-known than others.

The Acquacheta Waterfalls Loop is a gorgeous path and is considered moderate due to the steady incline. You will be rewarded with luscious greenery and a stunning waterfall. Ideal for walking, it’s also a great spot for biking.

For something a little hardier you should visit a waterfall! Colle Tramazzo is a strenuous 22km hike through a forest path, featuring a waterfall. One for the more experienced and will certainly work off those pasta and pastries you’ve been munching on.

Hidden Gems in Tuscany Wrap Up

There you have it! 20 of the best hidden gems in Tuscany. Although we’ve mentioned quite a few places in this article, most of them are relatively small. They can easily be combined with other places on the list for an unforgettable day out. 

So head out and discover the unique scenery. The tantalizing food. And, of course, the world-class wine that this incredible region of Italy has to offer! 

If you’re heading south from Tuscany, check out some of the best places to visit in central and south Italy

As always, happy travels! Have a gelato (or two) for us! We’ll see you all on the road. 

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