Provinces of Tuscany

Guide to Property in Tuscany

Property in Tuscany tops the list of Italian real estate purchased by second home buyers. Investing in a Tuscan home offers the unique Tuscan experience, a region of rolling hills and olive groves, of wonderful stone farmhouses with panoramic views. Around Volterra, Lucca and Siena, villas and farmhouses start from around 2,000 Euro per m2. To the east, in Arezzo, on the border with Le Marche, prices are lower around as they are in Lunigiana and Garfagnana, northern Tuscany, prices starting at around 1,350 per m2. For a property in need of restoration expect to pay about half that. Real estate in the historical centres of Florence, San Gimignano and Pisa are costly; apartments start at around 2,500 Euro per m2. The high number of visitors means if you rent, you'll  be assured of a high rate of occupancy, providing an attractive return on your Italian property investment. The Rivera and the Maremma coastline in southern Tuscany are much in demand. Property for sale gets more expensive the closer to the Tuscan coast you go. In Punt'Ala, Monte Argentario and Castiglione della Pescaia, renovated three bedroom villas with sea views start at around 3,000 Euro per m2. Excellent rental returns can be expected if you rent your Tuscan home for short term holiday lets. Italian coastal properties are highly lucrative; villas with pools and apartments with sea views do particularly well. Easy access to your home under in Tuscany is provided by airports in Pisa, Florence and Bologna.

The classic landscape of Tuscany is instantly recognisable from Renaissance paintings to travel programmes. Medieval hill top towns, avenues of cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves make Tuscany the quintessential Italian region.

Tuscany has everything: a pleasant climate, long, sandy coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea that runs from Massa Carrara in the north to the Maremma in the south, inland there are mountains, cities full of art, history and culture and fabulous walled towns such as Lucca and Volterra. 

Tuscan cuisine is famous the world offer and dining al fresco in a piazza in Siena or Lucca should be an experience that everybody enjoys once in their life. Tuscany is also renowned for wine. The vineyards of Montalcino produce Brunello di Montalcino, regarded by many as the greatest of all Italian wines.

 

Featured Properties

Overview of Tuscany

Rolling Hills Tuscany

Tuscany is roughly triangular in shape in the centre of Italy. The western coastline is on the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, among which is the Tuscan Archipelago, the largest island is Elba. Tuscany has Appenine mountains in the north, south west and east but also fertile plains inland from the coast, gentle hills used for agriculture. Hills make up nearly two-thirds of Tuscany. The river Arno valley runs east to west through Tuscany and many of the largest cities lie on the banks including the capital Florence, Empoli and Pisa.

Alpi Apuane

An inviting and impressive backdrop to the coast of Massa Carrara, these craggy peaks from which marble is quarried are now a protected Parco Regionale. Many attractive villages lie amongst the chestnut wood slopes. One example is the lovely village of Stazzema.

Garfagnana

Valley of the Serchio River north of Lucca and Pisa, surrounded by a natural barrier of two mountain ranges, the Apennines and the marble mountains of the Alpi Apuane. Please see our Guide to The Garfagana

Chianti

A  fertile region to the west and north of Siena, produces the best-known Italian wine.

Lunigiana

Lunigiana in the province of Massa-Carrara, is the northern most part of Tuscany extending from the magnificent Tuscan-Emilian Apennine Mountains to the warm waters of the Ligurian and Tuscan coastline. Please see our Guide to Lunigiana

Maremma

The golden beaches of the Maremma coastline in the south of Tuscany is regarded to be the cleanest coastline in all of Italy. The hill towns and valleys of southern Tuscany are a wonderful cross-section of Italy's charms, constantly offering striking views of the rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards of classic Tuscany.

The Parco Naturale della Maremma encompasses the Monti dell'Uccellina, running parallel to the coastline from Principina a Mare to Talamone and was one of the first protected areas in Italy. Today the Province of Grosseto can boast 13 Nature Reserves plus the various oasis of the WWF. In all, there are almost 40,000 hectares of nature reserves stretching from north to south. They provide a complex and detailed vision of the wealth of the Maremma's natural heritage in all of its diversity. 

Monte Amiata

The outline of mount Amiata (1,738 m.) dominates the area and can be easily seen from the hills near Viterbo, from the Trasimeno valley and the Tyrrhenian coast.

For further information on Southern Tuscany please see Our Guide to Southern Tuscany

Art and Culture of Tuscany

Florence Tuscany

Florence (Firenze)

The Uffizi Gallery houses one of the world’s most celebrated art collections including masterpieces such as Botticelli’s Birth Of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, Michelangelo’s Holy Family, Titian’s Urbino Venus and Caravaggio’s Young Bacchus. Some of the country’s most important sculptures are found within the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, notably works by Michelangelo and Donatello. Michelangelo’s famous statue of David may be viewed at the Accademia di Belle Arti near the University.

Siena

Cathedral said to be one of the best examples of Italian Gothic architecture. The labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets that make up the historic centre converge at Piazza del Campo. Overlooked by the giant campanile of the Palazzo Pubblico, this is possibly the most complete Medieval piazza in Italy.

Pisa

Famous for its Leaning Tower, a free-standing campanile or bell tower. Closed to the public since 1990, the tower is now reopen following a lengthy restoration project to reduce its tilt. Next to the tower, on Campo dei Miracoli, stand the elegant 11th-century Gothic Cathedral and the Baptistry.

Lucca

The peaceful walled town of Lucca is famed for its elaborate churches, which include the Cathedral of San Martino.

Towns in Tuscany

Pisa

Florence

The principal Tuscan city, Florence (Firenze) is the world’s most celebrated storehouse of Renaissance art and architecture. Set on the banks of the Arno below the wooded foothills of the Appennines, this beautiful city has long been the focus of Italian arts and letters. Brunelleschi’s revolutionary design for the dome of the Duomo (Cathedral) is generally accepted as the first expression of Renaissance ideas in architecture. This dome still dominates the city’s roofscape, just as the great Piazza del Duomo at its feet dominates life at street level. The shop-lined Ponte Vecchio bridge scans the river to arrive at Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens.

Siena

Siena’s most prosperous era pre-dated the Renaissance and consequently much of the fabric of the city is in the older Gothic and Romanesque styles. While most buildings are of reddish-brown brick (hence the colour ‘burnt sienna’), the stunning Cathedral is constructed of alternating stripes of black and white marble, and is said to be one of the best examples of Italian Gothic architecture. The labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets that make up the historic centre converge at Piazza del Campo. Overlooked by the giant campanile of the Palazzo Pubblico, this is possibly the most complete Medieval piazza in Italy. Twice a year, on 2 July and 16 August, a notorious bareback horserace known as the Palio is held here. It has been a special event since the 13th century and attracts crowds from all over the world. The 700-year-old university holds a summer school in Italian.

Pisa

Located north of Siena, Pisa is famous for its Leaning Tower, a free-standing campanile or bell tower. Closed to the public since 1990, the tower is now reopen following a lengthy restoration project to reduce its tilt. Next to the tower, on Campo dei Miracoli, stand the elegant 11th-century Gothic Cathedral and the Baptistry. Nearby, the 13th-century Camposanto is a cemetery contained within a unique collonaded courtyard, said to have been built to enclose earth brought from Jerusalem by the Crusaders.

Arezzo

Arezzo is made up of an old upper town and a modern lower town, and is an important centre for the production of gold jewellery. Within the old town lie the Duomo, decorated with 16th-century stained glass windows, and the Basilica di San Francesco, containing a highly esteemed cycle of frescoes by Piero della Francesca depicting the Legend of the True Cross. The Piazza Grande is a wonderful Medieval square, famous for its regular antiques market, overlooked by several impressive historic buildings, notably the church of Santa Maria della Pieve and the Loggiato del Vasari, the home Vasari built for himself in 1540.

Lucca

The peaceful walled town of Lucca is famed for its elaborate churches, which include the Cathedral of San Martino with its assymetric façade and campanile, the striking San Frediano decorated with colourful mosaics, and San Michele in Foro, built on the site of the Roman forum. The main shopping street, Fillungo, is noted for a number of early-20th-century, Liberty-style façades.

San Gimignano

Known as the ‘city of beautiful towers’, San Gimignano is one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Italy. During the Middle Ages, when the height of one’s tower was a symbol of prestige, families vied to build the tallest structure. Today, 14 of the original 76 towers remain, creating a truly unforgettable skyline.

The Tuscan Archipelago

The Tuscan Archipelago is a group of scattered islands lying between Tuscany and Corsica. The best known is Elba, which is linked to Piombino on the mainland by regular hydrofoil and ferry services. Famous as the place where Napoleon was briefly exiled before his final defeat at Waterloo, it has lovely beaches and campsites shaded by pines. Napoleon’s two homes, Palazzina Napoleonica dei Mulini (created out of two windmills) and Villa Napoleonica di San Martino are both open to the public.

Pienza

Originally called "Castello di Corsignano", Pienza got its original name in honour of Pope Pius II who, in the second half of the 15th century ordered its renovation. He wanted to carry out his utopian image of the ideal city. The small town is a jewel and the Cathedral in particular merits a visit.

Montepulciano

This splendid town known as "The Pearl of the 16th century" because of its artistic and architectural vestiges has conserved its beauty intact. As the visitor walks up its steep streets they discover the beautiful buildings and churches where the best Renaissance architects impressed their incomparable artistic talent. One shouldn't miss the magnificent Piazza Grande, the Cathedral with its incomplete façade, the Town Hall and the Renaissance buildings all around the square. In the valley below, set in an unforgettable landscape, is the elegant Temple of San Biagio.

Montalcino

Set on a hill 564metres above sea level, between the valleys of the Rivers Orcia, Arbia, Asso and Ombrone in an area rich in woods of oak and chestnut trees. The landscape is  dominated by rows of vines from which the fine wines appreciated all over the world are produced. Amongst these wines the place of honor goes to the famous Brunello di Montalcino. Please see our Guide to Montalcino.

Volterra

A beautifully preserved Medieval hilltown. Please see our Guide to Volterra and Val d'Era

Livorno

The principal commercial port

Carrara

Where high-grade white marble has been quarried since Etruscan times.

Sports and Leisure in Tuscany

Maremma Tuscany

Beaches

In the north there is the Tuscan Riviera. A sandy coastline with fashionable resorts such as Forte dei Marmi. Viareggio has an annual carnival.

The Maremma is bathed by a transparent sea along its long and multicolored coastline of sunny beaches and rocky cliffs. The clear water of the Maremma coast is the cleanest in Italy, 160 km of splendid coastline offering endless possibilities for enjoyment. High cliffs alternate with small isolated coves, long stretches of sandy beaches are screened by lush pine forests. The coastline of Scansano, Castiglione della Pescaia and Marina di Grosseto is a stunning mosaic of sea and beaches, towns and citadels of timeless architecture. Here you can experience the spell cast by the magical Maremma.

The large and accessible sandy shore of the Gulf of Follonica includes coves such as Cala Martina and Cala Violina as well as the beaches of Castiglione della Pescaia and Marina di Grosseto. It is the perfect setting for those who love the sea and nature.

It's possible to charter sailing boats or motor yachts, enjoy wind-surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving. Sailing, motor boating and scuba diving schools are available for all levels. The highly professional diving centers offer the chance to discover and explore the animated and colorful sea bed.

The extraordinary promontory of Monte Argentario with its small coves and bays, is considered by dedicated scuba divers to be one of most interesting zones in Italy for the abundance of fish and a sea bed rich in coral and shells.

Skiing

Abetone is in the Province of Pistoia, located about 80 kilometres northwest of Florence and about 49 kilometres northwest of Pistoia. Abetone is among the most important of the Apennines. Abetone has an elevation of 4,544 m and offers 50 km of ski slopesfor skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and walking trails for the snowshoes.

Please see Our Guide to Skiing in Abetone 

Mount Amiata

Ski resorts in central southern Italy. There are 15 Km of ski slopes suitable for beginners as well as for advanced skiers; all the slopes are fitted with the most modern facilities, besides which there are several cross-country slopes.

Walking

Walking the undulating hilltops overlooking medieval Siena, past vineyards and olive groves to the magnificent open vistas and sun splashed landscapes of southern Tuscany.

Murlo and the Val d'Arbia – The walk starts south of Siena, a panoramic route overlooking the Val d'Arbia. Take in the view from the pool at Bosco della Spina, a renovated medieval villa with spacious rooms overlooking vineyards and olive groves.

Asciano and the Sienese Crete - Enter into the beautiful clay landscapes of Le Crete and its undulating hills with isolated brick villas and farmhouses surrounded by tall cypress trees.

There are numerous, beautiful walks throughout the Alpi Apuane. Altitudes are not too high, below 1900 m, so you are never far from civilisation in the form of an interesting village. Particularly enjoyable is the walk from Stazzema up to the Procinto, a large crag top, with the Refugio Forte dei Marmi

Golf

Tuscany has many golf courses to choose from and all in wonderful locations. See our Guide to golf in Tuscany

Thermal Spas

There are a number of volcanic spas, most notably Saturnia, Montecatini Terme and Monsummano Terme.

Festivals of Tuscany

Being Italy, there are numerous festivals among which the Lucchese Settembre is a month long programme centering on the candlelit procession in Lucca on 13th September and ranging from Puccini to Jazz.

In Viareggio, on the coast, there is a boisterous carnival for four consecutive Sundays in February which challenges the likes of the Rio Carnival.

Pistoia has a programme of concerts and events throughout July known as the Luglio Pistoiese which ranges from blues music to medieval jousting.

Food and Wines of Tuscany

Chianti Wines

Tuscany's culinary style is relatively simple: high quality food washed down with the country's best wines. The huge Chianina chargrilled steaks are an example and some specialities from the north of Tuscany include Zuppa di Faro, a thick soup made from grain and Cavrretto - roasted mountain goat. There are numerous cheeses, a love of and skill with chocolate and lots of bakeries selling delicious focaccia.

Italy is not only the largest producer of wines, but above all a producer of great wines.

Tuscany (Toscana) is known mainly for Chianti, while Tuscany's wine of greatest stature is Brunello di Montalcino. Please see our Guide to the Wines of Montalcino

Wine Trails

The Montecucco Wine Trail runs through a vast area situated on the slopes of Mount Amiata, which has its center at Cinigiano, lying between the Maremma region and Amiata. The seven Comuni which produce the Montecucco DOC wine are all to be found in the Province of Grosseto, in South Tuscany, and are, besides Cinigiano: Civitella Paganico, Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Arcidosso, Seggiano and Roccalbegna

Maremma

This area is situated in the south of the Province of Grosseto. Starting from Capalbio the route takes you towards Magliano in Toscana until reaching Scansano (red wine Morellino di Scansano). From Scansano one goes north to Istia d'Ombrone. It is worth visiting Saturnia and the natural thermal baths. Back towards the coast one can visit Manciano and Orbetello. The DOC-wine Morellino di Scansano is a red wine of a very intensive color that ideally goes with the typical cuisine of the Maremma (game and mushroom dishes). Whereas the DOC-white wine Bianco di Pitigliano is the ideal wine to accompany the typical fish cuisine of the coast.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Siena)

San Gimignano is located North-West of Siena.

This wine route starts in the most southern part with Castel San Gimignano until reaching the town of San Gimignano itself. The next stop is Pancole, followed by Libbiano to the North-East. The wines of this area are the white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the red wine Chianti Colli Senesi, the red wine Colli dell'Etruria Centrale and the white wine San Gimignao.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The area of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is situated between the Val d'Orcia (Orcia Valley) and the Val di Chiana (Chiana Valley) and borders Umbria to the east. The route starts in the north with Abbadia towards Montepulciano, passing Cervognano, Acquaviva until S. Albino. The wine matures for two years in casks before the wine can be called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The Rosso di Montepulciano, classified as DOC-wine is not aged for two years in wood barrels and is intended for the immediate consumption.

History of Tuscany

Roman Mosaic

The Etruscans created the first civilization establishing a transport infrastructure, agriculture and art. They lived in the area between the Arno River and Tiber River from the 8th century BC, reaching its peak during the 7th and 6th centuries BC, finally succumbing to the Romans by the 1st century.

When Rome defeated Etruria it established the cities of Lucca, Pisa, Siena, and Florence. The Romans developed the road system, introduced aqueducts and sewers, and constructed many buildings, both public and private.

The Roman civilization in the West collapsed in the 5th century AD, and the region fell into the hands of the Goths, then the Byzantine Empire and in 572 the Longobards (Lombards) who chose Lucca as the capital of their Duchy of Tuscia.

During the medieval period, pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena between Rome and France brought wealth. The food and shelter required by these travellers fuelled the growth of towns on route.

The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, factions supporting the Papacy or the Holy Roman Empire in central and northern Italy during the 12th and 13th centuries, split the Tuscan people.

One family that benefitted from Florence's growing wealth and power was the ruling Medici family. Its scion Lorenzo de' Medici was one of the most famous of the Medici. The legacy of his influence is visible today in the prodigious expression of art and architecture in Florence.

Tuscany, especially Florence, is regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Though "Tuscany" remained a linguistic, cultural and geographic conception, rather than a political reality, in the 15th century, Florence extended its dominion in Tuscany through the annexation of Arezzo in 1384, the purchase of Pisa in 1405 and the suppression of a local resistance there (1406). Livorno was bought in 1421 and became the harbour of Florence.

The Sienese commune was not incorporated into Tuscany until 1555, and during the 15th century Siena enjoyed a cultural 'Sienese Renaissance' with its own more conservative character.

Lucca remained an independent republic until 1847.

Francis, Duke of Lorraine and husband of Austrian Empress Maria Theresa ruled Tuscany until 1860, with the exception of the Napoleonic period, when most of the country was annexed to the French Empire.

After the Second Italian War of Independence, a revolution evicted the last Grand Duke, and after a plebiscite Tuscany became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. From 1864 to 1870 Florence became the second capital of the kingdom.

Geography of Tuscany

Surface of 22,993  square kilometers 

Coastline extending over 250 Km

Population of over 3.8 million

Bordered by Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche to the northeast, Umbria to the east and Lazio to the southeast.

Provinces

Florence (regional capital), Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.

Getting To Tuscany

Airports

Pisa, Florence.

People travelling to Florence can fly to Pisa and then take the new train service directly from Pisa Airport to Florence (travel time – 60 minutes). The railway station in Pisa is practically inside the airport. Rail services connect with arrivals and departures of all international flights and major domestic services.

By car

Coming from the north: Milan and Bologna the A1 motorway will take you into the heart of Southern Tuscany.

Coming from Rome you take the A12 and then the A1

By train

Excellent rail services from Milan and Bologna to Florence and Siena. 

Climate

The coast and valleys tend to have hotter summers than the hills or mountains although the coast benefits from breezes off the sea for cooler temperatures even in those warmer months.

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