One of the things that small group tours of Italy do best is catering to your individual interests, whether they be cultural heritage, traditional cuisine, or shopping opportunities. It can sometimes be tricky to arrange a coherent itinerary that both meets travellers’ expectations and avoids whole days spent on the road, but if you are on the lookout for a holiday that’s full of cultural highlights, you are in luck. Tuscany, in the north, is a region that is rich in history and compact enough to avoid long periods of travel. |
With numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, make sure to specify any preferences when booking one of our small group tours of Italy’s Tuscan region. However, if you would like to do a complete tour of these cultural highlights, you are not the first and won’t be the last – it would just be such a shame to pass any of them by!
Florence: The Heart of the Renaissance
As stunning as it is famous, the historic centre of Florence is one of the greatest creations of mankind. Although it dates back to Etruscan times, it rose to prominence hugely thanks to the Medici family during the 15th and 16th centuries, when it grasped unprecedented levels of cultural and economic development. For a wonderful panoramic photograph, walk to one of the city’s bridges, such as Ponte Vecchio or Ponte Santa Trinita. In addition to all the beautiful architecture, there are plenty of magnificent artistic works within the buildings themselves, from Michelangelo to Botticelli, Brunelleschi, and Giotto. No wonder Florence is always such a hit with those travelling in our small group tours of Italy!
Piazza dei Miracoli: Pisa’s Masterpiece
Just on the outskirts of Pisa you can find the impressive ‘Square of Miracles’, which, from the 11th century onwards (when the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built), has been a hub of religious life. A striking Romanesque structure, it was later on joined by the Baptistery of Saint John and by the bell tower - now famously renowned throughout the globe as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Climbing the 294 steps to reach the top is a great way to feel accomplished after a long day trip and to take some stunning snaps.
San Gimignano: The Essence of Tuscany
Legend tells us that, as part of one of the main pilgrimage routes during the medieval period, San Gimignano’s attracted an endless number of visitors. Therefore, San Gimignano’s families decided to show off their hometown – and a contest to see who could build the highest, most impressive wall tower began. Nowadays, 14 towers remain - an impressive number when compared to other Tuscan villages - making the town’s skyline unique among its kind. San Gimignano is a highly recommended stopover for anyone who signed up for one of our small group tours of Italy’s Tuscan gems.
Val d’Orcia: Picture Perfect Tuscany
Its rolling hills, stunning sunsets over the endless horizon, pretty medieval castles, and charming rural villages make this valley incredibly attractive to both artists and curious travellers alike. The landscape is so distinctive it has come to represent the exquisiteness of Renaissance agricultural sceneries. It is easy to understand why painters from the era were so drawn to replicating these stunning views repeatedly, creating a new aesthetic movement.
Medici Villas and Gardens: The Latest Addition
Only added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2013, these 12 villas and two gardens are situated fairly close to Florence, making them a convenient day trip location for any small group tours of Italy that happen to be centred around the Tuscan capital. The villas had different purposes for the all-powerful Medici family, from hunting lodges to summer residences, and they host some important works of art by Renaissance artists. Plus, almost all of them can be visited for free!
Together with the town of Pienza, these UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a must-see for anyone wanting to get more in depth knowledge about Italian history and culture. Tuscany is popular for its delicious food, friendly locals, and wonderful architecture – rightly so! But we find that when our small group tours of Italy’s west-central region visit the above-mentioned places, travellers always leave the country understanding it a little bit better...
Antonio Nobile is Tour Operator & Researcher at Caspin Journeys, a specialist provider of small group tours of Italy, England and Spain. Following in the footsteps of the company founders Pino and Caroline, he has exceptional insider knowledge and a personal devotion to all the tours he organises.
Related Articles -
Small, group, tours, of, Italy,