Florence is a wonderful base for exploring Tuscany. This Renaissance city is highly regarded for its artistic treasures, high-quality restaurants and stylish shops. Its historic centre is small enough to be walkable, but there is still so much to see and do between the scores of galleries, palaces and churches that exist around every corner. |
If you can drag yourself away from all this culture and beauty, it’s good to have some idea of what you might want to see during your day trips from Florence. After all, Tuscany is famous for its architecturally beautiful cities and culturally rich hilltop towns, but the region has a lot more to discover if you dig a little deeper—and you really wouldn’t want to miss out on these hidden local gems.
Lovers of nature and history will be in awe of the Vie Cave, or ‘sunken roads’. This network of narrow passageways was carved a mile deep into the tufa stone all around the Maremma area in the Etruscan era.
They connect the charming towns of Sorano, Pitigliano and Sovana, and continue to pose a mystery to this day. There are several competing theories about why and how the paths were created and it’s thought they may have been sacred roads, water channels, or a passage for goods and information. You can pick up a map from the park entrance in Sovana.
The fortified town of Montescudaio is considered by some to be among the most beautiful villages in Italy. It was formed around the Church of St Mary in the late twelfth century and the ancient church still stands to this day alongside the lookout tower and Villa Pucci. While you’re here on your trip from Florence, don’t forget to sample the locally-produced red wine, Montescudaio DOC.
This small village lies on the slopes of the River Cornia’s verdant valley, with views over the Cost degli Etruschi.
Strolling around Suvereto feels much like stepping back in time. The paved streets are lined with stone houses and high medieval walls, while idyllic churches and cloisters complete the sense of ancient architectural equilibrium.
One building does stand out from the rest: the Petra winery is sleek and modern amongst the lush green hills and is a wonderful place to spend some time sampling local olive oils and wines. Situated in the hamlet of Montioni, you’ll also find one of the Parks of Val di Cornia. In the park, you’ll discover rare Mediterranean flora and recently restored Napoleonic monuments.
With just a short trip from Florence, the literary nature of the medieval hamlet Collodi lies waiting to be discovered, with its history intertwined with that of Pinocchio. The author of this popular children’s tale, Carlo Lorenzini, grew up in the village here. Later in life he began to write under the pseudonym Carlo Collodi, and the town has repaid him with a park in honour of his most beloved character.
Literary buildings and sculptures are nestled amongst the foliage, and parents will be pleased to hear that puppet-making workshops run alongside the illustration exhibits.
Clearly, there is so much to discover on any trip from Florence into the heart of Tuscany. Fortunately, the city has good bus and rail links from the station in the centre, so you can still plan an excursion to any one of these charming nearby destinations even if you don’t have access to a car.
To really get the most out of your visit, though, it’s worth considering booking a small group tour with local guides. They will be able to show you these hidden treasures and more, as well as introduce you to Tuscan culture without you having to wrestle with a language barrier. What better way is there to explore the region?
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best options for a trip from Florence. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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