Dealing with blistering heat and bustling crowds is never an ideal way to spend a holiday. We’ve identified ten of the top sunny-season destinations in Tuscany where you can escape the sardine-tin city streets and catch a breath of fresh air and have some true “Tuscan insider” experiences to boot.
Orrido di Botri, near Lucca
North of Lucca, the Orrido di Botri is a deep, centuries-old limestone gorge carved by the Rio Pelago torrent. You can access it from Ponte a Gaio and then walk along the dried bed of the stream from mid-June to September—weather permitting—and when the water level is low.
Sandwiched between Siena and Grosseto and source of the hot springs in both areas, dormant volcano Monte Amiata is among the region’s tallest mountains. It’s typically thought of as a winter destination—all the better for those seeking summer refuge. Pamper yourself with a day in one of the area spas or exploring the medieval corners of a fairytale-like town such as Abbadia San Salvatore (the stone walls and gates should help keep you cool!)
Check out the tufa towns in Tuscany’s deep south. Dive into local history: Pitigliano with its Jewish past, Sovana with its Etruscan burial ground and archaeological area, Sorano with its impressive Renaissance military architecture. To finish: plunge into the famous hot springs of Saturnia.
Have an awakening among the spectacular remains of San Galgano Abbey, situated between Siena and Massa Marittima. A superlative example of Italian Gothic-Cistercian architecture, the abbey was destroyed by warlords in the 13th century, marking the beginning of abandonment by the monastic order.
A lively walled town in the Casentino region, Poppi hosts the Il Gusto dei Guidi festival every August, a summer celebration of wine and local heritage named for the nobles whose legacy helps define life here. A fraction of Poppi is home to the medieval monastery known as the Hermitage of Camaldoli, still home to a small religious community willing to welcome visitors for retreats from the stresses of the “real world”.
Take the ferry from Porto Santo Stefano over to the clear waters of Giglio Island, then head for one of the beautiful beaches of Cannelle, Caldane and Arenella. Or take the local bus to Giglio Campese on the other side of the island to watch the most mesmerizing sunsets.
There’s nothing cooler than marble, so venture to Carrara in the Apuan Alps to take a tour of the quarries where Michelangelo sourced much of the stone he sublimely sculpted. Local speciality Lardo di Colonnata IGP is made by ageing pork fat in marble basins: it literally melts in the mouth.
Castles, Chianti Classico
Hire a car and take off for a castle tour of the Chianti Classico. First up is 11th-century Castello di Meleto with its fabulous little theatre. Next stop: Castello di Brolio, home to the noble Ricasoli family since 1141. Both castles are Chianti Classico winemaking estates.
Wake up before dawn to go fishing for Mediterranean delights such as bream, squid and crabs. Talamone is the ideal location: located on a rocky headland, the waters here are pristine and unpolluted, with long, sandy beaches.
Not too far from Pistoia and a hugely popular skiing destination during the colder months, Abetone also makes a scenic summertime escape from urban climes. It is particularly suited to hikers, runners and landscape lovers: Abetone is famous for its flora and fauna and home to an Ecomuseum and Botanical Gardens, both worth exploring.