If you are looking for places to get away from the stress of daily life, places that offer cultural enrichment, what you need is a visit to one of Italy's most beautiful villages. Throughout Tuscany you'll find little gems of towns, where every corner holds a surprise: tiny churches with hidden masterpieces, restaurants with the best Tuscan recipes and small workshops where artisan traditions are still alive today. From the Terre di Arezzo, through the Terre Senesi and onto the Maremma countryside, there are still places in Tuscany that feel like they are frozen in time, where the genuine flavours and atmosphere of the past are alive and well.
If you head off along the wine trails of the Pisan hills, you'll come across Montescudaio, another excellent area for DOC wines. But the “nectar of the gods” isn't the only reason to visit—here food, wine and history blend together to make a unique experience.
Lose yourself in the Arezzo countryside where the evocative medieval fortresses of Anghiari, Castelfranco Piandiscò,Ortignano Raggiolo and Loro Ciuffenna are located. These towns are celebrated not only for their fairytale landscapes but also for their historic centres, which are unforgettable thanks to enchanting alleyways, towers, palazzos and small Romanesque churches.
In the heart of the Casentino, the most beautiful valley in Tuscany, you'll find the unmistakeable outline of Poppi. Those who want to relive the Middle Ages in all its splendour need only visit this historic centre and wander among its abbeys and piazzas.
Continue to the Mugello where Scarperia is undoubtedly the most interesting village. The fortified settlement, protected by two massive walls, has the most precious jewel nestled in its centre: the Palazzo Vicari, a notable example of 14th-century construction.
In the Serchio Valley, a territory adorned in pristine landscapes and natural springs, the more beautiful villages include Barga, Castiglione di Garfagnana and Coreglia Alteminelli, three medieval feudal settlements that maintain their original characteristics to this day. Here, history and nature combine to make incredible itineraries, which allow you to discover the queen of the Tuscan mountains, the Apuane Alps.
In the heart of the clay countryside of the Crete Senese, once a passage point on the Via Francigena, a lovely stop can be made at Buonconvento. Not far and of rare beauty is Cetona, an Etruscan village in the Valdichiana. Ascending along its small paved roads, between noble palazzi and Renaissance piazzas, you'll feel transported back to a dimension without time. Continuing, there’s San Casciano dei Bagni, still within the Terre di Siena, with its thermal waters, castle and medieval towers.
In the green Val di Cornia, not far from the waters of the Etruscan Coast, there’s the beautiful medieval town of Suvereto, with houses and medieval workshops, all the color of the local stone. Watching over it all is the Rocca Aldobrandesca, situated at the town’s highest point.
In one of the pearls of the Tuscan Archipelago, where sea, sky and land are joined like the colours of a painter's palette, you'll find Giglio Castello. Picturesque locations, towers over the sea and hiking trails, which give you a full-immersion experience in nature—these are just a few of the experiences that the Isola del Giglio has to offer.
The Maremma offers the wild landscapes of the Tuscan cowboys as well as the “tufa paths”. A place suspended in time where, in the fortified villages of Pitigliano and Sorano, and in the Etruscan necropoli at Sovana, you can still see the majestic testimony of the Etruscan civilization.
The itinerary ends with three more gems in the Grossetoarea: Montemerano, protected by a three-part circular wall from medieval times; Santa Fiora, in the southern slope of Mount Amiata; and Porto Ercole in the municipality of Monte Argentario, home of sardine and potato soup.