Tuscany can't be only represented by Florence, Siena or the iconic countrysides of the Chianti and the Val d’Orcia, so today we want to show you a lesser-known aspect of this region: its beautiful mountain villages scattered in different areas of the region.
Here is our list of 10 of the best mountain villages in Tuscany!
Part of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, the medieval village of Cutigliano stands at a height of 678 meters above sea level and is surrounded by the mountains of the Abetone ski resort. The nearest major city is Pistoia, at about 25 kilometres northwest. Thanks to its charming atmosphere, Cutigliano was awarded the “Orange Flag” label (Bandiera Arancione), a tourism quality mark given by the Italian Touring Club.
In the main square of the village you will find the yellow town hall that features coats of arms of the various Captains of the Mountain and the ancient courthouse. All around, narrow streets and quiet corners mix with ancient churches, such as the Church of the Madonna di Piazza, dating back to 1600. If you love to ski, Cutigliano is the place to be!
Read more here: "Cutigliano, the medieval village in the Apennines".
Isola Santa isn’t a typical Tuscan village because it is almost abandoned, but it still preserves its charm and it is worth a visit for its dreamy atmosphere. It is located in the Apuan Alps, in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany and most likely has medieval origins. It is thought to have been a lodging place for travellers and pilgrims. It underwent a big change in the ‘50s, when the construction of a hydroelectric plant forced the residents to leave their homes. Once in Isola Santa, you can see the artificial lake and visit the Church of San Jacopo, built in 1260 for pilgrims, and then take a beautiful hike towards the peaks of the Apuan Alps.
Read more here: "Isola Santa: the unexpected village at the heart of Apuan Alps".
Lucchio, about 18 km from Bagni di Lucca, is perched on a rock and is known for being Tuscany’s most hidden village: it's hard to see it from the road. A web of small, steep streets passable only on foot, Lucchio looks like a ghost town, now being gradually abandoned by its residents. We don’t know when it was actually founded, but it is possible that it was chosen by the Romans not only for its unconquerable and strategic location, but also for the sacredness of the forest itself, considered to be divine. In the village you will find an ancient fountain, while there are practically no remains of the ancient castle built directly on the rock.
The village of Castiglione di Garfagnana is situated on a panoramic and sunny hill overlooking the mountain chain of the Panie (Apuan Alps), in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany at about 6 km from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. It has been included in the list of the “most beautiful villages in Italy” (Borghi più belli d’Italia). Its territory is rich in chestnut trees, conifers and beech trees and is crossed by numerous paths, all of which are very interesting from a touristic and environmental point of view. Its name has Latin origins and means “Castle of the Lion”and its walls are still visible today along with the ramparts built in the 14th century to reinforce the fortress. You can visit the outstanding bell towers of S. Michele, S. Pietro and the clock tower and, of course, the old town that has preserved elegant buildings, paved streets, squares and courtyards.
Read more about this area of Tuscany: "Garfagnana, Tuscany: 16 places you should visit".
Arcidosso is one of the municipalies of Monte Amiata standing at about 700 metres above sea level and located about 35 kilometers northeast of Grosseto. Today it is best known as the gateway to Monte Amiata Fauna Park, but also has interesting things to see in the historical center, such as the Aldobrandeschi Fortress: its construction dates back to about the year 1000. The historic centre of Arcidosso is considered one of the most striking in Amiata and develops in a long pyramid shape along the plateau dominated by the castle.
Read more about Arcidosso and the surrounding villages here: "12 places to visit in Monte Amiata".
Marciana is situated on the slopes of Mount Capanne on the west side of the Island of Elba at 375 meters above sea level. The village itself can’t be considered mountainous, but the Mount Capanne is the highest peak on the island of Elba and reaches 1,019 meters above sea level. Its peak can be reached via cable car from Marciana and offers breathtaking views over the island, the Tuscan coast and Corsica. Marciana is one of the most ancient settlements on the island, its foundations dates back to 35 BC. The surrounding area is covered with vineyards that produce excellent wine, but you can also count on seeing a thermal spring and beautiful beaches.
Radicofani is located in the natural park of Val d'Orcia, at about 60 kilometers southeast of Siena, along the Via Francigena. This village was once a fortress that controlled the border between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Papal State for centuries. Apart from the fortress, the most important monument in the village is the 13th century Roman church of San Pietro, and you can also visit the church of Sant’Agata and Palazzo Pretorio.
Read more here: "The Fortress of Radicofani and the Robin Hood of Italy".
Marradi is located about 45 kilometres northeast of Florence, in the Mugello area at the foot of the Apennines. The old town is fascinating for its cobbled streets and for its urban structure, so different from many villages of the Apennines, structurally similar to the biggest historical centers of Tuscany. The Town Hall with the loggia, the seventeenth century Palazzo Fabroni and the Church of the Intercession overlook Piazza Le Scalelle. In Via Fabroni you see the remarkable Palazzo Torriani and the Dominican Monastery. Marradi is a “Slow City”, as certified by the Slow Food Movement, and is internationally known for the “Marrone di Marradi”, one of the finest chestnuts in the world.
Read more in this post: "Marradi, slow life in a Tuscan town".
Camaldoli is part of the municipality of Poppi, in the Casentinesi Forests National Park. It is known for the Holy Hermitage and Monastery of Camaldoli, situated in an ancient forest in the Tuscan Apennines and founded about 1012 by Saint Romuald, a Benedictine monk and hermit. In the monastery there is a guesthouse, a great chapter house, an old pharmacy where monks worked with spices and medicinal plants, and a Baroque church with works by Vasari. Read more about Casentinesi Forests National Park here.
Perched on the edge of the Regional Park of the Apuan Alps, Levigliani rises at about 600 meters above sea level in the municipality of Stazzema. The town has ancient origins as evidenced by the numerous Etruscan archaeological finds, as well as the necropolis of the Apuan Ligurians that was recently found on site. Thanks to its mild climate and relaxing atmosphere, this village has always been a summer resort. The three main attractions of Levigliani are the Antro del Corchia cave system, the quicksilver mines and the museums of Levigliani. Read more in this post: "Underground Tuscany: the Antro del Corchia (and more) in Levigliani di Stazzema"