Here are a few ideas for a Tuscan holiday in 2019. A year that we think should be dedicated to slow travel, cultural curiosity and savouring every moment. For us its the best way to really know the areas you explore, and their heritage.
Here we take you on a journey to explore its varied scenery; from a natural spa to Chianti vineyards and ancient forests, from the timeless beauty of Pienza to Leonaro da Vinci’s birthplace.
Best places to visit in Tuscany in 2019
Vinci, celebrate Leonardo’s life
2019 is the year of Leonardo da Vinci. It marks the 500th anniversary of his death, and all around Europe this will be celebrated with various events and exhibitions.
In Florence, on 29th January 2019 the expo dedicated to Leonardo’s Codex Leicester will end, while another expo is on in Prato until 26th May 2019. At the Museo del Tessuto a multimedia exhibition “Ingegno e Tessuto” displays models recreated from Da Vinci’s designs of the textile-making machines.
But the place that best embraces his spirit is his hometown, Vinci. A typical Tuscan hilltop town, surrounded by wide expanses of olive groves, with an old castle turned fascinating museum dedicated to Leonardo himself. It’s a great place where you can explore Leonardo’s futuristic genial inventions, admire the landscape that would inspire his paintings, and learn about his multi-faceted personality.
Vinci is 35 kms. west of florence. It has plenty of accommodation facilities nearby. See more about Vinci and the birth house in Anchiano.
Pienza, in search of the perfect harmony
The ‘ideal city’ of Tuscany, Pienza, is the queen of the Val d’Orcia. What’s to love? The exquisite landscape surrounding it all for a start, and its impossibly picturesque streets with evocative names such as Via del Bacio (Street of the kiss) e via dell’amore (Street of love). An array of small shops selling local pecorino cheese dot its streets that are famous for its Renaissance architecture and a sense of harmony and pure grace.
Its beautifully preserved streets and edifices transport you into the past, where architects were trying to recreate an ideal of pure harmony and good living with mortar and stone. By visiting the main square with the Duomo and Palazzo Piccolomini, where Pope Pio II – who gave its name and shape to Pienza – used to dwell, is a real immersion in the Tuscan Renaissance ideal of grace and beauty.
We recommend this full day Tour of Val d’Orcia in a private chauffeured minivan, to discover Pienza, Montalcino and the enchanting Sant’Antimo Abbey.
Discover 10 Charming small towns in Tuscany!
If you’re driving, check out our One day itinerary exploring the Val d’Orcia, including Pienza and Montepulciano.
DID YOU KNOW? Pienza features in the second series of the Medici, released on Netflix in early 2019. It’s the background, together with Volterra, to the dramatic story of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Poppi and the Casentino forests
Let’s leave the masses behind this year and travel to Poppi, in the Casentino area. Impressively perched on a hill which is visible for kilometres, the mighty Conti Guidi castle proudly stands guard over the beautiful Casentino valley. Poppi’s castle is one of the finest in Tuscany, beautifully preserved outside and in.
While Poppi can be visited in an hour, the surrounding area deserves plenty of time and attention, and if you love nature you could easily spend a couple of weeks in the Casentino. What will you find? Small hamlets to explore, ancient forests thick with fir and acer trees, and monasteries, like the evocative La Verna Sanctuary that embodies the spirit of saint Francis.
Badia a Passignano, live the Chianti
Chianti is not simply a destination, but a way of life. And the small hamlet of Badia a Passignano is the perfect example. Embraced by beautifully combed vineyards, you find an ancient Benedictine monastery, a few restaurants and eateries offering local dishes, all enhanced by the excellent local Chianti wines.
If you arrive there near sunset, you’ll find an atmosphere that’s hard to forget. There are vineyards as far as the eye can see (Antinori vineyards no less!) and one street dotted with inviting enoteche. If you contact the monastery in advance and ask for the visiting time, you’ll also be able to see the famous Last Supper fresco by Ghirlandaio in the refectory.
Taking a drive around the Chianti is a perfect way to really appreciate this area, famous all over the world for its wines and landscapes. Here wine growing and vineyards are embedded in people’s daily life, and the seasonal festivals follow the growth and harvest of the precious fruit. Visit in September to see or participate in the grape harvest!
Viator offers a great range of tours in the Chianti area, like this excellent Chianti Wine Tour around the Chianti vineyards and cellars, including lunch and a wine tasting class.
Florence, but out of season!
We cannot not mention Florence, of course, with its countless museums and art works. If it’s your first time in Tuscany, you’re likely to be visiting this jewel of the Renaissance.
For us if you really want to appreciate the city, you need to travel out of season if you can (February, March, end of October or November for example.) When you’re there, leave the ‘over-tourism triangle’ (Duomo-Ponte Vecchio-Piazza Signoria) and explore other areas, like the Oltrarno.
This is a popular Florence Walking Tour that give a great introduction to the city.
The reality is, Florence is becoming more and more popular… and you need to spend some quality time there to get the most out of it. Spend a week out of season to better get the flavour of the city. Choose some lesser known museums, like Bargello or San Marco, alongside the big names like the Uffizi and Accademia.
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