Lovers of the outdoors will never get bored in Tuscany. From the mountainous areas of Garfagnana and the Apuan Alps, to the unspoilt forests near Arezzo in the east of Tuscany, and the beautiful southern coasts; Tuscany isn’t lacking in landscapes, or things to do in them.
If you’re the active type, there is more than one way to explore Tuscany‘s landscapes. So leave the car behind, and go for a hike, hop on a bike, or saddle up for a ride through some of Italy’s most scenic countryside.
Hiking in Tuscany
Hiking is one of the most popular ways to enjoy active holidays In Tuscany. Mainly because it’s easy to combine a good walk with a little sightseeing. In the Chianti and Val D’Orcia there are lots of relatively easy routes between its picturesque small towns. While ancient history buffs might prefer the Maremma, where they can unearth the region’s pre-Roman heritage visiting the necropolises or walking the “Vie Cave“, Etruscan roads excavated from Tufa rock.
Those up for a more serious hike often head for the verdant Garfagnana north of Lucca. Or the Apuan Alps, with its marble quarries and underground caves. Then there’s the beautiful National Park of the Casentinesi Forest in Eastern Tuscany, a large protected area of woodland and forests in the Apennines, home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Walking the Via Francigena in the steps of Medieval pilgrims is another way to get closer to the land and take a slower approach to travelling.
On two wheels in Tuscany
Not surprisingly, bikes are big in Tuscany. Road cyclists ride the hills on Sunday in packs, and determined amateurs can find plenty of tours offering more leisurely day rides. There’re plenty of opportunities for cycling in Tuscany, from the coastal plains of the Versilia and the Maremma, to the scenic hills of the Chianti region, or mountain biking in the mountainous Garfagnana in northern Tuscany.
Motorcyclists flock here too for the tight curves and dramatic changes of scenery that await them round every bend. And there are agencies that organise tours around the countryside on Vespas, a truly iconic way to travel.
Horse riding in Tuscany
But if it’s a horse’s saddle you prefer, you’ll find plenty of tour operators that will help you organise a horseback trail in Tuscany. Your best bet is the Maremma, famous for its horses and butteri (local cowboys), but the countryside around Florence also offers lots of possibilities.
Of course if you want to combine your favourite activity with a little wine and food tasting, you’ve come to the right place. What could be better than a glass of Chianti after a day’s exercise?
Beaches in Tuscany
If you’re looking for a beach spot that’s more wild and unspoiled, Maremma is your best bet, as it has some of the best beaches in the region. You can combine it with a walk in the Uccellina Natural Park that comes with white sand dunes and shady pine groves. Meanwhile some of Europe’s finest birdwatching can be done at the Orbetello Lagoon. Kite surfers and windsurfers are spoiled for good spots along this southern coast; Marina di Grosseto offers many good courses and is a perfect spot for beginners to learn the ropes.
There’re other beaches in the north too. Near Pisa, the Natural Reserve San Rossore is the most unspoilt coastal area in northern Tuscany. Versilia is a popular area for Summer holidays but this is deckchair land, and gets pretty crowded in August.
There are many other kinds of specialist active holidays in Tuscany too. From golf courses, to fly-fishing holidays and rock-climbing excursions, the only limit is the length of your stay.
Running in Tuscany
If you’re looking for somewhere to stretch your legs, our friends over at Great Runs have put together a series of some of the best places to run in Tuscany, from the major centres to some of the most beautiful roads. Great Runs: Tuscany