Spring is a wonderful time to make a trip to Tuscany, Italy. The perfect moment to catch a few of its lesser-known, but no less beautiful, small towns. These ancient places are awash with history, and far enough off the main tourist track to still feel authentic. But which to visit? Here we take you on a virtual tour of some of our favourites: Massa Marittima, Lucignano and Pontremoli. Three towns that show there’s nothing quite like Tuscany in Spring.
Small towns in Tuscany, Italy, for your Spring trip
Massa Marittima, a Medieval delight in the Maremma
If you love Medieval hilltop towns, add Massa Marittima to your bucket list. Not as popular as San Gimignano, it does have all the lovely features that a fan of the Middle Ages would expect in a Tuscan town. Amazing Romanesque cathedral with exquisite capitals and design? Check. Tower houses with cranelleted tops? Check. Narrow atmospheric cobbled streets? Check. The list goes on.
Massa Marittima is located south of Grosseto, an hour’s drive from Siena, and a few short kilometres from the coast (Gulf of Follonica) in the Maremma region. The main square Piazza Duomo is enclosed by some impeccably restored Medieval buildings, one of which hosts the small Archeological Museum. The San Cerbone Cathedral watches over it all from atop its staircase-pedestal. You can spend a day visiting the main sights, exploring the side streets and browsing the lovely artisan shops. Lunch with a view in the square is highly recommended, the Caffe’ Ristorante Le Logge makes good pasta.
It’s only a short drive to the coast so you combine a trip to Massa with the first dip of the season in the Tyrrhenian sea. Some of the best beaches in Tuscany are right in this area.
Lucignano, a destination for romantic souls
Lucignano is a small Medieval walled town in the province of Arezzo, in Eastern Tuscany. A delightfully peaceful place where time seems to stand still. Departing the scenic main square Piazza del Tribunale, you’ll find narrow streets, picturesque corners, stone arches and plenty of photo opportunities. Visit the small, but lovely Church of San Francesco with its striped stone facade and ancient frescoes, and enjoy the quiet beauty of the small square that is its home.
The “pearl of the Valdichiana”, as Lucignano is also known, is a popular destination with couples, that come here in search of good luck for their union. The precious object believed to bring this good fortune is the ‘Tree of Love’, a Gothic golden reliquary that you find in the Lucignano Museum, together with some impressive frescoes.
And if you visit Lucignano in May you can take part into the Flower Festival Maggiolata di Lucignano, a colourful festive affair that includes carts adorned with spectacular flower displays. This year it happens on 20th, 22nd, 27th May 2018 (official site). A great Spring Italy destination indeed.
Find out about the most romantic things to do in Tuscany.
Pontremoli, the gem of northern Tuscany
Travel to northern Tuscany, and make for a corner of the region often ignored by tour guides, the Lunigiana. It’s a land of mountains and chestnut woods, and small hamlets nestled on the slopes of the Apennines, where you’ll find ancient castles and exquisite food. And Pontremoli is the main town of this verdant region, tucked in Tuscany’s northernmost point. It was an important stop along the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim route that crosses Italy and Europe.
Today you can walk along the Via Francigena (leg 23: see official site) that starts from Pontremoli and explores the ancient villages of the area. Spring is a perfect time for hiking in Tuscany, when the temperatures are just right and the landscape has got its colour back.
Discover the historic centre of Pontremoli dominated by the Pignaro Castle, and visit the museum that hosts some fascinating finds: the famous ‘stele’, ancient sculptures that date back to 2000-3000 BC.
Spending some time in Pontremoli and its surroundings is a perfect way to enjoy history and nature in an authentic Tuscan town that’s not overrun by tourists. Not just a pretty face, it’s also a top spot for anyone who loves their food. Buon appetito!