It’s easy to time travel in Tuscany. From the medieval lanes of Siena to the towered citadel of San Gimignano. From the pretty jewel that is Certaldo Alto to the walled town of Monteriggioni. These are places where history is so perfectly preserved that you half expect to see a knight on horseback round every corner. So if you are tired of the trials of modern life, come on a journey with us to Tuscany and leave the 21st century behind.
Tuscany time travel – Going Medieval
When you enter the ancient gates of Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni or Volterra, it really does feel like you’ve somehow stepped into the Middle Ages. All the buildings are perfectly preserved, the cobbled streets speak of an era when horse and cart (and feet for the commoners) were the means of transport. Soaking in the atmosphere of the squares where mighty towers and ancient palaces watch over you is a thrilling experience. For maximum time machine effect, walk the streets of these towns in the evening when there’re fewer tourists around. With your mobile off there’ll be little to remind you what century you’re living in.
For the perfect Medieval experience, check out these charming Tuscan hilltop towns.
Climb a real Medieval Tower
They were big on towers in Medieval times and Tuscany has its fair share. The Middle Ages were turbulent times, and the most wealthy families would build house towers to ensure prestige and security for themselves. You can climb the tallest tower in San Gimignano known as Torre Grossa, in Certaldo, and in Lucca where the Guinigi Tower has a roof garden on the top. There’re the town halls’ towers, the Torre del Mangia in Siena, and Palazzo Vecchio’s tower in Florence. This used to host a prison cell where Cosimo de’ Medici, amongst others, was kept captive.
Medieval Festivals and Jousting
Seriously, what could be more atmospheric than a Tuscan town filled with people in Medieval costumes, flag throwers, crossbowmen, and ladies in flowing dresses? All around Tuscany there are Medieval festivals organised every year; Monteriggioni Medieval Festival (every July), Volterra AD 1398 (August), Siena’s horse race Palio, jousts in Pistoia (Joust of the Bear) and Arezzo (Saracen Joust), with competitions where everyone from the contrade get involved. Excitement guaranteed.
Read more about the best traditional Festivals in Tuscany.
See how Florentine families lived
Visiting Palazzo Davanzati in Florence is like poking around in the daily life of a 14th century Florentine family. How did the toilet work? What did the bed look like? And the kitchen? Take a tour to get a good understanding of how they lived.
From family life to ruling life. A visit to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence allows time travellers to spy into the secrets of the ruling Medici family. Enter the Hall of 500 and learn all its fascinating stories. With the Palazzo Vecchio ‘Secret Passages Tour’ you’ll get special access to secret rooms and hidden staircases. It was here that members of the Medici family used to scheme, collect precious and arcane objects, and even practice alchemy. A real treat.
Explore Castles in Tuscany
Tuscany is the land of castles. Mighty fortifications dot this beautiful landscape, reminders of a past where war was a daily affair. Castles meant divisions and fights for supremacy, a need for defence and protection of the land. Today these same edifices, with their bastions and crenellated towers, poke between trees and watch over peaceful valleys in the Chianti region, the northern Garfagnana and Lunigiana areas, the Casentino and the Val d’Orcia.
Some you can simply admire, some you can visit – the Verrucole castle (official site: Archeopark Fortezza delle Verrucole) and Conti Guidi Castle in Poppi are a real treat- and some you can stay in, like the Castello di Meleto near Gaiole in Chianti, or the Castello Malaspina in Fosdinovo.
Enjoyed this post? You might want to have a look at our suggested itineraries in Tuscany.