Are you looking for some unusual things to do in Tuscany? You’ve come to the right place. Not everybody is content with the same-old holiday destinations and popular sights, so we’ve gone far and wide in search of the most unique and unusual things to during your Tuscany trip. Some are different, others are plain weird, and all will show you a side of Tuscany you weren’t expecting. This is a list for the curious travel who would like to get off the beaten track. And discover a whole new side of this beautiful region.
15 Unusual Things to do in Tuscany
1. Discover Tuscany’s very own Sword in the Stone
You wouldn’t expect to find a sword in the stone in Tuscany. But trust us, it’s there. There are strong Arthurian influences in the legend of Tuscan-born Galgano Guidotti. Galgano was a dissolute and ruthless knight who hurled his sword into a rock when he decided to renounce violence and embrace a pious life. He was made a saint and a chapel was built in his honour. Today inside the small chapel Rotonda di Montesiepi, you can see the ancient sword still stuck in the very spot where he put it. Medieval vibes, mystery and spirituality in one.
2. Dare to walk the Devil’s Bridge
If you drive a few kilometres north of Lucca, on the way to the verdant Garfagnana, you’ll encounter a singular bridge with a dark story to tell. It’s the Ponte della Maddalena, and dates back to the Middle Ages. A beguiling sight, it’s often known by another, more chilling name – The Devil’s Bridge.
Legend goes that the architect who built it, fearing he wouldn’t be able to finish his job on time, asked Lucifer for help, offering him the soul of the first man to cross the bridge in return. But when morning came, and the bridge duly finished, he tricked the devil into sending a pig to cross it. So saving his soul. Walking across this scenic and storied bridge is definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Tuscany.
3. Uncover the secrets of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
Would you like to discover the secrets of the Medici family inside one of Florence’s most handsome palaces, the Palazzo Vecchio? This imposing edifice is where the rulers of the city, the Medici, used to live. if you join the Secret Passage Tour of Palazzo Vecchio you will not only appreciate the beauty of its interior, but also learn a few intriguing pieces of Florentine history. Fun, original , interesting. Not to be missed!
4. Explore Little Jerusalem in Pitigliano
Pitigliano is an enchanting hilltop town in southern Tuscany. It’s here you’ll find one of the most unusual sights in the region. “Little Jerusalem” is an ancient Jewish quarter in the town, dating back to the 16th century. The synagogue, and some rooms excavated in the tufa rock, can be visited to learn the evocative and moving history of this Jewish community in central Italy.
5. Saint Catherine’s relics in Siena
If you’re in the mood for something slightly macabre, visit the San Domenico Church in Siena. Here you’ll find the mummified, severed head of Saint Catherine, one of the patron saints of Italy. The young Caterina used to pray and have visions in this church, which has become a place where her spirit rests. Gruesome relic, or the perfect representation of the more visceral side of Medieval spirituality? You be the judge.
6. Get inspired by the Tarot Garden in Capalbio
On a more joyful note, head to the Tarot Garden near Capalbio in the Maremma. Right at the southern tip of Tuscany there’s a Gaudi-inspired place created by French artist Niki de saint Phalle. The garden was opened to the public in 1998. The sculptures that adorn it are made of multicoloured glass and other materials, and create a little world of fantasy and Tarot-inspired symbolism, where nature and art mix in an inspiring combination.
7. Visit a marble cave in the Apuan Alps
Get inside the belly of Tuscany. Visiting one of Tuscany’s marble caves is a way to really appreciate something that has made this region famous and unique: white marble. Michelangelo used to come up into the Apuan Alps in search of the perfect block of marble for his creations, so you could say his statue of David was born right here. This mountains have also provided marble for countless edifices and monuments all around Tuscany and Italy. Explore one of the caves in the Apuan Alps with an expert guide, breathe in the fine marble dust that fills the air, and you’ll begin to appreciate all the beauty and hardship of life in this part of the world.
8. Riding a Vespa around the Tuscan hills
Rent a Vespa and get set for an adventurous ride along Tuscany’s curvy road. Snake through olive groves and beautifully combed vineyards, enjoy the views and the thrill at every bend. But be careful, Italian driving can be a bit unpredictable 😉
Did you know that the iconic Vespa motorbike was born in Tuscany? The first Vespa was produced in Pontedera, where there’s a museum dedicated to the Vespa, a fun way to spend an afternoon.
9. Pay a visit to the La Verna Hermitage
If you’re looking for peace and quiet on your holidays – and you’d like to explore an area of Tuscany known only by the most savvy traveller – head to the Casentino. And book a night at La Verna Hermitage, the Franciscan monastery that welcomes pilgrims from all over the world. People come here for silence, prayer, and to hike in the beautiful forest surrounding this ancient religious site.
10. Driving aournd the Accona Desert in the Crete Senesi
In Tuscany, a region famous for its verdant countryside, you probably won’t expect to find a desert. But right at the heart of the Crete Senesi, south of Siena, there’s a place known as the Accona Desert. It’s a hilly eroded area devoid of vegetation, more properly called ‘badlands’. A lunar landscape that looks strangely suggestive and otherwordly.
=> Badlands are a type of dry terrain where soft rocks and clay-rich soil have been extentively eroded, creating formations like the Tuscan ‘biancane’ -> bianco means ‘white’ in Italian, from the colour of the soil. (Wikipedia)
=> See the Best of the Crete Senesi.
11. Take part in a Medieval Festival
The Middle Ages are still very much alive all around Tuscany. You can see it in the tower houses, the historic centres, churches and museums. But if you want to really experience the Medieval atmosphere, the best way is to take part in one of Tuscany’s many Medieval festivals. You could get a ticket for the Saracino Joust in Arezzo, where knights on horses compete, or visit the Monteriggioni or Volterra Festival. => See 3 Great Medieval Festivals in Tuscany.
12. Sleep with a ghost
What’s more exciting than sleeping in a haunted castle during your stay in Tuscany? If you’re up for this kind of things, look no further. Book a night at the Fosdinovo Malaspina castle in northern Tuscany. It is believed to be haunted by the phantom of Bianca, the young and rebellious daughter of the Signore. Only the intrepid traveller ventures to this remote corner of Tuscany, the Lunigiana. But there’s no better place to escape the multitudes, and the ordinary.
13. Meet the Prehistoric “stele” statues in Lunigiana
Let’s stay in northern Tuscany, and visit a truly unusual museum: the Museo Statue Stele in Pontremoli. The Stele are anthropomorphic statues sculpted in local sandstone by the peoples who lived in this area between the IV and the I millennium B.C. If you like history, or in this case prehistory, this is your place. Leave modernity aside and immerse yourself in the enigma that this enigmatic ancient sculptures still are today.
14. Water sport in Maremma
When Summer comes, the Italian coasts fill with people and excitement. And in Tuscany, the best beaches to enjoy it all is the Maremma. This is also a good destination if you like water sports: locations like Castiglione della Pescaia and Mount Argentario offer a range of activities like rafting, sailing, kite or wind surfing.
=> Discover 8 Reason to fall in love with the Maremma
15. Truffle hunting in San Miniato
Tuscany is one of Italy’s hot spots when it comes to truffles. San Miniato is a small hilltop town, with a lovely historic centre and a few excellent restaurants, that every November hosts a renowned Truffe Festival. Here you can also book a guided Truffle Hunt with a local expert and his dog, for a fun experience that will introduce you to the mouth-watering world of truffles.