Tuscany Hotels and Villas
Tuscany is a region in north-west Italy, one of the country’s largest, but its importance goes beyond being just one of the 20 administrative regions into which Italy is divided.
To many English-speaking people and other people around the world, Tuscany is the area of Italy with which they are most familiar, whose countryside, christened “Chiantishire”, is the most representative of Italy’s natural beauty.
Many non-Italians have bought villas or rented farmhouses with a view on the hills of Chianti or indeed in the rest of Tuscany.
Tuscany has some of the most beautiful cities and countryside in Italy and indeed in the world, and it was the driving force of the Renaissance. It is also the most wooded Italian region, with poplars, cypress trees and pinewoods.
Summer is the best time to visit Tuscany, when practically all Italians head for the seaside, if you want to enjoy traffic-free roads and find car parks empty.
Apart from Tuscany’s capital, Florence, with which we deal in the Italian Cities section of this website, Italy Travel Ideas, the most important cities of art in the region are the historic towns of Siena, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano.
Hotels in Siena
Siena was in Medieval times such a powerful city to rival Florence, its historical adversary. To this and other rivalries between Tuscan towns we owe so many beautiful buildings and impressive monuments: who between Florence and Siena could build the most impregnable castles wall, or the most ornate churches?
The whole of the historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.
In Siena you can find many hotels in the historic centre and inside its city walls, a short walk from both Piazza del Campo, the square which is the very heart of Siena, and the central railway station. Since Siena is a hill town, that hotel location often dominates and offers magnificent views of this beautiful city.
Other hotels are on hills in the immediately surrounding Sienese countryside, still in walking distance from Siena city centre, immersed in parks, gardens, vineyards and olive groves, with terraces overlooking Siena and the Tuscan countryside. These hotels often have an outdoor swimming pool.
Hotels in Pisa
Pisa, home to that icon of Italy, the Leaning Tower (and if you see it up close you realise that it does lean very much indeed), is in northern Tuscany, near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean.
In 15 minutes from Pisa you can get to the beaches of Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia, and in half an hour’s drive you reach Viareggio, 12 miles north of Pisa on the Tyrrhenian coast, the seaside resort in the fashionable Riviera della Versilia.
Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa must be one of the world’s most beautiful squares, with the Duomo (Cathedral), Baptistry, Leaning Tower.
But there are many other splendid landmarks in Pisa, including Piazza dei Cavalieri with the Scuola Normale Superiore and its stunning façade. The embankments of the Arno, river which also flows through Florence, are not to be missed either.
In Pisa you can find hotels near Piazza dei Miracoli with incredibly spectacular views of the Leaning Tower and the square’s other jewels, as well as B&Bs near the International Airport Galileo Galilei, boutique and design hotels around the central station, and luxury hotels in elegant Tuscan palazzos in the heart of Pisa.
If you travel to Pisa by air, there are many direct trains and other means of transport from Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport to Florence.
Hotels in Lucca
Lucca is surrounded by huge, imposing, spectacular walls erected in the 15th, 16th and 17 centuries, still fully intact and solidly built. The part of the town within the city walls is remarkably preserved from the Middle Ages, with little narrow streets of great charm. It contains beautiful old palaces, churches, including the 11th century Duomo, gardens, towers.
Also outstanding is the Piazza del Mercato, built on the ancient Roman amphitheatre and still retaining its arena shape. The archways around the piazza mark the points where animals and gladiators would once have entered the arena.
B&Bs housed in historic residences and medieval palaces overlooking ancient squares, as well as luxury hotels are in the heart of Lucca’s city centre.
Many aparthotels, 5-star and 4-star hotels are located in villas with large gardens, sun terraces and swimming pools at the foot of the hills surrounding Lucca, few miles from the city centre.
Hotels in San Gimignano
San Gimignano is a smaller town than the three just described, but is a tourist destination of international importance, and has been declared by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, part of the World’s Architectural Heritage.
San Gimignano is a Medieval hill town in Chianti, in the heart of Tuscany.
It possesses one of the most distinctive and stunning urban profiles in the world, looking from a distance like a castle in the sky, due to its walls and towers, which dominate the valley and were built by rival noble families trying to surpass each other.
In quiet locations within San Gimignano’s walls are gems of Medieval architecture next to guesthouses with beautiful views and hotels located in original, superb, historic town houses, while country-house hotels and Bed & Breakfasts overlooking olive groves and vineyards are to be found few minutes’ drive from San Gimignano, commanding a view of its famous towers, a few kilometres from the town.
Hotels in Chianti
Chianti, the landscape that inspired the Renaissance’s great artists and in turn has been modelled by farmers who have enhanced its beauty, is a well-known wine-producing district situated between Florence in the north and Siena in the south.
Chianti holds the record of being the world’s oldest officially defined wine-producing area, going all the way back to a 1716 decree.
Major towns in Chianti are San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Monteriggioni, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti.
In and around all these towns are historic, charming villas and splendid country houses converted into hotels.
Pisa and San Gimignano photos from Pixabay.