Tuscany’s most beautiful hilltop villages
Tuscany is really a vast region, and with so many beautiful and exceptional places to visit that one never stops to get surprised by new fabulous and unexpected corners; and that’s true even for people living here, like me
So, you may consider the following guideline on the most scenic and fascinating medieval Tuscan villages, that shouldn’t be missed from any itinerary in Tuscany! These hill towns are all characterized by spectacular scenery, unforgettable vistas, great history and interesting museums, beautiful buildings and great events.
Of course, this is just a personal listing of the smaller medieval towns in Tuscany, and there’s no particular order, as all the following Tuscan villages are equally extraordinary and impressive And here are some of the most beautiful villages in Italy as well!
Best Tuscan Towns and Villages
And here is the top list of the best villages in Tuscany with a brief description, while you’ll find a full post entirely dedicated to each of these fantastic destinations on clicking their links:
San Gimignano: Located in the province of Siena, San Gimignano is probably the most famous and well known Tuscan village and surely the best preserved medieval town of all Italy. The 15 scenic towers (so many as 72 in the Middle Ages!) of its beautiful skyline are unique and unmistakable.
In addition to its charming towers, the village is also famous for its crowds, lovely views, and the wonderful Collegiata, an ancient church with beautiful and notable frescoes. This town has mostly remained as it was and this really contributes to its suggestive and suspended atmosphere.
Volterra: Perched on a steep rocky promontory and standing completely isolated, this lesser known, yet beautiful Tuscan town, offers one of the best and vastest view, and is to be recommended for anyone visiting Tuscany. Piazza dei Priori is wonderful, while the Balze of Volterra are unique: natural canyons that make the cityscape of the village unique and imposing at the same time. Volterra is famous for its alabaster production, with shops selling lovely artefacts, and the Museo Guarnacci is one the most important Etruscan museums displaying amazing finds.
Cortona: In the province of Arezzo stands this ancient and charismaric hill-town, holding a dominant position and offering striking and extensive views all over the Valdichiana up to Mount Amiata and the Trasimeno Lake. In recent years, tourists have incredibly increased after the filming of the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”, from the novel of the American Frances Mayes. Imposing fortified walls encompass the entire city and the Fortezza del Girifalco. If you love visiting museums, that’s the place to be: you can see several valued paintings at the Diocesan Museum, like the Annunciation by Beato Angelico, and at the Museum of the Etruscan Academy (MAEC).
Monteriggioni: This small medieval hamlet near Siena, is unique and owns a great charm: a fortified citadel with perfectly preserved walls and bastions with 14 towers enclosing a tiny ancient village, consisting of few houses, a restaurant and some touristic shops. The museum within the castle hosts an interesting collection of medieval and Renaissance arms and armors.
Pienza: A real jewel! The Ideal city of Pienza is wonderfully set in the Val d’Orcia region, south of Siena. Designed as a utopian city of the Renaissance during the 15th century by the humanist Pope Pius II. Few places in Tuscany have such an extraordinary charm: the beatiful Piazza Pio II with the lovely well, Palazzo Piccolomini and its panoramic and suspended garden, outstanding views from the walls, good restaurants, and inviting shops with delicious local produce, lke the tasty and famous pecorino cheese of Pienza!
Montalcino: Renowned worldwide for its fine and prestigious production of wine, especialy the Brunello, Montalcino is a typical hill top town enclosed by massive walls and watched by an imposing and pefectly preserved castle and fortress. The views are extraordinary: olive groves, vineyards, rolling hills all around. Close to Pienza and Montepulciano, this scenic village is also near the wonderful and important abbeys of Sant Antimo and Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
Montepulciano: East of Pienza lies one of the most beautiful medieval Tuscan towns, characterized by elegant Renaissance palaces and ancient churches, like the beautiful church of San Francesco. Also Montepulciano is well known for the fine production of its Vino Nobile wine. From the top of the beautiful Palazzo del Comune in Piazza Grande, you’ll get an enchanting and vast panorama all over the valley. In Montepulciano you’ll also find an important thermal establishment, whose therapeutic and healing proprieties were known since Renaissance times.
Pitigliano: Pitigliano is located in the most southern part of Tuscany, in the province of Grosseto and north of Rome, rising over a spectacular and scenic cliff-top of tuff, with medieval buildings standing as if suspended in the air above the valley.
From the wonderful Piazza della Repubblica, characterized by two wonderful fountains, a balcony offers a unique and unforgettable panorama over the river and the enchanting Tuscan countryside. With Sovana and Sorano, the so-called città del tufo, Pitigliano represents one of the lesser known, yet incredibly attractive corners of Tuscany, that should deserve much more attention.
Finally, I have to say that Tuscany is so incredibly full of many other wonderful places, spread all across the region, that you could go on filling in the list forever
To see more beautiful Tuscan villages, follow The Most Beautiful Villages of Tuscany – Part II
And what about you? Any other Tuscan village you’d add to the list?
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