You’ve made it for Tuscany and are now ready to plan your trip to Italy at its best!
Especially if it’s the first time you’re coming to Italy, you wonder: Where is the best place to stay as a base in Tuscany? Where is the best location to explore the region? It’s not easy a decision as Tuscany is vast and offers many charming and varied destinations all worth to discover! Most areas of Tuscany are scenically surrounded by countless vineyards and olive groves in a idyllic countryside, perfect for a great stay in a rustic farmhouse, a charming B&B, or a luxury villa with pool and fantastic view.
Particularly the Chianti area, between Florence and Siena, and the Val d’Orcia area, south of Siena, are incredibly beautiful and full of splendid vistas.
Chianti, enchanting countryside, scenic castles, and fine wines
Chianti, so famous for its scenic landscape and great wines, is all vineyards, forests, and castles. Thanks to its strategic location between Florence and Siena, it can be a great base to start exploring Tuscany’s most popular sights. Here I speak about making Chianti your home base and what to visit from there. I would suggest this area of Tuscany for its central location in the region and the possibility to reach main art towns very conveniently.
Of the many delightful villages of Chianti, Castellina in Chianti is probably the most charming. This tiny medieval village, still encircled by its medieval walls and dominated by a fortress, retains a special atmosphere; its covered walkway, Via delle Volte, is enchanting! Its location in the heart of the Chianti region, is the ideal start for your trip into the area.
Palazzo Squarcialupi, a nice 3 star hotel in the village’s center, can be a great choice, though the area is full of lovely farmhouses and fabulous medieval castles, like Castello di Meleto.
Val d’Orcia, undulating hills, never-ending views, great food and wine
The Val d’Orcia, natural and protected area in the countryside south of Siena, is quite different from Chianti, still amazing but in a different way. This is probably the most beautiful part of Tuscany for unique landscape made of isolated farmhouses, castles, soft undulating hills, solitary cypress trees, never-ending views, and stunning medieval hill towns like Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Monticchiello and Pienza; this last one of the most beautiful hill towns of Italy.
All the area is famous all around the world for its fine wines, notably the Brunello of Montalcino, and the Nobile of Montepulciano, not to mention its delicious food and local specialties. The countryside here is impressive, there’s a lot to see and do, its enchanting hill towns are perched on top of steep hills like in a fairytale…
I recommend staying in Pienza and its surrounding hills, or in the characteristic thermal village of Bagno Vignoni. Pienza is simply breathtaking, and its pecorino cheese is superb! The area is full of amazing country villas and chic farmhouses like Villa Mia or Villa Romantica… a dream!
Near Pienza is the small village of Bagno Vignoni, one of the most romantic places to stay in Italy; a characteristic borgo with fantastic thermal baths and an amazing square with an ancient Renaissance pool at its center. At one corner of the piazza, is the charming B&B La Locanda del Loggiato that offers great breakfasts and lovely views of the square.
The Val d’Orcia is actually a great base to move further south of Tuscany to visit some of the most spectacular and impressive hill towns of Italy: Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana, just have a look at the pics 🙂
Staying long? split your stay between Chianti and Valdorcia!
If you’re staying in Tuscany for a week or more, I suggest splitting your stay in 2, and base some days in Chianti and the rest in Val d’Orcia; this is great as you’ll have the possibility to visit a lot of Tuscany, from north to south, including many of its lesser known and surprising off the beaten track destinations, authentic gems!