Tuscany may seem rather a small country to all coming from abroad, especially in comparison to huge countries like Australia, the United States, Canada….
But Tuscany is very rich in beautiful things to see as well as in countless things to do; you will find lots to discover in each area, you’ll certainly get the impression that time is not enough to visit all!
If you drive even for short distances from one place to another in Tuscany, you’ll be surprised by the countless sights to visit!
Florence is the capital of Tuscany, region in central Italy, and is one of the major Tuscan towns together with Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Arezzo. Tuscany also includes lots of small medieval villages, all famous for their beauty, like San Gimignano, Volterra, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Cortona, Pitigliano, and Monteriggioni. There are at least 4 main different and scenic areas in Tuscany: Chianti, Val d’Orcia, Valdichiana, and Maremma.
So the question is: Where is the best place to stay as a base for discovering Tuscany?
Much depends on the type of traveler you are… Like to enjoy the scenic countryside? Stay in a small Tuscan village or a famous art town? Like to visit most popular destinations or discover also off the beaten path spots?
There are lots of places that can be all great to stay, it can be difficult to decide on where to go in Tuscany; I’ve written many articles on this topic, each with a different location to use as your home base; Siena, Florence, Chianti, Valdorcia, Cortona, San Gimignano. You just have to choose according to your needs.
In this single post I’m collecting links to older posts to help you plan your next vacation to Italy and decide on the best location to explore Tuscany! Hope you find that useful 🙂
Where to base yourself in Tuscany
If it’s your first time to Tuscany and already know that Florence and Siena are the 2 major and most beautiful art towns in the region, then you’re probably wondering which between Florence and Siena is the best place to explore Tuscany.
Both towns are must see so anywhere you base they should be on your list of the things to see in Tuscany.
First, lets see the main differences between these 2 cities! Florence, standing on a plain in central Tuscany, is the town of Renaissance art, incredibly full of museums, exhibitions, events, wonderful piazzas and palaces, shops, and many people! The city is great as a base in case you intend to explore Tuscany using only public transportation, as it serves as a great starting point to undertake great day trips from Florence.
Siena, a totally different city, stands high on a hill top surrounded by scenic hills. Famous for its spectacular Palio, Siena has much more to offer its visitor beyond the horse race! Siena or its surroundings make a perfect base in case you’re having a car to move around and explore some of the best day trips in Tuscany.
Make Chianti your base to visit Tuscany most popular landmarks, ideal for short trips or as base for part your stay. The Chianti region is a maze of winding country roads that go from one hill to another, from one vineyard to an olive grove, in a unique landscape to discover. Chianti is a very convenient location to stay in Tuscany thanks to its central location in Tuscany, as it lies between Siena and Florence.
The Orcia Valley, south of Siena, is a magical place that will take you back in time. Here are beautiful and harmonious Tuscan hills running gently side by side, dominated here and there by spectacular hill towns. This place is perfect to indulge and is all to explore, while, from here you can go exploring some unexpected sights also more in the south of Tuscany.
The hill town by the scenic medieval towers is so beautiful to make it a great location for a base in Tuscany. San Gimignano and its hidillyc countryside are a beauty in itself, while the strategic location in the Elsa valley between Siena and Florence, makes it a good spot from where to tour Tuscany.
Encircled by ancient Etruscan walls, Cortona is a charming and typically Tuscan village, that has received much attention after the movie adaptation from the novel “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Meyes. The panorama you enjoy from Cortona is enachanting as is the towns and its museums. Considering the location of Cortona in the southeast of Tuscany, Cortona can serves as a strategic base to discover Tuscany as well as the near and beautiful Umbria region.