Tuscany Travel Guide
Tuscany, with its gentle hills covered with olive groves, Etruscan, Medieval and Renaissance art, good food and great wines, is surely the most visited region of Italy.
The area was in ancient times inhabited by the Etruscans, later conquered by the Romans, then divided into various independent republics, eventually taken over by the grand duke of Florence and finally annexed to the Republic of Italy. Remarkable traces of all these passages can be found in Etruscan towns like Chiusi and Cortona, medieval villages like Lucignano in Valdichiana or Renaissance Montepulciano, not to mention bigger cities like Arezzo, Siena, Florence and Lucca.
Tuscany is divided into ten provinces: Arezzo, Firenze, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.
There are two main airports in Tuscany:
Pisa Airport, in the north-east of the region, is the biggest with domestic, European and some intercontinental connections.
Florence Airport is in the north of the region; it is smaller and mainly used by people going from and to Florence.
Besides those two airports there are Perugia - in Umbria - and Rome which are quite convenient especially if visiting the south of Tuscany. The Bologna one, in the north just passed the Apennines mountains, is also to be considered, as it is quite well connected by trains.
One of the main train tracks in Italy go from Milan to Bologna and Florence crossing Tuscany and ending up to Rome and Naples. There is also a litoranea train track near the coast, going from Genoa in the north to Pisa, Livorno, Grosseto and Rome. Besides those two main tracks, all major towns in Tuscany can be reached by train: Most smaller towns are connected as well; towns located on top of hills usually have a station in the valley to which they are connected by buses.
Prices are quite cheap if compared to the rest of Europe so when available it is best to chose Intercity and Eurostar trains in place of local ones as they are faster and better quality.
Keep in mind that a ticket for an Intercity train will not be good for a Eurostar so make sure you know what type of train you are taking when buying the ticket. Also remember to validate (stamp) the ticket in the yellow machines before boarding the train.
Here is the link to the Italian trains timetable (in English).
Using a car to visit Tuscany is probably the best choice, especially if looking for places further off the beaten track. Roads are quite good, little towns are generally well connected and there is a motorway system that connects all main towns.
The A1 Motorway, going from Milan to Bologna and Rome, crosses the eastern part of Tuscany passing trough Prato, Florence and Arezzo. From Florence there is a 4 lane road going to Pistoia, Massa Carrara, Lucca in the northern coast and the north-west of Italy; another one leads to Pisa, Livorno and the central cost: a third one leads to Siena through the Chianti area, Grosseto and the Maremma in the south coast. Another 4 lane road connects Siena to Perugia and Assisi in Umbria, passing through the Crete Senesi, the Valdorcia and the Valdichiana valleys.