Tuscany, the cradle of the Renaissance in central Italy, is overflowing with culture, history and beautiful scenery. From the splendour of Florence and Pisa to the coastal delights of Livorno and the vineyards, olive groves and spectacular sunsets Tuscany has it all, and will never go out of fashion.
There is no bad time to visit Tuscany. Tourist season begins around Easter and runs until the autumn. Expect crowds at the major attractions and temperatures of 30°C in July and August. Festivals abound, with the famous Palio horse race in Siena in July and August and a multitude of cultural and culinary events elsewhere in the region.
If the heat and crowds put you off consider a visit in early spring or autumn, when the colours of the countryside are at their most vivid. Food lovers might consider a visit in November, which is truffle season.
Winters are cool and can be damp, this is the quietest and cheapest time of year but the major galleries and museums remain open.
There is always demand for cheap flights to Tuscany but there are so many ways to get there that with a little planning and flexibility in your itinerary it is easy to bag a bargain.
The ‘Nearby airports’ option allows you to look at flights to and from different cities. There are flights from all over the UK to Florence and Pisa. Bologna, Genoa and even Rome are within striking distance.
The ‘Show flexible dates’ option allows you to compare prices to and from Tuscany on different days of the week, and can easily unearth a cheap flight.
To filter flights by criteria including price, airline, flight duration and ticket type use the ‘Show options’ menu or the buttons on the left of the search results.
The biggest airport in Tuscany is Galileo Galilei Airport in Pisa, with more than five million passengers a year and acts as a hub for Ryanair. There are several restaurants, shops, banking and tourist information services. There are buses and trains into the city and a shuttle to the car hire centre outside the terminal.
Florence Airport, Peretola, once known as Amerigo Vespucci Airport, is just outside the city and handles about half the number of passengers as Pisa. It is well appointed with shops and food outlets and there are car hire facilities in the arrivals hall.
Getting around Tuscany on public transport is easy. Florence, Pisa and other cities like Livorno and Siena have plenty of bus and in some cases rail and tram routes, and taxis are easy to find.
There is a good regional train system to the major towns and cities and you can travel by rail to other destinations in Italy and beyond. Pisa airport has its own railway station.
Tuscany’s bus network is comprehensive and surprisingly efficient. They can be more expensive and slower than trains, but buses and coaches serve more destinations, linking most towns.
For complete freedom it’s worth hiring a car or motorbike. The roads are well maintained although traffic is restricted in some towns, so make sure you check your route in advance.
The galleries and museums of Florence are some of the most spectacular in the world, be sure to visit the Uffizi Gallery, which houses the greatest collection of Renaissance art in the world.
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a trip to see the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, which tilts more than five degrees from vertical. Dating back to the 1100s the 58-metre bell tower was only stabilised in the 1990s.
One of Italy’s more fascinating rivalries played out in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano in Medieval times, where feuding families tried to assert their dominance by building taller and taller towers. Today around a dozen of the ‘tower houses’ remain, elevating the town’s architecture and standing as a tourist destination.
When in Tuscany do as the Tuscans do – and that means enjoying the wonderful local food and wine that the region is famous for. Choose from Chianti, Montalcino or Montepulciano as you enjoy a Florentine steak, cheese or a plate of olives.
Take time out from the tourist hotspots to explore the wonderful countryside and smaller towns, it’s a good bet that any town you visit will lay claim to having the finest cathedral in Tuscany.