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Tuscany travel history and picturesque landscapes, the Tuscany region creates the perfect trail for a tour of discovery. Medieval hilltop towns combined with rolling countryside and enchanting skylines paint an idyllic backdrop to this delightful itinerary. Our tour includes the famous cities of Florence Pisa & Siena as well as lesser-known gems such as Florence Lucca, Pisa Siena San Gimignano Pienza and the Chianti area. The Tuscany Hill Towns
TUSCANY
About tuscany
The tuscany region details
The cities and towns in tuscany
Best tuscany tours

Major cities in tuscany Italy

FLORENCE
Siena
Pisa
Lucca
Livorno
Pistoia
Arezzo
Prato
Grosseto
Massa
Carrara


Other places of interest in tuscany: a must see in Tuscany

Museums in tuscany

The chianti Area (Florence Siena)

Apuans Alps (mountains)

Natural Parks Reserves Protected Areas

Massaciuccoli lake Puccini (Lucca)

San Gimignano
(Chianti Siena)

Garfagnana
(mountains north of Lucca)

Lunigiana (high part of tuscany mountains)

Vinci (leonardo's town)


coast - beach - sea - islands

Mediterranean sea
Riviera of Versilia most closest beach to Florence
Tyrrhenian coast pisan coast
Coast of the etruscans
Maremma area & Grosseto
Island of Elba
Capraia island

Coast outside tuscany ligurian coast Levante Riviera
Tuscany beach bathing establishments

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Tuscany Geographical Position

Tuscany Natural Environment

Tuscan Population Economy

Tuscany Tourism

Tuscany History


more about Tuscany

Culture

History

Recreation

Arezzo (ab. 90.907 )
Abbr City: AR
total population: 318.881
# Comuni (areas): 39

Firenze (ab. 379.687 )
Abbr City: FI
total population: 952.293
# Comuni (areas): 44

Grosseto (ab. 72.453 )
Abbr City: GR
total population: 216.207
# Comuni (areas): 28

Livorno (ab. 163.073 )
Abbr City: LI
total population: 335.555
# Comuni (areas): 20

Lucca (ab. 85.657 )
Abbr City: LU
total population: 375.496
# Comuni (areas): 35

Massa (ab. 67.999 )
Abbr City: MS
total population: 200.267
# Comuni (areas): 17

Pisa (ab. 93.133 )
Abbr City: PI
total population: 384.957
# Comuni (areas): 39

Pistoia (ab. 86.118 )
Abbr City: PT
total population: 267.367
# Comuni (areas): 22

Prato (ab. 169.927 )
Abbr City: PO
total population: 224.388
# Comuni (areas): 7

Siena (ab. 54.668 )
Abbr City: SI
total population: 251.892
# Comuni (areas): 36

Travel in tuscany ! through castles, fortresses, walled town and other medieval treasures of this Italian region with history with photos, maps and many informations for tourist in tuscany Italy.

Click to open the map and the cities locations
Geographical Position
Tuscany is the fifth largest region in Italy. Wedged deeply like a triangle in the heart of Italy, it constitutes a transitional, area between the Po Delta and Liguria, which are highly industrialized, and those Italian regions which are still principally agricultural. It stretches over the western side of the Apennines and includes the islands of the Tuscan archipelago. It lies on the sea to the west and south-west and borders with Liguria to the north-west, Emilia-Romagna to the north, the Marches and Umbria to the east, and Latium to the south-east. Its limits are clearly defined to the north but less evident to the east, crossing the main ridge of the Tusco-Emilian Apennines and taking in the upper Val Tiberina, becoming even more uncertain to the south-east and south where they appear to be justified only for historical, linguistic and generally cultural reasons.
The location in the western part of the boot of Italy, north of Rome and south of Genoa. It is bounded by the Apennines to the North and East and by the Mediterranean on the West. Its land area is about 9,000 square miles. Its major cities are Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo, and Pistoia. Its major river is the Arno, on which Florence and Pisa are located.

The Natural Environment
Tuscany has a varied and complex morphology; ranges of mountains and hills alternate with intermontane basins and strips of plain, scattered in an apparently irregular distribution. The true Tusco-Emilian Apennines can be distinguished from the mountainous and hilly groups of the Preapennines, separated by an imaginary line linking Montecatini Terme to Chiusi.

The highest chains along the watershed strip, the Pratomagno group (1,592 m.), the Chianti mountains and the southern chain, which stretches between Casentino and Val di Chiana to the west and Val Tiberina to the east, are part of the Apennines; the Apuan Alps (1,945 m.) branch off from the ridge on the inner side. The trachyte massif of Mount Amiata (1,738 m.) and the Colline Metallifere belong to the Tuscan Apennines. The intermontane basins are of particular interest, especially for their settlements; the largest and best defined are Lunigiana, near the upper Magra valley, Garfagnana (upper Serchio basin), the basin of Florence, Mugello (upper Sieve valley), Valdarno Superiore, Casentino, Val di Chiana and lastly, the upper section of Val Tiberina. The most extensive plains are Valdarno Inferiore, Versilia (at the foot of the Apuan Alps) and the coastal plains of Maremma).

The rivers in Tuscany are irregular in size, torrential and winding, for they have adapted to the morphology of the region. With the exception of the upper courses of the Reno, Santerno, Lamone, Marecchia and Foglia, which enter the Adriatic, all the other Tuscan rivers flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The most important are the Tiber (only a stretch of its upper course in Tuscany), the Arno with its tributaries, the Sieve, Bisenzio, Greve, Pesa, Elsa and Era, the Magra and the Serchio, respectively flowing through Lunigiana and Garfagnana; the Cecina, the Ombrone and the Albegna, which flow through the Preapennine range.

The climate is temperate but there are considerable zonal variations depending on the distance from the sea, altitude and the position of the mountains. Generally speaking, the temperatures decrease from the Maremma coastal areas (to the SW) towards the Apennines (to the NE). Precipitations fall mainly in spring and autumn. The wettest zones are those of the north-western Apennines and Pratomagno, the Catenaia Alp, the Chianti mountains, the Mount Amiata group and the highest parts of the Colline Metallifere, while the driest are the coastal belt, the plains and the intermontane basins.

The mantle of natural vegetation has been greatly modified by man though various characteristic aspects still exist. Common along the coast is the Mediterranean scrub, an underwood of aromatic evergreen shrubs, which spreads though, increasingly sparsely, into the Arno Valley as far as Florence. There are still beautiful pinewoods on the coast as well as holly woods and cork trees. Inland, up to approximately 900 m. grow white oak and chestnut woods; higher up lie beautiful mountain forests of beech and fir, and beyond 1,700 m. wide alpine pastures. Tuscany has far more woodland than any other Italian region (866,211 hectares). Most of these woods are coppices of low trees which are felled at intervals to provide logs and charcoal.

There are, however, tall forest trees providing timber for building, such as the conifer forests of Abetone and Vallombrosa: most common, however, are chestnut groves which make Tuscany the fourth Italian region for chestnuts.

One of the most important mountain areas is that ot the Casentinesi Forests, on the boundary with Emilia-Romagna (one third lies in that region), where the nature of the ground and the high humidity level provide excellent conditions for growth: towering silver firs, majestic centuries-old beeches and a whole variety of other trees ranging from the mountain maple to the European aspen, from the lime tree to the smooth-leaved elm, from the Turkey oak to the common hornbeam. The lower areas are full of white oak, chestnut and in the damper zones alders, willow and laburnum.

Another characteristic and beautiful mountain area is that of the Apuan Alps, an extraordinary chain of mountains which winds for more than 50 km, towering over travellers along Lunigiana, Garfagnana or Versilia like brilliant white marble and which from a certain distance resembles enormous snowfields.

Beside the woods of evergreen oak and Corsican pine, hornbeam, beech and chestnut, there are extremely rare species such as an austral fern.

Little wildlife survives, however marmots and pine voles are present, and the rich variety of birds includes the European partridge and the raven; interesting amphibians include the Apuan and the Italian newt.

The Maremma lies on the south Tuscany coast, one of the outstanding environments on the peninsula, still well conserved and with a rich variety of scenery, plants and characteristic animals. The flora is typically Mediterranean, with thick mastic and strawberry bush scrub and various heathers and junipers. Here the evergreen oak is in shrub form, but a splendid tree farther inland; the cork trees too grow to majestic heights. There are strips of riparian and mixed vegetation as well as interesting rare survivors such as the dwarf palm. The characteristic Maremma wildlife abounds: wild boar, roe deer, badgers and porcupine. Birdlife is plentiful and varied including birds of prey such as the harrier.

Of the Italian regions, Tuscany, together with Sardinia, has the most interesting mineral deposits. There are seams of cinnabar (Mount Amiata), iron ore (Island of Elba), pyrites (Grosseto area), lead and zinc, antimony, rock salt (Volterra) and lignite (San Giovanni Valdarno). The most characteristic of the Tuscan underground resources are the borax geysers at Larderello, violent continuous jets of steam at high temperatures gushing from deep holes bored in the ground. These are used in producing boric acid and generating electricity (geothermic energy).

Population and Economy
The population of Tuscany is not uniformly distributed: high- density areas contrast sharply with those where the density is markedly lower than the national average, for example the mountain or agricultural zones which, especially after the Second World War, suffered a population drain towards the industrialized areas or the lowlands, the Provinces of Grosseto, Siena and Arezzo being those most affected. As a result, the population is heavily concentrated along part of the Tyrrhenian coastline (from Carrara to Leghorn) and in the lower Valdarno, from Florence to Pisa where local densities of 500 persons/ sq/km are recorded. The Tuscan dialect, articulated in various offshoots such as those of Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo and Val di Chiana areas and Florence, belongs to the large family of Central Italy dialects.

The standard of living is generally little higher than the national average though there are certain zonal differences. The areas with high industrial concentration and the best communications networks (lower Valdarno, Florence, Lucca, Versilia, Leghorn) have an advantage over the rural and mountain areas (Maremma hinterland, countryside around Siena, upper Apennines).

As regards the economic sector, agriculture has in recent decades suffered from a high rate of redundancy, caused by mechanization of production and drift from the countryside. The Tuscan primary sector has two different farming systems: smallholdings, sometimes still with mixed crops (wheat, vines and olives), mostly in the north of the region, and the large farms to the south, especially in Maremma, where land has been reclaimed; these farms cultivate cereals and vegetables. The principal agricultural products are wheat and wine, the latter mainly from the Chianti area. Qualitatively speaking, olive cultivation is also excellent (around Lucca, Maremma hills). Vegetable production is also worthy of note: Tuscan artichokes (from the Pisa, Leghorn, Empoli areas) are well known as are cauliflowers (Pisa area). Nursery gardens round Pistoia and floriculture at Pescia and Viareggio are traditional forms of cultivation, but apart from sheep, there is little livestock, though the area does have several native breeds of cattle (Chianina, Pisana, Maremma). With regard to industry, mining, though sharply declining compared to a few decades ago, is still of some importance: pyrites in the Grosseto area (used in the production of sulphuric acid), lignite (Valdarno), lead (Campiglia Marittima), alabaster (Volterra) and notably marble (Apuan Alps). The iron ore seams (Island of Elba) and mercury deposits (Mount Amiata) are no longer worked.

Some electricity is produced, nearly entirely of thermal origin, more than one third of it from the exploitation of borax hot springs (Larderello). Industry includes the metallurgical (Piombino, Leghorn, Florence, S. Giovanni Valdarno), engineering (Florence, Pontedera, Pistoia, Arezzo), chemical (Rosignano Solvay, Leghorn), textile (Prato, Florence, Empoli), food (Sansepolcro), printing (Florence), tanning (S. Croce sull'Arno) and glass, making (Empoli) sectors. Craft industries flourish all over this region (faiences, lace, rush-weaving, wrought-iron). In the services sector, banking (Siena, Florence) and especially commerce and tourism (the Versilia seaside resorts, many art cities) are important.

The road and railway networks are well developed for regional circulation (facilitated by the wide valleys and the broken nature of the Tuscan Apennine groups) as well as national communications. Important highways and motorways (Autostrada del Sole, Florence-Pisa, Genoa-Leghorn, Parma-La Spezia) and main railway lines (Bologna-Rome, coastal line Genoa-Rome) cross this region.

The only busy ports are Leghorn (lines to Sardinia, Corsica and the Tuscan archipelago) and Piombino (linking the nearby Island of Elba). The major domestic airports are Pisa San Giusto and Florence Peretola.

Click to open the map and the cities locations

Tourism
Tuscany is one of the regions in Italy that attract the highest number of tourists, this as a result of its excellent position on the peninsula and satisfactory hotel and other facilities, and most of all to the great variety of environmental, scenic, artistic, cultural and historical attractions.

The area is dotted with charming and often old villages, whose intrinsic merits merge with those of the environment. Starting from the north, peaceful green valleys lie close to the Apennine ridge: Lunigiana with Pontremoli, the home of booksellers, and Fosdinovo, with its Malaspina beautiful castle (14th century); next, separated by the `marble' Apuan Alps, lies Garfagnana, where Castelnuovo, Barga, with the nearby village of Castelvecchio (home of Giovanni Pascoli, the poet), and, not far from Lucca, the Romanesque Pieve di Brancoli, all deserve a visit. Towards the east, lies the wooded Pistoia mountain, with a host of summer holiday centres, such as S. Marcello, Gavinana and Maresca, and winter resorts, such as Cutigliano and especially Abetone. Having reached Florence, one can go up the Mugello (Sieve valley) where a visit should be made to the Renaissance Francescan monastery of Bosco dei Frati, with a wooden crucifix attributed to Donatello, the Medici villa of Cafaggiolo (15th century) and the centres of Scarperia, with the 14th century Palazzo Pretorio, and Romanesque Borgo S. Lorenzo with the church of the same name. Once over the Pratomagno ridge (on which the picturesque village of Vallombrosa is perched with its interesting monastery) the visitor reaches Casentino (upper Arno Valley) and Stia, Poppi and Bibiena, villages with a wealth of art and architecture - but especially with an intensely mystical beauty, amidst majestic forests. The Eremo di Camaldoli conserves the characteristic cells (11th century) occupied by the hermits; the Verna monastery, with its 14th century church of S. Maria degli Angeli and Basilica (14th-16th century) contains many relics of the life of S. Francis.

The traditional image of Tuscany, of gentle hilly slopes covered with olive groves and vineyards, must be sought in the heart of the region, for example, in the upper Era basin, where one finds splendid Volterra, of ancient Etruscan origin, a town whose ancient intact structure conserves important monuments such as the Romanesque Duomo, 14th century Palazzo dei Priori and an extremely interesting Etruscan museum.

In the upper Elsa valley, between Florence and Siena, lies another small town, nestling in the peaceful green countryside, of equal environmental and cultural interest: this is S. Gimignano, famous for its many towers, the Collegiata (12th century) with a fine interior, Palazzo del Podesta (12th-13th century) and the Romanesque Gothic church of S. Agostino. Nearby and worth visiting are Colle Val d'Elsa, with Palazzo Campana, an example of Mannerism (16th century), and Monteriggioni, with fine twelfth century walls. Past the so-called `Crete Senesi', stands the solitary magnificent abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (14th-16th century) decorated with frescoes by L. Signorelli and Sodoma (Stories of St Benedict); farther on lie Montalcino, of medieval appearance with its beautiful Collegiata (12th-13th century) and Pienza, built by Pope Pius II (1459-62) in the purest Renaissance urban style. Proceeding south, one reaches Radicofani and the tranquil, picturesque holiday resorts at the base of Mount Amiata (1,738 m.): these are Castel del Piano, Arcidosso, S. Fiora, Pian Castagnaio and Abbadia S. Salvatore. Another interesting itinerary starts at Arezzo, descending the Val di Chiana, touching Monte San Savino, with its Renaissance Loggia dei Mercanti, and the medieval hamlet of Gargonza; Castiglion Fiorentino and Cortona, a city of art, with a medieval centre; lastly Montepulciano with its late-Renaissance architecture. Not to be missed, lying at the foot of the Colline Metallifere, between Siena and Grosseto, are the solitary abbey of S. Galgano, partly in ruins, one of the most important examples of Gothic-Cistercian architecture in Italy, and the beautiful town of Massa Marittima.

Farther on, towards the Tyrrhenian Sea, one enters Maremma, a protected area in the Maremma Natural Park, including the small coastal chain of the Monti dell'Uccellina, which has typical Mediterranean scrub, the ideal habitat for an extremely rich and varied fauna. Tourist movement Tuscany is also linked to the seaside resorts, starting from those of Versilia: Marina di Massa, Marina di Carrara, Forte dei Marmi, Marina di Pietrasanta, Lido di Camaiore, Viareggio and continuing with Tirrenia, Castiglioncello, Marina di Cecina, S. Vincenzo, exclusive Punta Ala, Castiglione della Pescaia, Marina di Grosseto, Porto S. Stefano and Porto Ercole - these last two on the Argentario headland. Not to be forgotten is the Tuscan archipelago, especially the Island of Elba, with a jagged coastline, a particularly mild climate and excellent tourist facilities. Other islands which tourists can visit are Isola del Giglio and Isola della Capraia. Internationally renowned health spas include Montecatini, near Pistoia, with waters suitable for the treatment of the liver and digestive tract, and Chianciano, in the lower Val di Chiana, whose waters are used for liver complaints.

History
It was the home land of the Etruscans, which was annexed by Rome in 351 BC. After the fall of the Roman empire, the region, which became known as Tuscany (Toscana in Italian) came under the rule of a succession of rulers (Herulians, Ostrogoths, etc.) and emerged as a political entity with its own rulers. By the twelfth century the Tuscan cities were gradually gaining their independence as republics and forcing the nobility to live in the cities. By the high Middle Ages the cities of Pisa, Siena, Arezzo, Pistoia, Lucca, and especially Florence had become wealthy because of textile manufacture, trade, banking, and agriculture. Gradually Florence came to overshadow and conquer all other cities in the region.

After several experiments with representative government, Florence was ruled by an oligarchy of wealthy aristocrats, among whom the Medici family became dominant in the fifteenth century. Under the patronage of these wealthy families the arts and literature flourished as nowhere else in Europe. Florence was the city of such writers as Dante, Petrarch, and Macchiavelli, and artists and engineers such as Boticelli, Brunelleschi (who built the magnificent dome on the church of St. Mary of the Flowers), Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Because of its dominance in literature, the Florentine language became the literary language of the Italian region and is the language of Italy today. Lorenzo de' Medici, who ruled Florence in the late fifteenth century was perhaps the greatest patron of the arts in the history of the West.

But times changed. After Lorenzo the friar Savonarola* ruled Florence, and the Medici were exiled. With the shift of commerce away from the Mediterranean and toward the Atlantic, after 1492, the economy of Tuscany went into a slow decline. In 1530 the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V conquered Florence and reestablished the Medici family in power. They were now dukes of Florence, and within a few decades Cosimo de Medici was made Grand Duke of Tuscany. Cosimo aggressively pursued a policy of economic revival, building the great harbor at Livorno because the harbor of Pisa had silted up.

Galileo was born under the rule of Cosimo in 1564. It was during this period that the Medici court increasingly firmly established its hold over the city. The court came to dominate all aspects of civic life, and for the Galilei family the route to success lay through the patronage structure in which the Court was central. In the seventeenth century Florence and Tuscany increasingly faded into obscurity and did not revive until the nineteenth century. It is today a major cultural center and attracts millions of tourists each year.

The long curve of the Tyrrhenian coast and the backbone of the Appennines, the short range of the Apuan Alps and the picturesque coastal plain of the Maremrna, dominated by Monte Amiata, define the contotlrs of this region whose variety and magnificence of Landscape are extraordinary. In the region's interior, the superb backdrop of the Appennines, where both the Arno and the Tiber have their source, dominates the landscape: broad and verdant valleys, rugged gorges, thick forests. Our every step is accompanied by the typical flora of Mediterranean countries: the vine, the olive and the cypress, a tree sacred to the Etruscans. Twice, in the course of the millennia, Tuscany enjoyed a period of prodigious cultural efflorescence. Before the foundation of Rome, at a time when the Greek colonies flourished in southern Italy, the civilization of the Ftruscans developed in this land.

They founded the first Tuscan cities, some of which are still very much alive today. After the year 1000 AD., at the time of the long standing dispute between Papacy and Empire, Tuscany enjoyed a second and no less astonishing burst of civilization. Florence itself provided perhaps the most typical example of an evolution common to numerous Italian cities: the development, namely, that led from forms of communal democracy, through internecine strife, to the imposition of an absolute princedom in the specific case of Florence, that of the Medici.

The last two centuries of the Middle Ages and the ensuing Renaissance mark the happiest period in the history of Italian art. The city once again became the fulcrum of political and cultural life, and it was in this period that the urbanistic renewal of the major Tuscan cities was achieved. Wider circuits of walls, city gates and new streets were built, while the town fabric was distinguished by the twin centres of religious and political life: the great baptisteries, cathedrals and town halls were erected.

At a later period, with the progressive concentration of wealth in the hands of a few powerful families, the private palaces of the nobility and family chapels were raised. In the figurative arts too a bourgeois view of life, logical and rational, was affirmed.

The innovative painting of Giotto, responsive to nature, to the reality of things, opened the way to the pictorial achievements of the following century, just as the great poetry of Dante Alighieri laid the foundations, in the Tuscan vernacular, of the Italian literary tongue. The individualism typical of the Renaissance found its full expression in the concept of genius. Leonardo da Vinci, both painter and scientist, embodied and personified the ideal of human versatility.

Thus, the countless marvels of nature are accompanied, in this region, by the indelible records of the past that testify so eloquently to the guiding role that Tuscany played in European culture in the period of her greatest splendour. In every corner, even the remotest, we find an ancient chapel, a hilltop castle, a palace, or a tower Large cities, small cities, ancient cities: each has its treasure to show us, a fresco in the church, a piazza that has retained its original character; or celebrated museums, full of masterpieces, monumental cathedrals and palaces, massive walls and fortresses that attest to the artistic and economic splendour reached hy these cities.

In this site we will try to draw attention to the major artistic glories of each city, though without ignoring the essential aspects of the landscape, the main tourist resorts or the region's spas; leaving to the visitor the initiative to discover for himself the countless picturesque spots rich in immemorial peace and
history which make this region so beautiful.

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