Steeped in history and culture with staggeringly beautiful natural scenery, Tuscany is hardly a hidden gem – and yet, it’s managed to preserve both its historic cities and rural idylls through decades of tourism. It’s this that makes it such a sought-after destination for both holidays and second homes, and to remind you all why, we’ve put together our Engel & Völkers list of the true jewels in Tuscany’s crown.
The most recent additions to Tuscany's array of World Heritage sites, of which there are now seven in total, are the Medici villas and gardens, promoted earlier this year. Built between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the estate is a testament to the most influential family in Renaissance Italy, who sponsored da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo among several others. The villas themselves are completely integrated into the Tuscan landscape, a triumph of form and function in harmony with nature.
That landscape is most famously represented by the Val d’Orcia, the home of the iconic rolling hills that so many associate with the region. It’s easy to see why it’s inspired so many great artists over the centuries – whether or not you’re motivated to pick up a paintbrush, the views here are unforgettable. Situated within the valley is Pienza, itself a World Heritage Site. The stunning architecture of the Duomo and Palazzo Vescovile give Pienza a real sense of history and make just walking around the narrow streets a perfect way to spend a day.
Another town that should be on every travellers list is San Gimignano, in the province of Siena. Here, you can see fourteen preserved towers from mediaeval times, a remarkable number considering the political turmoil of the time. These towers dominate the skyline, lending it a distinctive appearance that contrasts with the predominant Renaissance styles found elsewhere. It shares this architectural elegance with the city of Siena, best known for the Palio horse race that’s held twice a year. It’s also a notably musical city, with an annual jazz festival and classical music performed at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana throughout the summer.
Ultimately though, it is Florence, the capital of the region and one of Europe’s great cities that single-handedly draws in tourists year on year. Whether your interests lie in the arts, science, fashion or sport, Florence has something to appeal. It’s also a beautiful city to simply explore, whether you’re browsing the Uffizi art gallery or gazing at the legendary cathedral.
The final Word Heritage site is one of Tuscany’s best-known attractions: the Piazza di Miracoli of Pisa, home of the world-famous Leaning Tower. The tower's not the only sight in the Piazza, however, and three more sacred buildings are to be found there: the Baptistry, the Campo Santo and the Duomo. All four are remarkable works of architecture, with the Duomo a particular highlight. Its striking interiors and collection of religious relics makes the Duomo a popular tourist destination, and a fitting conclusion to a trip through Tuscany.
By investing in property in Tuscany, you can have centuries of history at your front door - and Engel & Völkers can help you make it happen. We have offices based locally that can advise you through every step of the process to find the perfect property for you. Visit our website for more details.