Outside the city
The city of Florence deserves a special mention but the Tuscan countryside and its ancient villages are no exception and will steal your heart! Starting from our car rental in Florence airport you can easily reach the Tuscan countryside and feel like in a movie.
The beauty of the landscape, almost like a scenography, speaks of a peasant land where fields and crops nourish the inhabitants, but also where art is a profound and habitual expression of the social context, an inseparable union that was forged centuries ago with the soul and spirit of the greatest masters and artists of all time.
So let's start by leaving the airport to head just outside the city and look at Florence in all its mighty beauty from above. We are in the abbey of San Miniato al Monte, over 1,000 years old and a magnificent example of Tuscan Romanesque art. The abbey's monastic pharmacy produces precious and ancient products, an example of an artisan tradition that has been perpetuated over the centuries. During your trip, it is worth remembering, you will be continuously immersed in a parallel reality, in a succession of villages and citadels, castles and farmhouses, villas and aristocratic estates, towers, abbeys, churches, which has no equal and which make every Tuscan proud of their belonging, which is why in these places the traditions have been handed down intact and the care for the territory becomes a commitment to protect the beauty of the places.
To understand what we mean, go to San Gimignano, a mediaeval village still surrounded by its walls and packed with towers and churches where the 12th-century Cathedral dominates. Here everything has a flavour of time gone by, narrow streets, alleys and stone buildings with large wooden and wrought iron doors.
From here, start your journey between hills and the countryside, you can go towards the Val d'Elsa, an area already inhabited by the Etruscans and particularly populated due to the Via Francigena that connected pilgrims from northern Europe to Rome.
In this area of central Tuscany, you will come across wonderful villages that bear witness to the mediaeval history of the places: Poggibonsi, Monteriggioni, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Colle Val d'Elsa.
Immersed in the green of nature, every corner will be a vision of art and culture, a perfect itinerary through the centuries and the great Tuscan noble families: Medici, Strozzi, Aldobrandini, Frescobaldi, Tornabuoni, Guicciardini.
Proceeding along the Francigena, stop in Siena, the spectacular city of the Palio! Siena is a unique jewel, a place of strong and vigorous emotions, such as those that animate this race that has earned worldwide fame.
Here, the Middle Ages are still present and alive, you can breathe it in the beautiful fan-shaped Piazza del Campo, in the Public Palace, now the Town Hall, in the Torre del Mangia. Palaces, churches, buildings and monuments, the same urban plan of the city, contribute to making Siena the perfect example of mediaeval Gothic architecture. Artists of the calibre such as Duccio di Buoninsegna and Simone Martini stopped and worked in the city. Since 1995, Siena has been a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The Chianti road
The time to stop in one of the location's many typical taverns and then get around again: the via del Chianti awaits you.
In Tuscany, wine is not a product of agriculture but a real faith, a symbol of identity and belonging, pride of the territory. Along your way, you will find endless cellars, large and small, luxurious noble villas, castles and estates converted to viticulture.
If you love wine, rural landscapes, small hill villages you cannot miss these places: Greve, Gaiole, Castellina, Radda in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga and San Casciano Val di Pesa, Tavarnelle and Barberino Val d'Elsa.
It will not be only the wine that will make you fall in love with this route, here you will be accompanied by a succession of castles and ancient farms, from old fortresses and fourteenth-century villages, an inebriation of breathtaking views and architectural and naturalistic beauty as only the Tuscan hills can offer.
Montalcino deserves a separate mention, in Val d'Orcia, a hilly town of ancient origins of which traces can be found as early as the ninth century AD.
A place of tradition, characterised by a typically Romanesque architecture and buildings that testify to its importance and historicity, such as the Fortress, the Palazzo dei Priori and the abbey of Sant'Antimo, Montalcino owes its international fame to a wine which has become the symbol of quality in the world: Brunello, one of the finest wines appreciated by connoisseurs all over the world.
You cannot miss this stage which enjoys UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.
Continuing the journey to discover Tuscany, we suggest a stop in the city of Arezzo. A very important centre of Renaissance art and culture, Arezzo stands out for the extraordinary beauty of its historic centre that has nothing to envy from the more famous Siena and Pisa and for having preserved its mediaeval typicality in its shops, squares adorned with churches and of towers, historic buildings of immense artistic value. Here, Piero della Francesca, Giorgio Vasari and Luca Signorelli have left works of inestimable greatness.
You simply must visit the loggia of Piazza Grande, the frescoes of the Basilica of San Francesco, and the Cathedral of San Donato. But what will leave you with an indelible memory is the church of San Francesco where you can admire one of the world's masterpieces of painting: the legend of the true cross by Piero della Francesca.
In Arezzo, you also will find the famous crucifix by Cimabue in the church of San Domenico, an absolute masterpiece of late mediaeval art.
We conclude the tour with a small village that is an authentic jewel set in the Tuscan countryside: Montepulciano, a splendid and intact example of a mediaeval village and, for this reason, a Unesco site.
Here, the atmosphere speaks of ladies and gentlemen, of ancient families, industrious craftsmen and rich markets.
Lose yourself in the narrow streets until you reach Piazza Grande with its noble palaces, the Duomo and the elegant well of the Grifi and the Lions.
Back home, you will always carry the perfect beauty of Tuscany in your eyes and heart. The surroundings of Florence will never cease to enchant you, rent a car with us to travel at your own pace!