When questioning people what their dream Italian vacation might be, chances are they will say a stay at a villa in Tuscany. In fact, surprisingly, this seemingly low-key activity is just as popular as some of the more ‘must-see’ sights and attractions listed in most travel books such as hiking up Mt. Vesuvius or hearing the Pope speak at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Staying at a villa in Tuscany not only offers travellers an authentic taste of life in the Tuscan countryside (including gorgeous scenery, cosy and private accommodations, warm Italian hospitality, and some of the best cuisine around the globe).
Best of all, a villa in Tuscany serves as a convenient base for travel across the different towns of the region, each with its own unique offerings and treasures. Listed below are only some of the towns guaranteed to make you fall in region!
Fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books will no doubt recognise the location as the home of the vampire clan, the Volturi, but there’s so much to this quiet town than its notoriety for being the home of a fictional clan of vampires. According to historians, the town of Volterra (or Velathri, as the ancient Etruscans called it) has been around since 800 BC.
Walking through its winding medieval-era streets and seeing the gorgeous view from the hilltop will no doubt transport visitors back in time, as will the giant wall and gate protecting the city dating back to the 4th and 3rd century BC, respectively. For more examples of Etruscan artefacts, head over to the famous Museo Etrusco Guarnacci, which houses various Etruscan finds excavated from the area.
Speaking the twilight books, although the books give the home of the Volturi being Volterra, scenes from the movie were actually shot in the town of Montepulciano. However, regardless of this connection, Montepulciano is famous in its own right for its wine, including its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is said to be one of the best wines in the world, and which has been produced since the Middle Ages.
When visiting this town, a great way to spend the day is to walk (the town is car-free so be sure to wear sensible shoes!) its medieval streets and visit the shops, many of which offer free samples of the town’s wines, meats, and cheeses. Be sure to load up and bring some back with you when you return to your villa in Tuscany.
Also not to be missed are its lovely palaces and churches, such as the Palazzo Comunale, which was designed by Michelozzo in the tradition of the Palazzo della Signoria of Florence; the Palazzo Tarugi, attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder or Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola; and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, among others.