Tuscany in central Italy is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes the country has to offer. From mountains to lagoons and beaches, from hot springs to olive groves and vineyards, from fine wine and dine to aesthetic architecture, Tuscany has various hidden gems waiting to be explored. These secret spots is where the real Tuscan charm lies. If you’re looking to explore the real Tuscany, after visiting the popular destinations like Florence and Pisa, read on to find out about 12 beautiful hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path.
Pitigliano is a truly unique village built on a rock. This southern Tuscan village rests on top of a cliff with a dramatic view. Carved from volcanic stone, this village gives off a mysterious and romantic air. It is also known as “Little Jerusalem” because it resembles the ancient town.
Things to do in Pitigliano:
The best way for you to get around this village is on foot. You can admire the walls and gates of the town and find traces of the Etruscan walls left behind. The Palazzo Orsini is the entrance to the old town. This square houses two impressive museums of archaeology and art which you should not miss. Pitigliano is known for its beautiful lanes and interesting architecture. Some truly picturesque landscapes also surround the town. There are various churches, museums and caves that give you the taste of the town’s history. There is a network of secret tunnels carved into the rock on which Pitigliano is built. You can explore the tunnels and find age-old wine cellars and interesting chambers.
Getting to Pitigliano:
From Rome: 2 hours by car
From Florence: 2 hour 20 minute by car
Saturnia Hot Springs
Another beautiful spot in Tuscany off-the-beaten path is Saturnia, best known for the Instagram famous natural thermal pools. The hot springs make the perfect retreat for you after a long hours of exploring. Tired from a day of indulgence in Tuscan food and wine? The thermal pools are the best spot for you to relax and unwind. And the best part about this experience, it is free!!!
Legend has it that the waters are a gift from the Gods and supposedly possess healing powers. Even if the legend isn’t true, the pools do contain some therapeutic and relaxing properties. The waters are rich in mineral deposits, especially sulphur and have a temperature of 37.5°C, which checks out all the right boxes.
Things to do in Saturnia:
There are elusive and luxurious wellness and spa centres within the vicinity of Saturnia and two outdoor waterfalls, the Cascate del Mulino and Cascate del Gorello. One of the most famous natural springs in Tuscany is Cascate del Mulino. It is made up of several natural pools of warm thermal water and a therapeutic waterfall. The waterfalls are free to the public all around the year. If you are looking for a destination where you get the best blend of history and nature, Saturnia, is the hidden gem in Tuscany for you.
Along with the hot springs and thermal pools, the area has an abundance of Etruscan necropolis to explore.
Getting to Saturnia:
From Rome: 2 hours 15 minutes by car
From Florence: 2 hour 20 minute by car
Bagni San Filippo
The Tuscan Valley is home to some of the most iconic hot springs, and Bagni San Filippo is one of them. This hidden gem in Tuscany is right at the foot of Mt. Amiata. The name Bagni San Filippo translates to the Baths of Saint Philip, after a local Florentine legend. The baths are named after Filippo Benizi, belonging to a noble Florentine family who entered priesthood. It is said that when he was in line for succession, he fled to the foothills of Mt. Amiata to live in isolation. The place has attracted visitors since Roman times.
Things to do in Bagni San Filippo:
The best thing to do in Bagni San Filippo is to spend a relaxing day in the hot pools. These are free to visit. The water is enriched with minerals due to the geothermal activity at the foot of Mt. Amiata. This is therapeutic and relaxing, and you can enjoy a panorama of woods while taking a dip in the hot springs. Fosso Bianco is the most famous because hot streams flow together and create pools of hot mineral-rich water. It is easily accessible as it is just outside the village.
The town also have a formal spa establishment if that is more your style. You can treat yourself to massages, facials and mud treatments here.
Read more on Bagni San Filippo here.
Getting to Bagni San Filippo:
From Rome: 2 hours 10 minutes by car
From Florence: 1 hour 50 minute by car or 2 hour 15 minutes by bus
Montepulciano is one of the prettiest hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path. With it’s Renaissance architecture and beautiful churches, this town should definitely be on your list. It is surrounded by picturesque hills and is one of the more romantic and elegant towns in the Tuscan valley. The town has served as a religious and municipal headquarters for centuries and hence gives you a historical experience.
Things to do in Montepulciano:
Montepulciano has a lot to offer to wine and history lovers. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of the best wines of the region. You can taste this premium wine at any of the wineries in the town. This finely aged red wine is made from Sangiovese grapes from the region.
Other than the wine, Montepulciano in itself has a lot to offer. The main square Piazza Grande is definitely worth a visit. It is the primary gathering spot for various civic and religious activities. The temple of San Biagio, Piazza Communale and Palazzo Neri Orselli are other spots worth visiting in the city.
Read more on Montepulciano here.
Getting to Montepulciano:
From Rome: 1 hour 54 minutes by car or 3 hour 45 minutes by bus
From Florence: 1 hour 20 minute by car or 2 hours 42 minutes by bus
Porto Santo Stefano
Porto Santo Stefano is located on Monte Argentario and is a beautiful bay town. It is a pretty sea-side hidden gem in Tuscany off-the-beaten path. The turquoise sea and the mountains all around make this place look like a paradise. The town harbours two ports, Porto Vecchio and Porto del Valle which are bustling with ferries and fishing boats bringing the town to life.
Things to do in Porto Santo Stefano:
The best thing to do in Porto Santo Stefano is to explore the beaches and beautiful coves around the coast. The cliff called Punta Nera also offers panoramic views of the coast. The other things to see are the Fortezza Spagnola, the Spanish fort and its watchtowers are the remnants of maritime history. Porto Santo Stefano is also connected through a twin causeway with the town of Orbetello. You could also pay a visit to the lagoon of Orbetello where you can watch Flamingos.
Getting to Porto Santo Stefano:
From Rome: 2 hours by car or 2 hours 47 minutes by train
From Florence: 2 hour 28 minute by car or 4 hours by train
Off the Tuscan coast is the idyllic Isola del Giglio which is a place of untouched nature and azure teal seas. The island has 28 kilometres long coastline which is filled with surreal bays, granite cliffs, coves and sandy beaches. If you are looking for an undisturbed ecosystem, Giglio island should be the place for you. The word Giglio means “lily” and the mild climate of the island makes it a place to visit all year long. Legend has it that when the goddess Venus emerged from the sea, seven gemstones fell from her tiara and formed the group of islands in Tuscany and Giglio is the pearl among them. It is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in Tuscany off-the-beaten path.
Things to do on Giglio Island:
The best thing to do on the island is to discover the coves and beautiful beaches on the island. The island is majorly divided into three villages: Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese, each one of them have distinct features.
Giglio Porto is a small picturesque harbour situated on the eastern coast. It is both a commercial and tourist centre with rows of pastel houses along the coves between the two piers.
Giglio Castello is the oldest town on the island which is still cradled in its fortification walls. This medieval village is situated in the heart of the island.
Giglio Campese is the most recently built town and is the island’s main tourist destination. This west coast island is an ideal place for adventures like surfing and sailing.
Getting to Giglio Island:
From Rome: 2 hours by car and ferry
From Florence: 2 hour 28 minute by car and ferry
You might have heard of Andrea Bocelli, the famous Italian singer, well Lajatico is his home town. It is a beautiful Tuscan village set between Pisa and Volterra and is surrounded by hills. Bocelli has contributed to the beautification of this town as it is close to his heart.
A public amphitheatre was built by him where he performs once a year. The park “Teatro del Silenzio” comes alive once a year with sounds of music and rests in silence otherwise, thus giving it the perfect name. Hiking and walking are the ways to get around this village, and you can go on trails which cover woods, springs, waterfalls and delightful natural sights. Lajatico is one of the perfect hidden gems in Tuscany for culture lovers.
Things to do in Lajatico:
A visit to this hidden gem in Tuscany is incomplete without a hike up to Castello di Pietracassia. It is on the top of the hill and offers a vast view around the valley. Another place you must visit is Riserva Naturale del Monterufoli. The town has loads of cafes and shops which will make up for a nice enjoyable atmosphere. The palaces and the buildings around the Piazza Vittorio Veneto are a delight to walk through. A bell tower, Torre Civica, of the church of San Leonardo has been in place since the 13th century and bring the town to life with its sonorous sound. The tower represents the history of the town through its age and the importance of the ringing of the bell.
If the heavens fascinate you, then a visit to the Astronomical Center should definitely be on your list. The centre is an important part of the scientific community and helps provide instruments for research purposes. One can take a guided tour around the place and admire the astronomical wonders.
Getting to Lajatico:
From Rome: 3 hours 26 minutes by car
From Florence: 1 hour 10 minute by car
Val D’Orcia offers you the complete experience that includes architectural as well as natural sites to see. The entire area has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The valley gets its name from the river Orcia which flows through it. The surroundings are picturesque views of fabulous vineyards, cypress trees, olive groves and fields of sunflowers which look like a golden sea. To complement this, there are ancient villages, isolated homesteads, farmhouses and castles; all surrounded by beautiful hills and thermal springs. This beautiful countryside is one of the hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path.
Things to do in Val D’Orcia:
There are various hidden gems in Tuscany scattered in this valley. One of the most beautiful towns in Val d’Orcia is Pienza. It’s Palazzo Piccolomini is a must-visit for art lovers.
Another small town to visit is Castiglione d’Orcia. It gives you the essence of the old times with its fortress and old architecture. The hilltop town of Radicofani is the southernmost of them all and has a castle with a tower that is not to be missed. Another walled city to visit is the beautiful Montalcino with its vineyards which are famous for making Brunello wine.
Along with all the beautiful towns and their architectures, this Tuscan valley also offers a wide array of gourmet food items. The “Pecorino” cheese, traditional-aged wine, extra virgin olive oil, mushrooms, saffron, and to top them all, truffles are must-haves here. You will get some magnificent pictures of nature and architecture in this valley which makes it highly instagrammable.
Getting to Val d’Orcia:
From Rome: 2 hours 15 minutes by car
From Florence: 1 hour 32 minute by car
San Gimignano is one of the best-preserved European medieval towns. It is one of the must-visit hidden gem in Tuscany. To date it possesses various structures that showcase the history of the town. UNESCO declared the town as a World Heritage Sites.
Things to do in San Gimignano:
Ancient protective walls surround the city center of San Gimignano, similar to other fortified towns in the Tuscan Valley. Additionally, interesting architectural details, narrow cobbled alleys, pretty piazzas and beautiful artwork enrich the city center of the town. The beauty of the place is so enchanting that you would definitely want to come back again.
The city of beautiful towers has a lot more to offer like Piazza Della Cisterna, The Palazzo Comunale, Torre Grossa and the Romanesque Cathedral. While you are there do check out the old well that once provided water to the town. Nature surrounds the city with vineyards, olive groves, sunflower fields and hills covered with cypress trees. The annual Medieval Festival organised by the town can be a delight to watch or be a part of.
If you’re driving to the region, you could also stop by some beautiful vineyards in the Chianti region.
Getting to San Gimignano:
From Rome: 2 hours 55 minutes by car or 4 hours 30 minutes by bus
From Florence: 54 minute by car or 2 hours by bus
Nature Park Migliarino San Rossore
Parco Regionale di Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli is a nature park that is spread across the Tuscan coast. It covers about 24,000 hectares of area in the provinces of Pisa and Lucca. The park also includes about 40 km of coastal forest area, from the north to the south with large inland marshes and sandy shores. This natural reserve is one of the hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path
Thing to do in Nature Park Migliarino San Rossore:
This natural park has a lot to offer to nature lovers.From beautiful hikes to spotting various local flora and fauna, it is perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. This Natural Park is one of the hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path.
The vegetation in the nature park mainly consists of Alders, Poplars, Ash Trees, English Oaks, and the rare Silk Vine, carnivorous Drosera, Greek Perploca, marsh orchids, spread across the region. You will also come across the beautiful Fleur-de-lis growing on the dunes. The parks fauna also include wild boars, fallow deers and swamp birds such as white ibis and herons. The largest pine forest in Europe, San Sossore Estate, can also be found in the nature park.
You can visit the park with a guide or independently. To travel within the park, you will find buggies, small boats and a small ecological train that you could use to travel internally. Additionally, you can walk of cycle in certain parts of the park.
Getting to Nature Park Migliarino San Rossore:
From Rome: 3 hour 42 minutes by car or 5 hours 28 minutes by bus
From Florence: 1 hour 8 minute by car or 1 hour 10 minutes by train
San Miniato is one of the oldest villages in Tuscany and is one of the most interesting hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path. There is evidence suggesting it to be as old as the Paleolithic era. Through the years it has housed many emperor vicars and has Etruscan and Roman elements to it. The setting, the scenic architecture, cobbled streets will give you a true Tuscan experience.
Things to do in San Miniato:
This hidden gem in Tuscany has a lot offer to history buffs. One of the most popular attractions though is the tower of Ottone I. This tower that was destroyed by the Nazis in 1944 was rebuilt again in 1958. Additionally, the village cathedral of San Miniato houses the notable works of art and should be on your list if you are an art fanatic.
Other places to visit in the village are Dominican friars church, where you can admire the Florentine paintings of 14th and 15th century and Convent of San Francesco, which is on a hill behind the village.
San Miniato is a lively town that celebrates culture locally throughout the year. For those visiting in March, make sure to attend the ‘Festa Della Primavera’ hosted by the locals each year. The locals use this festival to put up various stands to display the colourful, natural and biological products, handicrafts, ceramics and glass products from the region.
For those visiting from September to June, make sure to stop by the antique trade market organised every second Sunday of the month. Here you will find ethnic Italian antiques and furniture.
For those truffle lovers, make sure to stop by during the truffle festival, organised at the end of November. You will find various stalls in the city selling and offering tasting of various locally produced white truffle products.
Getting to San Miniato:
From Rome: 3 hour 10 minutes by car or 3 hours 17 minutes by train
From Florence: 36 minute by car or 1 hour 16 minutes by train
Sorano is a village in the heart of south Tuscany with alleys, courts, ashlar portals, loggias, cellars and external staircases. This village is one of the hidden gems in Tuscany off-the-beaten path.
Things to do in Sorano:
There is lots to see and lovely wine to be tasted in this beautiful town off-the-beaten path in Tuscany. While exploring the village you can start at Fortezza Orsini, a medieval-style castle. Today this castle is a museum of the middle ages and the Renaissance. Another fortress to visit in Sorano is the Masso Leopoldino. It is one of the main tourist attractions from where you can admire the green hills of Albenga and Fiora.
The village has two entrances, of which one is Porta di Sopra. People entering through this entrance arrive at the lovely piazza on the top that offers stunning views of the surrounding villages. Other notable places to visit are Collegiata di San Niccolo, where you can admire art from the Middle Ages, Chapel of Madonna del Borgo, Church of St. Rocco and The Jewish Ghetto.
The village is also famous for its grape harvests. Those visiting should stop by ‘Locanda Aldobrandeschi’ for a wine tasting. The cellar also has attached a local family-run restaurant called the ‘Hosteria Terrazza Aldobrandeschi’. This terrace restaurant is located on top of the hill with the river Lente flowing below.
Getting to Sorano:
From Rome: 2 hours by car
From Florence: 2 hour 13 minute by car
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