Tuscany and Rome make a picture-perfect holiday destination, with beautiful rolling countryside, charming hill top towns, and delightful cities. Here’s our pick of 5 great days out in Tuscany and Rome.
The regional capital of Tuscany is Florence, one of Italy’s prettiest cities and an art lovers Mecca. The city is packed with beautiful historic treasures, and the brightly coloured cathedral dominates the skyline. It was in Florence that Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and other brilliant 14th to 16th Century Tuscan artists carved out history, and today art is waiting to be discovered on each and every corner. Visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to ‘David’ the artistic masterpiece by Michelangelo. The museum also houses an interesting collection of paintings from the early 17th Century.
The building of the beautiful dome on Florence Cathedral, by Filippo Brunelleschi, can be considered one of the Renaissance’s enterprises, and did wonders for the development of architecture. It is the largest masonry dome ever built at 45 metres wide. The cathedral is seldom known by its name, Santa Maria del Fiore, but simply as Il Duomo (the Dome) to locals or Brunelleschi’s Dome all over the world.
After an exhausting day marvelling at the architecture and art in museums, relax with an aperitivo (pre-dinner snack) and enjoy the lively nightlife. Florence has become a popular destination and is a must-see when visiting Tuscany. The city attracts an average of 10 million tourists a year, placing it as one of the most visited cities in the world.
Siena is probably Italy’s loveliest medieval city. It is spread over three hills, made up of small, tangled alleyways. At the centre of town, the narrow streets open up into the biggest piazza in Italy – Il Campo. It’s a wonderful spot for people watching over a delicious ice cream or espresso. The historic city centre of Siena is so beautiful it has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
If you can, visit Siena around the 2nd July or 16th August when the famous Palio takes place. This colourful horse race has taken place twice a year since 1701. 10 horses and riders represent 10 of the 17 city wards in a frantic bareback race around Il Campo. The event is all about neighbourhood pride and rivalry, and also constitutes the continuation of a medieval tradition associated with religion, pageantry, bragging rights and occasional violence. It is taken very seriously and is no way put on for tourists.
Movie fans will probably recognise Siena and the Palio from the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.
Out of all the things to see and do in Italy, a visit to Pisa and it’s leaning tower, can be classed as one of the most memorable.
The Leaning Tower itself (actually a bell tower) is one of the most famous attractions in Italy. Although it was designed to be perfectly vertical, it started to lean during construction and has become one of the most remarkable architectural structures from medieval Europe. It is one of four buildings making up the cathedral complex called Campo dei Miracoli – meaning ‘Field of Miracles’.
The other buildings – the Duamo, baptistery and cemetery – are stunning, but nothing quite beats the superb tower which seems to defy gravity. Today, the Campo dei Miracoli is usually filled with tourists, all looking for the elusive picture of themselves propping up the leaning tower!
Much of Pisa’s architecture dates back to around the 12th Century when the University was founded. Today, the city is still full of students who organise parties, shows and cultural events – you’ll notice the student flair in the city once you leave the Campo dei Miracoli. It is around a half hour walk from the Campo dei Miracoli to Pisa train station with interesting sights, shops and restaurants along the way. The best way to visit Pisa is walking the streets to soak up the sights and atmosphere.
The island of Elba is the largest off the Tuscan coats and offers beautiful beaches, a mountainous interior and a mild dry climate. It is rich in Mediterranean vegetation and produces delicious Italian wines such as Aleatico and Moscato.
Elba’s most famous inhabitant was Napoléon who was exiled here in 1814. Although he only stayed nine months, his legacy remains everywhere. The island can be reached by ferry from Piombino, south along the coast from Cecina. With its unspoilt beauty Elba really is a great place to visit while you are camping in Italy
No list would be complete without mentioning Rome; and a trip to the Eternal city is definitely not to be missed. Rome was built on seven hills and, according to legend, founded by Romulus in 753 BC.
Today, the city is a large, modern metropolis and the heart of Roman Catholicism headed by the Pope, where you’ll discover a plethora of early Christian, medieval, renaissance and Baroque monuments and museums. Hand in hand with its ancient past, Rome also offers some of the best fashion in the world, the most inviting restaurants and some incredible contemporary art and design. The ancient city is best explored on foot.
Canvas Holidays offers a choice of 5 campsites in Tuscany & Rome – find your perfect break today.