Best places to stay in Tuscany
Located right in the heart of Tuscany between the cities of Florence and Siena, the area of Chianti is synonymous with excellent wine. An region of gentle green hills covered with lush vineyards, of ancient olive groves and small ochre coloured villages, it's a great choice for a Tuscan summer vacation and makes an excellent base for travelling around the area, or for making trips to the cities of both Florence and Siena. You'll find all kinds of accommodation here, from Tuscan farmhouses and guesthouses to luxury hotels, some of which come complete with spas. Famous for its wine production, if you love wine you'll be in heaven in Chianti. Not only are there many wineries to explore and a multitude of wines to taste, but some of the wineries even open their doors for overnight guests.
If you choose to stay in the Chianti Region, even though you're right in the middle of the countryside, it never feels totally remote. It's always filled with many holidaymakers, especially during the summer, when visitors flock to tour the hill villages.
Val d'Orcia, along with Chianti, is one of the two most popular destinations for both Italian and foreign visitors to Tuscany. An area of cultivated hills and picturesque towns and villages, it extends from the hills to the south of Siena to Monte Amiata. If you're planning to explore the Val d'Orcia area, Pienza makes an ideal central base, as it's in easy reach of Montalcino, San Quirico d'Orcia, Monticchiello, Bagno Vignoni, and even Montepulciano in Val di Chiania. Pienze is also a great place to stay if you love Italian food, as it is famous for its extremely tasty Pecorino cheese, handmade pasta and of course the local wine, plus it's full of fantastic restaurants and osterie serving delicious local foods.
Southern Tuscany and Montepulciano
To the south of Siena, the Southern region of Tuscany offers a different look and feel to the Chianti area with its large open fields and rolling hills. It's home to several popular hill villages, with perhaps the most famous being Montepulciano.
Located in Val di Chiania, the region between Val d'Orcia and Val Tiberina, Montepulciano is an ideal place for holidaymakers who are looking to stay in a hilltown which has lots of facilities. Sitting atop a ridge on Monte Poliziano, it's reached by a long winding street, the Corso, which snakes its way up the hill stretching for an incredible 11.5 kilometres from Porta Al Prato to the Piazza Grande.
Filled with all kinds of architectural delights, including a 17th century cathedral, the Church of Saint Agostino, the Oratorio della Misericordia and Montepulciano Castle, it's especially favoured by holidaymakers who wish to explore the surrounding countryside, but who also enjoy taking in the local architecture and culture. It's also a popular destination for wine lovers, and the town is most widely known for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano wines. You'll find plenty of restaurants, trattorie and several tiny wine bars with panoramic terraces located in the historical centre, which are perfect for sampling the local produce and wines. And if you're looking for a relaxing, wellness holiday, it's the ideal location due to the presence of its natural thermal waters and an excellent spa.
With its glorious architecture and galleries filled to bursting with art and sculptures from the Renaissance Masters, Florence is a city which offers a superb mix of style and culture, and is an ideal place to stay if you're looking to holiday in a cosmopolitan city, but still have easy access to the Chianti region. From the iconic Duomo with its red tiled roof and marbled facade, to its high end designer boutiques, gourmet restaurants and designer bistros, there's no denying the addictive appeal of the city, and its abundance of art galleries make it an especially good destination for art lovers. Here you'll find the world class galleries of Uffizi, Accademia and Pitti, where some of the finest Renaissance artwork ever produced is on show.
Perhaps the most enchanting city in Tuscany, Siena always makes the list of Italy's most visited and popular cities. Famous for its dramatic Gothic architecture, its Duomo and the medieval centre, not to mention museums and art galleries galore, this designated UNESCO World Heritage Site has certainly got everything you could possibly need to keep you happy, if your idea of a perfect holiday involves taking in the cultural attractions and architecture. The centre of Siena has a wealth of imposing buildings, churches, museums and piazzas, including the popular Piazza del Campo, the site of the former Roman marketplace, which is built on a slope. Add in a lively and vibrant restaurant scene, plus the local confectionary specialities of Panforte, Riacciarelli biscuits, gingerbread and Noto, and you'll see why Siena is the name on the lips of everyone who's looking for sophisticated city break in Tuscany.