Close to Lazio, the Italian region where Rome is located, lies gorgeous Tuscany. People from all over the world visit it to see breathtaking landscapes, explore charming medieval towns or just to relax on one of the numerous beaches. Tuscany offers a wide range of fabulous places to visit, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The most famous of these sites is probably Florence, a gem that boasts the Duomo towered by Giotto’s Bell Tower, the church of Santa Maria Novella, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery. Nearly a third of the world’s art treasures are in Florence, which probably explains why the city attracts more than 10 million visitors every year. Two interesting facts: Florence became the first city in Europe with paved streets, even before Rome, Milan, and Venice; and Pinocchio, the wooden boy whose nose grows when he lies, “lived” from Florence. I could go on and on describing the beauty of the city, but it is definitely better to see it youself, than to hear about it a thousand times!
Siena is another city that amazed me with its medieval town center, also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Siena is smaller than Florence, but this doesn’t make it less interesting. The entire city is divided into different contrade (districts), each of them with its own mascot. The competition between these contrade becomes really intense during the Palio, a famous horse race held twice a year in Siena. During the Palio di Siena ten horses and riders dressed in the contrade’s colors compete in the race representing their districts. The race takes place in the Piazza del Campo in the town’s historic center, where a thick layer of dirt is laid for the occasion. Siena is my favorite city in Tuscany. When I’m there, I completely lose all sense of time, wandering along narrow ancient streets and discovering cathedrals that look as if they were made from candies.
Another place worth visiting is Pisa. Its main monuments are located in Piazza dei Miracoli. Among them is the world-famous Leaning Tower. Engineers expect that the structure will remain stable for at least another 200 years, although similar bell tower in Pavia collapsed suddenly in 1989. I was completely amused to find out that there are several other towers in Pisa that also lean!
One last town that I could not add to this list is San Gimignano, a small Medieval town with towers and “tower homes”. I think this town is unfairly ignored by tourists that travel to Tuscany. Places like San Gimignano still keep that fairy-like atmosphere of Italian “dolce vita” (a life to be enjoyed slowly) which is hard to find in a metropolis .
What are your favorite places to visit in Tuscany?
Class of 2018
Hometown: Moscow, Russia