The rolling hills of Tuscany… It’s one of the most romantic places in the world.
The birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci and with endless varieties of land from Apuan Alps to rolling hills. We love to explore its pretty little villages.
But with so many each with their own unique experience, how do you know which ones to explore first? Want to see Tuscany a little more off-the-beaten-track but still encapsulating in its Italian allure?
Check out our favorite hidden gems that prove Tuscany is the ideal place for your next Italian adventure and one of the best driving experiences in Europe!
Tip 1: To get the best of this Tuscany road trip, we highly recommend that you rent a car in Florence (your starting point). You will then be flexible and save a lot of time (and money).
Tip 2: Florence is a central place to stay in during your Tuscany trip. Most of the suggested destinations are a day trip from this beautiful city. Here are some recommendations about where to stay in Florence.
Located in southern Tuscany, Pitigliano captures the essence of everything we love about Italy. This town stands out from the rest, carved from volcanic stone, with its rich history dating back to Neolithic times.
Another point of interest is the Jewish history present in the town. It was an essential haven for Jews during WW2. As a result, it’s been coined as Italy’s ‘Little Jerusalem.’ It’s an excellent spot for those who want to go museum hopping and explore necropolis ruins!
Pitigliano is close to the border of Lazio, which is also a great region. In addition, the coast is a short one-hour drive away! Therefore, it’s an excellent spot for exploring the two areas.
Where to Stay in Pitigliano?
We recommend Maremma Nel Tufo Country House. It is actually a true hidden gem in the village and offers a unique Tuscan experience.
Saturnia Hot Springs
Looking for a free activity that is abundant in nature? The Saturnia Hot Springs are a Tuscan marvel that you can’t miss! Located a short 6 km outside the town of Saturnia which has ancient Greek origins!
The thermal springs are rich in mineral deposits (which gives it a sulfur-eggy smell) and can reach temperatures of 37.5 °C. It’s possible to access the pools for free at the Cascate del Mulino or Cascate del Gorello.
There are no public changing rooms, so come dressed in your suit, and while parking is free, it’s limited. Your best to arrive early as it’s one of the main attractions!
Where to Spend the Night near Saturnia Hot Springs?
B&B Villa Garden is a great place with a stunning view of the Tuscan countryside. The hotel is also not far from the Hot Springs. So you can have them all to yourself in the early morning!
Bagni San Filippo
Another natural hidden gem is the Bagni San Filippo. This one is a little more off-the-beaten-track than Saturnia, and the locals try to keep it a secret!
The outdoor hot springs are unique! A massive formation of calcium, it’s been nicknamed the ‘White Whale’ for its crystal allure. We love how it contrasts beautifully off the dark verdant forests.
The hot springs are located just outside the small town of Bagni San Filippo, which is a short 30 minutes from the border of Lazio. If you’re traveling from Florence, it will take around two hours.
Where to Stay in Bagni San Filippo?
Le Sorgentelle is a nice holiday home that is most famous for its cozy rooms and calm atmosphere. You should try it if you are nearby!
A small medieval village, Montepulciano is a city full of renaissance elegance and rich history. We love its stunning views of surrounding fields stretching for miles at every corner! The town boasts some of the most impressive panoramic views of Tuscany.
The Piazza Grande marks the center of the town and is host to a monthly antique market. The renowned fair called Arezzo Antique Market features over 500 stalls with some of the finest quality antiques. Make sure you arrive early to get your hands on some priceless gems!
Where to Stay near Montepulciano?
This is a hard decision! However, B&B Montepulciano attracted us with its free room upgrade. It was WORTH IT! Montepulciano is so rich in terms of authentic stays.
Porto Santo Stefano
Located on the southern coast of Tuscany, Porto Santo Stefano is a hidden semi-island tied to the mainland just above sea level. It’s a lovely place for beach dwellers, and there’s plenty of options.
The most striking beaches are only possible to reach by sea, so you’ll have to hire a boat. However, there are pleasant beach options likely to get by foot also. It’s two hours north of Rome, driving along the stunning Tuscan coastline.
Where to Stay near Porto Santo Stefano?
Bike&Boat Argentario Hotel won the title by providing both! This region is so famous for its biking and boating activities. The stay also offers unique service and stunning views.
Giglio Island is 11 miles from the port of Porto Santo Stefano. So if you’re seeking a Mediterranean island retreat without having to take a plane, then this is the perfect spot for you!
Giglio Porto is a great town to set base on the island, and its sandy beaches are possible to access by foot. The narrow streets are full of small ceramic, and artisan stores, and the outdoor restaurants are the perfect places to enjoy an evening bite!
Lajatico is located in the province of Pisa (famous for its leaning tower), around forty minutes’ driving from Florence. It’s the opera capital and birthplace of the critically acclaimed tenor, Andrea Bocelli!
The opera singer built Teatro del Silenzio, one of the most beautiful amphitheaters. It’s possible to see concerts all year long- you can’t miss this one!
The town is filled with winding paths that open up to pretty palaces. There are lots of shops and cafes, and the atmosphere is lovely to enjoy.
Where to Stay near Lajatico?
Il Maramaldo made it on our top list with its unique location. The stay not only offers amazing views but also well-decorated rooms.
Alternatively, Hotel La Locanda is also a winning choice. It is in Volterra (you won another hidden gem to visit!) and is only 14 km away from Lajatico.
The verdant green valley of Orica stretches from the provinces of Siena and Grosseto and passes San Quirico. It is decorated with isolated endless stretching vineyards and olive groves producing the most refined olive oil. It’s no wonder this area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Traveling through the Val D’Orcia is an extraordinary journey of beautiful panoramas, distinct flavors, and tastes that come together to create the perfect Tuscan paradise! You can’t miss exploring this area on your Italy adventure!
Where to Stay in Val D’Orica?
In Pienza, there is a famous hotel for its infinity pool with a great view of the Tuscan countryside. It’s called Borgo Sant’Ambrogio, and it is worth the booking!
Located halfway between Florence and Siena. San Gimignano is one of Tuscany’s most renowned medieval towns with towering glory. 14 towers dominating the landscape. It’s our favorite sort of Tuscan skyline.
It’s possible to climb to the top to enjoy one of the most stunning panoramic views of Tuscany. We love exploring its pretty backstreets, and if you need a sweet break, you can’t miss Gelateria Dondoli- the unique flavors are world-class!
Where to Stay in San Gimignano?
This is a hard decision! But, actually, the whole city is beautiful with its medieval house.
Most of the stays have a great location. Nevertheless, we almost chose Locanda La Mandrogala for its generous and included breakfast! However, we loved A La Casa Dei Potenti specifically for the views.
Nature Park Migliarino San Rossore
The Migliarino Nature Park is a protected area located along the western coastline that stretches from Pisa to Lucca.
It’s one of the wildest parts of Tuscany, decorated with sandy dunes, thick pine forest, and extensive marshes full of wild fauna and flora. The San Sossore marks the park’s heart, and it’s the largest pine forest in Europe.
It’s a great spot for active adventurers possible to explore by bike or walking.
Where to Stay near Nature Park Migliarino San Rossore?
If you want to enjoy this park to the fullest and have it to yourself in the early morning and late afternoon. You should book your stay in Casale La Sterpaia. The hotel also offers an included breakfast!
Located in the province of Pisa, San Miniato is famed for its white truffle production. It’s a quaint little town and perfect to explore by foot, with the most stand-out feature being its medieval Piazza del Seminario square.
The best time to visit is in November where they host Mostra Mercato di Tartufi, a cultural event devoted entirely to white truffles! From tasting, hunting, and discovering, it’s the perfect day for those looking to combine fine cuisine with active adventure!
We love the local restaurants serving the finest truffle-infused cold cuts. There are plenty of good vacation rentals in the town also.
Where to Stay near San Miniato?
In this beautiful place, you should combine the taste of nature with a relaxing and calm stay. Relais Sassa Al Sole won the contest by offering both. It is also not far from the city center.
An ancient city that existed in the Etruscan era, Sorano quite literally blends into the rocks! Visiting Sorano feels as though you are stepping back in time. The houses quite literally blend into rocks, mark a unique atmosphere, and the most beautiful buildings are perfect for exploring.
You can’t miss the Orsini Fortress, home to the Museum of Middle Ages and Renaissance. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to reach by public transport, so we suggest hiring a car if you want to explore this rocky town!
Where to Stay near Sorano?
While in this region, you really need to try one of the authentic stays. We fell in love with Hotel Della Fortezza as it combined antique decor with high-quality service standards.
Perhaps most impressive about this Tuscan town is the ancient walls that protect the city, which has remained intact after all these years. As a result, it’s possible to explore all the way around it while looking into the picturesque streets and Piazza di Roma.
Every July, the town is host to a Medieval Festival, and it’s one of the most beautiful in the region where the city comes alive with old-world charm!
Where to Stay near Monteriggioni
While in this village, you really should try Borgo Luigi. It is built on an old castle and offers you a true journey back in medieval ages.
Located between Florence and Siena, Montefioralle is one of the most ancient villages in the Chianti area. Its original name was ‘Monteficalle’ to reflect the endless fig trees that decorate its castle’s fields.
If you’re a foodie, then this is the best spot to enjoy some Tuscan specialties. But, of course, you can’t miss the Florentine steak, which is always best when washed down with a refreshing drink.
Where to Stay in Montefioralle?
Il Papavero Montefioralle Apartments are way too famous for their amazing location. Unfortunately, Montefioralle is a tiny village, and it is not easy to find a stay in the center. Besides, the greatest views are outside the village.
Suvereto is considered to be one of the most beautiful medieval villages in the whole of Tuscany. Nestled in the verdant Val di Cornia, the town is decorated with historic churches and medieval backstreets.
The unique thing about this town is that it is also littered with chestnut, oak, and even cork trees reminding you of its natural allure and charm! We suggest venturing to the top of the hill to enjoy the panoramic views from the Rocca Aldobrandesca- it’s one of the unique in the whole of Tuscany!
Where to Stay in Suvereto?
One of the most affordable and great stays in this city is Il Chiostro Apartamenti. They offer spacious and well-equipped studios.
Located in the south of Tuscany on the border of Lazio, Capalbio combines mystical coastal views with medieval wonder! Our favorite place to visit is the Garden of Tarot Cards, located just a few kilometers from the ancient town center.
The garden was created by famous french artist Niki de Sante Phalle and features large sculptures depicting the 22 cards. You can’t miss the 12 km of long sandy beaches, which are easy to visit at multiple access points by car!
Where to Stay in Capalbio?
As a matter of fact, we did not find hotels according to our standards in the heart of the village. At the same time, we decided to enjoy the unique Tuscan countryside and stay in Macchiabuia. We loved it, and it was a good decision.
The small town of Bagno Vignoni is also really unique for one thing… its main square features a pool filled with hot spring waters! The Piazza square was directly built over hot springs once enjoyed way back in the Roman era.
We also love the small canals of hot springs that go from the main square to the cliffs below, where you can dip your feet in for a refreshing soak in the warm waters! But, of course, you’ll need a car to visit this town, and it’s just one hour driving south of Siena.
Where to Stay in Bagno Vignoni?
We couldn’t resist a hotel offering both dinner and breakfast included in the price! That is why we went for Relais Osteria Dell’Orcia. It was the time or never to enjoy the Tuscan cuisine!
Located not far from the towns of Sorano and Pitigliano, Sovana is a small Tuscan town that has retained its medieval rustic charm. It was one of the first Christian cities in Tuscany. It’s easy to visit this town in an hour to explore its historical monuments.
Despite being on the top of a hill, the layout is flat, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want lots of ups and downs with hills while exploring! The Piazza del Pretorio is the ideal place to enjoy an Italian aperitivo.
Where to Stay in Sovana?
The choice was not that difficult this time. We recommend Sovana Hotel & Resort as it has the best location in the area and provides a generous breakfast.
Located between Siena and Arezzo, Lucignano was a medieval town of strategic importance between 1200-1500. The Museum is most impressive in the Town Hall that holds treasures from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including the Golden Tree at 2.6m high.
The best time to visit is in May when the town is decorated with flowers to celebrate the arrival of summer. The streets come alive with floats built entirely of flowers representing traditional trades and artisans of the city!
Where to Stay in Lucignano?
Villa Bori Country Suites was our choice as it is in the heart of Tuscan nature. Spending the night in the calm surrounded by the green will charge your batteries to continue this road trip!
Lari is a true hidden gem of Tuscany and is only possible to visit for the day as there are, in fact, no hotels that exist in the town! It’s possible to access it as a day trip from Florence or Pisa by car, and both take less than one hour. You can’t miss exploring inside its ancient castle, Castello dei Vicari.
We also loved visiting the Martelli Pasta factory. It’s possible to take a short free tour to discover the process behind producing their artisan (and delicious) pasta.
Where to Stay in Lari?
Here, you should again have a great journey back in time. We recommend Il Frutteto for its amazingly decorated rooms that offer an authentic experience.
Pontedera is an industrial town located in the province of Pisa, most famous for being the headquarters of the Piaggio company. Curators of the famous Italian Vespa!
It’s possible to visit their museum, which is a must-do. It’s decorated with colorful Vespas and gives a unique insight into motorcycle touring culture. In addition, you can see Pontedera by train from Pisa and the journey time is only fifteen minutes.
Where to Stay in Pontedera?
Le Sodole Country Resort should be your choice. The hotel has unique amenities like its pool. However, it is about 5 km away from the center. A good reason to enjoy a relaxing stay away from the crowds and noise.
Buti certainly isn’t as famous as other Italian towns… But that’s where it might surprise you! You can’t miss exploring the 16th century Medici Villa, an old hunting residence featuring the most beautiful gardens!
Fancy picking up a holiday memento? Bari Italian leather is some of the finest, and it’s definitely the best place to pick up high-quality designs for an absolute steal! In addition, it’s only 15 km from Pisa, so it’s easy to visit as a day trip!
Where to Stay in Buti?
Easy Space is such a hidden gem in the region! It is about 3 km away from the center, but we loved the room decoration, and we had a great studio all to ourselves at an affordable price.
Vie Cave (Grosseto region)
Vie Cave is the perfect destination for those looking to explore a bit more Tuscan adventure! Located just outside the town of Pitigliano, Vie Cave are sunken roads carved out by the Etruscans in the Bronze Age.
As a result, it’s created unique trails possible to explore by foot, opening up to stunning views. The trails have been decorated with picnic tables at the perfect points, so make sure you bring a picnic lunch to enjoy while soaking up the stunning panoramic views.
You’ll need a car to access Vie Cave. Unfortunately, there are no public transportation options.
Where to stay in Grosseto Region?
The most affordable and good hotel we can recommend in this area is Fattoria San Lorenzo. It is only 4 km away from the cave and offers great stays.
Montecarlo (Lucca region)
Montecarlo is a picturesque Tuscan village located in the Lucca area and is framed by the endless vineyards that characterize its landscape. The historic city center is surrounded by its well-preserved city walls.
We loved exploring its back streets, where the tiny houses are decorated with potted flowers and curious but friendly locals, sure to give you a smile as you pass by!
It’s best to access this town by car, but you can also take a train to the Altopascio railway station.
Where to Stay in Montecarlo?
We are not sure what hotels to recommend in this region between those two. So you choose!
Laconda Agricola: It is a nice countryside stay that offers an amazing Tuscan experience.
Villa La Nina: This one is in the center. It has really cozy rooms in a calm area.
Fosdinovo (Massa Carrara region)
Located in Massa-Carrara and a gateway to the region of Lunigiana, Fosdinovo is most alluring for its incredibly preserved Malaspina Castle. The town is surrounded by multiple hiking and mountain-biking routes. It is an excellent pitstop for active adventurers.
You could spend hours exploring the Malaspina castle. It offers one of the finest panoramic views out to the rolling forest-covered hills that mark the Tuscan countryside.
Where to Stay in Fosdinovo?
Here also there are great options!
If you would like to discover Agritourism (worth it), you should go for Agriturismo La Burlanda.
If you want just a great and cozy stay with a good breakfast. Go for Locanda De Banchieri.
Collodi (Pistoia region)
Collodi is one of the oldest and most preserved ancient towns in Tuscany. The church of San Bartolomeo offers one of the most remarkable panoramic views and a unique glimpse of Villa Garzoni and its Italian garden.
Fun fact about the Villas gardens: the story of Pinocchio was inspired by novelist Carlo Collodi. The Pinocchio Park was built to commemorate this, and it’s a great day trip for families where children can lose themselves in the enchanting natural magic!
Where to Stay in Collodi?
We found a great stay only a couple of kilometers away from the village. It is called Fattoria Di Fubbiaono, and it is really a good option to consider.
Abandoned Village – Toiano
Want to visit something totally off-beat and not impacted by tourism? Then you can’t miss the abandoned village of Toaino. Here you will hear only the sounds of nature with the town featuring no shops, restaurants, or hotels.
It’s one of the few places in Tuscany where time truly feels as though it has stood still. So if you’re looking to visit somewhere that allows you to sit back and relax in nature, then this is the perfect spot! It’s easy to access by car, and you’ll pick it up on most GPS systems.
Where to Stay near Toiano?
The closest place where you can stay to discover this great abandoned village is Vinci. There, we loved both of those options:
Agriturismo Streda really offers an authentic Tuscan experience with a calm and cozy atmosphere.
La Casa Medioevale: As the name suggests, this country house is famous for its medieval architecture.
While we know it’s not quite a hidden gem, we couldn’t miss the charming town of Lucca in our Tuscan highlights! Less than half an hour from the coastline, it’s easy to reach Lucca from Pisa and Florence. It’s also possible to access by public transport.
Lucca’s ancient history is the biggest attraction, with Piazza dell’Anfiteatro and Torre Delle Ore being spots you can’t miss! We suggest exploring the picturesque town by bike (as it’s one of the flattest in Tuscany), enjoying the gentle breeze while soaking in its wonderful Italian charm!
Where to Stay in Lucca?
How to Work and Travel at the Same Time in Italy?
If you are really into slow travel and looking for long travel journeys in Italy, you should look for great work and travel experiences. From teaching English to being an Au Pair in a German family, there are several opportunities in the country, with which you can travel and make money at the same time.
Getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things will reveal a new version of yourself! Every new travel experience starts with a first step.
Final Thoughts about Tuscany’s Hidden Gems
So many things to do in Florence and around, beautiful castles, and Tuscan villages to visit in Italy. We bet you can’t wait to start planning your exciting Tuscan adventure! So what are you waiting for? Don’t forget to check some interesting facts about Florence as an appetizer!
Your off-the-beaten-track Italian adventure is ready and waiting for you to be explored, and we can guarantee no one else will have been on this hidden gem adventure!
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