Whenever you think of Italy, besides the wonders of Rome, Venice, or Florence your mind goes to the little villages in Tuscany. From north to south, Tuscany is plenty of small jewels to discover. They wait for you at the top of rolling hills or in the middle of a green grassy plain.
Every year the Italian Touring Club draws up a list of the best small town in Italy. They choose between the ones with less than fifteen thousand inhabitants, checking five main topics:
- Availability of accommodation and tourism infrastructures.
- Tourist Attractions (usability of historical and environmental assets, food farming production, shows, and events).
- Environmental Quality.
- Quality of the place.
These places get a reward called “Bandiera Arancione”, literally Orange Flag. Of all the twenty-one Italian regions, Tuscany has the highest number of Orange Flags of Italy, thirty-six.
Our 10 Most Beautiful villages in Tuscany
Of course, all these hamlets worth a visit. We also know that this list does not consider all the wonderful places. Among these, we chose our best 10 villages in Tuscany. We intentionally did not consider the already-famous towns of Pienza, San Gimignano or Volterra to give more space to the hidden ones.
Starting from the north of Tuscany we highly suggest adding those places to your bucket list.
The village of Fosdinovo is the old gate of the historical area of Lunigiana. It lies on the top of the hill overlooking Val di Magra and Luni Plains. From up there you a wonderful 360-degree view of Apuan Alps and of the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for the beautiful 12th century Malaspina Family Castle. You can visit its rooms and towers with a guided tour, and listen to the tales of its old inhabitants. Fosdinovo is also a food tradition different from the rest of the region. Once there, do not miss to taste the Sgabei, Testaroli with Pesto sauce, the high-quality honey, and Vermentino wine.
Barga is a small hill town in the Media Valle of Serchio River. A visit to Barga represents a perfect daily tour to take from Lucca which is only 45 minutes away by car. A fun fact about Barga is that at the end of 1800 many locals emigrated to Scotland looking for a better life to live. Today many of them, together with grandchildren, came back to their birthplace in Tuscany. They now live in the most Scottish town in Italy. You can even find an old red phone box on the street and eat at Fish and Chips Fest during summer. The main attractions are the Romanesque Duomo overlooking the valley, the Renaissance buildings, and the small theatre Dei Differenti. If you happen to be in Barga in August, do not miss the Jazz Festival.
Collodi is the birthplace of a naughty wooden child protagonist of one of the “best-selling books” in the world. I am talking about Pinocchio, the animated marionette created by Italian author Carlo Collodi. The little hamlet is not far the lovely town of Pistoia and Lucca. It looks like a cascade of houses descending down from a steep hill. At the lowest point, there is Villa Garzoni with its amazing garden Baroque style. Of course, it could not miss a Monumental Park dedicated to Pinocchio. It is a nice activity to do with kids touring around the fascinating sculptures of the Novel characters, including the big shark.
Certaldo is one of the few medieval hamlets of Tuscany, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, that is still perfectly preserved. The paved alleys of center hosts workshops, taverns, and traditional restaurants, churches, and museums. During the summer, Certaldo transforms itself on the occasion of the famous Mercantia Festival, an international festival of street arts that attracts thousands of visitors. Do not miss to try one of the dishes made with the onion, symbol and proud of Certaldo and its culinary traditions. To get more info read our article about the things to do in Certaldo.
5. Casale Marittimo
Casale Marittimo is the ideal village for lovers of slow travel and a quiet way of life. We are in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and only 10 km (6,3 miles) away from the sea of the Etruscan Coast. Potter around its narrow streets with lovely brickworks houses. Enjoy the Italian Dolce Vita with a glass of wine and a taste of local cheese and cold cuts in the main square. You have to know that we are close to the wine regions of Montescudaio and Bolgheri where they produce some of the most precious wines of the world.
6. Villages of Tuscany: Suvereto
Suvereto takes its name from the cork oak woods that surround the village together with olive oil trees and vineyards (read about our harvest experience here). It is considered one of the best villages in Tuscany and in Italy and it’s not so far from the Etruscan Coast. It still presents its intact city walls and each summer many events and “Sagre” (feast) take place right inside. I recommend seeing the medieval entry door, the old town hall date back to 1200, the churches and the ruins of the citadel.
Anghiari is set on a spur of rock, it is one of the most suggestive medieval villages in Tuscany close to the border with Umbria in the area of Valtiberina. It is protected by 13th-century defensive walls. Its name reminds of the famous battle between Florentines and Milanese Troops of the Visconti Family on 29 June 1440, also described by Leonardo da Vinci on a fresco in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Monteriggioni is a walled town on a natural hillock. It is also a rare example of medieval military architecture. The Sienese people built it in 1214 as a front line during wars against Florence in the middle ages. The circular walls are about 570 meters long and have 14 towers. It is only a few miles out of Siena and is also part of the Via Francigena for pilgrims direct to Rome.
Montepulciano is a medieval and renaissance village with an Etruscan origin, set in southern Tuscany in the province of Siena. It is renowned for the production of food such as pork, Pici pasta, lentils, and the famous Vino Nobile. The main sights to see are the town hall in Romanesque style, the Piazza Grande, several churches, the temple of the Madonna di San Biagio, and many workshops and mosaic studios in the center. We visited Montepulciano on 3 days tour between Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia, and we definitely suggest you take it, read here our experience.
Pitigliano is an extraordinary natural sight that suddenly appears on the top of a tuff mountain in the Maremma area. It is only approaching to this amazing village that you realize that houses were built into the tuff, looking like a continuation of the mountain. It is named also as Little Jerusalem for the presence of Jewish in the past. Today you can admire the restored Synagogue, the historical center with the Duomo and medieval-renaissance buildings, the Etruscan walls, and the Vie Cave (open-air paths dug into the tuff just out of the hamlet).
Which is your favorite of this list? If you wish to discover more interesting off-the-beaten-track burgs of Tuscany read also the Top 10 Tuscany Villages to visit.