Being one of the most visited destinations on earth I could assume that every one knows how to respond to the question where is Tuscany? But during our last trip abroad, it happens to met a person asking me if Tuscany is a region of Italy or an independent state. And another one did not know that Tuscany has the sea.
That is the reason why I decided to write this post, to help anyone that is planning its Tuscan holidays and wish to get more info about its geographical position.
Where is Tuscany? The Map of region
Where is Tuscany? Tuscany is one of the twenty regions of Italy situated in the middle of the peninsula. It is divided into ten provinces (even if in the next years the number should be reduced). They are, starting from the north: Massa Carrara, Lucca, Pistoia, Prato, Florence, Pisa, Livorno, Siena, Arezzo and Grosseto. The capital is Florence that is also one of the most beautiful and visited city of the world.
Manarola, one of the five villages of Cinque Terre, northern neighbour of Tuscany
Tuscany has a funny triangle shape that reminds to the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina T-bone. In the northwest it borders Liguria with its terrific seaside landscapes that includes Cinque Terre, Porto Venere, Lerici and promontory of Monte Marcello. In the north and east Tuscany shares the borders with Emilia Romagna, to the east with Marche and Umbria, and with Lazio to southern part. In the west, it has almost 400 km /245 miles of coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea and even the seven wonderful islands of the Tuscan Archipelago belong to the region.
A classic cypress road of Chianti
Thinking of Tuscany your mind goes immediately to the fairytale sceneries made of rolling hills, cypress and countryside roads winding along vineyards and olive groves.
The region is mostly covered by the gently hills, but there are also mountains in the northwest. The coast and the south in the past were marsh areas and today you find flatlands. Parts of them have been converted into natural reserves with many species of interesting fauna and flora to see.
The Apuan Alps in Garfagnana
The Apennines and the Apuan Alps are the two mountain ranges of the region and they are the perfect destinations for lovers of nature, hiking and even skiing. Apennines crosses the region from north to south along the eastern border. The rocky Apuan Alps in the northern part offer the visitors amazing panoramas of the coast and are also famous since the time on ancient Romans for the quarries of the precious “white gold”, the marble of Carrara.
Where is Tuscany? Looking at the geographical map of Tuscany, you will see also many valleys: Lunigiana, Garfagnana, Mugello, Valdarno, Casentino and Valtiberina. In the past they were basins formed between mountains and the coast. All of them have good reasons to organize a visit there: food, traditions, events, little hamlets and nature.
In the centre of the region, mountains leave the place to the traditional gentle rolling hills that everyone knows. The Val d’Orcia, in the south of Siena and UNESCO World Heritage site, welcomes visitors with fairytale landscapes, panoramic roads, the famous cypresses, and wonderful little villages as Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano.
Across the countryside it also happens to see strange “lunar” landscapes. These are the “Crete Senesi” (nearby Val d’Orcia) and the “Balze” (near the village of Volterra) formed due to phenomena of erosion.
Rivers and the Mediterranean Sea
The little port of Giglio Island
Few rivers flow through the territory, but the biggest and most famous is with no doubt the Arno that cross the historical centre of Florence and Pisa.
Along the coast it is possible to choose between different kinds of beaches. Versilia and the Apuan Riviera in the north have wide sandy beaches. If you love comfort and facilities choose this area because it is plenty of well-furnished beach clubs. If you do not like fine sand and prefer rocks it’s better going in the Etruscan Coast between Livorno and Piombino. If you are more into nature the ideal beaches are in the south in the beautiful wild Maremma.
Tuscany has also seven beautiful islands that are part of the Natural Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. For more information about them have a look at our post “The treasure Islands of Tuscany”.
Typical Plants that distinguish the territory
Vineyards – Photo Credits: Podere Casanova
Vineyards, olive groves and wheat fields are three of the symbols of the Tuscan landscape and cover most of the land. Other typical plants are the slender cypress, the pine trees (common especially along the coast) and the colorful scented Macchia Mediterranea. It is composed by varieties of plants as broom, sage, juniper, rosemary, myrtle, sage, heather and many more. Tuscany is also one of the Italian regions with the biggest cover of trees. In fact, rich forests of oak, beech, ash and chestnuts cover the mountains, and during the autumn you can assist to the suggestive show of the fall foliage.
Now you have more information to respond to the question of Where is Tuscany. But if you have not enough about geographical aspects of Tuscany, let me know and I will be happy to satisfy your curiosity.