Small towns in Tuscany

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:24 AM
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Small towns in Tuscany

can you suggest some extraordinary small towns in Tuscany? Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks.

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 04:58 AM
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A two-part answer:

First, you might want to pursue the chance to look through this book. My wife got it me for Christmas.

The Hill Towns of Italy
by Richard Kauffman (Photographer), Carol Field
Paperback (February 1997)
Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0811813541 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.49 x 12.12 x 9.23

Editorial Reviews
This classic volume is a glorious tribute to one of the most beautiful regions in the world. The Hill Towns of Italy, capturing in luminous photographs the special feeling of this region, will serve as an evocative memoir for those who have had the good fortune to visit the hill towns and as an irresistible lure for those who have not yet made the pilgrimage. 60+ full-color photos.

The author, Carol Field [email protected],
January 20, 1998

Olive trees, cypresses marching over a dramatic landscape, vineyards, cobbled streets and cinnamon colored tile roofs: This book combines romantic photographs by a master photographer and descriptions of the unique colors and textures of the townscapes, the art and architecture of such Tuscan and Umbrian hill towns as Siena, Perugia, Orvieto, Assisi, Todi, San Gimignano, and Gubbio as seen through my eyes and the eyes of great writers who have traveled to them over the centuries. Use it as an introduction, a guide while you travel, or read it after a trip to enhance your understanding, your historical imagination and appreciation of the dramatic landscape of northern Italy and the towns that were born here first in Etruscan times and again in medieval and Renaissance times. This is the landscape we know from Renaissance paintings, from films such as The English Patient and Room with a View. Each of the towns has its own story and history but every one resonates with centuries of Italian life.

Light on depth, June 8, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from San Francisco
This book is mostly a picture book (and the pictures aren't that great) with little information. Having spent time in all of these towns, the pictures do not do justice. Also, the author concentrates on towns that are full of tour buses and very unpleasant - especially during season. There are so many more hill towns in Umbria and Tuscany that are more out of the way and charming. I guess I should be grateful that they weren't disclosed so that they stay less touristy!

... continued...
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 05:01 AM
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Part two...

Many of the towns in this book are not that small, and many small towns in Tuscany aren't necessarily extraordinary. After sixty years of "discovery", by Americans and British alike (see the film "Tea with Mussolini"), in some regions like Chianti("shire"), any town that was/is extraordinary is no longer all that small.

Based on my very limited exploration, I think that the Rieti region may be similar to what some travelers seek in the Tuscany of yesteryear.

Best wishes,

Old Mar 12th, 2001, 06:06 AM
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Here are three good websites to check out:
For the English-language version, click on the British flag at the top of the page. Then, you'll be able to get a lot of useful information about many of the small Tuscan towns.
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 12:09 PM
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I've read both of Frances mayes books (Under the tuscan sun and Bella Tuscany) cover to cover with an underliner handy for ideas of places she has gone to and enjoyed. It seems a lot of the spots are just stumbled upon. Even some of the larger towns have come to life for me in her books. I wish I could go everywhere but probably will only see a couple. Have fun!!
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 02:48 PM
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I've enjoyed visits to Siena (though not really small), Lucca, Orvieto, and Volterra.
Old Mar 12th, 2001, 09:08 PM
Santa Chiara
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Kim, I don't know what you mean by "extraordinary" towns in Tuscany, and I don't know which ones you have been too, but Cathy had a really good idea about reading Frances Mayes books, although portions of the first one make me gag. Anyway, she does have some good suggestions about smaller, out-of-the way places, especially in Bella Tuscany. Cortona, her "hometown" is one of my favorites. But it also depends on what you like: art or scenery or both. A rather undiscovered area (although getting more so) is Southern Tuscany with towns like Pitigliano and then on down to the coast. For me after living here two years and traveling here for 15, just discovered the Chianti region (Greve, Radda and others). Never went because I thought it was touristy, but I was pleasantly surprised. For me, it wasn't all that touristy, even in late August, and the countryside is bellisimo.
Old Mar 13th, 2001, 04:13 AM
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If you do a search on this forum on
"tuscany" you will find lots of suggestions and even itineraries.
Three of the most popular places on this forum are, as mentioned, Siena, Lucca,
and also San Gimignano. is famed for its towers, which were built by prominent families in medieval times. At its peak there were more than 70 towers, now only 14 remain. The town retains its old atmosphere and does not permit any new buildings in the center, although the main street is one souvenir shop after the other, with a couple of restaurants, wine shops, and sausage shops thrown in. San G. did not impress me as much as I was led to believe it would. Perhaps the rainy weather and time constraints kept us from appreciating its charms. I loved Siena, however,
Here's an article about Lucca, where I haven't been yet:

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