195 Best Sights in Tuscany, Italy

Casa Natale di Leonardo

No one knows the precise location of Leonardo da Vinci's birthplace, but this typical 15th-century Tuscan house is in the general vicinity and probably shares much in common with the house where he was born. It's in Anchiano, 3 km (2 miles) from Vinci, and can be reached easily on foot or by car. It has a primitive interior—it hasn't been gussied up for tourists. Note the printed inventory of Leonardo's library. His tastes in literature were wide-ranging, from the ancients to contemporary (15th-century) authors.

Cascate del Gorello

Outside Saturnia, the hot, sulfurous waters cascade over natural limestone shelves at the Cascate del Gorello, affording bathers a sweeping view of the open countryside. The falls are on public land and can be enjoyed 24 hours a day. They get extremely crowded—day and night—during August.

Saturnia, 58050, Italy
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Castello

This formidable structure, near Santa Maria delle Carceri, is an impressive sight. The (Sicilian) Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (1194–1250) built the seat of his authority in Tuscany in this somewhat unlikely spot. Frederick's castles were designed to echo imperial Rome, and the many columns, lions, and porticoes testify to his ambition. This is the only castle he built outside southern Italy (other examples may be found in Sicily and Puglia).

Piazza Santa Maria delle Carceri, Prato, 59100, Italy
0574-38207
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Rate Includes: Free, Closed Tues.

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Cattedrale di S. Secondiano

This beautiful cathedral, which practically abuts the Museo Nazionale Etrusco, is thought by many to be the among the oldest churches in Tuscany; parts of it date from the mid-6th century. It houses the remains of Santa Mustiola, the patron saint of the city. It has very little artificial light inside, so you can get a pretty good idea of how people experienced this space over the centuries.

Piazza Duomo 1, Chiusi, 53043, Italy

Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci

Prato's Center for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci contains works of artists from around the world completed after 1965. The exhibitions constantly change, and often feature debut presentations.

Viale della Repubblica 277, Prato, 59100, Italy
0574-531915
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Rate Includes: €7

Centro Termale Bagni di Lucca

Here you'll find two natural steam-room caves, as well as spa services such as mud baths, massage, hydrotherapy, and facials.

Piazza San Martino 11, Bagni di Lucca, 55021, Italy
0583-87221
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Rate Includes: €15 for thermal pool; spa services vary

Cetona

Follow SP19 past Sarteano and continue on SP21 to reach this delightful village. Time may seem to have stopped as you walk along the quiet, narrow, medieval lanes and back alleys. Peer through the locked gate for a glimpse of the privately owned castle, and take in splendid views of olive orchards, cypress groves, and the quiet wooded slopes of Mt. Cetona from the town's terraced streets.

Chianciano

This walled medieval town, 3 km (2 miles) northeast of Chianciano Terme, is best known for its proximity to the nearby spas. Nevertheless, the well-preserved center has an appeal all of its own.

Chiappi

Honda and Yamaha scooters as well as campers, cars, and boats can be rented here.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina

Visit this 15th-century church to view the excellent stained-glass window in the apse, executed by Sebastiano Mainardi (circa 1460–1513), as well as a haunting Pietà created by local artist Zacchia Zacchi (1473–1544).

Collegiata

The 13th-century Collegiata church has three majestic portals, one possibly the work of Giovanni Pisano (circa 1245/48–1318). Behind the high altar are some fine examples of inlaid woodwork by Antonio Barilli (1482–1502). In the floor of the left aisle, look for the tomb slab of Henry of Nassau, a pilgrim knight who died here in 1451.

Piazza Chigi, San Quirico d'Orcia, 53027, Italy

Collegiata di Sant'Andrea

The Collegiata di Sant'Andrea is a jewel of a museum, filled with terra-cotta sculptures from the della Robbia school, including one by Andrea della Robbia. There's also a magnificent 15th-century fresco pietà by Masolino (circa 1383–1440), as well as a small work by Fra Filippo Lippi (1406–69) and a wonderful tabernacle attributed to Francesco Botticini (circa 1446–97) and Antonio Rossellino (1427–79). On Sunday afternoon, entrance to the museum is free.

Convento di San Francesco

In 1211 St. Francis founded the Convento di San Francesco, which contains two cloisters and an ornate wooden choir. For a dose of monastic living, you can stay overnight.

Piazza San Francesco, San Miniato, 56028, Italy
0571-43051
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Rate Includes: Free to visit; to stay overnight: €10 suggested donation, €35 for half-pension

Convento e Chiesa di Santi Jacopo e Lucia

The Convento e Chiesa di Santi Jacopo e Lucia is also oddly known as the church of San Domenico, which refers to the fact that the Dominicans took over the church in the 14th century. Most of the interior suffers from too much baroque, but there is a lovely sculpted tomb by Bernardo Rossellino for Giovanni Chellini, a doctor who died in 1461. You'll find it on the right-hand nave close to the high altar.

San Miniato, 56028, Italy
0571-43150

Duomo

This 15th-century cathedral was built by the architect Bernardo Rossellino (1409–64) under the influence of Leon Battista Alberti. The travertine facade is divided into three parts, with Renaissance arches under the pope's coat of arms encircled by a wreath of fruit. Inside, the cathedral is simple but richly decorated with Sienese paintings. The building's perfection didn't last long—the first cracks appeared immediately after it was completed, and its foundations have shifted slightly ever since as rain erodes the hillside behind. You can see this effect if you look closely at the base of the first pier as you enter the church and compare it with the last.

Duomo

Dedicated to St. Peter, the Duomo was begun in the 11th century and was reconstructed in the early 1500s. Inside is a crucifix dating from the 14th to 15th century. There's also an early-16th-century terra-cotta attributed to the school of the della Robbia.

Piazza del Duomo, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, 55032, Italy
0583-62170

Duomo

Work began on the Duomo in the 11th century and continued into the 14th. The cathedral, dedicated to St. Andrew, is the first church of the Middle Ages constructed entirely of marble. Most of it comes from the area (the white, light blue-gray, black, and red). The tremendous facade is a fascinating blend of Pisan Romanesque and Gothic influences. Note the human figures and animals on Corinthian capitals.

Piazza del Duomo, Carrara, 54033, Italy

Duomo

Pisa's cathedral brilliantly utilizes the horizontal marble-stripe motif (borrowed from Moorish architecture) that became common on Tuscan cathedrals. It is famous for the Romanesque panels on the transept door facing the tower that depict scenes from the life of Christ. The beautifully carved 14th-century pulpit is by Giovanni Pisano.

Duomo

This 18th-century Baroque cathedral has a single nave with chapels and paintings on the sides. There are two altarpieces by local artist Francesco Zuccarelli (1702–88), a Rococo landscape artist, a favorite of George III and one of the founders of the British Royal Academy.

Piazza S. Gregorio 1, Pitigliano, 58017, Italy

Duomo

The central Piazza Garibaldi, dating from the 13th to the early 14th century, contains this Romanesque cathedral, with sculptures of the life of patron saint Cerbone above the door.

Via della Libertà 1, Massa Marittima, 58024, Italy

Duomo

Sovana extends from the Rocca Aldobrandesca at the eastern end of town west to this imposing cathedral, built between the 10th and 14th century. The church, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, is Romanesque in style but, atypically, the main entrance is on the left-hand side of the building.

Piazza del Duomo, Sovana, 58010, Italy

Duomo

The blind arches on the cathedral's facade are a fine example of the rigorously ordered Pisan Romanesque style, in this case happily enlivened by an extremely varied collection of small, carved columns. Take a closer look at the decoration of the facade and that of the portico below; they make this one of the most entertaining church exteriors in Tuscany.

The Gothic interior contains a moving Byzantine crucifix—called the Volto Santo, or Holy Face—brought here, according to legend, in the 8th century (though it probably dates from between the 11th and early 13th century). The masterpiece of the Sienese sculptor Jacopo della Quercia (circa 1371–1438) is the marble Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto (1407–08).

Duomo

The Romanesque Duomo, the Cattedrale di San Zeno, dates from as early as the 5th century. It houses a magnificent silver altar dedicated to St. James. The two half-figures on the left are by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446), the first Renaissance architect and the designer of Florence's magnificent Duomo cupola.

Piazza del Duomo, Pistoia, 51100, Italy
0573-25095
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Rate Includes: Free; access to altarpiece €2

Duomo

Arezzo's medieval cathedral at the top of the hill contains a fresco of a tender Maria Maddalena by Piero della Francesca (1420–92); look for it in the north aisle next to the large marble tomb near the organ. Construction of the Duomo began in 1278 but twice came to a halt, and the church wasn't completed until 1510. The ceiling decorations and the stained-glass windows date from the 16th century. The facade, designed by Arezzo's Dante Viviani, was added later (1901–14).

Duomo

Cortona's cathedral stands on an edge of the city, next to what's left of the Etruscan and medieval walls. Built on the site of a Romanesque church, the present Renaissance church was begun in 1480 and finished in 1507. An arcade along the outside wall was erected in the 16th century. The interior, a mixture of Renaissance and baroque styles, features an exquisite 1664 baroque tabernacle on the high altar by Francesco Mazzuoli.

Piazza Duomo 1, Cortona, 52044, Italy

Duomo

The unfinished facade of Montepulciano's cathedral doesn't measure up to the beauty of its neighboring palaces. On the inside, however, its Renaissance roots shine through. The high altar has a splendid triptych painted in 1401 by Taddeo di Bartolo (circa 1362–1422), and you can see fragments of the tomb of Bartolomeo Aragazzi, secretary to Pope Martin V, that was sculpted by Michelozzo between 1427 and 1436.

Piazza Grande, Montepulciano, 53045, Italy

Duomo

Several reconstructions have left little to admire of the once-Romanesque Duomo. Inside is the Cappella del Santo Chiodo (Chapel of the Holy Nail), built in the 15th century to hold a nail allegedly from the cross upon which Christ was crucified. (Perhaps it inspired the locals to go into the nail-making business, which became another of the town's flourishing industries.)

Duomo

In a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles, Sansepolcro's cathedral, though somewhat austere, contains some significant works of art. These include the Volto Santo, a wooden sculpture of the 9th century, which is believed to be the earliest crucifix depicting a completely clothed Christ on the cross. The Ascension of Christ, by Perugino (circa 1448–1523), and its neighbor, an Assumption of the Virgin, by Jacopo Palma the Younger (circa 1550–1628) are also highlights.

Duomo

Prato's Romanesque Duomo, reconstructed from 1211, is famous for its Pergamo del Sacro Cingolo (Chapel of the Holy Girdle), which is to the left of its entrance and which enshrines the sash of the Virgin Mary. It is said that the girdle was given to the apostle Thomas by the Virgin Mary when she miraculously appeared after her Assumption into heaven. The Duomo also contains 15th-century frescoes by Prato's most famous son, Fra Filippo Lippi. His scenes from the life of St. Stephen are on the left wall of the Cappella Maggiore (Main Chapel); those from the life of John the Baptist are on the right.

Piazza del Duomo, Prato, 59100, Italy
0574-29339
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Rate Includes: €5 to visit Cappella Maggiore

Duomo

Dedicated to St. Christopher, the Romanesque cathedral is made from elegant limestone (quarried from nearby caves) and saw four separate periods of construction. The first began in the 9th century; the last was finished in the 15th. Inside, the intricately carved pulpit, one of the finest examples of mid-12th-century Tuscan sculpture, commands center stage. The view from the littte piazza outside the Duomo is incredible: Tuscan mountains have never looked so good.

Via del Duomo, Barga, 55051, Italy