Tuscany is known for three things: lush green hills of vineyards producing fine wines, the cultural hub of Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But aside from the cities and rolling knolls, Tuscany is home to some fabulous outdoor treasures.
Each time you visit the region, seek out somewhere new to explore. Your Tuscany vacations can be filled with so much more than you could have ever imagined.
The ancient Etruscan civilization once made its home in Tuscany, leaving behind many mysteries that still exist today. The Vie Cave is one such mystery.
Though not an actual cave, these interconnected passageways near Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana were carved from massive slabs of stone. Their initial function is unknown, though they’re thought to have been waterways, roads or connectors for sacred grounds.
Today, the Vie Cave serves as a network of unique hiking trails, leading visitors on a magical trip through an area that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Tuscany is rarely considered a seaside destination even though it touches the Italian coastline. However, an archipelago consisting of seven islands lies roughly 10 km out in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The islands—Elba, Giglio, Giannutri, Capraia, Pianosa, Montecristo and Gorgona—are unique spots to get outdoors and explore.
Elba is the largest island, organized into eight small communes that are home to mines and museums. It is also a great place for outdoor sports, from climbing and biking to windsurfing and hang-gliding.
Giglio is home to picturesque piers and an ancient castle, Capraia is a popular snorkeling spot and Pianosa contains ruins from a Roman villa.
While you can reach them by ferry, consider a mini cruise that will escort your group to multiple islands throughout the day. These usually include lunch and allow you to see more in less time.
Casentinesi Forest National Park
Soak up the nature of the forest while you explore. There are trails that are perfect for hiking as well as horseback riding.
Throughout the park, you’ll find plenty of abandoned towns—some from medieval times. The remains of various churches, castles and monasteries lie in wait as do various waterfalls, lakes and wooded clearings.
Casentinesi Forest is also home to a variety of wildlife—from owls, deer and badgers to foxes and wolves.
You’ll find Bagni Vignoni in the Siena province in southern Tuscany. The popular tourist town has remained relatively unchanged despite the war that the region faced in the Middle Ages.
The main reason to visit the village, aside from the longstanding architecture, is to experience the area’s natural hot springs.
Rather than a main square, a huge thermal pool called the Old Baths of St. Catherine sits in the center of town. While it’s not possible to dip your toes in the water there, visitors can stop by nearby Parco dei Mulini.
Set only about 100 meters away, Parco dei Mulini allows visitors to explore the outdoor thermal springs’ pools, streams and cascades.
Another spot for great hikes is Mount Amiata, a lava dome that is part of a surrounding volcano complex.
Forests with various types of trees and medieval towns cover Mount Amiata, the highest peak in the Maremma area. But for an outdoor adventure, hit the trails. Pathways range everywhere from one kilometer to 24, providing places to walk, bike or ride horses.
As you cross the ridges, pass temples and wind through beech, oak and chestnut trees, set your backpack down, snap some photos and enjoy a picnic.