Touring the Tuscan beautiful towns
An ancient hill town, with its ocher houses and bell towers rising above a panorama of vineyards and olive trees is one of the paradigmatic images of Italy, and nowhere has more good examples than Tuscany and, in particular, the area around Siena.
The area immediately north of Siena – the Chianti region – has many beautiful little hill towns. Castellina in Chianti is a good target for a half-day trip and also the less obvious Colle di Val d’Elsa, the upper town is a gem.
San Gimignano, one of Europe’s best medieval urban landscapes, is the most famous of all small towns around Siena but it can get pretty crowded, particularly in summer. If you want to avoid the crowd, head to Volterra.
Montalcino, 40 km south of Siena, is a pretty hill town where the most famous wines from the Tuscan region are produced. It’s also very close to the old abbey on Sant’Antimo, one of Tuscany’s most beautiful churches.
If you keep going south, you will find the even more handsome Montepulciano, full of Renaissance palaces and home of another famous wine, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
East of Montepulciano, you can reach Cortona. This, also very interesting town, commands a fantastic landscape; climb to the top of the hill at night and you will see all the southern Tuscany villages twinkling like candles in the dark.