4 Must-See UNESCO Sites in Tuscany, Italy
Italy is home to the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in one country — 51 to be exact! These sites, rich with history, range from architectural masterpieces to natural phenomenons. Regardless of size or grandeur, they’re all likely to stir up feelings of passion and wonder. Here’s a rundown of 4 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tuscany, Italy.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tuscany
Because of its deeply rooted architectural past, the city of Florence has preserved its traditional buildings and medieval characteristics for centuries. Thus, UNESCO welcomed Florence as a World Heritage Site in 1982.
Florence is home to the largest concentration of renowned masterpieces. You’ll find them in the city’s famous buildings and sites such as the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza della Signoria, and the Convent of San Marco. Furthermore, its urban environment holds strong as the symbol of Renaissance period.
Must-see: The San Lorenzo Market and Mercato Centrale are 2 separate markets that sit side by side. One offers the best prices you’ll find on leather worldwide, while the other offers local cuisine and small bites.
Insider tip: The Michelangelo lookout point is often packed with tourists during sunset. If you keep walking up to the San Miniato al Monte Abbey, you’ll find a place to view the city virtually by yourself.
How to get there by train: You can easily reach Florence by train from Milan in 1 hour and 40 minutes, or from Rome in 1.5 hours.
San Gimignano is an exemplary medieval urban city with narrow passageways and an unforgettable skyline. It became a World Heritage Site in 1990 because of its position in feudal and art history.
Centuries ago, San Gimignano was the place to stop for those traveling to or from Rome. The town will take you back to medieval urban life in the 12th to 14th centuries. There are also several Italian masterpieces for you to appreciate. The 14 surviving towers surrounding the city give San Gimignano a grand, feudal atmosphere.
Must-see: The best thing to do in San Gimignano is to simply walk around. But if you want a different vantage point, head to the San Gimignano 1300 to see a scale model of the city.
Insider tip: If you get there in the morning, you can avoid the afternoon rush of tour buses.
How to get there by train: Take the train to Poggibonsi-San Gimignano Station. From there, it’s an easy 30-minute bus ride.
Siena is a fine example of a medieval city. Its 12th to 15th century Gothic architecture is preserved with great care. As a result, it became a World Heritage Site in 1995.
This Tuscan city had a high degree of influence on art and architecture in the Middle Ages. It blended both of these elements harmoniously upon 3 hills that the city was built on. Siena’s height, along with its fortified walls, were used strategically to protect the city.
Must-see: See what city life in Siena is really like by walking around the city by following the ancient city walls that once used to protect the city. This walk takes around 3 hours.
Insider tip: Get the truffle pasta at La Taverna di San Giuseppe. After it’s served, almost half a fresh truffle will be shaved onto your pasta by your server.
How to get there by train: Take a direct train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station. The journey will take 1.5 hours.
Piazza dei Miracoli (Pisa)
The Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) boasts 4 grandiose medieval structures. These include the famous Leaning Tower, Baptistery, Cathedral, and the Camposanto. It became a World Heritage Site in 1987 because of its complex historical significance.
All 4 masterpieces were built with white marble and have had a great artistic influence across Italy. They hold hints of various civilizations that have influenced the architecture, such as the Romans and the Arabs.
Must-see: Although the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the star of this plaza, pay attention to the cathedral and baptistery as well. They’re just as beautiful.
Insider tip: Head to the plaza shortly after sunrise. You’ll get an untouched view of your surroundings without a crowd of tourists.
How to get there by train: A regional train from Rome will get you to Pisa in 4 hours. The train from Florence takes 1 hour.
Do you want more than these 4 must-see UNESCO sites? Then lucky for you, there’s another 47 sites in Italy to explore. If you’re ready to plan your rail trip, check out Eurail Italy Pass prices.