So many people head to Tuscany for quick stops in Florence, Pisa or Sienna but the small villages are worth stepping off-the-beaten path. So, here are top finds for Tuscany’s secret villages:
Sarteano – sits just outside its more famous neighbor Montepulciano. That’s great. Leave the tourists there and explore Sarteano’s ancient streets. You’ll climb its stone steps and mix with the locals, most of whom don’t speak any English. Grab a gelato or a glass of wine at sunset before heading off to explore the castle at nearby Radicofani.
Getting There: It’s about an hour’s car ride from Siena along the historic Via Cassia (SR2). For much of the drive you’ll be retracing the steps of pilgrims who walked this route all the way to Rome, where all roads lead if you do get lost.
Saturnia – This quaint village sits about an hour inland from Tuscany’s Maremma coast. It boasts a natural, hot spring which flows warm and toasty even when it’s snowing. Bring your swimsuit and change in the car before taking a short drive into the heart of the village. It’s quiet, even in the middle of summer’s high season but there are a few shops and the delicious Ristorante I Due Cippi (P. Vittorio Veneto 26/A) to grab a bite in the shade and relax with great food and wine.
Getting There: It’s just over an hour’s car ride from Grosetto, heading east on SP159.
Monticchiello – We absolutely love this historic walled city. You must park your car outside its towering walls and then savor the moment you walk through its fortified gates. The village is easy to explore and you won’t find your typical souvenir shop. The main attraction is the Church of Saints Leonard and Christopher. It’s about 850 years old and boasts some lovely frescoes. There’s not much else to see or do here but you’ll get a good idea of what it’s like to live in a quiet Tuscan village. The locals are so passionate about life in Monticchiello that they turned it into an award-winning movie, “Spettacolo.”
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Getting There: Monticchiello is just outside Montepulciano and if you’re looking for a place to stay, we suggest La Casa di Adelina (P.San Martino, 3, Pienza). Romance is off the charts at this B & B and the cooking done by the owner/chef, Francesco, will make you want to never leave this slice of paradise. They offer an apartment to rent just in case!