We think you're ready to check out Tuscany's heart. That's why we're spotlighting 11 of the best towns near Florence, Italy. So imagine stunning Tuscan views, and deep Italian culture. This guide aims to kick-start your trip plans, so get ready for a memorable holiday into Italy's iconic region.
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11 Beautiful Towns Near Florence, Italy
The capital and largest city of Tuscany, Florence, is awash in art and history. Being a UNESCO site, it is THE Renaissance cradle of the universe, drawing students and ardent admirers from all over the world with its scholarly richness.
Roman times are the source of its origins, and the Middle Ages and Renaissance saw its zenith on the international scene. But it also gave rise to massive icons who shaped its culture, like Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. At museums like the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti, which house internationally recognized pieces of art, Florence's art scene is thriving today.
Florence wows with its architecture. Both the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio bridge and the Brunelleschi dome of the Duomo are incredibly striking.
And Florence opens up to Tuscany's countryside beyond its urban boundaries; think picturesque hills, rolling hills, olive groves—you name it. This countryside setting will seamlessly blend with the magnificence of the city for those seeking to escape the rat race. These tucked away towns near Florence provide opportunities for adventure, romance, learning, delicious food, historical insights, and life-long memories.
Map of the Towns Near Florence
Fiesole, about 10 km from Florence, is absolutely history-packed. Officially, it was founded in the ninth century BC, and was a huge key as an Etruscan player. It's seen it all - Roman rule and medieval action. Back in the day, it had a big rivalry with Florence, ending in Florence's victory in 1125.
When you're there, be sure to check out its Roman theatre from that era, partly fixed up. It's a draw, along with old Roman baths. Oh, and don't miss the Cathedral of Fiesole (Il Duomo), with St. Romulus' shrine and Pietro Perugino's art.
And for you art fans, head to the Convent of San Domenico for works like Fra Angelico's. Leonardo da Vinci tested flying models are here.
But it's not all old stuff. Nature buffs can hit Monte Ceceri for trails and views. Leonardo studied bird flight here, hence the flying machines. Plus, there's the Estate Fiesolana festival since 1962, with music, drama, and art.
To sum up, Fiesole's a chill spot outside Florence. It's got museums, gardens, villas, and churches. Perfect for a laid-back Tuscany experience.
Pontassieve, 20 km from Florence in Sieve Valley, is historic and cultural. It sits where the Arno and Sieve rivers meet, surrounded by hills and vineyards.
Its roots are Etruscan, but it shone in the medieval era under Florence's rule. It was key for trade because of its spot near the Arno River. The Medici family boosted it in the Renaissance, focusing on infrastructure and commerce. It was big in wine and olive oil production.
World War II bombings hit Pontassieve hard, but it's been rebuilt, keeping its medieval city center. Today, it's into food, mechanical, electronic industries, and makes glass, pottery, leathers, "Vino Chianti Putto," and olive oil.
Top spots include Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and the 16th-century Medici Bridge. It still has three 14th-century gates: Porta del Capitano, Porta Aretina, and Porta Fiorentina.
Nature fans, check out Poggio Ripaghera nature reserve and the Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso for views. It's great for hiking, nature walks, biking, and fishing in the Sieve River.
Pontassieve's events include Il Toscanello d'Oro in June for local wines and food. It's also a gateway to explore around Florence, like the Renaissance Ring road.
3) San Godenzo
San Godenzo, about 35 kilometers from Florence in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, is naturally beautiful and historic. It sits at Monte Falterona's base, sacred since Etruscan times, near Foreste Casentinesi National Park.
Nature rules here, inspiring poets and painters. It's a great spot to start for the Acquacheta Waterfalls, with an easy trail. The nearby mountains, over 900 meters high, offer outdoor fun and scenic trips.
In Castagno d’Andrea, check out the Monte Falterona Visitors’ Centre and Andrea del Castagno Virtual Museum. They're part of Foreste Casentinesi National Park, with huge trees and diverse wildlife. The area shows off local chestnut traditions and rural life on the Civiltà del Castagno trail.
October's Ballottata in Castagnod’Andrea celebrates chestnuts. Try chestnut dishes and buy IGP Mugello Chestnuts. They're handpicked, pesticide-free, and natural.
History buffs, visit the Abbazia di San Gaudenzio. This old abbey shows San Godenzo's history and its bond with the Apennines.
4) Barberino di Mugello
Barberino di Mugello, about 25 km north of Florence in Tuscany, is historic and sits in Mugello's heart. It started in Roman times and grew in the Middle Ages. The Medici family boosted it in the 1500s, seen in local landmarks.
The big sight is the Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo, a top Medici summer spot. Michelozzo revamped it in the 15th century for Cosimo il Vecchio. It's prime Renaissance architecture and key to Medici history.
The town's got charming stone buildings. Walk its cobbled streets, see quaint piazzas and pastel houses. The Palazzo Pretorio, from the 12th century, once a government seat, now shows Giuliano Vangi's art.
Lake Bilancino, a man-made lake nearby, is great for windsurfing, canoeing, and swimming. It's also a hit for birdwatching.
The area's big in agriculture. The Mugello valley has lots of farms, producing quality milk, pecorino cheese, and organic meats like White Central Apennine Steer IGP, including Chianina cattle.
Barberino di Mugello was on the Giro d'Italia route in 2007. Cyclists can try the Gran Fondo del Mugello, a 120 km ride through villages and over Apennine passes.
5) Scarperia and San Piero
Scarperia and San Piero, 25 km from Florence in Mugello, are known for history, culture, and crafts. Founded in 1306 as Castel San Barnaba by Florence, it was a military base, then named Scarperia. It watched over the Florence-Bologna route.
The 14th-century Palazzo dei Vicari is key here. It's got Brunelleschi’s clock and the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti, a knife-making museum. The town celebrates its history with Renaissance Days and the Palio del Diotto annually.
Near San Piero, visit Bosco ai Frati Convent, a historic religious site with a Donatello crucifix. Also, there's the Medici's Il Trebbio castle, a UNESCO site. Lorenzo the Magnificent loved it, and Amerigo Vespucci visited in 1476.
Scarperia e San Piero host the Mugello International Autodrome and the Moto GP Italian Grand Prix. The Festa del Diotto, with medieval sports and Renaissance events, happens yearly.
The area's food? Simple, local. Try potato tortelli, herb ravioli, farinata cake, and classic bistecca alla fiorentina.
Anghiari, in Arezzo, Tuscany, stands out for its history and culture. Near Tuscan Valtiberina and Umbria's border, it's known for its scenic charm and rich past.
It was key in the Middle Ages, strategically located. The 1440 Battle of Anghiari was huge, shaping Tuscany's borders with a Florentine win over Milan. Leonardo da Vinci started a fresco on this, the "Lost Leonardo," for Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. It's known only from drafts and a Rubens sketch in the Louvre.
Anghiari is in "I Borghi più belli d'Italia," marking its beauty. Its medieval architecture, cobbled streets, and old buildings make it enchanting.
Nature lovers, check out Monti Rognosi Nature Reserve nearby. Also, visit Sorci Castle and Sansepolcro, Piero della Francesca's birthplace.
The town hosts events like Palio della Vittoria on June 29, celebrating the battle with a race. The Anghiari Festival in July and August features music, with London's South Bank Sinfonia playing classical pieces.
Anghiari's known for woodworking, with artisan workshops and the Anghiari School of Art. Food fans will love local dishes, especially Torta Mantovana, a traditional dessert made for over a hundred years.
Pelago, 24 km from Florence in Tuscany, is a scenic town in the mountains. It's ideal for a true Tuscan experience.
Its history goes back to the Etruscans and Romans. It thrived in medieval times as a trade hub and defensive site, with a castle owned by the Cattani family.
The area's full of forests, great for nature lovers. Borselli and Consuma, within Pelago, offer winter sports. The Museum of Rural and Mountain Life in Raggioli shows the town's past through tools and objects.
Agriculture's big here, especially vine and olive cultivation. You can check out medieval castles, historic farms, and local wine and olive oil.
Pelago's events include the May Sagra del Cinghiale for wild boar dishes and September's “L’arte del Gusto, il Gusto dell’Arte” for crafts and food.
Accommodation ranges from B&Bs to places like Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort. Local eats include ribollita soup and bistecca alla fiorentina steak.
Nearby, the Parco Nazionale delle Foreste Casentinesi offers hiking, waterfalls, and Tuscan views.
Londa in Tuscany, an hour from Florence, dishes up some wonderful natural beauty and a total break from city life. Like the others, it's rich in history, dating back to the Etruscans. The town center, Piazza Umberto I, has these great events in its amphitheater-like space. If you're interested, notable sites include Palazzo Comunale and SS. Concezione church.
The area features woods, vineyards, olive groves, and streams from Monte Falterona. It's near the Casentinesi Forests National Park, great for nature lovers. Lake Londa nearby is ideal for fishing and festivals.
Visit the ancient Parish Church of San Leonino, Parish Church of S. Elena, and the Santa Maria sanctuaries. Londa is famous for Regina Peach, celebrated in September, and bardiccio, a fennel-flavored pork sausage.
Key events: September Festival with the Pesca d’Argento award, performances, fireworks, and a polenta competition. Christmas Eve's Festival of Fusigno celebrates bardiccio. July's Palio della Brocca dell’Alleanza features a medieval procession and district competition.
Signa's ancient history comes alive at visible and notable sites like the Tomb of Montefortini and the Tomb of Prato Rosello. Back in medieval times, it was a significant trade hub, again this is evident in their landmarks like the Church of San Giovanni Battista. Major Renaissance figures like THE Leonardo da Vinci visited the place.
The town also has museums like the Museo Civico Archeologico, or go to the Church of San Giovanni and the frescoed Parish Church of San Lorenzo. The Castle area, encircled by 14th-century walls, is the oldest part.
If you time it right, you'll coverge with events that include the Ancient September Fair with shows, fireworks, and archery contests. And its Giovanna da Signa festival honors the patron saint with a procession.
Reggello sits 25 kilometers southeast of Florence. It's wedged between Pratomagno mountains and Upper Valdarno. It's a mix of nature and history.
The Abbey of Vallombrosa is key in Reggello. It began as Santa Maria d'Acquabella's hermitage, turning into a big Benedictine monastery. Vallombrosa Forest, a cool summer spot, offers quiet in nature. It's bio-diverse and vital for the area. There's also a nature reserve and the Vallombrosa Arboretum, Florence folks' summer getaway.
Sammezzano Castle in Reggello is Eastern architecture in Italy. Built on Roman remains, it was revamped in the 19th century by Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d'Aragona. It blends European style with Orientalism.
Reggello hosts an olive oil festival in late October and early November. It celebrates Tuscan Reggello extra virgin olive oil. The area's olive groves and vineyards date back to the 14th century.
The region's history is ancient. Etruscan, Roman, and Longobard touches appear in place names. Reggello formed in 1773; its layout comes from 1840. A 1966 landslide, linked to Florence's floods, brought destruction and death.
For explorers, Reggello has much. There are forest trekking paths and biking trails. The town hosts markets, festivals, and cultural events year-round.
Nature enthusiasts can visit Parco dei Renai, a WWF-protected area with a lake. The Museum of Straw and Weaving reflects Signa's straw weaving history, dating back to the 18th century when Domenico Michelacci started straw production.
Settignano, a hillside spot northeast of Florence, Italy, is a Renaissance hub. It birthed sculptors like Desiderio da Settignano and the Gamberini brothers. Michelangelo grew up here in a farmhouse, "Villa Michelangelo," near his father's marble quarry. Bartolomeo Ammannati, another sculptor, hailed from here. Local marble quarries were big for these artists.
Settignano's story starts with the Romans. It was a Guelf faction retreat. Giovanni Boccaccio and Niccolò Tommaseo loved its coolness, among vineyards and olives. Mark Twain penned "Pudd'nhead Wilson" at Villa Viviani here in 1892-1893. Gabriele d'Annunzio also lived here in the 1890s.
The place has Santa Maria Assunta church, packed with art. Also here: Villa Gamberaia with its 18th-century garden, and Villa I Tatti, now a Harvard-run Renaissance study center.
Visitors find good eats in Settignano. Caffe Desiderio offers panini and wines. La Capponcina Pizzeria, with a Florence-view terrace, is known for pizza. La Sosta del Rossellino blends Florentine and Sicilian flavors. Ristorante Tullio is famed for its Florentine steak.
You reach Settignano by a 25-minute bus ride from Florence's Piazza San Marco. It's small, walkable, and a calm escape from Florence's chaos.
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