Published at The University Observer

An artist’s haven and music lover’s treat, Tuscany is a region with culture to spare!

Tuscany is one of the few regions in Europe where one can see how the cities and towns have changed without losing touch with their roots. From picturesque villas to the modern construction, there is a careful balance between the ancient and modern.

The region’s focal point is the city of Florence. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) and the Baptistery are quite possibly the two most famous sites in the city. Those who are not faint-hearted should take a walk to the top of the Dome, where the whole city can be seen, as the mountains form a breathtaking backdrop.

Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, an art academy which is home to Michaelanglo’s David, is conveniently close to the Duomo. A short walk towards the River Arno will take you to the main square, Piazza Della Signoria.

Within the square, visitors can find the Uffizi Gallery. If you are an art enthusiast, it is worth wandering around for a few hours to see the entire collection. Divided into two pavilions, a connecting hall offers sights of the world famous Ponte Vecchio which stretches across the Arno River and is host to a number of jewellery shops.

Outside the gallery, musicians and artists of all sorts provide high quality performances. On the other side of the river and a short walk from the bridge, the Palazzo Pitti, former residence to the Medici Family and Piazzale Michelangelo can be seen.

Despite the journey to reach them, visitors are rewarded with a panoramic view of Florence, with the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio dominating the horizon.

The nightlife in Florence can be expensive, but a short detour from the touristy streets will save you money. There is a large variety of pubs and nightclubs but some of these close very early, giving visitors a great option to stay in and interact with travellers in the hostel.

But there is more to Tuscany than just Florence. About one hour away by bus is San Gimignano, a very well conserved, medieval town, surrounded by its original walls and located on a hilltop. It is known for its towers and good white wine and is a great place for a day trip.

Regular buses from San Gimignano can bring visitors to the nearby city of Siena. Siena’s central square, the Piazza del Campo, is great for interacting with locals and fellow travellers to exchange experience and travelling tips. A quick trip to the Cathedral is highly recommended to see the impressive art works and mosaic floor.

Two other towns that are worth visiting are Pisa, to see the Leaning Tower and Lucca, where the Lucca Summer Festival is held, for some great concerts. For the towns, food or just an ice cream, Tuscany has it all!