It’s perfectly acceptable to consider “eat my way through Tuscany” a good answer when someone asks what you’re going to do during your trip. But you’ve got to be prepared for that task with a little knowledge of what the traditional Tuscan dishes and ingredients are that you should be looking for on menus and in markets.
Pisa is so often thought of as nothing more than a two-hour stop on a train trip from one Italian city to another that it may surprise you to think of it as a great home base for exploring Tuscany. The city is well-equipped to be more than a day trip, however, with a major university and a pretty historic center, so consider staying in Pisa and taking excursions from there.
When most of us think about Tuscany, we think of its charming hilltop towns, historic medieval city centers, and perhaps the rolling landscapes that connect all of them. What we often forget is that Tuscany has a long stretch of coastline, touching both the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas. There are areas closer to the coast that still see far fewer foreign visitors than Florence or Pisa, despite their natural beauty. One such region is called the Maremma.
Most visitors to Tuscany are so focused on the Renaissance artwork, medieval cobblestoned streets, hilltop villages, and rolling hills covered in vineyards – all of which is lovely – that they fail to recognize Tuscany has quite a long coastline, too. In fact, the coast of Tuscany stretches into two different seas – the Ligurian and the Tyrrhenian – and it’s here you’ll find some of the best sailing in Italy.
It’s no stretch to say that the number one thing drawing people to Pisa is a tower that won’t stand up straight. The Leaning Tower of Pisa had already started listing before it was even complete, and its off-kilter stance has been intriguing visitors ever since. But there are other reasons to visit Pisa – and there are other big attractions on the same square as the tower.
You’ve no doubt heard or read that savvy travelers recommend visiting Italy during its shoulder seasons – spring and autumn – to take advantage of lower prices and smaller crowds while the weather is still usually pretty good. What you may not realize is that autumn in Tuscany, while it’s less of a high season than the summer, is so popular that it’s something of a secondary high season itself.