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Central Italy What to See and Do

Central Italy is known for its fine food, great wine, rolling hills, Cyprus trees, hilltop villages and wonderful architecture. It is also home to some of the most iconic landmarks in Italy such as the leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the Vatican.

The following states make up Italy's Central region:

Each of these regions has its own culture and food, but the one that is nearest to my heart is the one where we have our little farm, Tuscany. Tuscany is a beautiful area that is well justified in being called the "crown" of Italy. The food is delicious, the rolling hills crested with stone houses inviting and the cypress trees meandering up long, narrow roads are seen everywhere.

Best Things to See and Do in Central Italy

Central Italy: Lazio

vatican city rome Lazio it the province that is home to the Eternal City - Rome.

Rome is truly beautiful city that can be incredibly hot and humid in the height of the summer, but with so many fountains to dip your toes into, one can learn to forget about the steamy summers and take in a city that pulsates with history.

Rome is full of monuments that were left behind for us to enjoy. The city itself has a history spanning two and a half thousand years, and there is lots to see that is surprisingly still standing or in evidence. However, what is more mind boggling is the fact that human beings have occupied the area for more than 14 000 years.

When visiting Rome don't miss the following:
  • The Colosseum
  • The Pantheon
  • The Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel
  • The Vatican museums
Modern day Romans love sitting at pavement cafes eating al fresco. So, do as the Romans do and have a cup of coffee sitting outside and watching the passing parade. Also don't forget to throw a coin into the Trevi fountains and take a rest by sitting a while on the Spanish Steps.

And if you want to rub shoulders with the locals then head off to the Rome markets.  
Once you have walked Rome flat and have tired of the hustle and the bustle of the city life then head out to the more peaceful Lake Albano area where you can see elegant villas , historic towns and Castel Galdolfo, the summer residence of the Pope.

The Etruscans lived throughout this region, including Tuscany. Etruscan tombs can be seen in Cerveteri that are truly fantastic. They are not far from Rome, to the west of the city.

Despite these tombs being a UNESCO site, very few people know about them, which is a shame as they are really worth the drive from Rome. Having been there myself, I would say that if you are going to be in the region these tombs should be on a "Must See" list without a doubt. These burial sites will hold you in awe with their size and grandeur and you can see the cart tracks that have become fossilized over time that were used to carry the bodies to the tombs.

Central Italy: Tuscany

A winding road lined with cyprus trees in typical Tuscany countryside. Tuscany is steeped in history and you can find layers of it in the buildings     if you look very closely. It is a region that has many UNESCO protected     buildings and cities.

Florence is one of those Tuscan cities that definitely shouldn't be missed. 

It is home to the Uffizi Gallery where you can see wonderful artworks such as Michaelangelo's David, and other artwork by Bottecelli, Titian and Raphael.

Siena is another Tuscan city that is worth a visit, along with San Gimignano that should be visited out of peak-season to truly enjoy its beauty without the hordes of tourists who descend every summer. 

Then there is Pienza, the Pisa Cathedral and Val d’Orcia for your quintessential, Tuscan landscape in Central Italy.

However, there are less traveled spots in Tuscany that are so appealing, more so because they don't have the tour buses and you feel that you have discovered a little bit of Tuscany for yourself. There are so many little places to mention I don't know quite where to start. Suffice to say, that if you headed towards the Casentino Valley you wouldn't be disappointed. There are some beautiful towns here, one of them being Arezzo.

Arezzo is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, an Etruscan city, once of great importance. History lives on in its architecture and its festivals, one of the most spectacular is the Giostra del Saracino The Joust of the Saracen which takes place in the Piazza Grande. It is also here that the Antique Market takes place on the first weekend of every month.

Poppi is another interesting town in the Casentino with a castle that dominates the landscape. Poppi castle can be seen as far away as Bibbiena and has been standing for nearly 1000 years, belonging at the time to the Counts Guidi. It also houses a magnificent library of ancient books.

Lucca is another gem seldom visited, but well worth the trip. It too was a town of great importance during the Etruscan period. It is completely walled, and one of the sites is the town's amphitheater which became a circle of houses over time. However, the traces of the amphitheater can clearly be seen and it is a thrill to stand in the middle of what is now a piazza and just imagine the scenes all those years ago.

Cortona cannot be dismissed, for it was the town that will forever be linked to Frances' Mayes "Under the Tuscan Sun". A must read for anyone either wanting to visit Italy, or who is thinking of restoring a house in Italy. However, long before Frances Mayes, Cortona was an Etruscan town of importance.

Central Italy: UmbriaA Roman aqueduct in Perugia now used as a walkway.

Umbria, is known as the "Green Heart of Italy" and its jewel is Perugia

Perugia is a town that has the highest arches to the entrance of the city than I have ever seen and there is even an ancient aqueduct that is still visible which you can walk on.

Part of the thrill of visiting Perugia is approaching it from the bottom end of town near the bus depot and taking the escalators to the top. On route the escalators enter an old palazzo and you travel through layers of history before getting off at the top where you wend your way through the cobbled pathways and passages to daylight.

You spill out into this busy university town, down cobbled streets arched with Etruscan architecture.

The Palazzo dei Priori dominates the Piazza IV Novembre, a large piazza that has become a meeting place, especially for the students who attend the university near by. 

In the center is a beautiful fountain, the Fontana Maggiore, surrounded by the Duomo (said to hold the Virgin Mary's wedding ring), the Palazzo dei Priori, and other Medieval buildings with shops and bars.

Perugia is not the only jewel of a town in Umbria. Umbria has unfairly been ignored at the expense of Tuscany over the border, but to be honest, Umbria has many interesting towns of great importance that are worth a visit. 

Assisi , where St. Francis lived, Orvietto for the gorgeous cathedral that is built precariously on a cliff face, and Spoletta , Spello and Guibio - charming ancient towns and villages.

Central Italy: Le Marche

The Ducale Palace in Urbino from a distance Le Marche is another region in Central Italy and has a large coastline, and borders Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna.

Le Marche is an intensely hilly region that is often difficult to traverse because of its topography and you never seem to be able to travel from A to B without having to go to C, D, and E first. However, having said that, the trip to the Renaissance town of Urbino (seen left) is a must. It is another UNESCO site in Central Italy, and the Medieval town clings to a rising hillside with the Palazzo Ducale in dominance.
I loved exploring the castle, which was really grand. Although the road to Urbino from Tuscany is long and windy, and seems very remote, because it is, it is still worth the trip.

Marcerta is another town that is worth a trip as well as Ascoli Piceno. I love the piazza of Ascoli Piceno, unchanged for centuries, and while you are there you have to try the specialty of the town - stuffed olives. These are absolutely delicious!

 There are so many more places to mention in Central Italy, and I am sure that you have some of your own favorite places that you would like to write about. So why don't you drop us a line and tell us where your favorite place is in Central Italy and why. All you have to do is know how to use a keyboard and type, it is that simple!

Best Places to Visit in Central Italy

The best places to visit here include the fabled, romantic Tuscany. However, there are so many other beautiful areas to visit in Central Italy. The list of small towns and villages here have been chosen for their beauty, unique character, surrounding scenery and cultural importance.
 

15 Beautiful Towns in Tuscany

1) Anghiari
2)
Arezzo
3) Carrara
4)
Cortona
5) Grosseto
6) Isola d'Elba
7) Lucca
8)
Montalcino
9) Montepulciano
10) Pienza
11) Pietrasanta
12) Pisa
13) San Gimignano
14) Siena
15) Volterra

See our Sightseeing Pages on Central Italy:

Recommended Restaurants in Tuscany

For those of you who are looking for good places to have Tuscany food, wine that is of a high standard then see our page. You will find recommended restaurants of all the regions making up Tuscany of both restaurants, many of which also offer accommodation, as well as shops offering local and traditional products of the area.

Recommended Books on Italy


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