Tuscany is well known for its beautiful landscapes, it’s little medieval towns (such as the beautiful San Gimignano and Volterra), the Leaning Tower of Pisa and, of course, Florence.

And these places are well-worth visiting!

I’ve been to Tuscany more than twenty times – my father originally comes from there – and while I have by far not seen every single town or place (especially because I love the formerly named sights and often visit them) my uncle always shows me some hidden gems.

Now, I want to show you the highlights which he showed me and my mother when we were there for a baptism. These three destinations are all different and will likely not be on your radar at all when you’re thinking of coming to Tuscany.

First, I’d like to present you with the little town turned tourist endeavour:

Castelfalfi

Castelfalfi was brought by the German tourist operator Tui – known for their all-inclusive family resorts – after the last few families left the town. However, apparently the prices (or the unreal looks?) kept the tourists from investing and the Tui has cancelled their plans of building a Robinson Club. Instead, they are selling old farm-houses turned into luxurious villas (according to the wishes of the buyer) and town-houses, a five-star hotel is supposed to be finished in 2018. It is aimed at rich Europeans that want to stay in an exclusive surrounding, enjoy the largest 27-golf course of Tuscany and have a magnificent view. I don’t expect any of my readers to be part of this clientele – and even the hotel prices are quiet hefty. Still, you are able to walk into Castelfalfi, and at least when we were there, we only saw a few guests (does that have to do with why the Tui might quit the project?) and some luxurious German cars. A paradox: a town for tourists that is a hidden secret for most tourists.

It has a strange appeal: the make-believe of an ancient Tuscan town, the golf course that doesn’t quiet blend into stunning scenery and the signs in the streets that remind me of a theme park.

 

L’Opera N. S. di Fatima – Chiesa S. Frediano

This place consists of a little church that was first built in the 12th century and the side altars date to the 18th century – the whole place, including a monastery, reminds of the Marian apparition in Fatima. The highlight are the many sculptures that show the life and work of Jesus (total kitsch that can only be found in Italy!). It’s a total contrast to the other serious sites of prayer found in most cities and visited by tourists everyday. You might consider it if you have had enough from all these ancient, impressive renaissance buildings. In the months of May to October on the 12th and 13th at 9.15 pm there are religious parades and the whole thing is illuminated by candles. This is apparently quiet beautiful according to my aunt who first discovered it this year (yes, it’s even hidden to many locals!). Otherwise you can enter from Monday to Friday between 8.30 and 10.00 am, or hope you’ll meet one of the nice monks that will let you in (that’s how we got in on a Monday afternoon).

Chianni

Chianni is another tiny village with a beautiful landscape. With a little more than 1,000 inhabitants it is not a main tourist attraction and it’s rural atmosphere is the biggest contrast to the immaculate Castelfalfi. We did only drive through as we were short on time, but the little cobblestone paths were full of charm as was the church and the best part was driving there. Driving up a hill full of hairpin turns is always challenging (but fun!) and these streets were really small! You get rewarded with a typical, unspoilt Tuscan town as well as an impressive setting.

Let’s just hope that these places won’t get overrun now, because other than the resort town of Castelfalfi they are not only hidden, but also not capable to welcome too many guests…

 

What do you think? Would you like to visit one of these hidden gems or have you actually discovered one of them on your own?