Open for business: what to see and do in Tuscany in 2020
Is Italy open for tourism?
Well, the country was hit early and hard by Covid-19, but now it is steadily reopening and welcoming back visitors. If you’re heading to Tuscany this year, expect to take the usual precautions, from social distancing to mandatory wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces, and sharing personal details at restaurants and bars (for the latest advice, check out the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website).
So, what’s Tuscany like right now?
Be reassured, there are plenty of attractions open again for business. And they’ve put in place all necessary measures to keep their customers safe, although most will require you to pre-book and entry times may be restricted. Here are some of our favourite reopened places to visit in Tuscany.
The Uffizi Gallery is a must-see if you’re making a day trip to Florence during your stay because it’s home to one of the world’s best collections of Renaissance art. Michelangelo’s ‘Holy Family’, Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, and Canaletto’s ‘View of the Grand Canal’ are just a few of the treasures to tick off your list.
The Leonardiano Museum, in the master’s birthplace, Vinci, west of Florence, is no dusty parochial detailing of Leonardo da Vinci’s life. Instead, at its heart is a fascinating collection of models of the mechanisms he imagined, including a flying machine, and there’s a high-definition digital reproduction of his famous mural, ‘The Last Supper’.
The visual arts, cinema, music, architecture, design, fashion, literature, the performing arts – no branch of contemporary art is unscrutinised at Centro Pecci in Prato. The gallery – itself a saucer-shaped spectacle, designed by Italo Gamberini and extended by Maurice Nio – has reopened for summer, with exhibitions including ‘Nudes’ by the late Chinese photographer and poet Ren Hang.
Tuscany for children
Children can immerse themselves in one of the world’s favourite fairytales at Pinocchio Park near Pistoia. Carlo Collodi’s story about the puppet with ambitions to become a real boy is gently told in a garden set with bronze and steel sculptures of characters and settings from the book, plus there’s a small museum. A zipwire adventure in the trees adds a few thrills.
The fun is more raucous at Acqua Villages at Cecina and Follonica, two South Seas-style fantasy sites cast adrift in the Tuscan landscape. Whizz around snaking flumes and shoot down perilously steep slides for the ultimate splashdown in the cool pools below. Plus there are safe spaces for tiny tots to enjoy some watery fun, too.
Parco Avventura Il Gigante
Another place to get the family’s adrenaline pumping is Parco Avventura Il Gigante near Florence. Young or old, your head for heights will be put to the test on the ziplines and Tibetan bridges that weave through the canopy of an oak forest.
Daniel Spoerri’s Garden
Art meets nature in several locations across Tuscany, including at Daniel Spoerri’s Garden. It’s named after the Swiss artist who has carefully positioned his collection of 113 installations by 55 artists here in a wild mountainous spot near Seggiano. Look out for the two works by the renowned Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely, famed for his kinetic art.
The eye-popping Tarot Garden near Garavicchio is the legacy of the late French-American sculptor, painter and filmmaker Niki de Saint Phalle. Here, she constructed more than 20 monumental figures about the symbols of the Tarot, assisted by her second husband, the sculptor Jean Tinguely (see above). If you’ve been to Parc Guell in Barcelona, you’ll immediately recognise the influence of the Catalan artist Antoni Gaudi in the giant mosaic-clad sculptures.
Pratolino Medici Park
More monumental works of art can be seen at the Pratolino Medici Park near Vaglia, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Famed for its Renaissance grottos, fountains and statues, you can’t miss the park’s 10.7-metre-high Appennine Colossus, gazing into the waters of a small lake. These massive marvels were adornments for a villa that once stood here, designed by Buontalenti for the powerful Medici family in the late 16th century.
One of Tuscany’s greatest attractions, of course, is its delicious wines. Many of the local vineyards are opening for tastings once more, not only of the red and white wines they produce, but also Vinsanto, Grappa and extra virgin olive oil. Among their number is Casanuova di Ama, near Gaiole, a family-run farm in the prime vineyards of Chianti Classico. At Castello Nipozzano near Pelago, a medieval castle provides the backdrop to the winery in Chianti Rufina territory, with cellars and a house to tour, as well as tastings.
Col d’Orcia, an organic producer overlooking the Orcia river near Montalcino, is in Brunello country and offers tours of the farm that provide an insight into its biodynamic approach. Meanwhile, cutting-edge architecture meets venerable winemaking at Antinori nel Chianti Classico, south of Florence. The Antinori family has been making wine in Tuscany since the Middle Ages, but the sculptural winery by architect Marco Casamonti, with its glass tasting room suspended above the cellar, is thoroughly 21st century.
To Tuscany has a range of fantastic villas across the region.