Hidden gems: three medieval villages near Florence

Adam Jones | 22/11/2018
Medieval villages in Tuscany. Renaissance destinations near Florence.

Florence is a city famous for its culture and Renaissance art and architecture. While visiting the city you might also want to consider some Florence day trips so that you can enjoy the majestic Tuscan countryside. We’ll provide you with a short Tuscany travel guide so you can discover some of the region’s lesser-known medieval villages. These hidden gems work as day trips from Florence or final destinations in their own right.


Despite its long history, Castelfalfi was almost abandoned as recently as the 1960s — meaning many waves of tourists have passed it by. The 800-year-old village and estate was once owned by the region’s all-powerful Medici family. Today, it’s a lush 2,700 acre resort with more than 57 acres of vineyards, a massive olive grove and curated gardens. Castelfalfi produces its very own ultra-local Tuscan harvest, which includes a series of boutique red wines — the San Piero, the Cerchiaia and the Poggionero. In addition to the traditional medieval village, Castelfalfi offers amazing cycling, swimming pools, gourmet restaurants, cooking classes, and stunning Tuscan vistas.


What to see in Tuscany? How about the historical hometown of one of the most famous Italians of all time — Leonardo da Vinci. This small town of 14,000 is tucked into the Tuscan hillside only about seven miles north of Empoli. Instead of taking transit, have your luggage sent ahead and you can hike your way to Vinci. This becomes a magical three-hour journey through Tuscany’s famous olive groves and vineyards. What better way to work up an appetite for lunch and a glass of wine? After lunch, gaze up at the same 12th-Century castle Leonardo would have looked at as a boy, explore Vinci’s ancient streets, and take in views of the wonderful Tuscan hillside. For those with a historical bent, check out the Museum of Leonardo, which doesn’t only focus on his famous art, but features many of his scientific discoveries and inventions.


Certaldo is the home of Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the Decameron — one of the greatest works of ancient Italian literature. In Certaldo, you can avoid the crowds in a medieval village that can serve as a springboard for visiting Tuscan attractions such as San Gimignano and the Chianti region. On a hilltop overlooking a valley, Certaldo maintains the traditional architecture of medieval townships with its series of walls, fortifications, and towers. Walk down ancient cobblestone streets and experience the city as Boccaccio would have in the 14th Century. Then take in tremendous views from the Certaldo Alto or ‘Upper City’.