Tuscany is a wonderful region to discover. Do you like to go for walks in the middle of nature, trekking or cycling? Playing golf or boating? Then Tuscany is the ideal destination to practice all these activities and spend time outdoors.
In this article I put together some information to give you an idea of where to go, but before you start, here are some basic details: Tuscany, a region in central Italy, borders Emilia Romagna and Liguria to the north, Marche to the east and Umbria and Lazio to the south, which means mountains to the north and east (the Apennines) and sea (the Tyrrhenian Sea) to the west.
The typical Tuscan landscape, therefore, is made of hills, plains and mountains, a wide variety that allows you to practice many sports and activities and to satisfy a little bit all tastes, also, for lovers of water sports, there is not only the sea, but also lakes and rivers that cross the region far and wide!
When it comes to outdoor activities, time also becomes an important factor to take into account: coastal resorts are characterized by mild summers and winters, while inland areas by warmer summers and colder winters. The amount of annual rainfall varies from about 60 cm along the coast to about 200 cm in mountain areas; of course, there are exceptions and each year is different from the other, in general it seems rather that the climate is becoming warmer from year to year. If you want to take a look at the average temperatures in the region, read this article.
The variety of the landscape (hilly, flat and mountainous) and climate in Tuscany make it the ideal destination for a wide variety of sports and outdoor activities. And now, let’s have some information and details to help you plan your stay in our region!
National parks in Tuscany
In Tuscany there are many national, regional and local parks, nature reserves and protected areas. Here are the main ones.
National Park of the Casentino Forests
The National Park of the Casentino Forests, Monte Falterona, Campiglia develops in the provinces of Arezzo and Florence and is the largest national park in Italy, with its 36,400 hectares of valleys and ancient forests. It includes an enormous variety of plants and animals, including the Apennine wolf, wild boar, fallow deer, golden eagles and red foxes.
Among the sites to visit in the park, there is the Sanctuary of La Verna and the Hermitage of Camaldoli, both located inside. The 600 km of paths can be covered on foot, with hiking, mountain biking and horseback; in winter, the park also attracts fans of cross-country skiing. You can also visit the castles scattered throughout the area around the park and, for other activities to do and things to see in the Casentino, you can take a look at our dedicated section.
Tuscan Archipelago National Park
The National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago extends in the provinces of Livorno and Grosseto and has several trails for hiking, horseback riding and cycling. It is the largest marine park in Italy and covers an area of 56,766 hectares in the sea and 17,887 hectares of land. The park includes the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago: the islands of Elba, Giglio, Capraia, Montecristo, Giannutri, Pianosa and Gorgona.
Tuscan-Emilian Apennines National Park
The National Park of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines is located in the province of Massa-Carrara. Inside there are numerous species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects, fish and birds, as well as a wide variety of plants, all to be discovered along the paths that can be covered on foot, by bike or on horseback.
Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli National Park
The Park of Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli covers the coastal area of the provinces of Pisa and Lucca. You can go horseback riding, hiking, boating, walking in nature and experience bird watching. More information about the park here.
There are plenty of other smaller regional and local parks scattered throughout the region, so you don’t necessarily need to travel miles and miles to reach these just mentioned but, knowing that they are the main, most famous and largest, you can decide to stay in one place rather than another depending on what you prefer to do or see.
Specific activities: where to go
Let’s take a look, now, at the activities and some specific sports, and at the places that we recommend to practice them.
Walks and trekking
The region of Tuscany offers countless opportunities for trekking or beautiful walks in the midst of nature, with paths that wind through the mountains, rolling hills, rocky coastlines and forests, here are our suggestions.
The Serchio Valley, in the Apuan Alps, is a famous destination for walking, trekking, mountain biking, horseback riding and climbing: it is, in fact, the only complete mountain range in the region. There are many paths accessible from the Serchio Valley and Versilia, for further advice, you can take a look at our experience of trekking on Monte Forato.
The Marble Trails that surmount Versilia are full of quarries and itineraries to discover: they depart from Monte Altissimo and then descend to Carrara and Versilia on both sides.
The Mugello Valley
The Mugello Valley to the north of Florence is an excellent destination, located a stone’s throw from the Tuscan capital, for those who want to escape from the chaos of the city even for a short time and immerse themselves in the countryside that surrounds it for walks in nature, as well as excursions by bike.
The landscape allows you to range in activities and sports to do, including water sports at Lake Bilancino. In summer, its highest peaks offer relief from the sultry heat of the city and of the lower villages; the picture below is of Badia di Moscheta, just after the Passo del Giogo in the direction of Firenzuola, perfect for walks.
Lunigiana is the northernmost area of Tuscany, located between Liguria and Emilia Romagna: it has over 250 km of paths perfect for hiking and mountain biking and is characterized by many small villages that are worth a visit.
The Etruscan Coast
The Etruscan Coast extends from Livorno to Piombino.
It is the ideal destination for those who want to practice outdoor sports such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding and all kinds (or almost all!) of water sports. There is a wide choice of marked trails and paths both in the hills and in the beautiful pine forests for all amateur cyclists, while usually professionals use those properly equipped. The routes extend into the San Carlo wood and the countryside of the Bolgheri wine area.