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Discover Tuscany: Art, Cuisine, and Seaside Luxury

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Since the Renaissance, Tuscany has remained a mecca for art from its historic cities to its seaside communities.

As the home of Michelangelo, Leondardo da Vinci, Donatello and many other famous artists throughout history, it’s no surprise that the entire region of Tuscany is an art lover’s paradise. While Florence attracts hordes of tourists from its famous sites like The David and The Duomo, it’s the city’s lesser-known spots that brim with hidden treasures. Even more surprising for travelers is that the art doesn’t stop at the city’s borders. Venture further and you’ll be treated to artistic delights in unexpected small towns and seaside jet set destinations. 

Florence Treasures

In Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, you’ll be treated to art at every turn. Down each little cobblestone street your senses are assaulted by beauty and history. Buildings dating back centuries, random monuments and frescos are just waiting to be discovered as you take your pre-dinner passeggiata (walk) through the compact city. 

While you don’t need to visit museums in Florence, you’d be remiss if you didn’t see a few. If you have your heart set on seeing The David or the famous Uffizi Gallery make sure you book tickets well in advance of your trip, they sell out quickly. 

Tuscany has a plethora of stunning art and buildings. If you want to be wowed by the inside of a dome, head to the Capelle Medicee. This remarkable chapel is dripping in gold, semi-precious stones and sculptures. Best of all, the Capelle Medicee is a lesser known museum in Tuscany, so you’ll likely have the space to yourself so you can really appreciate the craftsmanship. 

Capelle Medicee Tuscany museum

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Michelangelo is a timeless artist and pioneer in sculpting. His roots are in Tuscany and he has inspired many famous artists today. To see Michelangelo’s genius on display without the lines and crowds head to the Bargello National Museum. Housed in the ancient Palazzo del Podesta, this former barrack and prison is now an art museum featuring five works by Michelangelo, along with sculptures by Donatello, Cellini, Verrocchio and more. 

Florence Art Hotel

In a city that is alive with art, don’t let it stop at the door of your hotel. Lovers of luxury and art must book The Grand Hotel Minerva. The hotel has welcomed travelers since 1869 and was renovated by the famous architect Carlo Scarpa in the 1950s and refreshed in 2018. Today, the hotel is filled with art, flowers and welcoming Tuscan hospitality.

Tuscany Grand Hotel Minerva

The art collection features work from artists of all eras like Emilio Greco, Renato Guttuso, Carlo Carra and more. Both the public spaces and the rooms boast pieces from the collection, several rooms feature frescos you’d expect to see in a museum. 

Tuscany Grand Hotel Minerva suite

Florence Culinary Arts

Give a chef some great ingredients and he can curate a meal that’s as sublime as the face of David, that’s just what happens at Locale Firenze. At this restaurant in Tuscany, under the artistic direction of Chef Simone Caponnetto, my husband and I were treated to the best culinary experience I’ve had in years.. If this restaurant doesn’t get a few Michelin stars next year, I’d be shocked.

After a traditional Italian aperitivo of substantial nibbles and craft cocktails– made from fresh ingredients the bar manager found at the market that day– we were ushered into a beautiful room to start a dizzying array of courses from the chef’s choice tasting menu. When stellar service, beautiful presentation and melt-in-your-mouth food combine, you have a meal that is elevated to an experience.

Locale Firenze Tuscany restaurant

From cuttlefish risoni pasta to a divine turbot, each course builds on the one before it, and, when paired with sommelier chosen wines, it’s beyond decadent. When the meal finally ends four hours later with petit fours, I eat them despite being so full I’m not sure I can get up to tour the historic restaurant. 

The Jetsetters Art Mecca

Just an hour and a half outside of Florence is the Tuscan seaside village of Forte dei Marmi. This tiny town on the Mediterranean Sea was owned by the powerful Medici family in the 15th century and today is a hotspot for the international jet set from April to October. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities and soccer stars at one of its many exclusive beach clubs. Andrea Bocelli is a famous resident of this seaside paradise in Tuscany.  

Forte dei Marmi means “fort of the marbles” because the marble quarries located in the Apuan Alps above the town are white from Carrara Marble. Michelangelo himself used to find the stone to carve his famous sculptures here. Today, travelers can tour the marble mines on a 4 x4 adventure.

Forte dei Marmi continues to draw artists inspired by its seaside setting and to visit this Tuscan treasure. Home to world famous artists Fernando Botero and Igor Mitoraj, travelers can wander through a host of galleries, including the Susanna Orlando Galleria, Barbara Paci Art Gallery and Futura Art Gallery. A visit to Tuscany’s  Museo dei Bozzetti, which boasts sculptures from over 350 Italian and international artists is a must see next time you’re in Tuscany. 

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Home Away From Home

Forte dei Marmi is filled with gorgeous private villas and when you stay at the Villa Roma Imperiale  you’ll feel like you’re staying in your own private mansion. 

Walk into this gracious Mediterranean villa and you’ll be welcomed with a big “Bonjourno” and a laid-back, luxurious neutral aesthetic that lets the beautiful garden setting and art collection shine. Throughout the living rooms are large coffee table books about art and the region of Tuscany. The 31 rooms and suites are a blend of beach chic and natural elegance.

Besides visiting art galleries and high-end boutiques, the don’t-miss activity in Forte dei Marmi is the sea. One of my favorite things to do is walk along the beach. I usually go for a long stroll while my husband splashes in the Mediterranean. This beautiful Tuscan beach is walking distance from the hotel. 

Michelin Stars

For a town with just under 7,500 people, having five Michelin starred restaurants is quite an accomplishment. My favorite is Lux Lucis at the exclusive Hotel Principe Forte dei Marmi. The intimate 28-seat restaurant enjoys an enviable location on the rooftop of the hotel with views of the sea and the Apuan Alps. During a relaxing aperitivo in the lounge my husband and I snap far too many pictures of the gorgeous sunset over the water. 

Tuscany Lux Lucis restaurant

Under the direction of Chef Valentino Cassanelli, the restaurant holds one star. Diners can watch Chef Cassanelli’s creative genius as he cooks in the large open kitchen that is the centerpiece of the restaurant.

Tuscany Lux Lucis restaurant

There are several tasting menus that showcase the kitchen’s expertise. As a pescatarian I opt for the Litorale– an eight-course extravaganza focused on seafood– the Litorale features unique dishes like Bavetta pasta with Lucca’s canestrino tomato, crab and cocoa, Tom yum risotto with sea urchins and black truffle. The tasting menu comes with paired wines to enjoy. 

In Tuscany art is everywhere. From museums to hotels, restaurants and architecture. Simply being in the region is like spending a few wonderful days immersed in a living atelier that gives each traveler the tools to shape their own masterpiece of a vacation. 

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