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Renowned for its stunning countryside and glorious Renaissance cities, Tuscany seems to have endless highlights – including its fabulous churches. Many of them are famous beyond Italy’s borders, for good reason, but the lesser-known ones can be just as worth seeking out. In Tuscany, villas are a great way to seek out interesting sights at your leisure, so why not set off to explore some of these off-the-beaten-track churches?
Florence’s San Miniato a Monte: Florence is practically bursting with beautiful churches, many of them Renaissance era, but to focus only on those would be to miss out on the city’s remaining examples of Romantic churches. Established in 1028, the San Miniato a Monte Basilica is a stellar example of this pre-Renaissance architectural style. Look out for its impressive marble front, its graceful interior and intricate mosaics.
Basilica of San Piero a Grado: During your time in Tuscany, villas offer the ultimate flexibility, letting you head out to see the countryside just as easily as they let you spend the day in town – meaning that the region’s loveliest churches are all just an easy drive away. If you happen to be near Pisa, make a point of stopping at San Piero a Grado, to see its Basilica, built in the eleventh century over the ruins of a fourth century Christian temple. You’ll be in good company: Saint Peter is also believed to have stopped there on his travels. Works left by local artists throughout the ages can be found inside, along with ancient Islamic pottery, while outside the stone exterior beautiful countryside extends to the horizon – you’ll be glad you made the journey.
San Lorenzo Abbey: For the ultimate sense of tranquillity in Tuscany, villas near the gorgeous Lanzo Valley are a good choice – idyllic in themselves, and surrounded by some of the most peaceful and unspoilt landscape you’re likely to see in the region. The area is simply spectacular and dotted with beautiful ancient buildings, including the ruins of an old Benedictine monastery, San Lorenzo Abbey. This was once an influential establishment and even now holds an enchantment all of its own.