Tuscany is in many ways the perfect holiday destination. Sitting at the heart of rural Italy, the state boasts a thriving wine region, stunning architecture and idyllic countryside. The towns and villages of Tuscany are home to many beautiful villas which make the perfect place to stay amongst the backdrop of this perfect landscape. Here’s my guide to the best towns and villages to visit this May.

Cultural Tuscany

Visiting Tuscany can feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, with much of the traditional architecture preserved for all to see. This is especially true of the villages and hilltop towns of the region and there is no finer example than of those in Cortona and San Gimignano.

Cortona is the quintessential Tuscan town, iconic from the moment you arrive. The town has been the backdrop to many a hollywood film so the sites may very look familiar. Sitting within its Etruscan walls, you’ll find medieval tombs, narrow atmospheric alleyways and stunning cathedrals and churches. Its museums are fascinating, especially the Museo dell’ Accademia Etrusca and the Museo Diocesano, which house artifacts charting the areas’ rich history and an enviable collection of fine art. In nearby Roselle, visit a fully excavated Etruscan town, the only one in Tuscany.

San Gimignano is known as the ‘City of Beautiful Towers’ and looking at it’s iconic skyline, it is easy to understand why. This fairytale like town is home to 14 medieval towers and is surrounded by fields and vineyards. Take time to climb to the top of the tallest tower, Torre Grosse to drink in the breathtaking views of the town and it’s surroundings.

Natural Tuscan wonders

Tuscany is a fantastic place to retreat to in order to relax so booking a villa stay near one of its spa towns seems like the ideal combination for a holiday to recharge the batteries. There are a number of hot spings and spa towns throughout the region but I would definitely recommend Montecatini Terme. This historic spa town is a great base to explore the area and is magnificent in May as the warm meditteranean climate begins to move in. Visit the Terme Tettuccio, the most famous spa in town and soak into the relaxing thermal waters.

You should also take the railway up to Montecatini Alto, nestled high up in the hills. This medieval village is perfect to enjoy a meal or a drink sat outside one of its cafes, surveying the landscape below. To enjoy the spas without the vast crowds, try visiting the hot springs of Bagno Vigoni or those at Saturnia.

Coastal Tuscany

The coast of Tuscany not only offers some beautiful scenery but is also home to some stunning traditional villages. Stretching from Leghorn down to Piombino, the Etruscan Coast should definitely figure into your Tuscan holiday as it gives a fantastic snapshot of Tuscan life. Immerse yourself in the crystal clear waters and enjoy life under the warm Tuscan sun.

Visit the unique coastal village of Populonia Alta, filled with Etruscan ruins and buildings and is one of the first coastal towns in this region. Also on the north coast, you’ll find Baratti, a natural port which is home to a beach haven complete with a wonderful ancient atmosphere.

The iconic image of Tuscany is the rows of vineyards and so to sample some of Italy’s fine wine, you must take a trip to Bolgheri. Here you can take tours of the famous vineyards, taste test and appreciate the work that goes into making their delicious drinks. Of course the wine from Tuscany’s vineyards is the perfect accompaniment to the delicious cuisine and in May, there really is only one place to visit to best sample the food here. The Palamita Fish Food Festival is held in San Vicenzo at the beginning of the month and is a mouthwatering spectacle.