You don’t have to go far off the beaten path in Tuscany to find quaint towns that are less touristed and equally beautiful to some of the major attractions. In fact we might argue that these places are the best to do a homestay, rent a villa, enjoy a hotel or any number of local experiences.
Cole di Val d’Elsa is located around forty minutes from Florence and around ten minutes from the town of San Gimignano. It is easy to reach on the roadways, has ample parking outside the city walls and is walkable in less than a half hour.
We really recommend it if you want to see a slice of Tuscan life that is uninterrupted by the copious shops and restaurants that some other towns have. The architecture and city walls are fascinating. It is a place to soak up local culture.
What is particularly impressive about the city is that it has an intact wall around it complete with turrets, a drawbridge and a moat. The city is structured on a large hills with a deep ravine on one side. From almost any point in town you can look out and see golden and green fields in every direction.
We recommend to see the town’s churches. They each have a communal square in front of them where people gather to sit, talk and pass the day. In the streets in between you will find cozy coffee shops, bed and breakfasts, and every type of local food store from traditional butchers, to cheese makers to people selling fruit in the street.
The silence of the town is disrupted only by the toll of the bell at the main church which can be heard all around. Whether it is passing a quiet vacation in one spot or just looking to see an authentic slice of Tuscany for a few hours, this town is worth seeing.