What do you think of when you hear Tuscany? Italian culture? Renaissance art and architecture? Olive groves and vineyards? Or just relaxing in a piazza with a glass of wine? Whatever your mind thinks of first, not many people think of extreme sports. Although an afternoon of outdoor action isn’t often associated with Tuscany, it’s true that it offers a variety of exhilarating adventure sports for you to get your physical fix! With its rugged Apennine Mountains, raging rivers and sandy beaches, here are our top 10 adventure picks for Tuscany.
Have you ever done white water rafting or white water tubing? Fun right? Well this variant of the sport is quite cool too and will surely get your adrenaline pumping! Once geared up in your wetsuit and flippers, you will take on the fast paced white water journey with your trusty lightweight float. This relatively new water sport is said to be more extreme than tubing as your body position is stream-lined. Expect high speeds down fast moving rivers and a lot of bumps along the way!
Where to do it: In the Garfagnana region. Popular starting points are the Mammiano suspension bridge or further down at Casabasciana Bridge.
I had never heard about this sport before, until now! Born in Finland as a way to allow a cross-country skier to keep fit during the summer, Nordic walking was born. This is the ultimate example of there’s never a good enough excuse not to exercise! By walking briskly across country using two long poles (resembling ski sticks) in sync with your legs, this sport is really strenuous as you are harnessing the power of your upper body to propel you forward. If this uber-hiking adventure sounds like your thing, be prepared for stunning landscapes and aching muscles in the morning!
Where to do it: The Monte Amiata region or the Nordic Walking Park at Pietrabuona.
High Speed Sailing
There are so many great water sport centres all over Tuscany where you can try your hand at jet skiing or wakeboarding, or even if you just want to lay on a yacht all day and catch some rays. I particularly love high speed sailing. Not exactly an extreme sport but great fun, the feeling of hurtling over the surface of the sea at such a high speed is really exhilarating. Plus you have time to enjoy it. As it’s not as much fun as a bungee jump is, this rush lasts a lot longer with every sharp turn of the boat and crash of the waves.
Where to do it: The Livorno and Versilia coastal areas are the main places you’ll find this activity.
Still on my top list of adventures to do anywhere is taking to the skies and Paragliding over breathtaking landscapes. Where better to do it than off the top of Monte San Guiliano? Fly like a bird over rolling green mountains and white washed villages along the coast. Although one of the safest extreme sports, the take off is definitely exhilarating enough for you to let out a little girly scream. Once up in the air, you can awe at the strange feeling of flying and admire the colourful landscapes below you.
Where to do it: Perugia off of Mount Subasio, San Giuliano, Castelluccio and Diecimo.
Cover a lot of ground and venture into the unspoilt countryside of Tuscany, Quad bikes are a really fun and easy way to see some beautiful scenery whilst getting down and dirty along the way. After learning to ride and getting a feel for the bikes, you’ll soon be zooming through the countryside with the cool air rushing past you and your heart beating in your ears. The great thing about this sport is that you get time to stop and admire the views of the region. A perfect mix of excitement and exploration without all the hard physical work!
Where to do it: Bagni Di Lucca for beautiful mountains, Pergine Valdarno in Arezzo for dense forests and the Chianti region for a mix of vineyards, woods and olive groves.
For underwater enthusiasts, visit Elba island where you can explore the magnificent coral reef and discover the eerie yet alluring sunken ships. With around 270km of coasts surrounding Tuscany, excluding the seven islands of the archipelago, there is no shortage of places to dive! Although Elba Island is a particular favourite due to its caves and caverns (and probably Napoleon’s during his year-long exile!), you can explore the impressive sea beds anywhere in Tuscany and not be disappointed.
Where to do it: Livorno, Argentario, Elba Island and Giglio Island.
Do you want a different way to explore the city of Florence? Maybe a wine-tasting tour, a walking tour of the city’s haunted hotspots at night or cycling along the River Arno? Yes, I said cycling. Apparently a water bike is a thing! For two hours you can avoid the crowded pavements and cycle your way along the river with unobstructed views of the city around you. If this isn’t a fun and unique way to explore a city, I don’t know what is!
Where to do it: Pescaia Santa Rosa, San Niccolò Beach.
Rent a Vespa and Explore!
I’ve always loved the thought of hiring a Vespa in a big city like Florence or Rome. I’d have the freedom to explore and a pretty cool mode of transport to get anywhere I wanted! Plus, you can’t really feel any more like a local than when your ride through the streets with the wind in your helmet. Nothing is as culturally adventurous as renting a bike and driving to nowhere in particular, so take the leap and go find new destinations to explore and get lost in. Depending on where you go, expect to see anything from rugged mountains, enchanting olive groves, and vineyards, to the bustling city. If riding a Vespa isn’t your thing, you can also go on a Tuscany road trip and drive along some of the most beautiful parts of this region.
Where to do it: Radda and Gaiole in Chianti are the main places.
Hot Air Ballooning
What’s the thrill about floating through the air? Probably the fear of standing on nothing but a basket and plummeting thousands of feet to the ground, yet there is something about the magic of flight that makes you want to do it. Especially with the bird’s eye view of the breathtaking Tuscan landscape made up of forests, vineyards and historic towns. If you want to experience this unique, intimate view of Tuscany, a hot air balloon ride needs to be added to your list.
Where to do it: There are four popular regions in Chianti, running from north to south—Tavarnelle, Mensanello, Siena, and Montisi. You can also do it in Florence and Siena.
You can hike and cycle and mountain bike your way through Tuscany, but most probably the coolest of all is heli-biking! Get a helicopter to the peak of the Tuscan Apennines and get ready for the downhill experience of a lifetime. Feel the thrill of fast flowing adrenaline as you pick up speed and race down mountain paths. You’ll quickly go from mountain views to dense woods and open meadows, eventually reaching the bottom experiencing the thrill of downhill biking. This is definitely my kind of adventure as biking uphill is always the worst!
Where to do it: The Tuscan Apennines – a lot of companies pick you up from your accommodation.
Accommodation in Tuscany
If you’re looking for the place to stay, look no further than Castelfalfi Resort. Discover the real Tuscany in this enchanted and remote location, and stay a night or two in the charming La Tabaccaia Hotel. If a hotel isn’t for you, rent a villa and immerse yourself in the countryside in true Tuscan-style.
Yet another adventure list over. I hope you’ve got your fill of inspiration and excitement! Regardless of where you are on the adventure scale, I’m sure you’ll find some of these sports to your liking. So what are you waiting for? Tuscany here we come!