It is not a coincidence that many of the towns visited in Tuscany require an uphill climb, nor was it a fluke that early settlers headed for the higher ground. Happily, many of these towns are truly worth the ascent.
Obviously, cities on hills are easier to protect and harder to invade. From Etruscan days onwards these lands and settlements shifted hands all too frequently and it was an advantage to see your enemy moving in your direction; hill towns such as San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Volterra all sought protection behind thick walls and altitude.
Sometimes, towns such as Fiesole were set higher in search of healthier air – remember the storytellers in Boccaccio's Decameron who sat out the plague?
Others, like those in the Maremma sought to avoid the malaria-carrying mosquitos or the bandits who thrived in the swamplands below.
The benefit for modern tourists is that these harder-to-reach towns have not been ‘modernized’ as easily as the lowlands and sit as small citadels of peace and capsules of history awaiting exploration.
Some of our favourite towns and villages to drive up to in Central Tuscany are: