8 Incredible Outdoor Adventures in Tuscany

We all know Tuscany, Italy, has great food and wine. But did you know there's great outdoor adventure there, too? Here's just a taste of what you'll find throughout the region.

Photo By: Getty Images, David Epperson

Photo By: Getty Images, Hans-Peter Merten

Photo By: Toscana Promozione Turistica

Photo By: Tullio Bernabei, Grotta del Vento

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Photo By: Josiah Holwick (Proper Films), Adventure Travel Trade Association

Photo By: Kassondra Cloos

Cycle Through Iconic Scenery

Cycle through postcard-perfect scenes along Tuscany's hilly, windy roads, and you'll quickly find that you're never too far from world-class wine. In the summertime, you can take your bike up the chairlift at Monte Amiata, a dormant volcano, and ride down through gorgeous beech forests. Twenty-five miles north, in Montalcino, you'll find the Tuscan scenery you've always imagined, along with hundreds of winemakers. Reward your long ride with lunch at Casato Prime Donne, a Brunello winery that's been in the same family for 500 years.

Explore a Marble Quarry

The pure, white splotches atop the Apuane Alps aren't glaciers—they're marble quarries. Visit the Carrara quarries and you can see where Michelangelo sourced stone for his statues. The quarries are still active today, fueling a local debate over the scarred mountains. Take a Jeep tour up the mountains to see 2,000 years of mining history up close.

Go Skiing—For Cheap

Forget the sky-high lift ticket prices at Vail and Aspen, Colo. In Tuscany, you can ski for relative pennies. Lift tickets at the resort in Abetone, a quaint ski town that's now a sister city of Aspen, are less than $45 a day. The mountains might be smaller here than they are in the American West, but the views are no less stunning. Consider staying at the Albergo Sport hotel where the cozy fireside lounge will immediately make you feel at home.

Go Caving

Like many of Tuscany's greatest attractions, you must stomach sharp curves on narrow mountain roads to get to Grotta del Vento. But that means big tour buses can't make the trip, and you won't have to deal with those crowds. There's an impressive "tourist cave" you can explore, wandering past massive stalactites and mineral pools so clear you'll think they're empty until you catch your reflection. But the real excitement is on the adventure tours where you'll wear a harness and clip in to climb up ladders and shimmy along narrow ledges and mineral formations high inside the cave. To get down, you'll have to rappel—up to 80 feet at a time.

Snorkel or Scuba Dive in the Tyrrhenian Sea

Sail or take a ferry to one of Tuscany's many islands, and you'll find ultra-clear water ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving. You've likely heard of Elba, where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in the early 1800s, now home to thousands of people, but Capraia is smaller and much quieter—home to just 400.

Sail Around Elba Island

Sail along the coast of Elba, and you're likely to spot mountain goats grazing on the island's steep slopes. The island is well-known for Napoleon's jaunt here, but the natural beauty easily rivals the historic appeal. Instead of going out for a three-hour tour, consider springing for a multi-day trip, and let the gentle Mediterranean waves rock you to sleep.

Hop in a Kayak

Bird lovers will enjoy paddling around Massaciuccoli Lake in the Regional Park of Migliarino where you're likely to spot species like herons, ducks and marsh harriers. The more adventurous might enjoy venturing into the surf for a trip along the coast or off the shore of Elba Island.

Hike Ancient Trails

Throughout Tuscany, you'll find well-worn medieval roads and paths carved in stone to connect ancient cities. The mountains are full of uncrowded hikes, especially in late summer and early fall. And no matter where you go, you'll find something deeper than just pretty views. These "Vie Cave," for example, aren't natural canyons; they were carved thousands of years ago by the ancient Etruscans and connect necropolises and temples. To this day, historians and archaeologists can only guess at what inspired these roads.