Lucignano: A Hidden Gem In Tuscany, Away From The Crowds

Town of Lucignano, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Lucignano is one of those small villages in Italy that you probably never heard of. But if you are traveling in Tuscany, visiting Lucignano can be an escape from the throngs of tourists in big cities like Florence and Siena.

Perched on a hilltop, this hidden gem is waiting to be explored, a virtual portal to the past that allows visitors to step back in time. In Lucignano, life moves more slowly.

Where Is Lucignano?

Medieval village of Lucignano, Tuscany
Medieval village of Lucignano, Tuscany

Tucked away in the province of Arezzo, Lucignano is about a one-hour drive from Florence, a one-hour drive from Perugia, 45 minutes from Siena, and a half-hour from the city of Arezzo (the real-life setting of the Roberto Benigni movie Life is Beautiful).

Known as the “Pearl of Valdichiana” (Chiana Valley) in central Italy, Lucignano has been designated as one of the I Borghi più belli d’Italia (the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy).

The case for visiting smaller towns in Italy

Some of our most enjoyable trips to the Bel Paese have included visits to diminutive towns like San Gusme in Tuscany, Pieve di Cento in Emilia Romagna, Follina in Veneto, and Dolceda in Liguria.

In addition to their scenic beauty, Lucignano and these other small towns offer a more authentic, relaxed, and unvarnished immersion in regional history, culture, and cuisine.

6 Reasons to Visit Lucignano

Here are some of the special appeals of Lucignano:

An intact example of medieval town planning

Aerial view of Lucignano
Aerial view of Lucignano

Located on a hilltop close to the border between Siena and Arezzo, Lucignano offers one of the best examples of medieval urban town planning with maze-like concentric ring roads that have survived relatively intact over centuries.

The interior circle houses the main square, the Church of San Francisco, the Collegiate Church of San Michele Arcangelo, and Palazzo Commale, a building with both municipal offices and Museo Comunale, a civic museum.

The town’s picturesque stone streets and alleys encourage wandering. Like Lucca, visitors can also walk around the ancient walls.

Architectural and art treasures steeped in history 

Church of San Francesco in Lucignano
Church of San Francesco in Lucignano

The 12th-century Romanesque and Gothic-style Church of San Francesco holds an impressive collection of frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries. The church’s bell tower offers panoramic views of the valley.

The 16th-century Collegiate Church dominates the main square. Constructed with ruins from the nearby fortress, its unique facade combines Renaissance and Romanesque styles— half brick and half rough stone with travertine entrance stairs. The valuable artwork inside includes a painting by Fra Angelico.

Also located in the main square, the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) offers exhibits depicting the town’s history, Etruscan and Roman artifacts, and religious art. 

The 14th-century Tree of Love, a masterpiece of Gothic goldsmith’s art, is probably the museum’s most significant treasure. The gilded and jeweled reliquary on wood has twelve branches, a Crucifix, and a pelican.  There is a legend that when two lovers exchange vows in front of the tree, it will be a harbinger of good luck. 

Nearby, just outside the town walls, are the ruins of a Medici Castle and the sanctuary of the Madonna della Querce.

Regional foods and wines

Pici pasta
Pici pasta

The area is known for its excellent extra virgin olive oil, Chianina veal (from the famous breed raised in the area), Cinta Sense cold cuts, homemade pici pasta, panzanella (stale bread with onion, basil, vinegar, EVOO, and vegetables), bread soup (with vegetables, black cabbage, and beans) and ribollita (reboiled soup)–and white, Rosato, red, sparkling, and dessert wines. 

Meals are simple, considered peasant cuisine, using the same high-quality ingredients and preparation methods used by this agricultural community for centuries.

In addition to bars and pasticcerias, the restaurants in Lucignano are listed on the municipal website, where visitors can enjoy local dishes paired with wines.

Scenic beauty

Tenuta Licinia Vineyards in summer
Tenuta Licinia Vineyards in summer (credit: Tenuta Licinia)

Lucignano, Italy, sits at an altitude of 1,312 feet. Due to its elevated position, it offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the Valdichiana valley.

The valley is known for its rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, and quaint villages. On a clear day, you may even see the snow-capped peaks of the Apennine Mountains in the distance.

Traditional festivals

Maggiolata festival (credit: Visit Arezzo)
Maggiolata festival (credit: Visit Arezzo)

Several processions and festivals occur in Lucignano throughout the year. 

The Maggiolata, held on the last two Sundays of May, is the most well-known, consisting of a parade of allegorical floats and the participation of most people in the town. All the floats are made of flowers, flowers decorate balconies and doors, and bands come from different parts of Italy. At the Battle of the Flower, held on the second Sunday, residents throw flowers at each other from the disassembled floats.

On Valentine’s Day in February, the Segni d’Amore (Signs of Love) event takes place beside the Tree of Love.

The town has a Jazz Festival in August.

Wine tourism in Lucignano

Cabernet Sauvignon credit: Tenuta Licinia
Cabernet Sauvignon (credit: Tenuta Licinia)

Lucignano sits just a mile west of the official Chianti Classico zone, but there are a number of wineries in Valdichiana that produce high-quality wines. Below are two examples:

Tenuta Licinia

Tenuta Licinia is located only three miles from the historic town center. Here, a pioneering young winemaker has taken on the heroic task of recovering and re-establishing a historic vineyard once owned by his grandfather. 

His contemporary approach to winemaking—based partly on geology—focuses on the critical interaction between subsoils and vines in producing high-quality wines. The winery’s first cru, Sasso di Fata, is part of a new movement by Tuscan vintners to improve the quality of Tuscan Cabernet. This small boutique wine producer offers tastings and personalized vineyard and garden tours.

Agricola Fabbriche Palma

Agricola Fabbriche Palma is a 50-year-old family-run winery that produces a selection of reds and whites, including Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG and Rosso di Montepulciano DOC.

In collaboration with TuscanyWines, the winery arranges for knowledgeable sommeliers to guide visitors through the vines and the cellars to discover these wines. Located less than a mile from the historic center, it can be reached by bicycle or a walk through the Tuscan countryside.

The chance to live like locals

Doorway in Lucignano, Tuscany Italy
Doorway in Lucignano, Tuscany Italy

There are no cookie-cutter hotels in Lucignano. 

Instead, those who want to stay a night or more in Lucignano will find farmhouse stays at  agriturismos and a hotel diffuso (a scattered site hotel where visitors can live amongst locals). 

You can visit Lucignano any time of year although hilltowns can be windy and cold in winter. 

A visit to Lucignano and the surrounding area certainly can make a pleasant excursion and a welcome escape from Tuscany’s crowded cities for anyone visiting during the busy tourist season.

Tenuta Licinia vineyard in autumn

Tenuta Licinia Vineyard in autumn

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