Rolling down from the gnarled tops of the Apuan Alps to the soft hills around Siena, Tuscany encompasses some of Italy's most irresistible landscapes. The setting means it's also become a holidaying favourite, with more Tuscany villas than you can wave a glass of Montepulciano at. This guide should serve as an introduction to what you can expect from a home away from home in this stunning region.

What features come with Tuscany villas?

There are a couple of features of Tuscan homes that run through most of the rentals in this much-vaunted corner of Italy. We've listed 2 of the important ones below.

Self-catering Tuscany villas are the norm

There's great news for any would-be Carluccios on their way to Tuscany villas, because the likelihood is that your rental will include its very own kitchen. In fact, a large, family-friendly cooking space is an important aspect of Italian country homes, so you can delve into the local cuisine, scour those markets for fresh mozzarella and try your hand at making real Tuscan dishes.

Tuscany villas in nature

While the landscape around your rental might be pockmarked with the terracotta-hued roofs of little Italian hill towns, it's likely to be mainly agricultural. That could mean fruit orchards or olive groves, but it's mostly going to be vineyard, which is why Tuscany remains one of the most prolific producers of rich red wines in Europe.

The frills of a Tuscan house

The joys of renting your own self-catering home in Tuscany are bolstered by a few extra things that really set these holiday rentals apart from the crowd.

Tuscany villas with a pool

There are plenty of Tuscan villas with private pools on offer in this beautiful region. They come in all shapes and sizes, with some a simple splash pool for couples and others a large-scale pool capable of hosting a whole family of swimmers. Look out for the extra special stays that perch their pools on the Tuscan hills, so as to offer sweeping panoramas of the Valdichiana or the Arezzo plains.

The rustic charm of Tuscan villas

Another aspect of Tuscan rentals that makes them truly unique stays is the rustic and earthy character they are often steeped in. It comes from the rich agricultural heritage and long history of the region, which means many a country home in these parts can trace its story back decades, centuries even. The upshot? Real-stone walls, hearty kitchen spaces and bucolic settings abound.

Plenty of space in your Tuscan house

Unless you choose a Tuscan villa wedged into one of the hill towns or art-filled cities, it's likely you're going to have somewhere with plenty of space, both indoors and outdoors. Large gardens, sometimes part of country estates, ring lots of the houses, while it's even possible to find some places with bedrooms enough to host 20 or more.

Some enticing destinations for Tuscan houses

If you're sold on Tuscany villas but aren't quite sure where exactly to look for your stay, read on for 4 suggestions which rarely fail to enchant and enthral.

Montepulciano for wine lovers

Montepulciano is a dash of red-tinted buildings that commands a kingdom of rolling vineyards in southern Tuscany. Frescoed churches and Baroque facades are among the treasures to uncover, but the town is certainly most famous for its rich, red wines, which you can pop while lazing by the side of your own private pool.

Handsome San Gimignano for medieval history

The redbrick walls and terracotta-topped churches of San Gimignano are a dream for postcard makers. The town rises on the soft farmlands around Siena, a patchwork of high towers and stoic Romanesque churches. The piazzas within are pure Italy, with little cafeterias clinking with espressos and age-old palazzos looming on all sides.

Cortona for a taste of hilltop Tuscany

The lovely town of Cortona straddles the slopes around Arezzo, on the far western edges of Tuscany. This is where you'll find some of the highest peaks in the region, which in turn means Tuscan houses with a view over vineyards and farm fields from their poolside. A regular market is held in Cortona itself, but even when the stalls aren't around you can spy out medieval buildings and ancient Etruscan relics in the local museums.

A Tuscan villa near Florence

Few cities in the world can match the artistic prowess of Tuscany's capital. The prestigious Uffizi Gallery is the piece de resistance of the city, home to masterworks by Durer and da Vinci. Outside that, a towering Duomo looms above a café-clinking piazza and Michelangelo's David can be spied out in the rich exhibition rooms of the Galleria dell'Accademia.