With its pretty houses overlooking the Elsa river valley, Colle Val d’Elsa looks like a typical Tuscan town. Its strategic location between Florence and Siena on the Via Francigena pilgrim route has helped make it an affluent and cultural destination, and one of its claims to fame is that it is the birthplace of Renaissance sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio. However, it’s also known as Italy’s capital of crystal – with most of the country’s sparkling wares produced here.
Colle Val d’Elsa holidays should begin with a wander through Colle Alta, the hilltop Old Town, where you’ll find shops, restaurants and museums, including the must-see Museum of Crystal, among the atmospheric medieval streets. Also, thanks to its views across the Tuscan countryside, holidays to Colle Val d’Elsa make for a perfect, picturesque base for exploring the Chianti wine region and nearby Siena.
Learn about crystal
The Museum of Crystal traces Colle Val d’Elsa’s crystal-making history and features an unmissable crystal forest and ancient handmade glass artefacts from the 14th century.
Spend a day exploring the Upper Val d’Elsa River Park, where you can spot herons, little egrets and Roman relics along the 4-kilometre Sentierelsa trail.
Explore the old town
Wander around the beguiling medieval Colle Alta, keeping an eye out for landmarks including the neoclassical cathedral, and the Palazzo Campana and Porto Nuovo gateways.