Pasta. Wine. Views. & Gelato.
Three of my favorite elements in life and in travelling. In Tuscany, you don’t only get the chance to taste the best pasta in the world, you get to cook it. You don’t only get to taste the finest wines, you also learn about them. And best of all, you are completely entitled to eat as many gelatos as you wish in a day.
Rent a car and tour around this magic region. To get the most of it, I suggest choosing two strategic places to stay, and then taking day trips to your choice of cities and towns. Make sure you don’t miss taking a winery tour, a wine tasting lesson and a cooking class in the region.
Where To Go
FIRENZE: Here, you ought to stay for a couple of days, since there’s a lot to do & to see.
- Il Duomo di Firenze: Yes, just go. And yes, climb the Duomo & the Tower.
- Uffizi Gallery: Yes, it’s a museum, but it’s a great one. If you ask me, you have to go, but if you’re not a museum kind of traveler, make sure you at least check it out from outside, it’s a piece of art in itself.
- Ponte Vecchio: Before walking through this famous bridge, I would suggest taking the Ponte Alle Grazie first to get the outside view of the Ponte Vecchio.
- Piazza Della Signoria: Here you can find the Palazzo Vecchio & a very unique open-air sculpture museum that includes statues by Donatello, Michelangelo (copy of the David), Giambologna, among others.
- Mercato San Lorenzo: Inside, buy some local delicacies to take home downstairs & have a snack or lunch at the top floor food court. Outside, in the street market, you can catch local leather & linen goods, with great Italian taste.
- Gallery of the Academy of Florence: Where the original Michelangelo’s David stands, among many other beautiful statues and Italian paintings.
- Basilica di Santa Croce: This astonishing Basilica holds sixteen different chapels, covered in beautiful frescoes, as well as very important funerary monuments.
- Old Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella: One of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Also, it’s my kind of pharmacy: herbal care, medicinal herbs, cruelty-free, and beautiful & unique perfumes.
SIENA: You can cover this beautiful medieval city’s highlights in a day. I recommend designing your Siena tour previously, this way you can get just one ticket that includes all your picks for a lower price. Make sure you don’t miss the following:
- Duomo di Siena (Cathedral): Make sure you don’t miss the Piccolomini Library inside.
- Torre de Mangia: Go up, it’s worth it.
- Piazza Del Campo: Unless you catch the Palia season (two famous horse races every summer), this plaza will be full of restaurants and cafés. Take a seat, a fresh of breath air, a coffee or a glass of wine, and stare at the beautiful scenery facing the tower and the town hall.
- Baptistery: It stands behind the cathedral, and it’s worth it.
SAN GIMIGNANO: I could walk this streets for days. Actually, that’s what I did. Get lost in the main streets and you’ll probably bump into the main spots, but make sure you don’t miss these:
- Art Galleries
- Local Delicacies
- Gelateria Dondoli: Most probably, you’ll find a scary line here, but it moves fast and it’s worth it. Get risky and try a different flavour here, it’s the place to do it (I had saffron & pinenuts + ricotta & red berries).
- Corbucci Wine Tasting: It’s free, and it’s good.
- Try a Vernaccia: This is the main white wine grape from San Gimignano, you cannot miss trying one.
- Montese Cooking Experience: This might be the best cooking lesson i’ve ever had. It’s a complete experience, cooking pasta from scratch, outdoors, with a great view, and a great host (Mauro).
I stayed at Villa Baciolo, can’t tell you how much i enjoyed the tranquility of beign out of town, with an amazing view to San Gimignano.
Other cities not to miss: