Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. I’m the type of person who needs to plan every trip. When it comes to Tuscany, there is no point in creating an itinerary. You will never stick to your plan.
There are too many hidden spots along the way, waiting for you to discover. Make sure to make a note of the highlights and famous cities, but most of all – let Tuscany surprise you. It’s known for its wonderful landscapes, picturesque towns, exquisite food, traditional wines and lots of history. Sounds pretty good, right?
This isn’t Tuscany yet, but wait for it – we’ll get there.
They say that the villages of Cinque Terre are the most beautiful villages in Italy. I must say – I wasn’t quite sure about that. I think it’s a bit overrated and I wasn’t exactly excited – but that had everything to do with my grumpy mood that morning. I had spent all night on a bus, I had barely slept, and then I had to start hiking. A quick stop for breakfast along the way? Not at all. I was lucky enough to find a small bakery where they had one croissant left. Just one and I’m pretty sure it was one from the day before. Anyway, I arrived in one of the villages of Cinque Terre (don’t ask me which one – I have no clue) where the trail started. Oh, how excited I was! Not…at…all. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it started raining. Yes, raining. Did I have an umbrella? No. I can hear you thinking – why is she complaining about a couple of raindrops? Well, we’re not talking about raindrops anymore. It was pouring rain.
Of course, I was thinking ‘Italy, that should be nice and sunny’. Yep, wrong again. Guess what? I was dressed like it was 25°C and it was probably 16°C. We continued our hike along the trail. Although, you could barely call that a trail anymore. It was just one muddy path, completely flooded. We didn’t even complete the trail. Seriously, it’s not as if I wanted to die that day. Not like that. It was actually getting really dangerous because we had to walk along the edge of a couple cliffs but everything was flooded. My friend even slipped and fell into the mud. That was literally the best moment (haha, shame on me!)
So… Cinque Terre… Not a good experience. I think I might go back one day, to see what it’s like when the sun is out. I mean… Cinque Terre is all over the internet. People are really excited about it and I haven’t seen the good of it – only the bad parts. Cinque Terre, I’ll be back!
Anyway, the day wasn’t over yet. I went to visit the town of Pisa. My friend was traumatized after Cinque Terre and decided to stay in the hotel. So… it was just me and Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, let’s take a picture!
I still have a couple of pictures, standing at the tower, wearing dirty shoes and a jeans covered in mud. I asked one of the many tourists to take my picture but that woman didn’t exactly know how to work with a camera. She was pointing to the sky or the ground and I stood there – waving like ‘hey, I’m over here’. I ended up with 8 different pictures (from bad to worse – one of them even looked like I was being pushed by some random guy) before I finally had a good one.
Another funny thing happened that day. Those who read my story on Instagram – you know what’s coming next! I was taking pictures on the outside until I accidentally ended up in the middle of a group of tourists. I started following and that’s how I got to see every single building on the inside. Free tour, guide and hidden spots included. At the end of the tour: free drinks! The people on the tour didn’t even realize that I wasn’t part of their group. Some of them were asking me to take their picture and they were asking how I felt about ‘our’ hotel. I was being polite and told them how much I liked ‘our’ hotel. However, the rooms are a bit small, right?! Sorry, I couldn’t resist it.
When in Pisa, you should climb the Tower. I wasn’t a fan of climbing the Tower because it feels a bit strange. It’s not too bad but I felt like I was about to lose my balance.
Ah, Florence! Finally! I have to admit – it was love at first sight (I’m not quite sure if Florence felt the same way though). It’s the capital city of Tuscany and it’s perfect to spend a couple days here. The best part: most of the famous spots are within walking distance.
Santa Maria del Fiore, in other words Duomo di Firenze. This cathedral stands out from other buildings in the city. It’s magnificent. You can’t walk by and ignore it – you have to look at the details. The architecture is literally amazing. I’m a fan of the Roman architecture and it took my breath away.
The Ponte Vecchio, a bridge over the river, famous for its many jewelry shops. You can’t visit Florence without crossing this bridge. It’s definitely something you have to see.
If you’re looking for a panoramic view over the city, head to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This square is located on a hill and the view is stunning. It’s definitely my favorite spot. Tip: take place at one of the many stairs at sunset. It’s so romantic to watch the sun as she disappears behind the many buildings. Such a peaceful setting.
There are many museums in Florence and I have only visited one of them, the Galleria dell’Academia. Other famous museums are the Uffizi Gallery, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. This is personal taste but I’m not the biggest fan of art – that’s why I didn’t visit all of them.
Of course, Florence is not all history and culture. It’s also a really nice place for shopping. The most famous street is the Via de’ Tornabuoni. Interested in Gucci, Armani, Prada or Cavalli? This is the place to be. The Via dei Calzaiuoli on the other hand, is filled with modern stores and even a Disney Store for the children. The Via del Corso is a street with small boutiques for different budgets. Interested in a market? The San Lorenzo Market is located close to the Piazza del Duomo and it has everything you can think of, from clothes to handbags, traditional food and souvenirs.
Wine, wine and more wine! I have to mention this region because it’s not a specific place, it’s an area. It’s really beautiful because it’s filled with vineyards and beautiful towns. There are a lot of wineries in this area and I went to visit one of them. I went to a winery where we could try different red wines. The most famous wine is called the ‘Chianti Classico’ and I would definitely recommend it.
Back to the winery. We were supposed to try the wines and just take a sip. However, they always gave me a full glass and they kept refilling it. What did I do? Being friendly and I kept drinking. Afterwards, I had some sightseeing to do and I wasn’t exactly able to walk straight. I tried to hide it though.
The next place on the list. San Gimignano is a medieval town. Some people call it ‘medieval Manhattan’. Don’t ask me why – I see no resemblance. This place is famous for its towers. That’s how you can recognize San Gimignano from a distance.
Unfortunately, I didn’t spend much time here. All I did was walking around, snapping some shots and stealing some smoked ham (no, I didn’t actually steal it! – I’m not crazy). We were really hungry and there was a man standing at his butchery, holding a plate where you could taste some smoked ham. It was so good that we ate all of it.
Back to the wine! You must think I’m a drunk. Val d’Orcia is a different area and again – it includes wine tasting. Let’s talk about landscapes again. I think this area has the most breathtaking landscapes in Tuscany. I have no words to describe it, you’ll have to go visit and find out.
The city of Siena is famous for its shell-shaped square, the Piazza del Campo. There’s also a beautiful fountain, the Fonte Gaia. It might remind you a bit of the Trevi fountain in Rome, only smaller (a lot smaller!). This is probably my second favorite place in Tuscany. It’s such a nice place.
If you’re visiting during summer, you might be able to see the Palio di Siena, a horse race held at the piazza. It’s held twice a year, on July 2 and August 16. “Chi dice Siena, dice Palio” (yep – go straight to google translate now).
Not many people know this place and I used to be one of them. The small town of Pienza is a true hidden gem. I’ve only been there for two hours but I enjoyed every second of it. This town is located on top of a hill and the views are splendid. There’s a ‘via dell’ amore’, could it be more romantic?
Rimini is a seaside town which is famous for its nightlife. I didn’t go there but Viserba was pretty close. I’ve always been a fan of the beach and pretty seaside towns. People say it’s more relaxed than Rimini. Many tourists find their way to this place so it can be a bit hectic during summer. However, Viserba is a great place to visit in spring.
There’s more to see and do and I will definitely go back. I will honestly say that I have fallen in love with this region. It might be out of sight (for now) but not out of heart. See you soon, Tuscany!