You may be wondering where to go for your next vacation. Perhaps you have already been to Hawaii, London, or Paris. Now it’s time to try an authentic Italian vacation – even if you have already been to Rome and disliked the crowds and the “touristy” feel.
Tuscany is the region of central Italy that borders the Mediterranean Sea, with its beautiful islands such as the Isola d’Elba, Isola del Giglio, Isola di Capraia, Isola di Montecristo and Isola di Pianosa. The capital is Florence. The region boasts some of the best scenery, vineyards, art and historical architecture.
350 out of 1000 of Europe’s most influential artists of the 2nd millennium lived in Florence. Tuscany has served as a backdrop by many famous artists who have achieved spectacular art pieces using the landscape during the Italian renaissance.
Of the 851 UNESCO-protected sites worldwide, you can visit 6 of them in Tuscany. These include the historical centers of Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Pienza. They also include the Val d’Orcia and the square of the Cathedral of Pisa, where the famous leaning tower resides.
To make your planning easier, here is a suggested itinerary to experience the best of Tuscany in 7 days:
Day 1 – Arrival Day
Most international flights will arrive in Rome.
You can choose a connecting flight to Florence, take a scenic train ride, or drive (approximately 3 hours by car).
We recommend making San Gimignano your home base for your Tuscan adventure.
Day 2 – San Gimignano
Experience the “Medieval Manhattan,” a walled town with fourteen towers, seen from several miles around. Through wars and disasters, San Gimignano has been able to keep its beautiful fourteen towers, true works of art such as the Chigi Tower, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.
Day 3 –Siena & Monteriggioni
Visit Siena to enjoy the city of “Palio di Siena” with its famous Piazza del Campo. The Palio di Siena is where a horse race is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colors, represent ten of the seventeen city wards. Complete your visit to The Duomo, the cathedral that represents great Italian Romanesque culture.
In the afternoon, visit the nearby village of Monteriggioni, a walled town known for its medieval fortifications and watchtowers. The castle walls offer views of the surrounding Chianti region. The old town is accessed via the Porta Franca gate. Nearby is the Monteriggioni in Arme Museum, with replicas of ancient weapons and the 13th-century Church of Santa Maria. To the east, Chianti Sculpture Park displays contemporary artworks.
Day 4 – Pisa & Lucca
Head over to Pisa to explore the town, and of course, visit and climb the Leaning Tower (not for the faint-hearted). Already tilting when it was completed in 1372, the white marble cylinder is the bell tower of the Romanesque, striped-marble cathedral that rises next to it in the Piazza dei Miracoli. The Baptistry is also in the piazza, whose renowned acoustics are demonstrated by amateur singers daily, and the Caposanto Monumentale cemetery.
In the afternoon, stop by Lucca on the Serchio river. It’s known for well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city center and its cobblestone streets. Broad, tree-lined pathways along the tops of this massive 16th- and 17th-century ramparts are popular for strolling and cycling. Casa di Puccini, where the great opera composer was born, is now a house museum.
Day 5 – The Chianti Hills
The next stop is a visit to the Chianti area to visit the typical villages as Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti. It’s worth the drive to simply sit among the vineyards of Chianti and experience delicious food, as well as a good place for wine tasting, visiting the castle’s gardens and museums, and having a great dinner.
Day 6 – Florence
In Florence, you must visit Santa Maria del Flore, which is a cathedral with beautiful architecture. The Ponte Vecchio is an amazing medieval bridge with several shops built along its edge. Another reason to visit is that this was where Leonardo da Vinci was born and spent his youth working in the studio of a well-known Florentine painter. Most known for the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, it is said that his landscapes and artistic style came from growing up in this region. You will be able to visit the hamlet near the hill town of Vinci where Leonardo da Vinci was born.
Day 7 – Departure Day
Check out and departure.
This is but a mere sampling of the hundreds of reasons to visit Tuscany. Whatever your interests are, make sure this is on your bucket list.