We spent 5 fabulous days wandering the rolling hills of Tuscany and it's most famous city, Florence.
Tuscany, describes the entire region of Central Italy. Florence is the biggest city within Tuscany and the capital of the region. It was the birthplace of the Renaissance and the world stage for art genius's such as Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Almost 4 million people call the Tuscany Region home but it’s also a very popular tourist destination, best known for its landscapes, history and tradition. The area is also very well known for it's simplistic food and iconic Chianti wine. Tuscany is a MUST DO for any Italian adventure. I would definitely suggest staying at least 5 days to get the most out of the Tuscany Region but you could easily spend a week or two here.
Get a guide
I'll say it again, there is SO much history here. It is totally worth it to get a guide who knows the area to help you put everything into context. We decided to take the WalkAbout tour called "The Best of Tuscany". It gave us SO MUCH insight into the history of the entire region. The tour was 12 hours and worth every penny.
Florence or Firenze as the locals call it, has the most incredible history. I know I keep saying it but the history is so rich, it completely takes ahold of your imagination. The city was home to the Medici family, who was one of the most influential and wealthiest families in Europe during the 15th century. The family produced 3 Catholic Pope's, 2 Queens and also established the Medici Bank (the biggest bank in Europe in the 15th century), truly a force to be reckoned with. Along with being the home to powerful families it is also the home to some AMAZING architecture, my favourite being DUOMO - The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The most romantic place in Florence is Piazzale Michelangelo. It offers a panoramic view of the entire city and is truly breathtaking. The city has too many museums to count and every building adorns it’s own unique architecture, I suggest letting your imagination go wild as you wander the cobblestone streets.
Visit a Chianti Vineyard
We visited a beautiful family owned/operated farm and winery called Fattoria Poggio Alorro and would highly recommend it! The view is beautiful and everything here is made from organically grown fruit, vegetables, olive oils and animals. They have veg options and are extremely accommodating to any dietary needs! The animals were free to graze and looked happy and healthy, which is something I always take note of when visiting anywhere. Not to mention, the wine was great!
Visit a Medieval Village
We went to both Siena and San Gimignano. Out of the 2, I enjoyed San Gimingnano more, simply because during the time I visited Siena, they had the traditional horse race going on and I really did not like the stress the poor horses have to endure not to mention the sheer amount of tourists roaming the small village.
San Gimignano has everything you need to see in a Medieval village. It's situated among an enchanting hilltop and boasts famous medieval towers and picturesque streets. There is even a museum of medieval torture!
Okay, this is probably a no brainer and yes, it is definitely a very touristy thing to do. BUT you can't come all the way to Tuscany and not visit the famous leaning tower!
Take a Cooking Class
Want to learn to cook like an Italian? This is a great area to do it. We took a pasta making class at the famous MaMa Florence. Over the span of 4 hours we were taught how to make 3 different types of pasta including the traditional corzetti! The chef was passionate about cooking and gave us an unforgettable experience. They are also very accommodating with dietary needs, 5/8 of us were veg! It was worth every penny.
I would love to hear your experiences in Tuscany and anything you would consider a MUST DO in this area.