Two weeks in beautiful Tuscany
If you are ever lucky enough to get the chance to visit Tuscany, I would highly recommend you take it! I had wanted to go for years and I finally got to go! We visited mid to late June and the weather was perfect.
Tuscany itself was everything we dreamed it would be. There are many, fabulous places to visit in Tuscany and unless you have ample amounts of time, it is impossible to see it all. Alot of the villages and towns you can see in a day and I would recommend hiring a car for part of your trip to see these pretty places. We spent two weeks there and I picked the places I most wanted to see before I travelled.
We stayed two nights in Lucca in Northern Tuscany and then got a train to Siena, where we based ourselves for 9 nights. This is where we hired a car, so we could explore the many towns and villages. We then headed to Florence for two days and nights and on our last day we took a train from Florence to Pisa, where we spent our last night before we headed back home.
This post is about three of the places we stayed in the longest, Lucca, Siena & Florence.
The smaller towns and villages we visited I have put in another post. I hope it may be helpful to you if you are considering a wonderful Tuscan holiday.
Piazza Anfiteatro is a very pretty square in a circular shape full of restaurants, cafes, people and music.
We arrived in to Pisa and got a train to Lucca, which was going to be our first stop for a couple of days. The train only took about 40 minutes and cost €3.50. Lucca is a beautiful medieval walled city and is the birthplace of Puccini the composer who wrote the operas, Madam Butterfly, La Boheme and Tosca.
The medieval walls that encircle Lucca are a perfect example of how a medieval structure like this should be preserved. The walls have a large pedestrian promenade on top of the walls that you can walk, jog or cycle on. A walk on the City walls is a must in Lucca!
Walking on the walls of Lucca is like being in a beautiful park. During the day, we hired bikes for a couple of hours and it was such fun cycling right around the city. The lovely breeze was very welcome as it was such a hot day. The views of the surrounding countryside are stunning. There is also plenty of shade from the trees that line the pathways. At night we decided to walk off our dinner by walking on the city walls. It took us about an hour to walk right around and it was gorgeous as the sun was just setting.
Cathedral –Duomo Santa Martino
Once leaving Lucca, we took a train to Siena. Trenitalia, the Italian train service was efficient and a comfortable train ride, sitting back admiring the beautiful countryside. Train ticket from Lucca to Siena cost €12.
Siena is a medieval walled city where we based ourselves for 9 nights. We stayed just outside the city walls, as we wanted to ensure we had a hotel with parking as we were hiring a car. Many of the Italian villages and cities are not car friendly and some you need a parking permit. However, there is parking provided outside of the towns.
Our hotel was Hotel Palazzo di Valli, it was a lovely hotel on beautiful grounds in a really peaceful setting and it took only 30 minutes to walk into the centre of Siena, the Piazza del campo. The two men who ran it, Lorenzo and Giacomo could not do enough for you and were really helpful with directions every day, giving us maps and telling us the best routes to take to visit the countryside.
We ate our breakfast each morning on the veranda overlooking beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
Piazza del campo is a spectacular square in the heart of Siena. It is considered one of the best medieval squares in Europe. This is where the Palio is held twice a year. It’s a famous horse race where each district has a horse and rider. During our last few days the locals were preparing the square for the race which was to be held the following week.
Whilst we were there, each district took it in turns forming parades where they dressed in their medieval colours and costumes with their instruments and flags visiting the other districts. The Palio is taken very seriously in Siena and is very important to the Sienese.
Siena Duomo Cathedral in Piazza del Duomo a gothic cathedral.
Like many tourist destinations, piazza del campo has restaurants all around it. We did eat in a couple of them but I personally found them too expensive for what they were. You are paying for the view and where you are sitting. It’s just quick turn over of people, get in as many as you can and the food is fine, but nothing special. There are lots of lovely more reasonable restaurants with much nicer food in the side streets.
We took a tour of a vineyard, not too far from Siena in the Chianti region. Our hotel organized it for us and we took a mini-bus with others to the vineyard.
When we arrived we were given lots of wine and tasty antipasti in a beautiful setting.
After a couple of hours we made our way down to the vineyards where we ate a dinner and drank wine in among the vines. This was a definite highlight! We met some lovely people and had such a great night!
I have longed to go to Florence for a long time and I finally arrived! We spent two nights in Florence, a must see if you have never been. This is the home of the Medici family who contributed so vastly to the arts and culture of Florence.
We stayed in the lovely, friendly Hotel David. I cannot recommend this Hotel enough! The room was lovely and waiting in our room was a welcome of a bottle of Prosecco! The staff were friendly and so helpful.
Each evening at about 6pm, they put on free drinks and nibbles for guests to mingle, a sort of happy hour. Nothing was too much trouble here and I will definitely return to this hotel. When we left they gave us bars of lavender soap packaged up very prettily, which was a lovely touch!
Florence is the true home of renaissance and its beautiful paintings, frescos, galleries, sculptures and buildings.
Ponte vecchio is the bridge that when you are on it you think you are on a street until you get halfway, The Bridge is full of shops, especially expensive jewellery shops.
Before I came to Florence I was told this was where I would find a nice cameo I was looking for. However, I saw one in Siena I really liked so bought it there, which I was glad I did, as I found Florence more expensive.
At one end of the Ponte Vecchio is a busy Gelato shop, which serves massive ice-creams. They were delicious, but were the dearest ice-creams we had in Italy. In my experience, they were more expensive here in Florence than they ever were in Rome!
Piazzale Michelangelo –
The Piazzale Michelangelo wasn’t too far from our Hotel. It has a large statue of David in its centre. From here you can see stunning views of Florence. At sunset, it looks even better!
Duomo Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore
This is the centre of Florence. The cathedral is gorgeous. There were very, very long queues to get inside, so we just spent our time walking around it outside.
Piazza Della Signoria
This square is lovely in front of the Palazzo Vecchio beside the Uffizi Gallery. There are many statues, even a huge turtle (or tortoise, not quite sure) around the square. A little man sits on a chair in front of the turtle statue and shouts at anyone who climbs up it for photos. It was entertaining for us to watch as we sat in one of the restaurants in the square, people-watching. However, we couldn’t quite make out if this was his job or he took it upon himself!
Like all the main piazzas in cities, it is dearer to eat in these places than the restaurants and cafes in the side streets.
We loved all of these places for different reasons. I would recommend you visit some day if you have never been!