Located in the heart of Italy, Tuscany is rich with inimitable landscapes, abundant artistic and historical significance, and – of course – incredible wine. Though Florence is one of the region’s most popular attractions for international tourism, there are also plenty of opportunities to explore the other parts of the region in a series of day trips. For a quick but unforgettable outing, explore the medieval villages, gorgeous abbeys and bountiful vineyards located in the centre of the beautiful country of Italy.
Located about an hour from Florence, Pisa offers plenty to explore, beyond just the Leaning Tower. Take the day to wander the city, where you can bear witness to such wonderful art as Keith Haring’s mural “Tuttomundo” and the fabulous exhibitions at the Palazzo Blu, as well as the beautiful attractions in Piazza dei Miracoli. After shopping along Corso Italia, stop by for dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the city’s preferred meeting places. In the evening, unwind from your travels and go for a drink in Piazza Garibaldi, the centre of Pisa and the heart of its nightlife.
If you want to experience Tuscany without all of the tourism, make your way to the very walkable city of Lucca. Its medieval churches, palaces and amphitheatre are fantastic exemplars of the city’s Romanesque beauty. After entering the Mura Urbana – the wall that encompasses the city – explore the Piazza San Martino and its eponymous cathedral, as well as the one-of-a-kind Amphitheatre square. Along the way, be sure to stop by Corte San Lorenzo and the see former home of composer Giacomo Puccini, the pride of Lucca. The Torre Guinigi, which is lined with holm oak trees trees that symbolise rebirth, offers an excellent birds-eye view of the magnificent town.
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Nestled in the hills between Florence and Siena, Italy’s Chianti wine region is a beautiful countryside getaway. Just 30 minutes south of Florence, the Tuscan region is famous for its Chianti Classico wine, as well as the many excellent restaurants and wineries in its so-called “Chianti Triangle.” In a quintessentially Italian fashion, the region is made up of winding roads and rolling hills, and nearly every space exposed to sunlight is encompassed by olive trees and vineyards. There is plenty to do in Chianti, including wine tours, hot air ballooning, photography, shopping horseback riding, hiking and much more. In addition, the region is known for its excellent restaurants, so be sure to treat yourself to a decadent Tuscan meal.
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If your idea of Tuscany includes picturesque medieval hill towns with cobblestone streets and rustic buildings, visit the UNESCO World Heritage sight of San Gimignano, dubbed “the city of the 100 towers,” or “medieval Manhattan.” Visiting this town, which is preserved in its medieval form, feels like stepping back in time. Learn more about Tuscany’s white wines at the Museo del Vino at La Rocca di Montestaffoli, and sip on the region’s famous Vernaccia. Must-see sights including Porta San Giovanni – a magnificent gate that was built in the 13th century – as well as Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo.
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Less touristy than Florence, this 13th-century city is filled with hundreds of years worth of architectural, artistic and gastronomic treasures. At the heart of Siena is Piazza del Campo, which contains numerous spectacular monuments, and is famous for hosting the biannual Palio horse races. For unmatched views of the city and countryside, climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia or visit the sky vault of the Siena Cathedral. Also be sure to spend some time in Santa Maria della Scala, which was one of the first hospitals in Europe and now serves as an expansive museum complex.