In this ultimate Tuscany trip you will cover 3 major cities and many more villages spread between vineyards and connected via winding, bumpy roads. For discovering Tuscany, especially those cute little villages scattered around the whole region, car is more or less essential. Some cities in Tuscany (including Florence, Siena and Pisa) have so called Limited traffic zone around the city centre. You can enter it when the green light is on the traffic light. The camera takes a photo and you get a fine if you enter when red light is on. However be aware – you get fine if you leave the zone when the red light is on also.
Florence (2 – 3 days) – our journey will start in Florence, probably the most renowned city in Tuscany and also close to the top of the list when taking into account entire country. There are some cities in the world that can leave you speechless and Florence is definitely a strong contestant. Cultural and architectural paradise can definitely keep you busy for the whole three days – that is if you decide to enter all the major galleries, most important being of course the Uffizi and Accademia. In Galleria dell’Accademia you can admire the original David sculpture. Near the Uffizi stands also Palazzo Vecchio which is certainly worth a quick glimpse.
Of course, when in Florence, you just cannot miss out on Duomo. Its enormous dimensions and colourful, mosaic like, facade make the cathedral extraordinary beautiful. City’s most famous feature is surely giant, red dome on top of the cathedral that really stands out on panoramic photos. If you want to go up to the dome, tickets have to be bought at least one weak ahead, otherwise It will be sold out. However you can climb up 414 steps to the top of tower – campanile and admire the dome from proximity. For the best view of the city and famous panoramic photographs go to Piazzale Michaelangelo.
Viewpoint is very crowded throughout most of the day, so I would greatly recommend visiting early in the morning when it’s a good chance you will be more or less alone. And pictures of sun rising over the city are extraordinary. Nice views are also from Giardino di Boboli (behind Pitti Palace) and Giardino di Bardini – one entrance fee covers both gardens.
I left my personally favourite sight for the last. Ponte Vecchio’s cuteness deeply charmed me. The bridge is so unique with lovely little shops and tiny houses built along the entire length. Stop and admire some very expensive jewellery when crossing it.
In Florence there are many churches and getting lost in narrow streets is most definitely a great way to find them, experience renaissance vibe that is still present in the city and listen to countless street artists.
Chianti Road and Siena (1 day) – From Florence to Siena, or any other city to the south, you can take the fastest way and travel on the highway. However, I would deeply recommend driving via Chianti Road (Chiantigiana SR 222), which will reward you with magnificent views of vineyards covered in all shades of green. Road can be a bit bumpy but you will be completely surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and cute little cottages. Pictures taken there in nice and sunny weather can be really breath taking.
Three most famous and important villages on the way are Greve in Chanti, Castellina in Chianti and Radda in Chianti. Stop in at least one to taste and buy some delicious wine.
Siena is, in my opinion, the most charming city in Tuscany. However, it is rather small so you do not need much time to cover all the sights. Large Piazza del Campo is especially lovely, people are just sitting and relaxing all around it, so I encourage you do join them.
Another sight you should not miss out is Duomo and the piazza surrounding it. For the best view of the Duomo go to the other side to Chiesa di San Domenico and admire the astonishing architecture.
Another typical Tuscan town that should be on your list is also Montepulciano, famous for its delicious red vine Brunello. It is located one hour from Siena and if you do find time, I would recommend visiting.
San Gimignano, Volterra and Pisa (1 day) – start your day early in the morning and enjoy view of sun rising over the vineyards as you drive to San Gimignano. San Gimignano is one of most prominent towns in Tuscan countryside.
It is rather expensive to spend the night but a quick stop and a taste of world’s famous ice cream won’t hurt your budget too much. Stroll around the town and enjoy amazing views that are waiting for you. Narrow streets and adorable little squares in between are definitely worth your time.
The same goes for Volterra – small town with well-preserved medieval ramparts. The best way to experience the town is to wander around and stop at Duomo and some viewpoints.
After you have enjoyed this two towns continue your way to Pisa. Pisa is a very special city – all major sights, the most famous being Leaning tower, are located together.
All you have to do is park your car and walk there. Because of that you actually do not need much time in Pisa. On one hand that is very convenient but on the other hand it attracts enormous crowds. One ticket covers all the sights and at present you can also climb up the Leaning tower. That was actually not possible at all times during the history.
Cinque Terre (1 day) – Even though Cinque Terre is not officially a part of Tuscany region, it is very close to it. So I would highly recommend you to take a short detour and visit it. National park Cinque Terre consist of five fishing villages that are connected via train and you cannot reach them by car. You board the train in La Spezia and train ticket also covers the entrance fee to national park. Train drives regularly (every half hour) and it stops in all five colourful villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
There is a hiking trail that connect them and is around 11 km long. If you choose to do that be prepared for a rather exhausting hike as you will be walking up and down the hill the entire time. Starts at Riomaggiore as first three villages are cuter that the other two. At least in my opinion.
Village are so charming with colourful houses overlooking the sea as they are waiting for someone.