A first look at the Tuscan hill town takes a breath. You may have seen pictures of these stunts in movies and books. But nothing can prepare you for the real thing.
If you have experienced this other worldly country for yourself, you will understand perfectly why even the smallest of these cities have been constantly fought throughout history. Who wouldn't want to have the top of these hills overlooking the glorious landscapes covered by vineyards that yield a rich harvest of the finest wines? Who would not be inspired to paint the mountains, build the sculpture world, or look for precious stones in search of precious stones?
If you've decided to travel to Tuscany, you've made the perfect choice. But there are three important points that you need to understand before embarking on your journey.
Point # 1: Give each destination at least one whole day or three or five
For a great trip to Tuscany, we plan to add five destinations, one large, one medium-sized and three small. Florence, Of course, a great destination is an absolute obligation. Your trip to Tuscany would not be complete without a visit to Florence. Few cities are comparable to Florence in terms of breathtaking beauty and rich, awe-inspiring experiences. With its art and sculpture, gardens and architecture, history and culture, handicrafts, wine and food, Florence captivates you. Your time is racing past. And you probably decide you just have to come back a year ago.
Since Florence is the biggest destination on your route, you plan to spend 5 days here. Then make day trips from Florence by train to two of your other destinations – small but exciting cities Cortona and San Gimignano. Add five extra days to your trip and split them between the other two destinations, Montepulciano and The wall. So your ideal trip is a total of 10 days.
And what a journey this is going to be. You have the time and breadth to truly soak and enjoy this wonderful area. Attractions. The art to review. Food and wine tasting at outdoor tables overlooking lively and spacious grounds. Craft shops. Local oversupply. Landscapes inspire you. And a lot of fun moving between these cities, so the journey is as much a joy as the arrival.
Speaking of time and breadth … It takes us right now …
Step 2: Avoid group excursions and have better experiences
This trip to Tuscany is rich in excitement. And it may seem like a difficult journey to organize and take with you. That way, you might be tempted to check-in for the easy route. Yes, the descriptions of these tours are always enticing. And it seems much easier to just hand over your travel controls and have someone else take charge.
If your thinking goes in that direction, think again. Your trip to Tuscany is flooded with opportunities, enough to waste it in a bus trap with 30 other people. You want time to enjoy the experience of all these remarkable cities.
Group travel is moving too fast and trying to pack too much. It's too limited, including when you're sitting cramped on the seats in this bus, which was designed for smaller people than your tall American spouse. It is choreographed at the request of someone else, spending a lot of valuable time waiting for their chatting tourists to get back on the bus. And as you drive through a city that your guide has seen hundreds of times, you'll be traveling through a noisy treasure, bumping into all their interesting shops and tempting bistros.
This is not your own long awaited trip to Tuscany. Instead, you want to move around freely, walking and stopping as you wish, spending more time here and less time when things do or do not occupy you. One of the most memorable moments is your bistro stops, visits to eye-catching shops, a pause to look at the serene mountains and valleys, wandering to the piazza restaurant with its fabulous piano player.
You have the freedom to explore the Florence leather market and explore the original oils and watercolors of the artists who exhibit their original work at Piazza Michelangelo.
Sitting on an outdoor table at a restaurant behind the Duomo in Florence or on the wall in front of the Duomo in Siena, you can catch the photograpy by taking photos of the intricate marble work, starting with the entire structure, then focusing increasingly on a series of photographs above the gilded image or the statues in front of the eaves above you.
Of course, a group tour takes care of your needs to get from one place to another. But you can do it just as well, if not better, on your own. If you need a lift, catch it in the city with Uber or Taxi (keep your contact info handy!), Combined with trains that take you between cities, and buses to take you up the mountains. Getting around, especially on trains, is part of the fun and adds to the experience as well as the sense of accomplishment.
Talking about the occasional need for a lift, we move on …
Point # 3: There are many mountains everywhere you go
As you know by the term "Hill Towns", there are very few places in Tuscany that are flat. You walk and ride up and down and up and down everywhere you go, both in cities and moving from one city to another.
For each mountain town you visit, you'll need to take a train to reach the bottom of the mountain, then a bus to reach the top. This means that when you leave the train station in Cortona, San Gimignano or Montepulciano, you need to focus your attention on buying a bus ticket and catching the crossing to the top of the city waiting.
If you are traveling to a city or town, plan as a rule of thumb drive up, then walk down, whenever possible. In Florence, catch a taxi up Piazza Michelangelo. Ask the driver to throw you even higher in front of the charmer Miniature Monastery, right above the piazza. From here, every direction leads you!
After visiting the Abbey, contact Piazza Michelangelo. If you are on time, try a phenomenal lasagna while staying at the restaurant directly above the piazza for lunch at the outdoor table overlooking Florence.
Then, walk a few steps to explore the art and craft at the piazza. Take frequent breaks to see the wall on the rooftops of Florence, where the Duomo dome rises above and the Ponte Vecchio reaches from the shining thread of the Arno River. From here, scroll down the road until you return to the river level.
So, are you ready for that? Grab yourself a guide, make your arrangements, and embark on a travel adventure that will be part of your story.