Florence is an enchanting place, but Tuscany, as a state is just as astounding. There are so many places and spots around Florence which you would regret to miss out on. Here, I am mentioning some places around Florence which you should visit during your trip to Florence.
- Giglio & Giannutri Islands of Tuscany
- Assisi, Cortona & Perugia
- Montalcino, Pienza & Montepulciano
- Volterra & San Gimignano
- Cinque Terre & Portovenere
GIGLIO & GIANNUTRI ISLANDS OF TUSCANY
Giglio & Giannutri are two different islands on the southern coast of Italy. They are hidden gems; untouched by the Tourism Industry for the time being and unheard of by tourists. You will not be disappointed.
A boat leaves from the ancient town of Talamone (180 kms or 2 hours from Florence) on the Gulf. The boat ride takes an hour to Giglio Island.
The best option to explore the island is to rent a scooter. Public transport is a cheaper option. I would suggest renting a scooter and riding off to your own sweet time.
If you make it early to the island, after exploring the island till the afternoon, you can leave for Giannutri Island which is a 40 minutes boat ride from Giglio.
According to me, Giannutri Island is better than Giglio in terms of beaches and water clarity. There is also a Roman Villa on top of the hill which you can take a guided tour of.
These two islands are all about amazing beaches and wonderful views enriched with history and nature. You should surely consider visiting them if you are visiting Florence and have the time for it. Enjoy!
ASSISI, CORTONA & PERUGIA
If you love great landscapes, Cortona (2 hours or 150 Kms away from Florence), a hilltop, is the place for you. Assisi is the topmost point where you can revel in the glory of the great Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi.
A visit to Perugia is a must. The city is famous for its monuments and history. Gaze at beautiful fountains & relish its breathtaking views.
The most spectacular monuments of the city are “La Fontana Maggiore” which is an example of medieval sculpture and Etruscan Arch of Augustus which is one of the largest monuments among the Etruscan remains. The Palazzo dei Priori and Rocca Paolina are also must-see(s).
I love visiting towns and cities like this- such rich history hidden inside, extremely beautiful and oh-so calm. I JUST LOVE IT!!
The tranquility of places like this always leaves me spellbound. If you are one such person, at least a day’s trip from Florence should be a part of your plan.
MONTALCINO, PIENZA & MONTEPULCIANO
Tuscany is a land of wonderful places but what is it that defines the real Tuscany?
WINE & CHEESE!!
Wine & Cheese – this day focusses majorly on that. Montalcino (2 hours or 120 kms from Florence) is the place where you can sample wines and local delicacies. The city has an astonishing village with a fortress which is a must-see when in town.
There is something that makes you want to stay here forever; perhaps a certain fragrance wafting in the air. Although I don’t drink, the smell of wine is so mesmerizing that you can’t help but like it.
Prepare to witness one of the most gorgeous landscapes of your lifetime – Val d’Orcia (The Tuscany you have seen in literally every photo before coming to Italy).
It comes under Pienza (30 mins from Montalcino) and Montepulciano (further 20 mins from Pienza), one of the most important places representing Tuscany.
Pienza is famous worldwide for its renowned and traditional Pecorino Cheese.
Montepulciano is famous for its local wineries and churches. Walking in the city is like walking inside a fairy tale or a movie with just happiness inside. This day trip was one of my personal favourites from Florence. Try not to miss it.
VOLTERRA & SAN GIMIGNANO
Every 4 out of 5 towns/villages in Italy feel like you have stepped into a dream or a book. Volterra (80 Kms or 90 Minutes) is one of those hill-top towns that would make you realize the actual beauty of small Italian towns. It is called one of the most charmed Tuscany Towns. The boundary walls of the city were built in the 4th century B.C and stand tall strong as ever.
Do not miss the Main Square, Palazzo dei Priori, Volterra Cathedral, The Museum of Alabaster (The reason Volterra is famous all over the world) and the Medicean Fortress. You can choose to taste various types of cheeses at local shops. You also have the chance to taste some wine at local wineries just like every other town in Tuscany. 😛
After an amazing time at Volterra, you can go ahead to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Gimignano (40 mins from Volterra) is a medieval city filled with picturesque alleys, various vantage points offering breathtaking Tuscan views.
Also, you cannot miss the Piazza Duomo, Church and Piazza della Cisterna. They are absolute beauties.
FACT: THERE IS A VERY FAMOUS KIOSK FOR GELATO WHICH HAS ALSO WON MANY AWARDS – GELATERIA DONDOLI. GIVE IT A SHOT!!
Pisa has always been a dream for me. I remember the first time I came to know about the phrase “Wonders of the World”, I have always wanted to visit them all. Currently. I am just left with 2. Cool right? 😛 😉
Pisa is just an hour away from Florence by road /rail. I would suggest you to go early in the afternoon in order to witness the Sunset at The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Visit the Cathedral, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Monumental Cemetery. Take your own time to climb the Tower (It’s not a race, is it?) as it can be little tiring and claustrophobic for people.
Witnessing the sunset there is a GREAT option as the White stone of the Tower turns orange as soon as the sun starts to set. It is a site not to be missed and a sight to behold. Below is the image clicked from my iPhone during the sunset.