Italy - in my opinion - is one of the greatest places to visit on our fabulous planet, it's got weather, wine, beaches, pasta, pizza, vespas, ice cream... well everything you can wish for really. I've probably visited around ten times - yes thats how obsessed I am - within these visits it's safe to say I've done a bit of exploring. So here are my best places to visit within Tuscany...
No messing, let's just go straight in with my favourite. Lucca is a stunning city the majority of which is situated within a 4km of wall which dates back to the 17th century. What makes this city so special is the ability to walk, cycle and even tandem around the walls of the city, allowing you to capture glimpses of Lucca you wouldn't expect to find. Aside from the wall this city is filled with independent shops, chains, churches, ice cream parlours but most importantly it houses La Tana Del Boia, a tiny restaurant with enough room for 4 tables. Grab yourself some wine, bruschetta and an antipasti platter, you will not be disappointed. With over 1000 reviews on tripadvisor not a single one poor or terrible I think that says it all. Make sure to visit the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (the centre) but don't eat here, much like that of Leicester square in London, it's an overpriced tourist trap but must be visited.
Florence really encapsulates the romance of Italy, already renowned as a must see city if travelling to Tuscany it's hard for me to tell you anything new. I'd highly recommend not going here on a Monday as I did and discovering the majority of the city shuts down though! That being said there is still heaps to look at, whether you fancy soaking up the local history at one of the museums or strolling across the Ponte Vecchio to browse the jewellers and art dealers, you won't be stuck for choice.
Pisa really is a one time and one time only kind of place - in my opinion. Yes it's worth visiting the leaning tower and getting the classic pushing the tower up photo, but aside from that it lacks any kind of ambience, I shan't dwell on this anymore, as I think I've made my thoughts quite clear.
If you are flying into Pisa I would recommend driving the short 20 minutes to Pondatera, a much less commercialised town in comparison to Pisa. An old industrial town in the centre of Italy it is home to Piaggio, Castellani and Amedi, so vespas, wine and chocolate, yum! This is definilty more of a stop off location than a weekend break destination but make sure you stop at the Piaggio Museum, still my favourite museum in the whole wide world. In fact so much so that my mum and I have just taken our CBT to get a vespa. Granted that didn't go swimmingly well... I fell off the bike and broke it, so much so that it had to go to repairs, so it's safe to say I failed. BUT one day I will own a vespa... just maybe when I can stay on it.
Below is the Vespa that stole our heart...
5) SAN GIMEGANO
I'd say San Gimmy is a fusion of both Florence and Pisa, just as touristy as Pisa but with the atmosphere of Florence. The main attraction I would suggest is climbing the one of the 15 remaining towers to take in the panoramic views. Although several stunning handbag shops I am yet to find a nice restaurant, so maybe fill up on ice cream.
So now you've done all the touristy stuff time to escape the crowds and head to Peccioli. Far less touristy than the above, this small town offers stunning views and classic Italian markets. For me the beauty of this location is the opportunity to roam freely through the tiny side streets and bumping into the odd local. Have a snoop in peoples gardens I dare you...
If you're looking for really remote check out Palaia a small village situated in the Tuscan hills. It makes for a nice lunch stop at Peggiopalaia Pub (just look at the pesto pasta) followed by a stroll up to the viewing point, this is by no means a day trip, just a quick stopover.
So yes Tuscany, visit.