Your first appearance at any one of the Hill Towns of Tuscany will take your breath away. You may have seen images of these magnificent places in movies and books. But nothing could possibly prepare you for the real thing.
As soon as you encounter this other-worldly countryside of abundance for yourself, you will understand perfectly why even the tiniest of these towns has been battled over continuously throughout history. Who would not want to have the top of among those hills, looking out over brilliant landscapes, coated in vineyards that yield ample harvests for the best wines? Who would not be motivated to paint or sculpt or float the hills looking for gemstones to craft into beautiful jewelry?
In case you have opted to travel to Tuscany, you have made an excellent choice. However there are three essential things you’ll have to understand before you set out on your travels.
Point #1: Give Every Destination At Least One Full Day or 3 or Five
To get an excellent visit to Tuscany, strategy to include five destinations, one large, one medium-sized, and three small. Florence, of course, is your absolute must as your destination. Your visit to Tuscany would not be complete without including a visit to Florence. Few cities compare to Florence with regard to breathtaking beauty, in addition to plentiful, awe-inspiring adventures. With its art and sculpture, architecture and gardens, culture and history, craftsmanship, food and wine, Florence will amaze you. Your time will dash by. And likely you may decide that you must return a different year.
Since Florence is the most significant destination for your itinerary, plan to spend 5 days . But then make day excursions from Florence by train to 2 of your other destinations- the small but interesting cities of Corona and San Nonmalignant. Add five extra days to your trip, and divide these between two staying destinations, Montesquieu and Siena. So, your ideal trip is going to be 10 days total.
You’ll have the time and latitude to truly soak in and enjoy this wonderful area. Art to peruse. Food and wine, relished at outside tables, overlooking the vibrant and spacious piazzas. Artisan shops. Local exuberance. Landscapes to inspire you. Along with the considerable fun of moving about one of these towns and cities, with the travel as much a part of the pleasure as the arrival.
Speaking of having time and latitude… It brings us immediately to…
Stage #2: Avoid Group Tours and Have a Better Experience on Your
And it can look like it will be a complex trip to arrange and take on your own. Thus, you may be tempted to choose the simple route of signing up for a bus tour. Yes, the descriptions for these excursions always do sound attractive. Plus it seems like it would be much simpler just to turn on the controls to your trip, and let somebody else be in charge.
If your thinking is leaning in this direction, consider again. Your visit to Tuscany is overflowing with possibility, too much so to squander it trapped onto a bus with 30 other people. You will want time to relish the experiences of all those remarkable towns and cities.
A set tour will move too quickly and try to pack in too much. It’ll be too constrained, such as when you are sitting cramped up in the seats of that bus which has been created for a smaller breed of individuals than your towering American husband. It will be choreographed to someone else’s liking, with much precious time wasted waiting for your fellow chattering tourists to get back to the bus. And as you race through a city the tour guide has already seen a few hundred times, you’ll be traveling about in a noisy hoard, blasting past all those fascinating shops and attractive bistros.
This isn’t what you need for your own, long anticipated, trip to Tuscany. Alternatively, you are going to want to move about in freedom, walking around and pausing as you enjoy, spending more time and less time there as things do or don’t catch you. Some of your most memorable moments will become your bistro stops, your visits to the stores that capture your attention, your own pause to look out across a view of tranquil mountains and slopes, your drifting to a restaurant on the piazza with an excellent piano player.
You are going to wish to be free to take your time to learn more about the leather market in Florence, and examine the original oils and watercolors by the artists who are exhibiting their own original work in Piazza Michelangelo.
Sitting at an outside table at a restaurant behind the Duo mo in Florence, or on the wall facing the Duomo in Siena, you might find yourself caught up in a photo orgy, taking shot after shot of the intricate marble work, starting with the complete structure, then focusing on more and more closely to get a sequence of photos that catches the inlays of green, pink and white marble or the gilded image above the door or the figurines looming over you by the eaves.
A group tour, naturally, does take good care of your needs to get from place to place. But you’ll be able to handle this just as well, or even better, by yourself. When you need a lift, grab one having an Uber or Taxi in town (keep your contact information readily available!) , along with trains to take you between towns and cities, along with shuttle buses to take you up the hills to the top. Creating your way around, particularly on the trains, is part of the fun, and adds to your experience and to a sense of accomplishment.
Speaking of having a lift from time to time, we will proceed to…
Stage #3: There’ll Be Lots of Hills Everywhere You Go
As you understand from the term”Hill Towns,” that there are not many areas in Tuscany that are flat. You will be walking and riding up and down and down and up, everywhere you go, both inside the cities and as you travel from one city to another.
For every Hill Town you see, you’ll need to take a train to reach the base of the hill, then a shuttle bus to reach the top. It follows that if you exit the train station, in Corona or San Nonmalignant or Montesquieu, you’ll have to focus your attention on purchasing a shuttle bus ticket and grabbing a ride up to the top where the city awaits.
As a guideline, when you’re heading off someplace in a town or city, strategy to ride up, subsequently walk down, every chance you get. In Florence, catch a taxi up to Piazza Michelangelo. Ask the driver to drop you off much higher up, in the front of the charming Miniature Abbey, only over the piazza. From here, every way you walk will take you down!
When you’re there, if the timing is correct, try out the incredible lasagna at the restaurant just above the piazza, lunching at an outdoor table, with a view out over Florence.
Then walk a few steps down to explore the artwork and crafts for sale in the piazza. Stir often to look out over the wall into the rooftops of Florence, with the dome of the Duo towering above its environment, and the Porte Chive spanning the glistening thread of the Arno River. From here, wind your way down a few more, until you arrive back at the level of the river.
Grab yourself a guidebook, create your arrangements, and set off on a travel adventure that will become a part of your life narrative.