Going to Italy for the first time was just a little bit life-changing for me. I’ve always loved Italian food, but after actually being there, I have a whole new appreciation for the cuisine. Our trip through Tuscany was so relaxing and fun and filled with nothing but stunning views and even more stunning meals. I totally understand why the main character from Under the Tuscan Sun fell in love with this wonderful part of the world and I totally want to follow her footsteps now.
The Duomo – the centrepiece of Florence. A truly stunning cathedral. The line to get in here is long, so come early. Or, do like we did and admire the beautiful building just from the outside.
Palazzo Vecchio – Featured in Dan Brown’s Inferno, we had to check this place out after watching the movie whilst in Florence. We unfortunately couldn’t do the Secret Passages tour because it was already booked out (reminder to book your tours in advance, people!). Even Tom Hanks mentions it in the movie, so you know it’s gotta be good. The map room is especially cool and so are the stunning views of Florence.
Galleria degli Uffizi – one beautiful giant gallery filled to the brim with Renaissance art. The building itself and the views of the river are absolutely stunning! Now, I’m not a big Renaissance person, but I did absolutely love the room with all the dramatic poses. That definitely entertained me the most!
Musee Salvatore Ferragamo – a quick, fun and stunning museum. Dedicated to the woman behind Salvatore Ferragamo. The room filled with walls of clothes and shoes is definitely the star of the show!
Mercato Centrale – produce is located on the first floor which is lovely to look through but the real show is on the second level where you can indulge in some truly delicious Italian food. I had the most wonderful truffle cream pasta here and could not recommend this more!
Piazza Michelangelo – an absolutely stunning viewpoint of this magical city (and pictured above). Grab some gelato and take in the views.
ANTINORI NEL CHIANTO CLASSICO
Antinori nel Chianti Classico was truly an architectural marvel. Every single detail of the building and vineyard had so much care and effort put in. Even the carpark was looked cool! The star of the show was definitely the spiral staircase. Literally every angle and at every time of day was something different and interesting. Oh and of course the wine and lunch was incredible too, obviously.
A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a pasta making class! I’ve always thought that making pasta was this big scary thing. But taking this class with Francy, has completely ruined me because I constantly want to have fresh pasta now. We learnt how to make gnocchi, tortellini and spaghetti (whilst enjoying copious amounts of Prosecco and bruschetta) and I can confidently say now that I’ve made by own spaghetti a number of times since being back in Melbourne.
What an incredible little town in Tuscany! Located atop a hill, San Gimignano is known for its 14 medieval towers. We spent the afternoon having lunch and walking around the little streets. Def got a workout in with all them hills and the heat.
Another stunning Tuscan town, Siena is definitely worth a day trip. The not-so-square square is definitely a highlight.
Italy was well and truly a trip for the tummy. Not only did ever meal literally blow my mind, but we also did a couple of food tours! Our day trip to Modena included a Parmesan factory and balsamic vinegar tours. I feel like my perception of balsamic vinegar in particular changed for the better that day. And best thing was the combination of the two!
If you’re looking to do a scenic drive through Tuscany, look no further than Val d’Orcia. Admire the beautiful rolling hills, the sunflowers and cypress trees as you go. Summer made the scenery filled with yellow fields, but come during another time of the year, and you’d be treated to a whole new landscape.
SOME PRACTICAL NOTES
- If possible, rent a car while you’re travelling through Tuscany. It’s so incredible to drive through the country – the journey is definitely as good as the destination here.
- In saying that, most city and town centres don’t allow cars to go through. Be sure to park your car outside of these zones and take public transport or walk.
- It gets stinking hot and crazy busy in summer. Travelling during shoulder seasons would definitely be recommended.
- Do take your time during meals! Enjoy your food as the Italians do, and you will have a wonderfully relaxing time. Meals are pretty damn big here, so don’t be afraid to share!
- Italians love their espresso after meals and is definitely the coffee order of choice here. Asking for a latte will get you milk, so do ask for a cafe latte if you so choose (though this is really considered a morning drink only here).
- Do not forget to get yourself a Bistecca alla Florentina whilst in Florence – the signature dish of the region.
- Book your museums and gallery tickets well in advance!