You have chosen Italy and Central Tuscany for your holidays. Great choice! So, let me tell you a few things you need to know to have a really good trip.
I will talk about the region of Florence, the Chianti hills, San Gimignano and Siena.
So, what are the reasons you should visit this part of Tuscany?
No-one will contest that Italian food is excellent and wait until you have tried Florentine cuisine. Don’t leave without trying out some desserts like the Ricciarelli (honey and almond cookie from Siena looking like a lozenge), Panforte (thick nutty cake), the Tiramisu and Pecorino cheese.
Jewels of Florence:
The sights in the town of Florence are countless. To be able to enjoy them fully, the best is to take two days for your visit especially if you want to take a halt at the Galleria degli Uffizi (famous museum near the cathedral where are the Birth of Venus from Botticelli and Primavera). Stroll along the Arno river, watch the views from the old bridge the Ponte Vecchio, spend one hour at the Palazzo Vecchio on the Piazza della Signoria (one of the nicest palace I have seen), enter the cathedral Il Duomo and pay a visit to the Church Santa Croce for the Macchiavelli & Dante monuments. Nothing would be perfect without a view of the city from the Michelangelo Piazza! It is just splendid at sunset. And if you have extra time, take a detour by the Romanesque church San Miniato al Monte. It is by far the nicest church you will see in Florence.
Medieval town of Monteriggioni:
On the way from Siena to Castellina in Chianti you can drive to the popular 13th century village called Monteriggioni. It is well worth the stop. Why not eating on the square with the view of the old walls surrounding you?
Wines of the Chianti region:
The red wines are produced in seven areas in the Chianti like Chianti Classico and Rufina.
Most known villages for wine tasting are Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti but if you only have time for one just stop at Castellina. It has a couple great places for wine tasting, restaurants and a market.
Spring and late Summer are the best times to visit Tuscany. If you come in September you will see the harvest of the grapes. Temperatures are not as hot and it will be more enjoyable for all excursions. It is lovely if you rent a farmhouse to sit outside in the evenings and watch the sunset.
Gothic Cathedral and baptistery of Siena:
Siena is just magnificent. You can buy a ticket to see the cathedral (marble floor panels, altar, facade), the crypt and the baptistery. Don’t miss it. You can skip queuing for the best view of the city over the museum as the queue can be extremely long.
San Gimignano, Val d’Elsa:
A trip in Tuscany will not be complete without an afternoon in the medieval village of San Gimignano on the Val d Elsa. It is quite touristy and has many beautiful shops. Explore the village, the towers and don’t forget to try some Italian ice cream.
No doubt you will be charmed by the many cypresses (especially around Siena and Monteriggioni), hills, forests, rivers and the vineyards of the Chianti region.
In Italy if you want to find a rental in the countryside, look up for agriturismo. You can rent an apartment, a farmhouse or a villa. It can be cheap or luxurious with a swimming pool, playground and cross country bikes. There is a possibility to have dinner and lunch at the farm. Some places sell wine and olive oil and wine tasting is offered at least once a week in Tuscany.