While it may be tempting to simply remain in enchanting Florence, there are many treasures to explore a little further afield. Our villa Dimora Bellosguardo is the perfect base to head out and enjoy the many charms Tuscany has to offer. To help inspire you, we highlight six of our favourite Tuscany day trips.
Chianti Wine Tour
Video credit: Chianti Classico
Painting and sculpture are not the only art forms famous in the Tuscany region – there’s also a long standing tradition of wine making. Some of the world’s best wine is produced here, and probably the best-known and loved is Chianti. What better way to spend a day visiting the beautiful vineyards of this great wine region, learning about the history and, of course, sampling the wine.
When you visit the Chianti region, it’s not just the wine you will appreciate.The magnificent countryside of rolling hills, dotted with ancient borghi (farmsteads) and churches, and medieval villages is a joy to behold.
Although it wasn’t originally part of the Chianti wine region, the town of Greve is now firmly placed as the heart of the region, and is a good starting point from which to explore Chianti. We recommend a stop-off at Falorni in the main square for an aperitif.
The towns of Greve, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Poggibonsi, San Casciano Val di Pesa, and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, all fall under the Chianti Classico area. Read our Chianti Classico wine guide to find out more about Chianti wines and wineries.
Aside from the Chianti Classico, the region produces six further Chianti denominations: Colli Aretino (from the hills close to Arezzo – Colli meaning ‘hills), Colli Fiorentino (Florence), Colli Senesi (Siena), Colline Pisane (Pisa), Montalbano (Pistoia), Montespertoli and Rufina.
If a trip to a vineyard is on your agenda, it’s a good idea to book first, as some vineyards open on a reservation basis only. When you stay at Dimora Bellosguardo we will be happy to organise your wine tasting experience.
Aside from wine tasting in the vineyards, you can also head into one of Tuscany’s beautiful towns and enjoy a glass of Chianti in the local enoteca (wine bar) together with a delicious Tuscan dish. Don’t forget if you are wine tasting, it’s best to get someone else to drive.
It’s synonymous with the leaning tower, but that’s just one of Pisa’s many attractions. Although one of the smaller Tuscan cities, it’s influence over the centuries has held great importance for the region.
Pisa is home to over twenty churches and the magnificent Romanesque duomo di Pisa – the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Constructed during the 11th century, it has stood as the seat of the Archbishop of Pisa for over nine centuries.
The old town of Pisa is home to beautiful piazzas and palaces, which add to the grandeur of the city. One such palace is the Palazzo dei Cavalieri. Situated in Knight’s Square, this sixteenth century palace was the headquarters of the Order of St Stephen and one of the royal residences. The stonework facade is magnificent.
And of course, a day trip to Pisa wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower is one of four constructions that make up the cathedral complex known as the Square of Miracles. It was designed to be vertically straight, it started to tilt during construction and was never corrected. It is a unique and oddly beautiful sight, and a must-see during your Tuscany holiday.
Simply strolling the streets of the old town, with the River Arno running through it is a joy. The ancient city dates back to the 12th century and is also home to several museums and a handful of prestigious universities, including La Normale di Pisa – which is a renowned university for maths and the sciences. As a university town it has a happy buzzy atmosphere.
The beautiful Garfagnana region is like a microcosm of Tuscany itself. Delivering epic tales from history, traditional gastronomy, and stunning landscapes. It’s the kind of place you want to savour and enjoy slowly. Driving through the winding hills, stopping to enjoy a meal at a modest and charming trattoria.
There are many stunning places just waiting to be explored, but our highlights include, the town of Hilltop Barga, which is renowned as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The surrounding countryside is also perfect for those who love the outdoors, with many hiking and horse riding trails through the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
Set at the confluence between the rivers Serchio and Turrite Secca, Castelnuovo di Garagnana is the main town in the Garfagnana region, dating back to the year 740. The town has a number of historic bridges that elegantly cross the fast flowing river. There is a traditional Thursday market which has been an institution in Castelnuovo di Garagnana for almost 600 years.
Finally, the town of Bagni di Lucca with its therapeutic hot springs is considered as being one of the most beautiful spa towns in Italy. During the nineteenth century it gained its reputation and the elite of Europe spent their holidays at Bagni di Lucca.Today there are nineteen active thermal springs and two natural spring grottos.
And talking of hot springs, why not head to the idyllic setting of Cascate di Mulino, situated 6kms outside of the village of Saturnia in the Tuscan region of Maremma. These thermal springs date back over 3,000 years and have constantly flowed down from Mount Amiata at a temperature of 37.5º.
The waters are incredibly rich in minerals, vitamins, and mineral salts, and have many therapeutic and healing benefits, such as restoring harmony, smoothing the skin, help with breathing problems, and as an anti-stress, anti-ageing and antioxidant.
The waters cascade down over several levels and pool at the bottom, creating a magical scene. It’s a wonderful setting to indulge in a relaxing and restorative soak.
While visiting the springs, it’s worth stopping by to visit the small village of Saturnia, which sits at the crest of a hill. The town has ancient roots and can trace back its population to pre-classical Greek, after which came Etruscans and Romans. The town still has original Roman gates, and close by is an Etruscan necropolis, situated along an old Roman road.
Tuscan Food Tours
Video credit: Monocle Films
Synonymous with food made with heart and soul, Tuscany is a firm favourite with foodie travellers. If you like to explore local and regional cuisines when on holiday, and are a fan of the slow food movement, then we highly recommend a day spent foraging, cooking and sampling some fine Tuscan cuisine.
There are many food tours, cooking classes and gastronomy experiences on offer in Tuscany. Our own experience team can organise taste experiences during your stay, however, we also have some favourite experiences which we recommend during your stay.
The Florence Truffle Hunting Tour close to the town of San Miniato is a unique encounter in which you’ll find yourselves hunting out truffles with your local guide and their expert dog, followed by a truffle-based lunch.
Tuscan Organic Tours offer several excellent private day tours in which you can delve into Tuscany’s organic industry, such as the Goat Cheese Tour, Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tour, the Fresh and Dried Pasta Tour, and the San Gimignano Saffron Tour.
Or how about a one-day cookery class with Mama Florence in the centre of Florence. Daily classes include Pizza and Gelato (together!), Biking Tour and Cookery Class – cook, eat and then burn it off! Or a Florence Market Walk and Pasta Class.
Tuscany is synonymous with artists – and perhaps its most famous son is the master sculptor and painter Michelangelo. Learn about his roots and the man himself by following the route of Michelangelo to Carrara.
The “marble route”, takes you to the beautiful town of Carrara, famed for its pure white stone, from which many artworks were crafted. Next stop is the picturesque seaside town of Forte dei Marmi, home to our elegant Villa Monti di Luna. Walk the road planned by Michelangelo himself. And further along the coast, you’ll arrive at the luxurious resort town of Marina di Pietrasanta, which has also been at the heart of marble production in the region since the beginning. During this trip you can imagine how some of the world’s masterpieces were created.
There are so many beautiful towns and villages throughout Tuscany. Read about our favourites in Our Top 10 Must Visit Towns in Tuscany.
As you can see, there are many different day trips from Florence, offering natural beauty, mouthwatering food and wine, fascinating history and even a relaxing hot spring. Whatever you are looking for, you’re sure to find it within easy reach of beautiful Florence. Also check out our 11 top things to see and do in Florence.