Like thousands of other romantics, I knew I had to make it to Tuscany one day the moment I watched “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Well, that bucket list item is finally checked off after my visit to Florence and the Tuscan vineyards! I loved it so much that I would do it over and over again. My stay felt way too short, but in those five days I got to try out some awesome tours and delicious fares just to share with you! Though I never found an abandoned abode to move into, I did do some book-writing and romantic frolicking with a glass of wine always in my hand. Here’s a list of experiences I reviewed that I officially decided you cannot miss if you want to have a great stay in Firenze.
Rent an apartment in the heart of Florence:
Our bright, sunny studio apartment was an Airbnb rental that looked right over the Piazza Signoria. The apartment had air conditioning and tightly sealed windows if you want to avoid commotion from the square, but we savored every moment of the natural breeze and lighthearted chatter under us!
Giovanna, our host, was out of town and made sure her brother was there to meet us with our vintage key. After a long journey from Venice, we were so happy to be off the bus and in a welcoming home with a comfy bed, good Wi-Fi connection, gorgeous bathroom, charming kitchen, and doorstep leading to some of the best food ever.
Step into the Pages of Dan Brown's Inferno
Are you a Dan Brown fan anxiously waiting for the 2016 film premiere of Inferno? Or are you looking to relive the detailed scenes of the mystery thriller? Then you have to join the Florence Inferno walking tour. The experience guides you through the Boboli Gardens, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Vecchio with secret passages, Dante’s House, Dante’s Church, and Florence Baptistry.
Albeit it long and tiring, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the historic sites and their significance to the novel. Can you believe I haven’t read the book!? ::Embarrassed:: No worries, though - there were a few others like me who were still quite intrigued by not only the juicy history behind the Medici family but also discovering the hidden passageways and peepholes for spying. Learn more about the tour on their website if you are interested!
Eat Gelato While Marveling at Florence's Duomo
You may not believe it but Alex and I found ourselves at the Duomo 1-2 times daily. Not to visit, but to breathe in the bustling life pulsing at all times of the day. The busy afternoon hours were crowded with people and art work, and the evenings cooled down with the moon glistening on the Duomo's ornate architecture. With gelatos being Alex's favorite Italian pleasure, we somehow "accidentally" found ourselves nearby every night... conveniently close to a strip of gelato stands.
Enjoy a Taste of Tuscany a Budget
If you are on a super budget and the exchange rate just isn’t cutting it for your wallet, then you’ll love adventuring with Italy on a Budget tours. Though they offer an array of experiences listed on their tourist-friendly calendar, I had only enough time to join in on their Taste of Tuscany wine tour. We headed to the main office at 2pm from our Airbnb and waited for the van (picking up other guests) to take us to the beautiful Chianti region of Tuscany.
If you only have a short time in Florence, I would certainly recommend this tour for the full Tuscan wine experience. The ride through the hills and valley of postcard-worthy vineyards and olive trees will make you want to fall in love with the next Italian you see.
First, we stopped at a tiny, tiny, tiny medieval town called Monteriggioni. To be honest, there wasn’t anything special about the ghost town itself, but it offers beautiful views, a cute craft shop, and bragging rights about its setting for the movie “The Gladiator”.
We then arrived at a Chianti winery for much anticipated tastings.
Hint: Chianti wines are my new fave?
We toured the cellars and enjoyed wine and olive oil tastings. With the option to buy and ship any bottles we loved, we placed orders for a couple of reds to give to a friend in Greece. The bottles ran for about $40 and up.
After Chianti we stopped by Siena where we were lucky enough to see the introductory celebrations to kick off the famous Palio horse race (only held twice a year). We had time to explore on our own and tour the enchanting medieval architecture and get lost in one too many dungeon alleyways. Before our return home, we made one last stop to the Piazzale Michelangelo and watched the sun set over Florence. I couldn't believe how perfect the day turned out to be.
Crush on Michelangelo's Famous David Sculpture
From the moment I arrived in Florence, the whispered buzz about this magical work of art never ceased to ring along the narrowed Florentine roads. I even had the misfortune of running into the overwhelming line of people waiting for tickets. I am surprised I made it out alive. Let's just say, they all reeeeally wanted to get in.
Lucky I joined a tour (your best bet if you want to see David) and was able to go full education mode on top of my visit to the Accademia. First, my tour guide was probably one of the smartest women I'd ever met. Her knowledge went so beyond the tour that true history and art buffs might want to consider even booking Through Eternity tours throughout their stay in Italy.
We met right on the Piazza della Signoria, which was where I was renting the Airbnb, so it was quite a convenient meeting point. We toured along the Ponte Vecchio, explored the Baptistery, and returned to the Duomo (even though I'd been enjoying it every evening, I finally had some historical context to add to it!). When we arrived at the Accademia, I felt like I had VIP access to all of Italy when we were able to skip the line with express tickets (booked through the tour).
And finally we met David. At that moment I think Alex crossed over to the other side for a few minutes. Drooling at the beauty and detail carved into every crevice, muscle, and structure, the giant David sculpture came to life right in front of us. From the tension in his hands to the emotion depicting his calculated next move, we found ourselves speechless and #crushing.
Stroll the Local Florentine Streets While Drinking Wine
This might be one of my favorite tours of all time for sure. Not just because it includes the sunset and delicious varieties of wine but because Susanna, the owner and veteran hospitality guru, is just plain AWESOME. Susanna provides her wine tour guests with each of their own tasting glass and pouch that hangs conveniently over their neck. We left the tourist 'hood and explored the outskirts of Florence, visiting local wine shops. The local touch really added to the experience, and being able to legally drink outside was a plus, too. Read my full review of the tour here >>
Booked Your Flight Yet?
How can you not adore Florence after these activities!?
Book your flight, an Airbnb on the square, and adore this walking city just as much as I did. I know you will.
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