Everything tagged with #Tuscany
When people talk about travel, Italy comes up a lot. I always mention Rome which still stands out in my mind as a place I could see myself happily trapped in. A standard response I get is "Have you been to Florence? You haven't seen nothing yet."
It turns out that getting in and out of Florence is not so easy. We decided to fly to Rome, take the train to Florence, and then take a cab to our hotel. So, yes, that meant that the first day of travel was kind of hellish. However, the hotel that greeted us at our arrival was WELL worth it! I think it was more than just the jet-lag - our hotel (the Torre di Bellosguardo) felt like a dream. And I don't mean to say that it was idyllic (although it was), it was like a dream when you're in a big house with hallways and stairwells going all different places.
This area has several old villas that are not in use anymore, but allow visitors to tour the grounds. We got to the area a little late, and had to do a little convincing of the man and wife that let people in that we would be quick. They let us in and we were free to wander around. We were not the last to leave. The first villa that we saw was Villa Reale.
Although I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favorite city in Tuscany, a couple of people told me that they thought Sienna to be one of the most beautiful cities they've ever been to. It certainly ranks quite high. We set today to be almost exclusively dedicated to Sienna. There's a breathtaking cathedral, wonderul shops, local cuisine, and great history.
After two days of touring Florence, we were ready to hit the road and see more of Tuscany. In general, I found the Tuscans drove quickly, but fairly. Of course, we wouldn't dare driving in the actual towns. Usually, the goal was to park just outside the medieval walls and walk in. San Gemignano is built on a hill and looks like a small mideival Manhattan with towering spires. They had one main church with incredible murals, but one is not allowed to take photographs.
The subtitle of a trip to Pisa should be "Come for the Tower. Stay for the Cathedral.". Honestly, I don't know why everyone gets so excited about the tower. Especially when the cathedral and the baptistry were stunning.
I feel repetitive saying that this Lucca is a beautiful, medieval town. All of these towns have their own personality and should be experienced. This town has a cosmoploitan heart to it. Once we hit the main area, we found that it was full of small streets with shops galore.
We just couldn't get enough of Florence, so we changed our plans somewhat to spend our last day in Florence before getting on the train home. We did a little sightseeing, had gelato at one of the world famous gelato places, and then went to our respective shopping excursions. On our earlier visits, one of the churches, Snata Croce, was closed. We went back and it was open. There are several famous Florentines buried here.
As we came out of the mountains, we settled into an area called the Garfagnana. This is where I want my Italian home. It was serene, luscious, the homes were beautiful, and we were close to Lucca for shopping.
David signed us up for two walking tours, which ended up being a very good idea. Our first day in Florence, we had a four hour walking tour that covered most of Florence, followed by lunch, and then a tour of Michaelangelo's David.
After Pisa, we drove up to Carrera (the place with the marble!). Once again, quaint medieval town. Unfortunately, most everything was closed there. We saw some workers carving marble and took a picture. They let us know that that was not cool. Obviously, we looked like tourists, so they weren't too worried, but I did put the camera away.