What to see and what to do in Tuscany
For most of you who follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I went to Italy for the last half of November with my family. My husband's family are Tuscans from Livorno, but he and my sister-and-law wanted to stay where the action was, so we stayed in Florence for the duration of the trip. We took a day trip to Rome, but other than that, we were in Tuscany the whole time. It's usually not the way I travel. I'm a go go go type of girl, but with my toddler, it was perfect to stay in one little area of the country and I was able to see a lot of history that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. And what better way to experience Italy, than in Tuscany.
There was only one time in Tuscany that I didn't feel safe, but it wasn't an Italian that made me feel unsafe. By nature, Italians are very warm and very welcoming people. However, I don't want to discuss any political issues they are having with illegal immigration at the moment (particularly in Pisa), but I will say, keep all senses open when at train and bus stations, and keep all money and passports safe and secure. It's best to make copies of your passports and keep them at your hotel or apartment while out and about just in case.
Here are some important numbers to have on hand in case of emergency.
- Carabinieri - Dial 112
- Polizia - Dial 113
- Fire Department - Dial 115
- Ambulance - Dial 118
Also, I hate to disappoint you as a writer and a researcher, but I don't know the difference between the Carabinieri and the Polizia. My husband explained the difference to me several times and I still don't understand the difference. He seems to think it's normal to have two different departments policing civilians and the military, while the other only polices civilians. Again, still confused.
First and foremost, before I dive too much into this post, I just want to mention that Florence is a very history rich city. If you're into art and history, this is your town. I would spend at the max, 3 - 5 days here depending on what time of year you plan to come. If you plan coming in the summer, you might be waiting hours in line to see some of the cities main attractions, so just plan accordingly because you might need a couple extra days to see the sites. Non-tourist seasons you won't need as much time in the city. Keep in mind, the opening hours of museums fluctuate and are not consistent, so try to plan your trip ahead by knowing the hours of operation. There are dozens of museums in Florence, but I'm just gonna give you information about the two that are most popular.
The Uffizi Gallery Museum
The Uffizi Gallary Museum is something quite amazing. It's one of the most famous museums in the world. If it helps you understand the scope of this museum, Paris has the Louvre, and Florence has the Uffizi. The Uffizi and the Vatican in Rome are the two most visited sites in all of Italy, so while you're in Florence, make sure you check it out. You'll find artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Raffaello, and many other great artists of the renaissance. I was lucky enough to have a sister-in-law that studied art history at the University of Florence, so I got a guided tour by her. You on the other hand, might want to get a guided tour for yourself, but it's really up to you. You'll find a lot of the art will look very familiar and if you wanna brush up, here is a guide you can look at beforehand. The day we went, we got lucky and there was no line! However, if you're going in the summer, you might want to buy your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.
The Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is another must-see museum to check out while you're in Florence. It's the home to Michaelangelo's "David", and other famous works of art by Giambalogna, Sandro Botticelli, and other great artists. Before 1873, David was at Piazza della Signoria. After there was much concern of the weathered statue, it was moved to the Accademia Gallery and restored in a secure area without wind and weather. You can still see the replica of Michaelangelo's "David" at the Piazza della Signoria along with other replicas. If you want to brush up on your art history to see the importance of going to this museum, check it out if you want to know what all the fuss is about. Again, try to buy your tickets in advance to avoid long lines, and get there early.
There is really only one thing to see in Pisa, and that is, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. To be frank, I wouldn't stay in Pisa, because the town itself doesn't have much going on for it, except the tower. It would probably be better just to stay where you're staying in Florence, and then just take the train into Pisa, and take take the bus over to the tower. Because this attraction draws a lot of visitors from all over the world, there's a lot of hustling going on. So again, keep your eyes and your ears open, and pay attention at all times. Get there early, take some pictures, and then go on back to Florence or wherever you're staying. It's also not very easy to get to the tower, so plan out your trip prior to seeing this main interest before the city gets too busy, and before the buses get too packed.
Wine Country & Urban Wine Bars
By wine country, I mean Chianti. It's in the countrysides of Florence, Siena and Arezzo. Ultimately, if you're doing a self guided tour, you will want to double check to make sure you don't need to make a reservation. Same with any urban wine bar. Double check to make sure reservations aren't needed. But remember, safety first! There are plenty of wine tours, so if you're staying somewhere in Chianti, that's preferred. You can also take the bus from Florence and it will drop you off in Chianti, and you can make a short walk to some of the wineries as well. Check out this Chianti wine country guide on either doing it yourself or taking a tour! I wouldn't advise drinking and driving. So please, do a tour, take a bus, or hire a driver.
If you by chance don't want to deal with the countryside and just want to stay in Florence. You could do plenty of wine tastings at their urban wine bars, which they call Enotecas. You'll just want to research which Enoteca has the best reviews and go from there.
Forget about the tourist attractions
One of my most favorable food experiences in all of Tuscany believe it or not was in Livorno. Not to knock the town or anything, but it's not quaint or cute. It's actually not a very pretty city at all. It's an old fisherman's town and the seafood dishes there were amazing!. No one spoke a word of English anywhere, and the whole experience felt very authentic. So here's the thing, if you're feeling adventurous, get out of the big city and check out other spots in Tuscany. Siena is also a beautiful town in the countryside. Like Livorno, there's not much to do or see, but that's kind of the point right. That should be the real reason to go to Italy. To not always be entertained, but to enjoy the authenticity of the country itself.
Alright, thanks for reading again everyone! I hope you enjoyed and don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already.