The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, located in Florence is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. Almost two centuries were necessary for the construction of this Cathedral! Outside, take a few minutes to admire the mix of pink, white and green marble and the clock above the entrance. Inside, don't miss Giorgio Vasari's frescoes of the Last Judgment. Climbing up the cupola is also not to be missed.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, although one of Italy's (and the world) most famous sights, has not yet revealed all its secrets. Its architect, responsible for the defect that led the intended straight tower to start leaning during construction, remains unknown - and we have no one to thank for this very entertaining wedding cake-like edifice!
The Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, standing at the highest point of Florence, offers an amazingly fine Romanesque architecture and incredible sights thanks to its position. Its history is just as impressive and its saint, Saint Minias, was the first Christian martyr and evangelist in Florence. Don't miss out on the crypt of the basilica.
Remarkable for its medieval brick buildings, Siena deserves its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Don't miss: the beautiful shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the Torre del Mangia and its impressive views over the city, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and its breathtaking Duomo and intriguing crypt, the rich Piccolomini Library, and the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.
Val d'Orcia's untouched and wild landscape, only inhabited by small picturesque towns and villages are one of the most charming sights in Tuscany. The UNESCO's Wolrd Heritage Sites list has welcomed its mellow hills and gorgeous vineyards (producing the renowned wines of Brunello). Must-see: Pienza the "Ideal City", the Abbey of Sant'Antimo and of course the vineyards and surrounding countryside.
Florence's L-shaped square the perfect spot for the tired tourist: you can enjoy a relaxing cafe right in the middle of a postcard scenery, seating comfortably all the while enjoying plenty of sights such as the Palazzo de la Signoria after which its named or the Statua Equestre di Cosimo and the Fontana del Nettuno.
This masterpiece of Italian Gothic architecture was left standing but roofless by centuries of legendary history. Built between 1182 and 1185, the Abbey has lost all of its past wealth and grandiosity but very little of its beauty. If you are in the area, have a look at the Rotonda di Montesiepi nearby and look for the sword planted in the ground.
Located just outside Cortona, the Convent de Le Celle is a Franciscan convent built in the 13th Century. Over the centuries, it has been occupied by a large variety of religious orders and dedicated to different saints, the most famous probably being St Michael Archangel. The convent is a sight in itself but also benefits from great surroundings.
Biggest Island of the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba is also the most famous. This is the island where French Emperor Napoleon was exiled in 1814 after its defeats. Its history is much richer than this story only, and goes all the way back to the Etruscans and Romans. Now, the island is popular for its clear-blue waters, sandy beaches and amazing nature as well as the thermal baths.
The Medici Chapels are two structures at the Basilica San Lorenzo, and an important landmark of the history of Florence. As hinted by its name, it celebrates the city's patrons and Grand Dukes family of the Medici, whose story is entangled to the history of Florence. The Sagrestia Nuova, dating from the 16th century was designed by Michelangelo.
After courting the Medici historical landmarks, don't forget to honour Florence's other major and rival family: the Strozzi. It was built in the sole purpose of showing superiority to the Medici family and assert the political status of Filippo Strozzi the Elder and its descendants. The renaissance Palace once belonging to the family now hosts international art exhibitions.
Most famous for its Renaissance sculptures from Michael Angelo (including the world-famous David statue), the Galleria dell'Accademia ("Accademia Gallery") also hosts other major Italian artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pontormo, Andrea del Sarto, Allessando Allori and Orcagna. From masterpiece paintings to incredible music instruments, it is a museum like you can only find in Italy.
The Boboli Gardens in Florence are not only the perfect spot when someone is in the mood for some green but also a great cultural outing. Indeed, it hides between its trees a large collection of sculptures dated between the 16th and 18th centuries, or as old as the roman antiquity. While you are there, you can also have a look at the Porta Romana.
Worldly famous for the Chanti wine, the eponymous region is also gaining a growing reputation for its fabulous green landscapes, spread over the provinces of Siena and Florence, with no clear delimitation. Olive groves and old stoned houses and villages interrupt here and where the landscape is full of flourishing vineyards.
Parco Regionale della Maremma, established in 1975, was the first natural park in Tuscany. It remains out of the classic touristic paths despite being a great green area with a lot of hikes and bicycle rides opportunity as well as a beautiful and natural beach. Come here to breath the fresh air of a barely touched coast.
Panini Toscani is strategically located in the centre of Florence, in Piazza Del Duomo. Try out some of the fresh and crispy melted-cheese stuffed paninis - most popular sandwiches of Italy - while starting a little chat with the very friendly staff. You can even try samples before making your choice!
This pizzeria offers the classic Italian dinner experience, even improved by really good wines and tasty cocktails. The portions are generous and so is the staff, and Le Tre Forchette is one of the rare restaurants in Pisa that does not apply a "tourist premium" on the prices.
Caffè/Ristorante Pitti is located in the heart of Florence and is a cafe, a restaurant and a shop that sells local products! Their speciality is truffle but the choice is really large and they serve classic Italian food. Expect relatively high prices because of the ideal location.
Near Carmignano in the heart of Tuscany you can find an old stone farmhouse where Da Delfina is set. Here you can relish all the typical Tuscan cuisine in a comfortable and elegant ambiance and where the impressive terrace offers beautiful views over the surroundings.
If you encounter Il Canto del Maggio by chance while strolling around the beautiful Tuscan countryside, you might think for a second that it is a mirage. The settings are just too perfect: an old farm renovated with taste, adjacent to a charming swimming pool surrounded by canopy beds which veils are softly animated by the wind, right in the middle of the vineyards. The cuisine, a melange of Arezzo's, Siena and Florence's specialties, is just as worthy.
This one Michelin star hotel and restaurant sitting in the Chiana valley has everything you would dream of: a beautiful terrace overlooking the Chianti hilltops and a local cuisine made with invention - all the ingredients are local but the chef sure knows how to put his personal touch! Special mention for the Chianina beef battuta.
Standing in the middle of an olive grove, the Ristorante Redaelli Walter might be a bit isolated but is so famous you will definetly need to book. This is perhaps one of the best restaurant around, with local and seasonal cuisine cooked with passion and ingredients coming from the restaurant's garden. Don't miss the cheese plate!
Come to Officina della Bistecca for a meat extravaganza! Halfway between a butcher, a cooking show and a restaurant, a meal here is entertaining, reasonably priced and beyond delicious (that is, if you love meat). The tartar, carpaccio and bistecca fiorentina are the stars of the show! Remember to book.
One of the cheapest real quality eats of the region, Trattoria Da Rosanna seems a bit lost in its village usually forgotten by the tourists. Generous portions of homemade pasta with tasteful sauce, local wines and homemade desserts will wait for you here, at the edge of the Val d'Ombrone.
If you are looking for a budget eat, Doplavoro La Foce is a good spot. It offers cheap sandwich-like snacks (such as foccacia's cousin "bico" and paninis) or slightly pricier but still very affordable warm dishes. All of which are served in a newly renovated restaurant with a terrace and great views. On Wednesdays or Weekends, go for a tour of the La Foce gardens!
Of all the pizzerias you can find in Florence, which might be difficult to pick. Well, hesitate no more and go for Pizza Man de Amicis: fresh and vegetarian friendly, the Pizzas here are often referred to as the best pizzas in the world! Keep in mind that this is not the place for a long sitting romantic dinner but rather a quick and cheap meal.
Tamata Ristorante, on Elba Island, reserves many surprises to its customers: the food and products are local and seasonal, but there is nothing traditional in the dishes you will savour! Inventiveness and finesse in the composition, true research in the tastes, passion in the pairing with the wines: this restaurant is simply perfect.
If you came to Italy for the gelato (and who could blame you?), Artigiani gelateria is the one and only stop you need to make for artisanal and absolutely mind blowing Italian ice creams. You can also try ice cream cakes and they have more flavours than you could dream of.
Caniparoli cioccolateria is a tiny little shop that has already made some serious fans. The variety is wide (from classic chocolates to French style chestnuts or cookies) but we guarantee you will be back to try everything! To complete this perfect place: the staff is just as sweet as what they sell!
La Cité Libreriacafè is not only a coffee shop but also a bookshop with live concerts, a very 70's atmosphere, quality products (coffees but also a larger range of drinks). Tons of books crawling down the shelves will make you forget everything about your plans for the day.
Don't be intimidated by the fancy allure of this artsy coffee shop, it is actually a typically Italian cafeteria with an old school style The coffee is as top-notch as the service, assured by suited waiters, and you can also come in for a lunch or some drinks which you can sip on while enjoying a concert.
For a jazzy and atmospheric evening in Siena, come to Tea Room: arched ceiling, fireplace, live music create a soft ambiance, perfect to sip on really good and carefully chosen leafed tea. To complete this perfect picture, you can also nibble on homemade pies and cakes baked freshly daily.
When in Portoferraio, on Elba Island, a great spot for a break is the Grand Caffè Del Porto. The main reason to come here is the location: right in front of the dock, you can observe the harbour life, the loading and unloading of ship, all the while sipping on some coffee and having some food.
With a modern twist on the traditional coffee house, the ITIT II Sandwich cafè finds a way to keep the quality of Italian coffee and espresso while adopting an american style with several pastries and a wide variety of coffee based drinks. Special mentions to the hot chocolate and iced cappuccino.
Vegetarian and vegan friendly, the Shake Café is halfway between a small restaurant (following the organic/healthy fast food concept) and a juice bar. This place is great for a seated meal or a coffee, but also offers all its products to take away if you are still in a walking mood.
Latte & Co. is the place to go for ice creams in Livorno. The scoups are big, the prices are good and the taste is just marvelous. To top all that, the gelatos come in a wide variety of classic or original flavours and even dairy-free (for example the soy milk based chocolate ice cream).
Another nice spot for those with a sweet tooth, a place devoted to sweet crepes but also serves savoury crepes. When you enter you will notice the smell of chocolate and for sure they make crepes for all tastes. It all can be enjoyed while listing to electro music in the background.
This beach bar located on the Tuscan coast just in front of Elba Island is an amazing bar for the summer. The drinks are as fabulous as the environment and you can try all kinds of rums, most of which you probably don't know yet. The bar also manages to stay more authentic than usual beach bars.
All day long and into the night, locals and visitors of Siena go to the Bar Impero for a coffee, some sweets or a drink. Just join them and enter this modern and trendy bar and see what all the fuss is about. The Bar Impero is perfect for a quick night cap or post-dinner desert.
Owned by a very nice married couple, Vini e Delizie is great for wine lovers. There you can try a large range of Italian wines, Prosecco and other Tuscan wines and specialties. Complimentary nibbles are also brought to the table, which is always a much appreciated plus.
In Porto Azzuro, on the beautiful Elba Island, one bar did the unthinkable: mixing the wine bar and pub concept! And Barkollo did it well, inventing by the same occasion the concept of "Wine Pub". Available: wine and beer of course, but also meals, tasting plates and paninis for example.
THE place to be for an extraordinary fun night in Florence, the Red Garter features the unavoidable things you would expect in an American bar: burgers, chicken wings, and other steak house basics. The main attraction, though, has nothing to do with the food and drinks but everything to do with the clientele, one word: karaoke!
What could possibly be better than a Beach Club for a hot summer in Tuscany? Well, not much really, we agree. Beach Club Versilia is a bit pricey, but the settings explain that easily. Good news, it is also opened in the winter, and serves coffees, drinks and food all day until early morning (or late night, depending how you look at it).
You can find the best Italian cheese, salami and a really good selection of Wines in La Taverna Del Pecorino. The owner of this shop provides samples so you can try the products and make sure you are making the right choice, but just so you know: there are no wrong choices here!
This popular luxury outlet centre gathers famous names such as Dior, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli - and a lot more. Located just half an hour from Florence and open everyday, it is perfect for a one-stop intensive shopping day if you want to fill up on Italian and international brands.
Located in the Mugello Valley, just 30km out of Florence, this outlet has more than 100 shops to offer. It is organised like a small village with the shops in little lodges side by side. You can book a tour for the mall which includes transportation and a special shopping card giving right to a 10% discount.
The Pont Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge in Florence, built over the Arno River. Its location, closed-spandrel segmental arch shape and its colourful facade make it a great sight in the city, but it is also a good spot for shopping since it is also home to several jewellery shops. This type of construction, once common, is now rare and offers graceful shopping.
Although his stoneware artworks are now famous and in display in museums around the world, Bruno Gambone - undisputed ceramic master in all Tuscany - has kept his generous character and authenticity. You can visit his studio in Florence, only on appointment, and purchase his pieces on location - the classic are available at a very good price.
In the Province of Siena, you can find the medieval town of Colle di Val d'Elsa. It has been producing crystalware and glassware since the 14th century and is still nowadays the source of 90% of the Italian crystal production. You can therefore do some oriented shopping while visiting this gorgeous town.
This tiny shop on the side of a countryside road might not impress from the outside, but it is a true gem when it comes to housewares. Mrs. Franca Bartolomei now runs the place, where they produce all kind of furniture (chairs, lamp holders, a crazy variety of baskets etc.), all of it handmade and using quality products and traditional technics.
In a style really different to the expected heavy and over-the-top Florentine Dynasty fashion, Antico Setificio Fiorentino designs and produces delicate, impressive and colourful silk creations. The showroom is a great part of the tour and will certainly put you in the mood for a Chantilly looking Ermisino silk purchase.
Leonardo Bugelli might be young, but he masters the art of custom tailoring -and take its really seriously. If you order a shirt you will have to come several times for fitting and wait about 6 months to actually receive the piece, but its finesse, perfect cut, hand-stitching and quality of its fabrics (all of Italian origin) are well worth the wait.
This pharmacy/herbalist looks more like a museum! Located in a former chapel dated of the 14th century, it is grandiose and beautiful. You can walk from room to room, all specialised in a particular type of product: pomades, infusions, perfumes, skin care products, and many more.
If you want to treat yourself with Italian shoes of serious quality, enter the boutique of shoemaker Stefano Bemer. He uses a variety of 180 different leathers to create flawless shoes for men and women - and attention is paid to every single detail, up to the laces! These shoes are built to last 15 years.
Enoteca Falorni is a must when it comes to Italian wine tasting. Come here armed with your curiosity and your palate to try a very large choice of Chianti wines and other local vino, and leave with a box of your favourites. The setting is incredible, and you can accompany your wine tasting with some local food as well.
With 250 Tuscan Wines and 60 different local olive oils carefully stored in charming frescoed Palazzo Capponi, Oil & Convinium is king of the gourmet scene in Florence and Tuscany. This is a restaurant (and a good one) as well as a boutique so why not have a lunch here before making your purchase! Oil tasting available on appointment.
The ultimate stop for Tuscan pastries is in Siena and its name is Bini. Watch the pastrycooks in action through the front glass-window to open your appetite and then make your choice between the piles of appetizing pastries such as ricciarelli, cavallucci and the best panforte of the area.
This fine jewellery brand is the inheritance of a family of goldsmiths of long history and tradition. With each descendant, the brand has been renewed and modernized but had lost nothing of its prestige or quality and still projects an image of luxury and exclusivity. Probably the best place to find a very special piece!
Florence’s airport Peretola is an international airport and around 5 km from the centre. This is the second-busiest Tuscan airport when it comes to passengers after Pisa International Airport. A special bus called “Vola in bus” gets you into the city centre (S. Maria Novella railway station) from Peretolain within 20-25 min. and it runs from 06.00 to 23.30, every 30 minutes. Taxis from the airport to central Florence takes about 15 minutes.
The best way to get around Florence is on foot. The city centre is not very large and is full of monuments and things to see. The local transport companies are ATAF and LI-NEA. Tickets are bought at tobacconists or any shop with an "ATAF" sticker in the window and are valid for 90 minutes. Always remember to validate your ticket in the buses.