Visiting Tuscany for the First Time
Tuscany has a certain magic to it that can't be described – it can only be experienced. This central Italy region is the perfect destination for anyone who loves to immerse themselves in beautiful landscapes, fantastic wines, renowned art and authentic Italian fare made better by a warm and welcoming culture.
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Where to stay
Castello La Leccia
Quintessential Tuscan escape on a hilltop between Siena and Florence, with organic vineyards and jaw-dropping views.
Sina Villa Medici
Tranquil boutique hotel in the heart of Florence, with a prized swimming pool and gardens, plus 99 revamped rooms.
Fairytale villa overlooking Chianti’s rolling hills — stay here for the cooking classes, hikes and lounging beside the two pools.
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Things to do
Book a driver and go to the vineyards
I mean, is it even Italy if you don't spend some time exploring vineyards and tasting wine? Although you can rent a car and visit vineyards on your own, booking a private tour with a driver is the absolute best way to experience Tuscany’s wealth of wines. Booking a driver allows you to savor the wine (and moment) without worrying about how you’ll get back to your hotel.
Try your hand at truffle hunting
Put on your boots and head into the woods in search of truffles! In Tuscany, you'll find local Italians who are more than happy to take you on their truffle hunts and teach you a thing or two about finding these valuable fungi. Although the prized white truffle is typically only found in the winter months, you can find other truffles throughout the year. If you’re expecting a truffle hunt with pigs in tow, think again! Italy banned the use of truffle pigs more than 30 years ago, so today, local truffle hunters bring their canine companions instead.
See the masterpieces in Florence
It’s no secret that Florence is home to some of the world’s most incredible art.
Commissioned in 1464, Michelangelo's David statue is one of the most iconic sculptures in the Accademia Gallery, but you can find many of his other works along with sculptures and paintings from other notable artists.
A quick walk past the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore brings you to The Uffizi, a destination which is home to countless works from artists like Botticelli, Da Vinci and Raphael. You could spend a full day exploring the galleries of the Uffizi, and I highly recommend that you do!
A note from Amanda
When planning your trip, I recommend choosing a wine region (I'm partial to Chianti!) and finding a guide to take you to three or four different wineries. Nearly every winery I've been to offers shipping to the States, but if not, just pack a few bottles in your checked luggage.
Places to eat & drink
Pop into any cafe for a quick espresso and pastry to start your day or as a pick-me-up in the afternoon!
Podere il Casala: This Swiss-owned family farm and restaurant combines fresh food with enviable views of Pienza. The food is simple and delicious with an organic menu that uses local ingredients for dishes like homemade tagliatelle with black truffle.
Pino's Sandwiches: Grab yourself a classic panino from this Florence-based sandwich shop. I'm partial to a simple prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich, but frankly, I don't think you can go wrong with any of Pino’s selections. Afterward, walk to the nearby Piazza di Santa Croce, a spot that is one of the main squares in Florence.
A note from Amanda
After your meal, ask if they have time to give you a tour of the farm. For the perfect souvenir, make sure to bring some of their local cheese home with you. Don’t worry, they'll seal the cheese up for easy traveling.
Need to Know
When to visit
March through May is shoulder season in Tuscany, and that is when the city really shines (due to its temperate weather). I recommend April as the ideal time to visit, although October is also a popular month because of fewer tourists and cooler temperatures.
With two international airports in the region, getting to Tuscany is easy. You can fly into the Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa or the Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence. If you’re traveling to Rome first, you can opt for Trenitalia's high-speed, nonstop Frecce train – it leaves every 30 minutes from Rome’s Termini and Tiburtina stations.
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