The Florence and the Tuscany region is one of my favorite places in the whole world. When I studied abroad there back in 2017, that’s where I really fell in love with Italian culture, art, food, and WINE. My first wine experience there was visiting the Chianti region, and that’s when I began to love red wine. Florence and Tuscany is so beautiful and scenic, and the wines are elegant and easy to drink, perfect with pasta, pizza, and just about any other kind of Italian food.
Going back a month ago was a dream! The city was still vibrant and had all of the places I would frequent a few years back, with a few new spots as well. In this blog post I’m sharing some of my favorite places to eat, have an aperitvo, sights to see, and things to do in Florence and Tuscany region.
Welcome to Florence! Stay in the city at one of the beautiful Airbnbs with views of the Duomo, or a boutique hotel. Walking around is the best way to get around this city and see all of the sights.
If you get there in the morning, grab a cappuccino and a croissant and get a lay of the land! You are bound to pass the Duomo a million times while in Florence, which is also the heart of the city. Some other fun places to walk are the Ponte Vecchio on the Arno river, and walk around the Mercato Centrale and the leather markets. Make sure you always barter for the best deal! The Mercato Centrale is fun to see also an incredible place to get lunch with so many options.
If you didn’t get lunch at the market, you HAVE to eat at All’Antico Vinaio. These are the best focacce in all of Florence and Tuscany! The line is typically long, but moves fast and is SO worth it. In the afternoon, visit Galeria Dell’Accademia that is home to the David by Michelangelo. There are three different David’s around Florence, but this one is the original and definitely worth the ticket to see it.
One of my favorite things in Italy is the Aperitvo hour 🙂 If you love a rooftop view, visit La Terrazza Rinascente. The Rinascente is a department store in Florence right in the center of the city. I looked up this place when we were there, but online it almost didn’t look like it was open which weird… however we went and had a great aperitvo! With most of these places you are definitely paying for the view with your drinks, but this one has the best view of the Duomo.
Head over to Vini e Vecchio Sapori for dinner! The menu changes every day and is hand written on a sheet of paper. The inside is tiny and cozy, but they also have an outdoor patio in the Piazza della Signoria.
On your second day in Italy, take a day trip to the Chianti wine region!
Chianti, home to Sangiovese, has some of the best wines in Italy and the world! Tuscany Tour Time was the perfect company to book a day trip with through Tuscany. Our tour guide Francesca was super knowledgable and we were able to go to three boutique, family owned wineries in the chianti region. The ride was super comfy and we were only with two other couples so it was a fun, intimate group! All of the wines we tried were amazing and we also got to sample a lot of olive oils. The tour included lunch at a winery that was all cooked by the family, so it was a very traditional tuscan meal. We left with buying wines from a few spots, and so much more knowledge and understanding of the Chianti wine region. I highly recommend booking a tour with Tuscany Tour Time if you ever visit Florence or the Tuscany region.
Dinner at Osteria dell’Enoteca was one of my favorite meals in Florence. It’s tucked away down a quiet street passed Palazzo Pitti. The traditional Tuscan food was amazing, but my favorite part was picking out the wine! They don’t have a wine list, but your server will take you to their wine wall and cellar where you can pick out what you’d like to drink.
Start your day with a cooking class! On Airbnb they have authentic, more intimate options that start in the morning. Then you eat what you made for lunch! Or you can do a more professional route and book one online like Mama Florence offers.
If you love museums and art history, you can’t miss a visit to the Uffizi while in Florence. The Uffizi is one of the most famous museums in the world for its extraordinary collections of ancient sculptures and paintings. They have art by Leonardo, Raffaello , Michelangelo, and more. My favorite is the Birth of Venus by Botticelli.
Before you head to a classic, late night Italian dinner, hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the Sunset. From town it’s a bit of a hike, but it’s fun to walk and totally worth it. Here you will get the perfect, postcard view of Florence and Tuscany. I always stop at a market on the way up and grab some cheese, baguette, and wine. Then you can chill on the steps, people watch, and take in the breathtaking view of Firenze.
Just below Piazzale Michelangelo is the Gardin de Rose (rose garden). It’s peaceful and often way less crowded than Piazzale Michelangelo and still has amazing views.
Near those spots is a new hip spot called The Lodge. It’s the newest night club in Florence, and since it’s 2021, with it being outside it was all open! I loved the modern, teaky vibes and the drinks were incredible although very expensive. You can get dinner here or go late night for music and dancing!
If you have enough time in your trip to take a day excursion to Cinque Terre you must do it! Cinque Terre means “five lands” and most tours will take you around to see the special features of all five cities on the coast. We did our tour with Walkabout Florence and opted for the hiking tour with lunch. The hike was fun and not too strenuous with beautiful views!
After your daily cappuccino and croissant, plan to climb to the top of the Santa Maria Del Fiore Duomo. The inside of the Duomo is beautiful but the line is typically sooo long and not always worth it. Definitely buy tickets to climb to the top of the Duomo instead, because you still get to see the inside of the Cathedral plus the incredible view from the top which shows a 360 view of Florence and Tuscany.
Gusta Pizza is the best pizza and lunch time spot in Florence. It’s located near Piazza Santo Spirito which is a really fun, hipster area of town. While you are over here visit Palazzo Pitti and the beautiful Bobali Gardens.
Rooftop Bar La Terrazza is an awesome Aperitivo place. This rooftop is right by Ponte Vecchio where there is so much going on, you could miss it! Luckily it’s part of a hotel. The roof is small but offers amazing views of the Duomo, river, and palazzo Vecchio. If you want you can call ahead to reserve a spot!
Located in that same Piazza as Gusta Pizza is Osteria Santo Spirito. They have the best truffle gnocchi (they are famous for it) and everything else on the menu is incredible. It’s pretty casual and moderately priced.
I’m sure you won’t want to leave Florence, but it’s time to explore Tuscany! We rented a car and drove from Florence, to Siena, Montalcino, then to Rome. It’s pretty easy to drive there and all you need to do is get your International Driver’s Permit at your local AAA store before you go. You can take the train pretty easily to Siena, but to Montalcino driving was definitely the best option.
I highly recommend visiting Siena, even if it’s just for a day trip. The town is so Medieval and unlike any other! We didn’t stay the night, but there are so many options of some cute and affordable hotels or air bnbs.
If you go to Siena make sure to check out the following:
If you plan to visit Montalcino, which if you’re a wine lover you MUST, I recommend staying at the Capanna Suites. This place could not have been more perfect. The accommodations were great, service, breakfast, views, spa, location, everything!
After driving through Tuscany, relax at the pool or do a spa treatment at the hotel.
Before you head out to dinner, book a tasting at the Capanna Winery. It’s only a few minutes from the suites, and you can tour and learn about the history while trying their wines!
Head into the city of Montalcino and walk the beautiful streets. Have dinner at Ristorante Osticcio where you can reserve a special table over looking the Val d’Orcia.
Good morning! Relax at the hotel, enjoy your tuscan breakfast then get ready for a day of wine tasting!
Montalicno is home to Brunello. Brunello di Montalcino is 100% Sangiovese, but it has a different terroir than Chianti and stricter aging requirements. Normal Brunello is required to age a minimum of 24 months in barrels and 4 months in the bottle before its release, and it must age for 5 years total. Brunello Riserva is limited to the best grapes from the best harvests, so it isn’t made every year! It must age for a minimum of 24 months in barrels and 6 months in bottles, and it must age for 6 years before its release.
Visit Altesino Winery. It’s only a 15 drive from Montalcino and has gorgeous views with incredible wine. The best part about wineries in Italy, is a lot of their tastings come with a tour of the winery!
If you make it to the town of Montalcino, make sure to stop at the Enoteca Fortezza, right in the old fortress. It’s a restaurant and wine shop with some of the best wines from around the world. They also, of course, specialize in Brunello flights and can offer you some great recommendations.
After a day of wine tasting, relax and have dinner at the Hotel. Hang out by the fire and enjoy the cool evening in the middle of the Val d’Orcia!
Hopefully you aren’t sick of wine yet! When it’s as good as Brunello, I’m sure you won’t be. 🙂 Try out any of the following wineries during your stay in Montalcino.
Our last dinner in Montalcino was at Baccon DiVino. During the day time this place has an incredible view. Their food was perfect and I highly recommend it!
Drive to Roma! There is so much to see and do in Rome, so if you haven’t been you may need to extend your trip 😉 We flew in and out of Rome, so we ended here and returned our rental car. If you aren’t ready to leave Italy but want to explore a different region, check out my Travel Guide to Taormina Sicily.
For other Italian wine inspired posts, check out some of my other articles! For fall some Italian wine I have been loving is from Masciarelli winery in the Abruzzo region. Their rose is perfect for fall!