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Top Tuscan Day Trips From Florence by Train

The long, winding country roads, fields and fields of grapes separated only by cypresses and the nearly deserted hill towns in Tuscany lend themselves perfectly to a classic road trip. But it’s not the only way to see the Tuscan hills. Though the smallest towns are difficult to reach by public transportation, some of Tuscany’s most famous… Read more »

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The Downside of Florence’s San Lorenzo Market

The San Lorenzo Market is in a massive, covered building in the heart of the San Lorenzo neighborhood. It’s big. It’s bustling. And yet, I wasn’t able to immediately find it the first time I went looking for it. Actually, the San Lorenzo Market is comprised of two markets: an outdoor one selling goods and… Read more »

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The Churches of Florence

There’s so much to see in Florence that it can be hard to know what you’re even looking at. While touring the small, packed city, you’ll stumble upon world class church after world class church. It’s easy to get church fatigue, but with a little bit of background knowledge you can choose which ones interest you… Read more »

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Florence, Italy: What to Know Before You Go

Compared with Italy’s other big cities – Rome, Venice, Milan and Naples – Florence is an easy town to visit. The city center is compact, the people are relaxed and the food delicious. Plus, there’s so much to see that you can enjoy the world-class art and architecture with very little pre-trip preparation. Still, I’m a… Read more »

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The Tuscan Islands: Escape to Pianosa Prison

The engine rumbled as the ship backed away from the dock slowly, as if trying to quietly escape. It aimed its bow away from Marina di Campo bay and toward a still invisible line on the horizon.    I was going to Pianosa Island, an isolated island just 14 km from Isola d’Elba, the largest and most popular of the Tuscan islands.   As the ship churned closer, the thin line of land grew more visible, if… Read more »

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Tiny Tuscany: The Ancient Etruscan Town of Volterra

It was raining a steady but soft sprinkle when we got to the foot of a never-ending brick staircase. We were in tiny but mighty Volterra, a city carved by erosion among the Balze hills, between Florence, Siena and the sea. A part of a perfect trio of hill cities located close together – Volterra, Colle Val d’Elsa and San… Read more »

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Tuscany’s Hill Towns: Montalcino and Montepulciano

Both of these medieval Tuscan towns are perched on a hill. Both are most known for their red wines. Both are ridiculously tiny and ridiculously crowded in August. Strolling the streets there is most certainly a Duomo to visit, another church or two, maybe a famous civic building or even a small museum, but the… Read more »

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The Piazze, Pecorino and Panoramas of Pienza, Tuscany

There are few places better suited to a road trip than the beautiful sun-kissed Val d’Orcia.  On trips to the area I’ve stopped in Siena, Monteriggioni, Buonconvento, Montalcino and Montepulciano. Each are a quintessential Tuscan town: small, gorgeous, filled with wine and perched on a hilltop. Siena being the only truly influential town in the area’s history.  Dodging… Read more »

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Monteriggioni: Siena’s Medieval Fortress

Italy has no shortages of fortresses and castles, but perhaps Monteriggioni has the best location. Perched atop a hill between Colle Val d’Elsa and Siena in the beautiful Tuscan valley Val d’Elsa, Monteriggioni is strategically placed to see approaching armies from afar, and strategically placed those touring the Tuscan countryside.  Just 20 minutes outside of Siena, the… Read more »

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Photo Essay: A Tuscan Road Trip in Val d’Orcia

Last April Marco and I went with two friends on a weekend road trip. The first road trip we went on together was from Milan to Umbria, in a weekend tour of just a small part of the region. This time, we decided to tour the Val d’Orcia region in the south of Tuscany. The region is characterized by… Read more »