Thinking about taking a road trip in Tuscany? Here’s our four-stop tour: Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa and Lucca.
Art, fine wine, quality meat, truffles, hills, sunflower fields, Diane Lane restoring a house and Sting: some of the first few things to come to mind when one thinks of Tuscany. These—and many other reasons—prompt travelers from around the globe to visit the archaeological excavations of ancient Etruscans ruins, relax poolside with a sweeping view of the hills, sip one glass of Chianti after another, or cycle in the countryside.
So, we put together a road trip in Tuscany guide to help you discover this superb region. Start in Florence (where else?) then go on to visit some of the most enchanting cities. An arbitrary selection, perhaps, but one that will certainly not leave you disappointed thanks to the sheer variety, richness and beauty of the things to see and do at every stop along the way.
You don’t need to be given reasons to visit Florence or a list of things to see in the city known as the Cradle of the Renaissance…its moniker says it all. Florence is the first stop, and you can reach it from all the main Italian cities in a few hours at most, by train, car or plane, and you can rent a car at the airport. The Uffizi Gallery, Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti—it takes at least three days to see all the wonders of Florence, try the excellent local cuisine and immerse yourself in the special atmosphere of the city’s cozy narrow streets, antique shops and literary cafés.
2. San Gimignano
Just over a one-hour drive from Florence is the next stop: San Gimignano, the City of the Hundred Towers and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its magnificent white limestone towers and buildings take on a delicate and beautiful shade of pink during sunset. The city is full of charming vistas that are perfect for romantic snaps, Instagram stories and artistic photos. Don’t miss Palazzo Comunale, Piazza Duomo, Torre Grossa, which offers stunning views of the Tuscan countryside, and the Museum of Medieval Torture. Although it’s not for the faint of heart, the latter aims to bring attention to human rights violations happening today. Be sure to try the Buccellato, a local pastry sold in many shops inside the city walls.
Our third stop is the city of the famous Leaning Tower, about an hour and a half from San Gimignano by car or train. As we wrote before, there’s a lot to see in Pisa besides the Tower and the Field of Miracles. For example, Piazza dei Cavalieri is home to the wonderful Palazzo dell’Orologio, the statue of Cosimo I and the headquarters of Pisa’s prestigious university, the Scuola Normale. To mingle with the local students and academics and soak up the city’s relaxed atmosphere, just take a walk along the banks of the Arno and stop for a drink in one of the many establishments, or on one of the boat restaurants.
Our last stop is Lucca, just half an hour from Pisa by car. A majestic city, famous for the renowned comic book fair Lucca Comics and the magnificent Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. The city walls are all topped with bike paths so you might want to rent a bike–or to stay at one of the many hotels that offer bicycles for guests. Between the artisan shops and picturesque streets, you can visit the house where Puccini was born and the San Martino Cathedral, which houses the funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto, a sculptural masterpiece.