It is known that Florence is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy, but all around the magical Tuscan city there are many other interesting towns that are easily reachable for short day trips and are truly worth visiting. You can arrive there by car (if you do not have yours, you can plan to rent one) or by train and although you will have to leave the Tuscan capital, these are beautiful and fascinating destinations that will make your trip to Italy all the more richer. Manarola in the Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, Greve in Chianti and Bologna are 5 ideas for exciting escapes, all within 1 or 2 hours from Florence city. >>
When people visiting Tuscany ask me what are the best places I can recommend they visit, I often have to hold myself back from overwhelming them with too many ideas. Of course it's essential that first time visitors see the main destinations: Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca... but sometimes, when their time is limited, I am tempted to suggest they skip some of those entirely. The real Tuscany, a truely authentic experience lies off the main tourist path where the crowds are less but where the sites are equally as stunning, at times even more so because of their undiscovered nature. And imagine little bread shops, botteghe, mom and pop stores where you find locals buying their goods; coffee shops full of towns folk... >>
The area around Lago di Vagli (in the province of Lucca, Tuscany) is beautiful and rich in wildlife, popular with hikers and with many footpaths around the lake. Lago di Vagli is in fact a man-made lake created a nearby dam was built in 1948. The lake's waters sunk small villages that once dotted the valley, most noted is the 13th century village called Fabbriche di Careggine, also known as "Paese Fantasma" (Ghost Village). Every ten years the lake is drained for repairs and as the waters recede the village emerges and the area is flocked by locals and tourists alike who are then able to wander around the remains of the church and village buildings. >>
Now that our months of Italian summer fun and sun and sand and endless gelatos are coming to a close, I'm starting to mentally prepare myself for the change in the upcoming months of cool and cold breezes, steamy afternoon cappuccinos, crackling fireplaces (often with a steak or sausage bristling away over a grill), and misty landscapes peppered with stunning red-orange-golden foliage. I was talking the other day to my friend Daniela who offers her delightful family villa in Chianti for holiday rentals during the year, and we were wondering why it is that the bulk of tourism in Tuscany necessarily has to be during the summer months. >>
Welcome to the second stop in our series of offbeat places to visit in Tuscany!
Leonardo da Vinci is one of Italy's most renown and Renaissance figures but people often aren't aware that his name comes from his place of birth, Vinci, a small town in Tuscany. Thus his name is Leonardo OF Vinci where he was born in 1452. Leonardo's work includes paintings, frescoes, drawings, blueprints, machines, and early technological inventions. There are several places in Italy where visitors can admire works by this great man, and an ideal place to start might be with a visit to Vinci his hometown. >>
This is the first stop in our new series of offbeat places to visit in Tuscany! Montelupo Fiorentino is a quick 30min train ride from Florence, or 20min by car, and is right off the highway that connects Florence with Pisa (and thus the seaside). Because of its vicinity to Florence, in recent years Montelupo has experienced a housing boom as more and more young Florentines have been moving into this area. Today the town is a thriving and lively center proud of its past as a major center of ceramic production for the ancient Florentine Republic yet with an eye towards the future and a great sense of innovative urban development. >>