Written by Shweta
Shweta has always been passionate about travel and immersing in new experiences. Having been to over 40 countries, she blogs at Zest In A Tote to bring family-friendly itineraries and tips, destinations, and luxury stays to her readers. Her belief in family travel needn't be boring and one can do a mix of local culture & food, adventure activities and relaxation, all with family. Connect with Shweta on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
For our next guest contributor, I am so pleased to introduce you to Shweta from Zest In A Tote – A family traveller keen to inspire and showcase ideas and ways to travel as a family. Today she’s taking us to Florence and Tuscany and highlighting her favourite family moments in this glorious part of Italy.
Let’s go – Florence + Tuscany
Tuscany was our first stop in the two-week family trip to Italy. And I dare say, we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to this beautiful country.
If you are looking to shun crowds and soak in pristine scenery all day long, a farmstay or road tripping between the lovely towns in picturesque Tuscany may appeal to you. Alas, we had all of 3 days – of which 2 were spent in soaking in the beauty of Florence and the last day used for a day trip to see some of the countryside and other towns in the area.
Top Experiences in Florence
My recommendation would be to stay in the heart of the city so that you can easily explore it on foot. It is a treasure trove of art, architecture and history and quite different from the open ruins we enjoyed in Rome. Besides the world-famous Uffizi Gallery and Academia Museum, there are multiple other museums and art galleries to immerse anyone for a week.
With a 4-year old child in tow, we spent the 2 days strolling through the beautiful piazzas and lanes of this charming city. The Duomo with its stunning architecture was definitely one of our top experiences. The morning queues to get in were long but not crazily so. There is an additional tour available to climb the Duomo steps to see its massive dome up close, but we let that pass. Instead, we climbed the adjacent bell tower for spectacular views of the Duomo and the city in all directions.
Another memorable experience was a late evening walk to the Piazza Michelangelo. You can see the entire city spread before you and the sunset views of Arno river flowing through are breathtaking. There is also enough open space for kids to monkey around.
Day trip to the Tuscan countryside
The Italians certainly know how to live the fine life. The charming towns, good food and wine, rolling hills and vineyards all make Tuscany very appealing.
I did not want to leave Italy without sampling its charms at least for a day. So we did a day trip to the lovely towns of Monteregionni, Siena and San Gimignano that ended with a tour to an old wine estate. You could rent a car easily from Florence but we had opted for a private tour that included a car and driver to make the most of the day.
We started with a quick stop at Monteregionni – an intact walled town that offers panoramic views of the surrounding Chianti region. It is home to a small number of locals. We explored a few local shops for fresh produce, and then took off for Siena.
Siena is arguably the loveliest city in central Tuscany and worth a visit for sure. Even after seeing the spectacular Duomo in Florence, the Siena Cathedral or Duomo is impressive. But my favourite site here was the fan-shaped central square – Piazza del Campo – that made for a lovely afternoon. It has restaurants and cafes lined around and you can spend a few hours eating, drinking and people watching.
The evening was spent soaking in the atmosphere at San Gimignano. Nothing transports you to the medieval era as easily as San Gimignano. There is one main road that cuts through this lovely town. We spent a couple of hours exploring the boutique stores and lovely cafes. San Gimignano also has a central square – Piazza del Duomo – where you can visit the Cathedral and see the various medieval towers that have made this town famous.
We stretched the already long day a bit longer to visit an old vineyard and wine estate, where the manager took us through the winemaking facility. Tasting the Chianti wines was a perfect end to the lovely day.
For more about this wonderful trip – Read this post by Shweta