There is a lot to love about the Renaissance city of Florence, a rich and varied cultural heritage, a plethora of gastronomic delights and for its artisanal roots. In fact, as a person who constantly finds new reasons to fall in love with her city, I dare say you need much more than just a few days to truly immerse yourself in the Florentine spirit. However, when the need arises for a taste of the surrounding evocative countryside which includes wine, you’ll find plenty of options for day-trips in the Tuscan hills where the only quandary you might face is where to have lunch. Here are six of the best day trips from Florence that include wine.
This lovely medieval city was said to have been founded by one of the sons of Remus (yes – that legendary Remus from Rome) and is most well-known for its Palio horse race taking over the town and its passionate citizens twice a year. The heart of Siena lies in the characteristic Piazza del Campo, once the site of an old Roman forum. This gorgeous red-brick and shell-shaped piazza is surrounded by ancient palazzi, including Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall, known for its collection of frescoes, architecture and the Torre del Mangia where you can see an incredible view of the entire city. Other notable sites include the Gothic Cathedral di Siena that contains the Nicola Pisano pulpit which was restored recently, the Pinacoteca Nazionale and the Civic Museum. Just outside of Siena you can enjoy verdant landscapes and Chianti Classico wine tastings.
Another favorite destination founded by the Etruscans, beloved by the Romans and made famous in the Renaissance is the beautiful town of Lucca. Ancient walls encircle its well-preserved historic centre where visitors and locals alike ride bikes and stroll along the lovely tree-lined ramparts before tucking into wild boar pasta at one of their many traditional trattorias. It is also knows as the town of one-hundred churches, so it is definitely the place to be if you’re a big fan of architecture and churches. The Cathedral of Saint Martin is a must see because of the Holy Face of Lucca – a cedar-wood crucifix that, according to the legend – was curved by an artist who helped to deposit the body of Christ in the tomb. If you’re a shopaholic, head to Il Filungo to buy designer, local products and souvenirs. Wine-making has also taken hold in Lucca and its countryside with its main production centered around the strada del vino (road of wine), Colline Lucchesi DOC and Montecarlo, among others.
It’s almost impossible to mention “day trips from Florence that include wine” without including the area of Chianti, a place well-known for rolling hills with vineyards at every turn boasting beautiful landscapes dotted with quaint towns. It is the perfect escape from the urban chaos where you can take it slowly and just relax while having a good glass of Chianti Classico with good friends. Another great way to visit this area is to combine visits to local wineries with walking tours of nearby hill towns. However, be sure not to miss my favorite picturesque hamlet Montefioralle, a stone’s throw from Greve, also the supposed birthplace of Amerigo Vespucci.
If you ever dreamed of taking the famous picture of yourself pushing the Leaning Tower, then you should totally plan a day trip to Pisa. It is very easy to reach it by Florence either by car (1 hour) or train (1.5 hours). Piazza dei Miracoli is an UNESCO World Heritage site that includes the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the infamous tower. Its signature tilt is caused by the soft ground on which it was built, composed by soft sand, clay and deposits from the river Arno and Serchio. Other remarkable sites includes Piazza dei Cavallieri – home of the famous Normale University which is one of the oldest in Europe; its stunning building was designed by Giorgio Vasari. Along the river, the picturesque Lungarno is no less beautiful than its more famous “cousin of the same name” in Florence. The university town isn’t in a particular wine producing area (though there is a Bianco Pisano), but there are plenty of wine bars where you can explore brands and grapes from around Tuscany.
80 kilometers southeast from Florence is one of my favorite places in earth, Arezzo! A place with Etruscan roots and a stylish population, the town is surrounded by four valleys and has one of the best antique markets in Italy every first Sunday of the month. It is also know for the Giostra del Saracino is a historical event originated from the crusades and the raids of the Saracens that reached Arezzo as well as other parts of Italy. In 1677 the rules were not very strict: any armed knight showed up in Piazza Grande – Arezzo’s main square – with his godfather could join the giostra. Today the town is divided in four districts and each of them compete for the final prize, the Lancia d’Oro and the glory. When it comes to wine, the area to explore stretches from Bucine to Cortona along the strada del vino Arezzo and the Colli Aretini home to a fertile soil and wine once favored by Tuscany’s Grand Duke.
This picturesque hill town is situated in the Val D’Orcia and it’s the perfect place to spend a day immersed in Tuscany’s history and countryside. There are great churches to visit, including the 13th century Church of Sant’Agostino, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso and Sant’Egidio, commonly known as the “Sienese people’s church”. Montalcino is also famous for making excellent refined wines, starting from the most well-known one, Brunello di Montalcino.
Dievole updated this post on September 27, 2018.