If you want to drive out into the True Tuscan hills, taste wine and olive oil, and bask under the Tuscan sun, Chianti is the perfect place for you! It is a beautiful and romantic wine region that attracts people from around the globe and takes a little piece of each one’s heart. It’s the ideal place to stay if you want to get away and enjoy the peace in a tucked away historic villa with an easy commute into the larger cities of Florence, Sienna, Lucca, or Pisa. Chianti is a vacation spot that actually feels like a vacation and where you can simply enjoy la dolce vita. Whether your relaxing consists of wine or olive oil tasting, bike rides through the countryside or sitting by the pool at the villa, Chianti will leave you more refreshed than before you came and will keep you coming back for more!
How to get there: Depending on what you are doing in Chianti makes a difference in how you want to get there. If you are taking a wine or olive oil tour at a vineyard in the region, then it would be best to arrange transportation with the tour guide or get a car service. However, if you are exploring the city of Chianti, take the SITA bus direct for about 4 euro each way and under a 1-hour drive!
About an hour away from Florence lies the small Renaissance town of Lucca. Lucca is full of cobble stone streets, red roofed homes, and piazzas that will never get boring exploring! There are beautiful medieval walls surrounding the city that are just right for the perfect stroll around the city or to have a picnic while enjoying the views of the countryside. You cannot leave without seeing the Cattedrale di San Martino (Lucca’s Duomo). It is covered in marble and frescos on the outside while the inside does not disappoint with its beautiful stained glass. For quite a small city, it will be sure to leave a big impact.
How to get there: You can take the train from Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Florence to Lucca for about 7.50 euros and it is about a 1.25-1.75-hour trip. You can also take the LAZZI bus from the train station to Lucca’s train station and then bus depot.This trip is also about 1.25 hours. Note: there are no Sunday busses from Florence to Lucca.
Siena is one city that will leave you breathless. Standing in the middle of Piazza del Campo is a memory that I will never forget. As I watched children chasing birds, families sitting in the square eating gelato, and looking up to the tower with the bright blue sky behind it, my heart grew a few sizes bigger for this beautiful country. Siena is home to the Palio horse race and was even the setting for the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. The Siena Duomo is definitely worth seeing. If you climb to the top of the tower, you can get an incredible view of the medieval paradise below!
How to get there: Take the SITA bus from just across the street from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Florence and arrive at Piazza Gramsci inside Siena’s old city walls. It takes about 1.25 hours and costs roughly 6.50-7.00 euro per ride. You may take the train but Siena’s train station is about 2km outside the center, so you would have to take a bus into it anyway. The train also is a bit more expensive, 6-10 euro, and takes 1.5 hours. Mine as well kill 2 birds with one stone and take the bus from the beginning!
Just an hour and a half east of Florence is where Cortona lies. This hilltop city overlooks both Umbria and Tuscany. This medieval city is the setting for the book and the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, and depicts the idea everyone has in their head of the true Tuscan hills. It is one of the oldest hill towns but is still up to date and very welcoming to all tourists. Cortona is definitely a town that you should lose the map and get a bit lost in to find the best hole in the wall shops and restaurants!
How to get there: Take a regional train from the Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Florence to Cortona. Tickets are about 11 euro and the ride is about 1.5 hours. No need for train reservations on a regional train.