tuscany

3 Quick Day Trips from Florence

Chianti

            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!

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson

            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! 

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson

 

Lucca

            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

            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!

kelsey gibson

            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!

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson

 

Cortona

            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.

 

Where are your favorite day trips from Florence? Jump on our trip to Tuscany this summer to explore some of these beautiful cities!

 

3 Life-Changing Lessons I learned from Tuscany

By Kelsey Gibson

"My idea of heaven still is to drive the gravel farm roads of Umbria and Tuscany, very pleasantly lost. "

-Frances Mayes

Tuscany seems to have a magic power that consumes your whole being. It has the power to completely change your view on life and help you find your true self. There are a countless number of books and movies that are based in the Tuscan hills because this region of Italy is truly a fairytale. It seems too good to be true, but maybe it’s that beautiful truth that sets you free.

Tuscany has changed my life for the better and I can say with confidence that I am addicted to it. A huge chunk of my heart is here in Florence, Tuscany’s capital, and I can speak for most people that spend time here…it gets harder to leave each time.

Here are some of our reasons why we think traveling throughout Tuscany has the power to change your life for the better:

Photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

Photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

"Beauty: the aggregate of qualities that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit"

1. The Natural Beauty 

Tuscany, and every part within it, perfectly depicts the definition of beauty. It pleases each and every one of your senses from the sight of the hills, trees and medieval architecture, the smell and taste of the fresh olives and grapes, and the sound and feeling of the peacefulness.

Once you arrive, you will realize the beauty in the big picture of your surroundings and you will start seeing the beauty in the simple things around you in your life. It will make you a more observant and attentive person to the details that make up the sweetest moments.

You will no longer wait for the big adventures, but rather really enjoy the small things that make each day more unique and beautiful than the day before.

"The most important aspects of Italian culture are food and community."

photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

2. Quality over quantity

Throughout your travels, you will find yourself in food comas often because you will not be able to resist the authentic and vibrant flavors in everything you taste.

You will quickly realize that tomatoes are not bland, olive oil actually tastes like olives and differs from one another, and wine is an art that is meant to be appreciated with each sip. You will appreciate quality of the products and ingredients rather than the convenience and quantity of the goods.

This goes with more than just food too…you will gain a sense of quality within your relationships and friendships as well.

3. Serenity

The hills have a sense of peacefulness and serenity that will make you realize simplicity is the key to happiness. You will be able to take a step back and unavoidably let go of the little worries and problems that prevent you from seeking the joy in your life.

Whether you are sitting in the hills enjoying some wine or walking through a Tuscan town, you can clear your head easily with the lack of chaos, the subtle live street music, and simply losing yourself in the loveliness around you. You can sit back and think in the tranquility while watching the world continue on.

When you return home and the worries start to resurface, you will have a new perspective on how to conquer the and turn your problems calmly into solutions. Serenity will come more natural than before and you will want to share this bliss with those around you!

photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

photo courtesy of kelsey gibson

“When you travel you become invisible if you want. I do want. I like to be the observer.”

What have you learned from your time traveling Italy? We would love to hear from you below! 

 

Who would not want to live and travel under the Tuscan sun and through the streets of Tuscan towns filled with gelato, wine, cheese, and passion?!

Come with us on our Tuscan Women’s Tour to realize all of this for yourself and more!

The Legend of the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero)

Picture this: You’re at a picnic table in a hilltop town in the beautiful hills of with a bottle of Chianti Classico wine. As you take your first sip, you mouth explodes with a variety of spices and the taste of fresh red fruits. While this wine is perfectly light to go with fatty Italian meats, it is full of a rich history. 

You may have noticed that some wine bottles here in Chianti are marked with what the Italian's call Gallo Nero. Curious the meaning behind this symbolic black rooster?

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson

 

The black rooster has been a symbol of power, victory, and pride for the Florentines since the 1200s. Siena and Florence were in constant dispute over their territories, but when the rich soil of the Chianti region was up for debate, both sides were willing to race for it. Both Siena and Florence each got to pick one horseman and one rooster. While Siena chose a plump white rooster that was well-fed and nurtured, the Florentines picked a black rooster deprived of both food and daylight.

Once each side chose their rooster, the rules were determined. On the morning of the race, the horseman could begin to ride when their rooster crowed. Then, wherever the two horsemen met is where they would define boundaries.

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson

 

Here’s the exciting part: the night before the race, the horsemen were ready to go…all that was between them and riding for victory was the simple sound of their rooster’s call in the morning. As the anxiety built up throughout night and even before the morning light, the black rooster, hungry and sleep deprived, crowed well before Siena’s rooster giving the Florentine rider an extravagant head start. On the other side, the white rooster with a full belly woke up much later from a deep sleep and caused Siena to lose much time and land. By the actual time the two horsemen met, Florence had conquered almost all of the land in the Chianti region and won it over Siena.

Ever since this day, the black rooster has become a well-known symbol for great quality wine and Florentine victory.

So, Salute to Chianti, Florence, and of course… the Black Rooster!

Want to try some fabulous wines? Then Join one of our trip or let us plan a trip for you!