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A Week in Florence and Tuscany

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Florence is best in the off-season; the summer months are painfully crowded. If you love art history, this is your chance to dive deep. Tuscany contains a mind boggling number of sights and experiences. The hill towns, like San Gimignano, are incredibly atmospheric (and touristy). Sienna's duomo is a stunning architectural creation literally cantilevered out over a hill. Get out of town to see the vineyards. Arezzo's stunning Piero Della Francesca murals are worth the trip alone.
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Piazza del Duomo, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The cathedral, usually called the Duomo, is Florence’s most recognizable building. You are able to catch glimpses of its magnificent red-tiled cupola from just about anywhere in the city center. Construction on the church...
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6 Lungarno Corsini, 50123 Florence FI, Italy
Escaping the crowds around Florence Cathedral one afternoon, I decided to wander along the Arno River and was rewarded with stunning views from the water's reflection. The picture highlights not only the clear, nearly symmetrical reflection cast...
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Via dei Tavolini, 19r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
On a cool night in November, walking alone from an outdoor food market in the center of Florence, I decided to indulge my sweet tooth yet again. I stopped for a "snack," one that I would never eat just before dinner back home yet couldn't get...
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Via della Scala, 18, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Hundreds of years ago, at the height of Florence’s Renaissance heyday, visitors to this cultural capital wouldn’t have stayed in the kinds of luxury hotels that now line its picturesque streets. Rather, the well-heeled would have come...
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Via Baccio Bandinelli 98, 50142 Florence, FI, Italy
You know the daydream where you’re in a colorful vintage car zipping along cypress-lined Tuscan roads that line the Arno? Well, here it is. You turn off onto a gravel path ending at a sunny complex of restored 19th-century Italian factories...
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Via Ricasoli, 58/60, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Most people head to this ex-art school to ogle the world’s most famous nude statue. Michelangelo’s David was carved from a single five-meter-high block of milky-white marble in 1504 and originally stood in Piazza della Signoria....
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Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
When you visit the area of the Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Republica in Florence, don't miss this interesting attraction. From Piazza della Signoria, walk towards Piazza della Republica, and on the left side, you'll see Piazza del...
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Via Lambertesca, 18/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
You can’t visit Florence without indulging in ice cream once at the very least, but it’s not so easy to find the real deal. Carapina, gelateria of choice for cognoscenti (but often overlooked by tourists), is located a stone’s throw from the Ponte...
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Greve in Chianti, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
One of our favorite drives during our May trip to Italy was through the Chianti region in Tuscany, like this road outside Greve. It doesn't take that long to drive through the region - we did it in an afternoon and evening, stopping for an amazing...
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Southern Europe
Our last day in Chianti, Rachael & I headed out in the Fiat to explore a couple more places on our list. One of these places was I Sodi, a local, family-owned winery very close to the Bed & Breakfast where we stayed. We turned off the main road...
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Via XX Luglio, 11, 50022 Panzano In Chianti FI, Italy
Dario Cecchini is the most famous butcher in Italy and is probably the only one who recites Dante while carving up his carcasses. His small shop on the outskirts of the medieval village of Panzano is a Mecca for carnivores seeking quality meat...
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Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Ideally you'd have a whole day to appreciate the world’s foremost collection of Renaissance paintings, housed in the 16th-century headquarters of the Medici court. But for those with less time, highlights include the three great...
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Piazza S. Croce, 16, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
The Franciscan Basilica di Santa Croce, with its striped green-and-white marble facade, dates from about 1294. Inside are the tombs of many celebrated early Florentines, including Dante, Michelangelo and Machiavelli. Among the many art treasures...
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Piazza Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
You will likely see Bronzino's famous portrait of Eleonora (or Eleanor) de Toledo, in the Uffizi, during your visit to Florence. The Spanish noblewoman who became the duchess of Florence in 1539 when she married Cosimo I de' Medici was unusual for...
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Via delle Porte Sante, 34, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Most people who visit Florence know that walking to Piazzale Michelangelo is a must. However, fewer people know that walking a little higher to the old church of San Miniato al Monte is an even better experience. Amble down the Arno River to Viale...
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53100 Siena, Province of Siena, Italy
It is so easy to get lost here, and to find yourself. I walked on cobbled stones through a quiet neighbourhood - every turn looks like a postcard.
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Str. di Certosa, 82/86, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
There is an intimate hotel in the hills of Tuscany near Siena called Certosa di Maggiano. It is pure magic. Tranquil and filled with old Italian charm, this is a place to go and chill out. Strada di Certosa 82/86, 39/0577-28-81-80. Rene Redzepi...
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Piazza del Campo, 1, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
During my time in Siena, I learned of the 17 contradas that divide this small city. It is hard to imagine that in city of this size, there were originally 59 contradas in the Middle Ages when they were established for military purposes. Over time,...
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Il Campo, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
Considered one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, the Piazza del Campo—or, simply, Il Campo—has been at the heart of life in Siena since it began as a marketplace and meeting spot for the area’s villages; the...
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53100 Siena, Province of Siena, Italy
Each spring as a child, I looked forward to the annual Derby Day party in our family backyard when my parents’ friends donned odd hats and downed mint julips. Somehow, I thought Il Palio was going to bring back childhood memories, but the Kentucky...
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Piazza del Duomo, 8, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
The floor of the Cathedral of Siena, 'the most beautiful... largest and magnificent... that ever was made' (Giorgio Vasari) worth a visit by sure, believe me! Every year I come back there when it is open, two months a year from the week after the...
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Via S. Pietro, 29, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
Active from the 13th to 15th centuries and considered an influence on the pre-Renaissance movement, the Sienese School of painting is identifiable by its themes—always religious, and usually with a focus on Biblical miracles—and its signature...
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Piazza Antelminelli, 55100 Lucca LU, Italy
Dedicated to St. Matthew, Lucca’s beautiful cathedral was built in typical Romanesque style in the 12th century and has a curious asymmetrical, tiered façade covered with fantastically complex carvings. The dim interior houses one of the town’s...
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55100 Lucca, Province of Lucca, Italy
There is magic in the cobblestone streets of Lucca, Italy. Surrounded by its original city walls, this enchanting city in Tuscany is rich in history and has a casual, elegant feel. Sophisticated, older women in black suits and pink glasses ride...
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Via Sant'Andrea, 55100 Lucca LU, Italy
My husband and I visited Italy in May, and one of our favorite stops was the charming Tuscan town of Lucca. After wandering through the town for a few hours we decided to climb this tower, which offered a perfect view of Lucca from above. It's...
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Via del Monte alle Croci, 10, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
There are around 600 wines from all over Italy (and 50 by the glass) to choose from at this wood-panelled wine bar which has a pretty terrace overlooking the old city gate of San Miniato in the buzzy San Niccolò neighbourhood. Lunchtimes are good...
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Viale Manfredo Fanti, 4, 50137 Firenze FI, Italy
Soccer fans should try to catch home team Fiorentina (also called ‘Viola’ thanks to their purple shirts) on their own turf, the Artemio Franchi stadium. The season runs through the winter, and home games are normally held on alternative Sundays....
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53037 San Gimignano, Province of Siena, Italy
Forty-five minutes to an hour away from Florence awaits the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bordered by 13th-century walls and featuring a triangular central square lined with historic houses, the town is...
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Piazza del Duomo, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
Pisa’s famous leaning tower (the campanile of the adjacent Duomo) is part of the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes the Duomo, baptistery and cemetery. Begun in 1173, the tower began to lean almost immediately thanks...
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Arno, Italy
I knew Pisa would be crowded with Leaning-Tower-gawkers. I, of course, was one of them. But as evening fell, I was amazed at how quiet the banks of the Arno were, just a few blocks away. This trip to Italy was the 'last hurrah' of my...