Ahh Tuscany. You can never set aside too much time to spend in this beautiful region. From the sun kissed, rolling hills to the bustling city of Florence, there is something on offer for every kind of traveler. Read along to hear our suggestions of how to spend three quality days in Tuscany. This post is not sponsored, I just wanted to share some experiences I thoroughly enjoyed.
Day 1 : Sign up for a Cooking Course
No, this won’t necessarily take all day, but it needs a day of it’s own. Every time I travel somewhere with a specific type of cuisine, I sign up for a cooking course. And it is always one of the best experiences of my trip. Even Josh, who does not enjoy cooking, said it was an amazing experience. I tend to do a lot of research into which cooking courses are the best, and I’ve not been disappointed yet. This time we traveled to the town of Panzano, an hour from Florence, and did the cooking course offered by B&B Fagiolari. The class is offered in the kitchen of the B&B, which is a restored 800 year old country home, nestled amongst olive groves and vineyards. The setting is truly stunning and if my budget allowed it, I would have 100% stayed at the B&B. Anna, the chef and owner, is a hard working and kind soul, who does a wonderful job explaining how to cook traditional Italian meals. The course is also great for vegetarians and vegans. It is home-style cooking to the core (even the canned tomatoes were homemade), and you get to drink lots of homemade wine while you cook. You really can’t get any better than this. We lucked out that it was only Josh and I during our course, making it all the more personal. Anna was even kind enough to give us a lift back into town! So even if you choose a different course, you really can’t go wrong with learning how to make delicious, fresh food in Italy.
Day 2 : Ride a Vespa in the Countryside
Vespas were first manufactured in Italy, so what better place to learn how to ride one? We booked a tour with a company called Tuscany Vespa Tours, which included a visit to a vineyard and a guided tour on Vespa through the countryside. Both Josh and I had never rode a scooter/Vespa before, so we were a bit nervous at first. Turns out it’s really easy and a beautiful way to see Tuscany if you aren’t renting a vehicle. The tour departs and ends in Florence, and includes a lunch and a wine and olive oil tasting. The lunch was nothing special, but it was really fun learning to ride and a perfect way for us to visit a castle and vineyard.
Day 3 : Explore Florence (including some non-touristy spots)
Florence is nearly everyone’s favourite city in Italy, and for good reason. It is old and full of history, but still young at heart. There’s a vibrant social scene for younger crowds and a ton of great restaurants. It’s also fairly small for a city, which makes getting around on foot easy. I’ll give you a breakdown of our day in Florence, with some great recommendations on places to check out. We stayed in an airbnb in the Santa Croce district and found it perfect for getting around.
1030- 1130: After breakfast, start your day at the Sant’Ambrogio Market – A perfect place to see local Italians doing some shopping. Outside the market is half flea market, half vegetable market, so a great place to pick up some inexpensive food or second hand trinkets/clothing. Inside the market are stalls selling cured meats, cheeses and other goods. There is also a delicious restaurant inside, called Trattoria Da Rocco. We had one of our best meals in Italy at this spot!! It’s a busy restaurant though, so it’s good to go early, I believe they open at 11:30am and close around 2pm.
1200-0200: Walk to Ponte Vecchio to do some shopping or in our case, window shopping. Pass by the Santa Croce church and take a look inside for around 8 euro. Before the bridge there are tons of shops to check out that aren’t too expensive. On the bridge is mostly luxury brands, but it’s nice to walk across to get a view of the river. This is a touristy spot though, so be be prepared for crowds.
0200-0300: Head to Via Dei Neri and grab a sandwich at All’Antico Vinaio. It’s an extremely popular place and you will wait in line for 30 minutes for a sandwich. Seems kind of absurd, but it’s fantastic. I just asked for a vegetarian sandwich and let them pick the toppings. It was delicious. After your sandwich keep walking down the street and grab a gelato at Gillateria Dei Neri.
0300-0500: Visit Galleria dell’Accademia to see the statue of David. On the walk there, pass by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and admire it’s sheer size and beautiful coloured marble exterior. I highly recommend visiting the statue of David, even if you aren’t into history or museums. The sheer size of the statue is enough to make your jaw drop, but the attention to detail is unreal. Tip: Book your tickets online and pick the time of day to go. You will have to collect your tickets across the street from the gallery, but it’s still much faster. You avoid waiting in huge lines, since there is one for reserved tickets and one of people just walking up off the street.
0500-0630: Take a nap!! Head back to your hotel and get a bit of rest, you’ve been walking all day and you’ve got plans for the evening after-all!
0630-0730: Grab supper at one of the many delicious restaurants near your hotel/airbnb. A quick google search or TripAdvisor check will help you find the perfect spot. People eat late here, so some places might not open till 7pm.
0730-0830: Catch a bus to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset with panoramic views of the city. There is also a bronze replica of the statue of David to admire. It’s equally as nice after dark and boasts fewer tourists, so you can enjoy the sites in relative peace. Be aware there may be a few locals drinking as there is a cart that sells alcohol there, but it’s still considered safe. I realize if you go in the summer, the sun will likely be setting later, so adjust times accordingly.
0830-1030: Catch the bus to some unique bars. Florence is home to many fun and exciting bars and we found two speakeasy bars that require you to be “buzzed” in. One bar, called Rasputin, has a hidden door and no sign, so we actually couldn’t find it. We asked in another bar if they knew where it was and they told us next door, but seemed a little annoyed as they probably get asked that every night. It helps to have a reservation here, but we didn’t and they were still able to sit us at the bar. The second place, called Bitter Bar, is easier to find as it actually has a sign with their name, but you still have to ring a bell to get in the bar. Bitter bar had better cocktails to us, but Rasputin was an experience in itself, drinks aside. These are very fancy cocktails and they come with a hefty price, but if you can swing it, we highly recommend checking them out, even just for one drink. Stroll home afterwards and admire the beautiful city at night!