This past summer we had the chance to spend a full week in Tuscany, Italy. With our home base in Montecatini we visited new cities each day. Below is a snapshot of each of our days, to read more about any of the places, click on their names in the headers!
Day 1: Milan
We spent our first day in Italy recovering from jetlag in Milan. After our flight landed that morning we took a train into the city to see Sforzesco Castle and Siemphonie Park behind it. After a quick stop for pasta and pizza we headed to the Piazza del Duomo (or Plaza of the Cathedral) for our first views of the Duomo di Milano. With the rest of our evening, we visited the Duomo Museum and climbed to the rooftop terraces of the Duomo di Milano, my favorite part of the day!
Day 2: Drive to Montecatini
Drive time Milan to Montecatini: 3.5 hours
We picked up our car from the airport, grabbing pastries on the way, and set off towards Montecatini Terme where we would spend our nights for the majority of the trip. Just slightly out of the way we made a pit stop just outside of Parma for lunch with some Parma Parmesan cheese before heading on to Montecatini! After a quick refresh at our hotel, we headed out to take the funicular to the hill top medieval city of Montecatini Alto. We spent a relaxing evening wandering the cobblestone streets, eating dinner and enjoying gelato with a view!
Drive time Montecatini to Pisa: 45 minutes
Drive time Pisa to Lucca: 25 minutes
Drive time Lucca to Montecatini: 25 minutes
We headed out towards Pisa by car early in the morning, to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa at our 8:45 time slot (make a reservation ahead of time here!). After climbing the Tower we spent the rest of our time in Pisa exploring the other attractions on the Square of Miracles such as the Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Camposanto! From Pisa we made our way to the walled city of Lucca for a leisurely lunch and rented bikes to ride around the city! Back in Montecatini we spent our evening at a spa called Terme Tettuccio. Unlike most spas, at Terme Tettuccio you don’t bathe in the thermal waters, you drink them! While the taste wasn’t the most pleasant, the minerals in it are said to be great for your health!
Day 4: Florence
Train travel time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
First let me say one day is not nearly enough time in Florence, but if you are crunched for time be sure to prioritize what you want to see! After taking the train into Florence we were able to see Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia, the powerful Medici family’s parish church the Basilica de San Lorenzo and the medieval seat of Tuscan legislature the Palazzo Vecchio all before lunch! Florence is full of history and we tried to soak up as much as possible in our little time there.
To recuperate after a hectic day in Florence we decided to join a tour group to explore the scenic (and boozy) side of Tuscany. On our tour by Discover Tuscany we first visited the vineyard Abbadia Ardenga to learn the wine making process before delicious wine tastings! After the vineyard we explore three different Tuscan towns: Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. In Montepulciano we got a second wine tasting at Citta Sotterranea, an “Underground City” where wine barrels are stored through fermentation.
Drive time Montecatini to Siena: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Drive time Siena to San Gimignano: 1 hour
Drive time San Gimignano to Montecatini: 1 hour, 30 minutes
After a leisurely morning, we drove south to the hilltop city of Siena. While there we saw the brilliant mosaic floors of the Duomo (Italian for Cathedral), the ornately decorated Baptistery and views of the city and countryside from above! After a quick lunch we made our way to the walled city of San Gimignano for the evening. We windowshopped, explored the old city, saw magnificent views of the Tuscan countryside and enjoyed some award winning gelato!
Day 7: Cinque Terre & Milan
Drive time Montecatini to Cinque Terre: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Drive time Cinque Terre to Milan: 3 hours, 10 minutes
For our last full day in Italy we needed to drive from Montecatini to Milan in order to fly out the next morning. Instead of going the direct route, we detoured through Cinque Terre! Of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre we had the time to visit 3: Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso. Train hopping between villages, we hiked through vineyards in Manarola, had a scenic lunch in Vernazza and visited the beach in Monterosso. The whole time we enjoyed the sea views and the colorful cityscape Cinque Terre has to offer!
Throughout this trip we tried to make the most out of every moment we had in Italy. Every one of these places deserved more time, but if you are limited on time like we were, hopefully this will help you plan your Italy vacation!