One week in Tuscany: Our 7 Day Italy Itinerary

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!

Day 3: Pisa, Lucca & Montecatini

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.

Day 5: Day tour around the Tuscan Countryside

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.

Day 6: Siena & San Gimignano

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!

A Day Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy by Car

For our last full day in Italy we needed to get from Montecatini to Milan to be ready to fly out the next morning. Adding a slight detour, we decided to stop in Cinque Terre along the way!

Cinque Terre in Italian translates to “Five Lands”, aptly named because it is comprised of five coastal villages. Driving ourselves posed a bit of a challenge since cars are not allowed in most areas of the villages but luckily we found free parking outside of Cinque Terre in the town of Groppo (white parking spaces are free, blue are paid and yellow are for residents only) a short hike from the village of Manarola. After a 20 minute hike we made it to Manarola, the second village from the south. Just inside the village, we stumbled upon San Lorenzo Church and a clock tower with views of the ocean.

After a little exploring we decided to take the trail towards Corniglia, the next village over, to get some views of Manarola from above. We didn’t have time to hike go all the way to Corniglia but we got some great views of the city and beautiful ocean views. We stopped next to a vineyard for a break and a snack.

After making our way back down the path, we window shopped in Manarola making our way to the waters edge. We had wanted to take the ferry between the villages but the waters were too rough that day so the boats were only running between the first and the last cities. Defeated we headed to the train station and ended up buying a Cinque Terre Card. This card allowed us to ride the train and the local buses all day. At 16 euros it would be paid for with how often we rode the train plus it gave us free access to the bathrooms and wifi at the train stations!

Cinque_terre_italy_manarola_trail_view

Boarding the train we headed two villages over to Vernazza. Walking down the street we saw a rocky tunnel off to the side (surrounded by safety warnings) with people on the other side. Naturally our curiosity got the better of us and we went through the rock tunnel to find a “secret beach” on the other side. There were many people swimming in the water and basking in the sun!

After some window shopping we headed further down the street to the waters edge. After a few photos and taking in the gorgeous scenery we decided to splurge and have a seafood lunch with a view!

Our next stop was one city over in Monterosso, the northern most village in Cinque Terre. Monterosso is most known for its beaches and the free beaches by the train station were flooded with people. We walked along the shore until we came across the statue of the Giant. The Giant was built in 1910 and now is missing both his arms and a leg as a result of artillery fire in World War II. Turning back the other direction we walked along the shore until we passed through a tunnel to find a gelateria (and other shops) waiting for us on the other side. We settled in with a view of the sea while we enjoyed our final gelato of the trip.

After gelato we hopped back on the train back to Vernazza. We wanted to hike the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso for a view of Vernazza from above but didn’t do it earlier in the day as the sun was high in the sky. After about 10 minutes of walking we reached the postcard view of the city!

After our hike we decided to head back to Manarola for a quick dinner before leaving for the long drive to Milan. Before dinner I took a quick trip to the waterfront to for some last minute pictures. I found a path up the hill and decided to follow it. It led me to my favorite view on Manarola.

Cinque_terre_italy_manarola_view_waterside

For our last meal in Italy knew we had to have pizza, we ordered a few different kinds and shared them family style! After dinner we found a bus to take us back to our car in Groppo (included in our day train pass!). That saved us from a 30 minute hike up hill to our car before the long drive back to Milan for the night. While we only had time to visit three of the five villages on our day trip to Cinque Terre, we are so glad we went out of our way to get a glimpse of these gorgeous villages!