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!

One day in Milan, Italy

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After our overnight flight, we arrived not particularly well rested at the Milan Malpensa Airport around 9 am. Running on solely adrenaline, we caught the first train into Milan!

Our first stop of the day was at the medieval Sforzesco Castle. Built in 1360s, the castle changed hands many times throughout its long history being occupied both by the French as well as the Spanish. Currently the castle houses multiple art museums but as we were pressed for time we only explored the grounds. My personal favorites were the tall beautiful windows we found to take pictures in!

After we explored the interior of the fortress we meandered through the extensive gardens known as Sempione Park behind it. On the opposite end of the park we found the Arc della Pace or Arch of Peace. Construction for the Arc della Pace began in 1807 under Napoleon’s rule to be named the Arc de Triomphe. After the fall of Napoleon the project was abandoned until it was later renamed the Arc della Pace and completed in 1838.

On our walk towards the Duomo di Milano, we stopped for lunch and some window shopping on the pedestrian street Via Dante. For our first meal in Italy (as with most all our meals in Italy) we opted for pizza and pasta!

The rest of our day we spent in and around the Duomo di Milano. In Italian, duomo means cathedral so most cities we visited had a duomo. There were so many places related to the Duomo that we bought a pass which gave us access to many different areas on the Piazza del Duomo. Our first stop was at the Duomo Museum to see relics from the building of the Duomo including clay models of the statues on the exterior and a large wooden model of the Duomo itself!

After checking into our AirBnb and a quick refresh, we headed back out to see the interior of the Duomo. Shoulders and knees have to be covered or else you get to wear very attractive kimonos as seen below. There was a mass underway as we walked around to see the beautiful interior. Our pass also got us underneath the cathedral to an archelogical site. The cathedral was built over top many older buildings including a baptistry, burial grounds and an older church called Santa Tecla. You could see what was left from the pattern on the floor of the ruins plus artifacts found in those areas.

My absolute favorite part of our day in Milan was climbing to the rooftop of the Duomo di Milano. In hindsight, after climbing the 170 steps to the top, it may have been worth the additional 2 euros to take the lift but the views might not have been quite as sweet!  There were two levels to explore and the floor was all marble so shoes with traction would have been much better than the flip flops I had on! We were on the rooftops right before closing so the crowds were not as thick as they looked during the day.

As a reward for our exercise we had what would be the first of many gelato treats on our trip through Italy. We devoured our snack on the Piazza del Duomo before heading to our AirBnb to rest up before the next leg of our journey to Montecatini!