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 Morning in Pisa, Italy

Driving from Montecatini, we arrived in Pisa around 8 am, parking near the Piazza dei Miracoli, or Square of Miracles, in a fairly empty paid parking lot. We ordered tickets to all the attractions we wanted to see ahead of time and had an 8:45am time slot to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After taking the essential holding up the tower photos, we learned we had to put our bags in a free locker storage before queuing up at the tower.

Climbing the winding staircase up the Leaning Tower of Pisa was definitely an experience! The tower is slanted 5 degrees and the marble staircase is slippery and worn down. My arms got sore bracing myself in case I fell! While my reaction to the tilt may have been a little melodramatic, be sure to wear shoes with some traction to ease your climb. The view from the top was definitely worth the stressful ascent. There are two different levels you can walk around, the top one has bells that chime very loudly in your ear throughout the day!

After our descent, we grabbed our stowed belongings and headed to McDonald’s for a coffee and bathroom break. Keep your receipts to use the restroom for free or else it costs 0.50 € to relieve yourself before the next leg of your day.

Pisa_cathedral_from_the_leaning _tower_italy

Visiting the Baptistery was next on our list. Dedicated to John the Baptist, the Baptistery was enormous with two levels to explore. After a while a worker went to the baptismal font and everyone went quiet. The man sang various notes letting us hear the fantastic acoustics the Baptistery had to offer.

Our next stop on the Piazza dei Miracoli was the Cathedral of Pisa. Construction on the Cathedral began around 1063, originally a simple cathedral, it evolved through time to the enormous masterpiece it is today. While admission to the Cathedral is free, unlike most of the other attractions on the Square of Miracles, you still need a ticket to enter. Also note that your shoulders have to be covered to enter the Cathedral or else you get to wear a very attractive covering similar to the ones we wore in Milan!

The last two places we visited on the square go hand in hand, the Camposanto Monumentale and the Sinopie Museum. The Camposanto is said to have been built on top of a shipload of holy soil brought from Golgotha (where Christ was crucified) during the Crusades. The Camposanto is a cemetary which served as the final resting place of Pisa’s elite beginning in the 12th century. The walls were lined with elaborate frescos that were almost nearly destroyed by a bombing raid in World War II. Today restoration is underway with the underlying prep layers of the frescoes, called sinopia, displayed in the Sinopie Museum.

With our early start and buying all our tickets ahead of time, it took us just over half the day to see all these historical attractions. When we arrived in the morning we had the Square almost to ourselves, however as we were leaving the Square was packed with people and lines out the doors to buy tickets! If you want some time to enjoy the Square of Miracles without the crowd be sure to go early! While there were other things we could do on the Square of Miracles, we headed back to the car to spend the rest of our afternoon in Lucca!