Travelzoo Experience: Tuscany Travel Tips
One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
Who doesn’t love Italy! I think my fall visit was the perfect time of year to go to Tuscany – harvest season, great weather and fewer crowds. My best friend happily decided to join me. We planned to fly from Chicago to Milan and then take the train to Florence.
Everything worked out better than I could have imagined -- how often does that happen? No delays, cancellations, and the train was easy to navigate. Florence is great city to get lost in, there were always some fun surprises along the way. It was truly an inspiring trip -- unbelievable scenery, history, art and of course food. I came back with three screenplay ideas. Still looking for Sofia Coppola’s phone number…
Trip highlights -- too many to list, but here are my top recommendations for anyone heading to Florence:
- Climbing the 437 steps to the top of the Duomo. Terrifying because about half-way up you walk around the interior perimeter of the dome. It is truly frightening. But once you make to the top (through all the winding stairs) you are rewarded with unbelievable views
- Sign up for Florence city tours: We did two half-day tours, which was great because they included admission to the Academy of Fine Arts -- to see the David -- and the Uffizi Gallery, where all the best Renaissance art is housed. The lines for both museums can be notoriously long, this way you avoid them
- Drive up the hillside to an area called Fiesole. It’s sort of suburb, built into the hillside. Amazing villas. Definitely the most expensive real estate in Florence. Many famous artists and royalty has lived here.
- The Best of Tuscany Tour. I found this tour via TripAdvisor. It’s a 12-hour day, but worth it -- you visit Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and have lunch at a vineyard -- where you get lots of wine and to sample their different kinds of honey and olive oil. Great for gifts.
- Learning how to make famous Florentine marbleized paper in a shop by our hotel
- Visiting the Santa Maria Novella apothecary; it's been around since 1612. Insanely beautiful shop with ornate frescoes and vaulted ceilings (was started by monks from church of the same name).
- Fantastic meals at Trattoria Gargani and Quattro Leoni. Pasta so good it is seriously haunting my dreams.