Are you ready to make the most out of your Tuscany experience? Florence lends itself to planning day trips throughout the region of Tuscany offering various options for transport, destinations and types of activities. Historic exploration, quaint towns, wine tasting, trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and stunning landscapes make up just a few of the possibilities that you can integrate into your vacation itinerary. If you are hungry in Florence we’ve got you covered! Check out our Florence Street Food Tours!
If you want to keep feeding your curiosity around Tuscany, below we present 4 of our favorite day trips giving you a few pointers on why we love them and how to incorporate these into your holidays.
Situated between Pisa and Florence in northern Tuscany, Lucca is without any doubts one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It is entirely surrounded by ramparts dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, it features completely cobbled streets that give it a charming, retro look. Visit the medieval Guinigi Tower and enjoy the sight of oaks growing in the rooftop garden. Stroll over the oval-shaped square of Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, and you’ll see vestiges of the square’s original amphitheatre walls among its many restaurants and souvenir shops.
🚃 How to reach Lucca: Travel by train from Florence to Lucca in just 1h 13m.
Art & history attractions in Lucca
Among the city’s most beautiful attractions are: the Cathedral of San Martino, marvellous and completely Romanesque in style, inside which you can admire Tintoretto’s Last Supper; the Church of San Michele in foro, whose facade is dominated by a statue of the saint in which an ancient emerald is set, visible only in certain light conditions; the house where Giacomo Puccini was born, now used as a museum; the National Museum of Palazzo Mansi, which in a 17th-century setting houses paintings by important Lucchese painters of the 19th and 20th centuries
Local specialties and our favourite restaurants
Lucca is home to a multitude of typical restaurants, and its gastronomic quality is renowned throughout Tuscany. Don’t miss these specialties:
• Zuppa alla frantoiana – vegetable soup with black cabbage laid on crusty bread;
• Baccala’ arrostito – cod roasted on the grill with chickpeas;
• Rovelline lucchesi – sliced beef breaded and fried and then sautéed in a tomato and caper sauce, all accompanied by mashed potatoes;
Our favorite restaurants in Lucca
– Buca di Sant’Antonio
– Osteria Cantine Bernardini
– Trattoria Canuleia
Considered one of the most attractive cities in Tuscany, Siena is a day trip from Florence not to be missed. The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo is famous worldwide as the site of the bareback Palio horse races held twice a year in July and in August.
🚃 How to reach Siena from Florence: You can travel from Florence to Siena by train in only 1.19 hr.
Art & history attractions in Siena
Not to be missed are the Piazza del Duomo and its monuments: the Romanesque-Gothic-style cathedral, inside which are important works by Donatello, Michelangelo, Pisano and Pinturicchio; the Piccolomini Library, dedicated to Pope Pio II; the Crypt, which contains frescoes of the Sienese school; and the Baptistery, at whose font important artists such as Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia and Lorenzo Ghiberti worked.
Local specialties and our favourite restaurants in Siena
From the famous appetizers with crostini and cured meats, first courses made with fresh pasta and soups, to second courses of fine meats and desserts famous throughout Italy, you will feel your taste buds dancing with ancient flavors dating back to rural traditions. Poor dishes prepared with simple and genuine ingredients, some even revisited in a modern key, that you can enjoy in every corner of the city and, above all, suitable for all budgets. Not be missed:
• Pappardelle alla lepre – handmade pasta with hare sauce;
• Ribollita – a peasant soup famous throughout Tuscany. Its preparation takes as many as three days!
• Arista di cinta senese – pork served sliced with sage, rosemary and garlic sautéed together.
Our favorite restaurants in Siena
– Osteria dei Rossi
– Enoteca I Terzi
– Osteria la Piana
SAN GIMIGNANO ⛪
A medieval town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, nestled in the Tuscan countryside. Seventy-two towers once crowned the picturesque, walled town of San Gimignano, and 14 of them are still standing. Make sure to climb the more than 50m high Grossa tower and enjoy the splendid landscape of Tuscany from this outstanding vantage point.
🚃 + 🚌 How to reach San Gimignano from Florence: take the train (1.04 hr) or bus (50 min) from Florence to Poggibonsi station. Then take a bus ride to San Gimignano (20 min). It’s in total 1.5 hr trip.
Art & history attractions in San Gimignano
Very beautiful is the Church of St. Augustine in Gothic-Romanesque style, the Palazzo Comunale, which houses works by Masetto, Memmi and Filippuccio, Archaeological Museum, Spezieria and Art Gallery, housed in the former conservatory of Santa Chiara and in which it is possible to admire Etruscan, Roman and medieval artifacts respectively, the reproduction of an ancient pharmacy and collections of modern art.
Finally, not to be missed is the Vernaccia Museum: a journey that involves the five senses and invites visitors to discover the wine, almost as if it were a work of art. The town is in fact famous for Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a very fine white wine. The first in our country to receive the DOC designation! The wine is characterized by its straw yellow colour and a very broad aromatic spectrum.
Local specialties and our favorite restaurants in San Gimignano
Vernaccia, oil and saffron. These are the three typical products of San Gimignano cuisine. Ingredients wisely used from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Among other products, there is no shortage of typical local cured meats. At the restaurant, we would order:
• Risotto con carciofi, mascarpone e zafferano (vegetarian)
• Tagliatelle al cinghiale – handmade pasta with wild boar;
• Coniglio alla vernaccia – rabbit with vernaccia sauce.
Our favorite restaurants in San Gimignano
– La Mandragola
– Bel Soggiorno
– Le Vecchie Mura
Ancient and modern at the same time, proud of a powerful past as a Maritime Republic and home to one of Italy’s most famous universities, Pisa is much more than the marvellous Leaning Tower that dominates Piazza dei Miracoli. Rising on the banks of the Arno river, it is one of the most important Tuscan cities and certainly the most surprising: bridges crossing the Arno that survived the bombings of World War II. At sunset, the spectacle on the river is truly magnificent.
🚃 How to reach Pisa from Florence: This day trip from Florence is particularly easy, given the quick train journey of 48 min to the Central train station in Pisa.
Art & history attractions in Pisa
Home of Galileo Galilei, Pisa is an artistic, cultural and fascinating city. The imposing and enchanting Piazza dei Miracoli was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Begin your visit with the symbol of Pisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It dominates Piazza del Duomo, and its distinctive slope is due to ground subsidence in the early stages of construction (between the 12th and 14th centuries). Moving on with the treasures of Pisa: Piazza dei Miracoli contains the Duomo, the Baptistery, the Leaning Tower and the Monumental Cemetery of Pisa, in a cluster of breathtaking beauty reminiscent of the economic power achieved at the time of the Maritime Republic. Finally, it is worth admiring one of Pisa’s places of worship, the Baptistery of Pisa, which is the largest in the world. Begun in 1153, its construction was the work of the architect Diotisalvi, but some of the many splendid sculptures on the facade were created by Nicola Pisano and his son Giovanni.
Local specialties and our favourite restaurants in Pisa
A healthy, good cuisine that reflects the true Tuscan tradition. Many of the typical dishes originated from the peasant tradition, a poor cuisine prepared with simple ingredients and which come mainly from the vegetable gardens and the countryside.
Do not miss…
• Bordatino alla pisana – bean and kale soup (vegetarian)
• Stoccafisso alla pisana—stewed stockfish with potatoes
• Castagnaccio – chestnut flour cake
Our favorite restaurants in Pisa
– Antica Trattoria da Bruno
– Porci Comodi
– Osteria dei Cavalieri
We hope you will find this article useful to let you step off the busy city center of Florence. If you wanna leave your comfort zone instead, read our article “Florence horror food“!