Florence is an incredible Italian city, but if you never got out into the Tuscan countryside it would be a crime. Rolling hills, mud-brick villas, quaint old world towns and of course the wine – all must do’s on a trip to Tuscany. In August 2017 I trusted Italy On A Budget to show me it all in one day.
We started the day in Florence, meeting at 8:45am at the Italy on a Budget office a short walk from my hostel Plus Florence. Once everyone had arrived all six of us jumped in the eight seater mini-van with our guide and driver for the day.
The itinerary for the day was simple – short stops in both San Gimignano and Montereggioni, a Chianti wine tasting experience, finished off with a two hour visit of Siena. As we set off our guide began telling us about the history of Tuscany and produce of the local area, specifically wines of the Chianti region.
One of my favourite parts of the tour was stopping in at a local winery for a tour of their wine-making process and then a tasting of six local wines, including the famous Chianti Classico. Here we learnt to tell a Chianto Classico apparently there should be a rooster in the top of the bottle.
Another highlight was walking around the tiny walled town of Montereggioni, an ancient medieval town not much bigger than London’s Trafalgar Square. From here there are superb views of the rolling countryside and cute handicraft stores.
After lunch we headed to our final destination of the tour, Siena. Siena is famous for the Palio de Siena, a bi-annual horse race held in the city’s Piaza del Campo, signs of which can be seen around the city walls, like the horse stencil above. Our guide took us for a brief walking tour while leading us into the town centre and then we were free to explore for the last hour or so.
Mainly I spent the time people watching in the town centre, and imagining what it would be like to be here when the race is on – people crowded against the perimeter of the oval centre, others cheering from overhanging balcony’s – but I did also find my way up through the cobbled streets to Siena’s Catherdral, or the Duomo di Siena. At the end of a great day we were returned in comfort to the meeting point in Florence around 6:00pm.
The Tuscany Experience day tour was perfect for me, considering my budget and what I wanted to see in the three short days I stayed in Florence. It seems from their website the order of stops on this tour may have been altered since I took the tour, but either way I don’t think there could be a better way to see so much of Tuscany in one day!