Florence boasts enough world-class museums and art-filled palazzos to fill a vacation, but if you want a change of pace, there are countless treasures to be found in the surrounding Tuscan countryside. From wine tasting and cooking classes in Chianti to a glimpse of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, here our top picks for day trips.
Chianti Wine Country
For food and wine enthusiasts, a day in the world-renowned Chianti wine region is a must. Sip authentic Chianti Classico straight from the source, and learn how some of Italy's most popular wine is made on cellar tours. Gourmet experiences such as cooking classes held in villas and Tuscan farmhouses are another way to tempt your palate.
Hailed as one of the most picturesque and well-preserved Tuscan hill towns, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains relatively unchanged since the 13th century. More than a dozen of its watch towers still stand proud on a hilltop overlooking a landscape of rolling hills. Many Tuscany day trips include a stop here to stroll around and imagine the medieval way of life.
Another of Tuscany’s UNESCO-listed towns, Siena shines when the annual Palio horse race is held in its Piazza del Campo—one of Europe’s most celebrated squares—on July 2 and Aug. 16. Many combo tours make a brief stop here, though you can easily spend a whole day exploring monuments including the city’s black-and-white striped Gothic cathedral and towering Torre del Mangia.
Come for the iconic Leaning Tower and stay to explore dozens of other medieval monuments, churches, palaces, and bridges in this Tuscan gem of a city. Outside of the busy Piazza dei Miracoli in which the tower stands, Pisa offers a welcome break from the tourist throngs of Florence.
Venture a bit further to the Ligurian coast and one of Italy’s most photogenic destinations—the five villages of Cinque Terre. Perched on the Italian Riviera, these small coastal towns spill down rocky cliffs and into the sea in a riot of color. Most tours from Florence include transportation to the coast and between villages by way of train and boat, so you can view the romantic landscape from the water.