Florence isn’t just the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance: this UNESCO-listed city is also the capital of Tuscany, surrounded by the region’s beautiful countryside. With three days to explore, here’s how to enjoy Florence’s artistic and architectural masterpieces and also take a day trip beyond the city limits to the Tuscan hills.
Day 1: Marvelous Marble
One of Florence’s most iconic works of art is Michelangelo’s David, an image that graces everything from T-shirts to calendars at souvenir shops throughout the city. Savor this soaring statue with an early access tour first thing in the morning, taking in the beauty of the work before the crowds arrive. Afterward, continue on to discover Florence’s other famous marble masterpiece: the Duomo. Opt for a tour with skip-the-line access to the complex, or you will spend precious hours waiting to enter the church, baptistery, bell tower, dome, and museum. Once you’ve explored two of the city’s most important cultural treasures, take the rest of the day to get to know its Renaissance center. Hop-on hop-off tours are a convenient way to get a feel for the city, or guided Florence walking, bike, or Vespa scooter tours generally include highlights like Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria.
Day 2: Culture and Cuisine
The Uffizi is one of the most popular museums in Italy and attracts millions of visitors each year. The best way to enjoy important works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo—without being overwhelmed by the size of the collection and the crowds—is to opt for a guided tour that includes early entry before the galleries open to the general public. After you’ve had your fill of art, it’s time for gastronomic delights. Florence is known for its excellent cuisine, and you can sample some of its best food and wine on a gourmet tour of the city or by joining a cooking class. Food and wine tours often stop at the city’s outdoor markets, street food stands, restaurants, wine bars; during a cooking class, you can delve even deeper and discover the secret to preparing Florentine dishes before sitting down to enjoy them during an informal meal.
Day 3: Head for the Hills
For much of the year, Florence is packed with tourists drawn by the importance of its art and beauty of its center. For a respite from the crowds, take a day to explore the quiet countryside or smaller towns in the surrounding region of Tuscany. Popular Tuscan towns include elegant Pisa, medieval Siena, and charming San Gimignano; if you’d like to relax on the coast, opt for a day trip to the five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre in the neighboring region of Liguria. Another popular option is to explore the rolling hills of Chianti: Tuscan wine and food tours are perfect for foodies, or the more adventurous can choose to explore the countryside on a horseback ride, by vintage Fiat 500, or by joining a bike tour. For a truly unforgettable view of Tuscany, take a hot air balloon ride over its postcard-perfect landscape.