Travel - Florence and Pisa, Tuscany

January 27, 2015

Back in the summer of 2010, Ben and I went to Tuscany for a long weekend. It was our first time in Italy but I loved it and have been dreaming of going back ever since. Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast are top of my list! We stayed in Florence and visited Pisa for a couple of days, both were beautiful cities with the best food ever. Pizza, pasta and gelato on every corner {insert heart eye emoji here}.

We booked really cheap flights with Ryanair to Pisa and then got the train straight to Florence, the train system is amazing in Italy. Definitely a good place to go inter-railing. I remember it was pouring down when we arrived, not a good start to a trip where you want to explore the city. I bought a cheap umbrella and we made our way to our hotel, stopping for dinner en route. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere with bad food in Florence, and Italian food is my all time favourite. 

The next morning we woke up to bright sunshine, it was really hot in August. We got up early and headed straight to climb the Duomo, the famous cathedral dome in the middle of the city. It dominates the skyline but also represents the geographical, cultural and historical centre of the city. It was a steep climb with lots of tiny staircases, not good if you're claustrophobic! But the views from the top were incredible over all the terracotta roofs over the whole of Florence.

It's a fairly small city surrounded by the Chianti countryside, I love the style of the buildings there. Everyone calls it Italy's most enchanting city and it certainly was gorgeous.

We spent a couple of days just wandering around the city, looking in shops, stopping in cute cafes for pastries in the morning followed by delicious lunches and dinners. The pizza was always our favourite and nearly every meal finished with gelato. I remember Grom being particularly good and famous for Gelato with a couple of shops in the city but unfortunately don't remember the names of other places we ate at. If you're thinking of going then I'm sure TripAdvisor will offer some good suggestions. 

There was so much to see around every corner, cute balconies, a church tower, classic Italian Fiat 500s, another gelato shop, a fresh farmers market. Such a lovely place to explore.

Some of the city seemed like a maze of narrow alleyways, churches and streets but if you kept walking you would eventually come to an opening with the river and a number of bridges crossing it.

The Ponte Vecchio is the most famous and has been around since Roman times, a lot of Florence is really historic. We're not especially into history but appreciated the character and architecture. The bridge is filled with little jewellers shops today. We spent a couple of afternoons in art galleries which the city is famous for, The Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria Accademia. I remember queuing for quite a while one day, might be worth booking in advance if you want to go.

One afternoon we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, a famous square on the outskirts of the city with good views looking back across the city.

It was a steep climb on the way up but really pretty walking through sweet old villages covered in wisteria and with views across to the vineyards. 

The sky was super blue too with big white fluffy clouds. A beautiful afternoon and after all that walking we deserved an extra big pizza and gelato that night, right?!

In the evenings, we'd get ready for dinner and then have a wander through town to find a nice restaurant for that evening. I don't remember it being especially busy during the day but the city certainly seemed a lot quieter without any crowds in the evenings.

Most of the streets were in shadow in the evening as the sun went down so we used to take our gelato and find a sunny square to sit in or go by the river before it got dark.

One of my most favourite days was when we hired bikes with 'I Bike Florence' for a day's tour cycling through the Tuscan countryside. We got picked up from the city and dropped off at a centre to pick up our bikes and start the tour in the hills.  It was such an amazing day, we love cycling anyway and really wanted to see the vineyards. 

You could stop as much as you liked for photos or water breaks and there were around three guides per group so you knew which route to follow. I remember them being really fun guys and we got taken to an Italian Villa with it's own vineyard for lunch. Oh god the lunch, some of the most heavenly food we've ever eaten. Seriously the best pasta I've ever had and we were served their own pressed olive oil and shown around the wine cellar. The wine tasting was a bit wasted on us but nice to experience all the same.

With full tummies, we relaxed in the grounds and sunshine for a while before getting back on our bikes for some more cycling, there were acres of beautiful vineyards and sweet little villages to cycle through.

Such a beautiful day and I remember it being really hot. Luckily the bike guys knew where we could stop for a gelato before dropping our bikes off and heading back into Florence.

We had our last night in Florence and were then booked in to a hotel in Pisa for two nights but after talking to a few people realised that you probably only need one day in Pisa as it's a compact city. It was so hot and sunny so we decided to get the train about half an hour north to the nearest beach for a few hours.

We got the train to Viareggio, Tuscany's beach resort. It was very Italian and very expensive with not many english tourists around but that's what we wanted in a way. A full on Italian experience. The sun was shining, we had a long lunch by the marina with lots of boats, sunbathed on the beach and ate ice cream before getting the train back to Pisa. We saw old wrinkly Italian men fishing for octopus right off a jetty. Such a fun unexpected trip! I guess the equivalent to our seaside resorts, although on a much more Mediterranean upmarket way. 

Our last day was spent looking around Pisa, it's a small university town but pretty and has a river running through it similar to Florence. Of course, the biggest attraction is the leaning tower and we messed around taking typical tourist silly photos next to it before exploring the rest of the city with it's little squares, parks, churches, shops and restaurants.

We finished our trip with yet more pizza and gelato before saying goodbye to Tuscany but vowing to return in a couple of years. Well it's been nearly five years and I'm so desperate to go back. Watch this space..

R <3 xx

You Might Also Like


  1. Great trip! An Italian trip from here is a BIG DEAL, not just a long weekend away! Living in Europe means you have so many cities within a short flight away. So jealous! BUT...we are heading to Italy in August and I am looking even more forward to our days in Florence now that I've seen your pictures!


@rvk_loves on Instagram