Siena and Southern Tuscany - Day Trip Recommendations
1. See Montalcino
Visit the enoteca in the fortress atop this classic Tuscan hill town to sample the famed Brunello wine. Stopping to see the Sant' Antimo Abbey, just down the road. Make reservations ahead of time for dinner at Taverna dei Barbi, with an international reputation for Tuscan country cuisine. (Closed Tues evening and all day Wednesday - 0577 8471 17)
2. Explore the Chianti Countryside
Explore the countryside of Chianti by driving the SS222 wine route through Greve, Panzano, Castellina in Chianti and on, using your Chianti vineyard map and stopping at villages along the way. Pick up some wine for your villa. Stop at some of the restaurants recommended in our Restaurant Guide. If you have time, visit the abbey Badia a Passignano.
3. See Siena
Visit the Cathedral. Follow any of the winding brick alleys to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo to relax and enjoy the scene as you imagine the spectacle of the Palio that takes place here in July and August.
4. Buonconvento & Monte Oliveto
The drive from Asciano to the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore takes you through the eerie landscape of the Crete Senesi. Shop for unique souvenirs in the abbey gift shop, which specializes in herbal remedies. Have lunch at the restaurant by the gatehouse or continue on to Buonconvento for lunch at the unpretentious Da Mario. If you have time, visit the village of Murlo, one of the oldest settlements in the area.
5. Take the Train to Florence
Take the train, or drive and park free at Piazzale Michelangelo. Admire the view from San Miniato and walk into town (30 minutes downhill) or take the bus. Make reservations in advance to visit the Uffizi. Take in the Duomo and Orsanmichelle, if you have time, and come back another day for the rest. On your way back to the train station, stop at the Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella on via della Scala. We love their potpourri, but this ancient apothecary is worth visiting even if you don't buy anything.
6. Relax at the Beach
Relax on the beach at Castiglione della Pescaia or visit the nature reserve of the Maremma. No cars are allowed, so stop at the visitors' center in Alberese to catch a park bus. Or go south to Monte Argentario and enjoy a meal at one of the fish restaurants in Porto Ecole or Porto Santo Stefano. The S1 highway leads to the southern coast of Tuscany, but if you're not in a hurry and don't mind curves, the SP323 is one of Tuscany's most scenic roads.
7. San Quirico D'Orcia, Bagno Vignoni, Pienza
Visit San Quirico D'Orcia in the morning to enjoy the view from the Piazza della Libertá, continuing on to the tiny village of Bagno Vignoni, famous for its sulpher baths and worth a visit to admire the architecture of its stone-lined piscine. Explore Pienza, well known for its pecorino cheese; ask to taste the difference between the young (soft and mild) and aged (sharp) varieties.
8. San Gimignano & Volterra
See the famous skyline and walk all the way around the fountain in the Piazza della Cisterna to ensure your return. Continue to Volterra to shop for alabaster artifacts or to visit the Etruscan museum or the Museo Giarnacci, a major archaeological museum. Enjoy a local specialty, cinghiale (wild boar), for lunch.
9. Arezzo & Montevarchi
See Piero della Francesca's Legend of the True Cross and continue to Montevarchi, with designer outlets like Prada, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana. Shop till you drop!
10. Pisa & Lucca
Visit Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli to see the Leaning Tower and the Cathedral. Spend the afternoon in Lucca. Rent bikes at the tourist office to ride around the city walls, or tour some of Tuscany's most impressive villas and gardens in the surrounding hills. In July or August, attend the Puccini Festival in nearby Torre del Lago. If you have kids, visit the Leonardo Museum in Vinci or the Parco di Pinocchio in Collodi. Or hike the villages of the Cinqueterre and stop at Carrara to see the quarries where Michelangelo got his pure white marble.
11. Back to Florence
Visit the Accademia to see Michaelangelo's David, as well as the monk's cells at San Marco. Other options include the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, the library (and market) of San Lorenzo, Sant' Ambrogio market, and the Synagogue.
12. San Galgano
This ruined Cistercian abbey is one of Tuscany's most unusual attractions. Bring a picnic, and stop at the little chapel on the hill to see the Italian Sword in the Stone.
Spend the day in Cortona, home to Under the Tuscan Sun. Park near Piazza Garibaldi. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Lake Trasimeno. Spend the morning visiting the Etruscan Museum or the churches of San Niccolo and San Domenico. Or follow the mosaic stations of the cross leading up a steep hill to the church of Santa Margherita. Finish your last minute shopping, and if you have time, stop to see the Etruscan ruins and tombs of Camucia.
Before You Leave
Revisit the places you loved the most or to see something you missed. Reflect on all you've done and save the rest for next time. Arrivederci!