If the art and architecture in Florence have the power to seduce you, then the vistas of the Tuscan region would charm you no less. Each town with a history dating back hundreds of years, where you could spend time indulging in La Dolce Vita. It has to be one of the most fabulous day trips from Florence to take. We explored the medieval towns of Monteriggioni, Siena and San Gimignano, and enjoyed an excellent wine tasting session.
Imagine this picture-perfect image – golden sun rays shining on a perfect landscape of rolling hills and gentle plains, interspersed with vineyards, olive groves, and tall cypress trees swaying.
I wish to go back to the Tuscan region someday and indulge in a week-long affair of farm-to-table fresh produce, excellent wines and quaint towns. But after exploring Florence in a day, we had another full day to explore Tuscany. It can be tough to figure which of the charming towns to explore in a day, but our decision was made easier after accounting for proximity to Florence city. Here is my personal account of a delightful day in the Chianti region. The day trip included Siena from Florence and the charming medieval towns of Monteriggioni and San Gimignano.
Day trip from Florence to Monteriggioni
For this day tour to Tuscany, I had booked a car and driver via Chianti drivers. It promised to be a more hassle-free experience than renting a car just for a day. The driver picked us up from our apartment in Florence and within a short while, the beautiful city of Florence gave way to the magical Tuscan landscape with vineyards and plains on both sides.
Our first stop was the medieval walled city of Monteriggioni. One step into the walled city and you are literally in the 13th century! The town hasn’t lost a shred of its medieval character. It is based on a hill and offers panoramic views of the landscape in all directions. We walked all around the town, explored its quaint little shops for local produce and gelato. What a fun way to spend a morning under the blue open sky.
Day trip from Florence to Siena
A city that rivaled Florence in medieval times, Siena is a striking beauty. The heart of this beautiful city is the enormous Piazza del Campo, one of the biggest medieval squares in Europe.
A fantastic place to sit and watch life go by. The shell-shaped piazza is lined by cafes/restaurants on many sides. It has the imposing Torre del Mangia on one side. For the active and adventurous, climbing to the top of Torre del Mangia is possible. But with limited time on hand and having climbed the Giotto’s Campanile in Florence just the day before, no one was in a mood for this.
We roamed around the cobbled streets leading to the piazza and ate a leisurely lunch at a restaurant slightly away from the piazza. We also enjoyed the black and white Cathedral of Siena, which is as distinct and striking as Florence’s Cathedral. But the best part of the afternoon had to be lazying around at the Piazza del Campo and watching people – kids having fun with water at a fountain, couples walking hand-in-hand or just enjoying a coffee at any of the myriad cafes, folks taking a break from sightseeing and just sitting under the vast open sky.
Day trip from Florence for wine tasting
No visit to the Chianti region can be complete without tasting some of the wine produced here. And it was a perfect addition in our day itinerary to do a visit to Castello di Verrazano.
Located in Greve in Chianti, midway between Siena and Florence, this trip to the Castle Verrazano fit in perfectly in our itinerary. The vineyards situated in Verrazzano are mentioned in a manuscript which dates back to 1150. How amazing is that!
We opted for the Classic Wine tour here, leisurely exploring parts of the castle and its gardens open to the public and then their historic aging cellars. Our guide from the Castle Verrazano took us through detailed information of grapes grown, the season for harvesting, the process followed for making the pulp and the wine, as well as the aging and bottling processes. This was followed by a short wine tasting session at the restaurant on the premises. You also have the option of buying the bottles made from the grapes of this vineyard.
Day trip from Florence to San Gimignano
If you ever wished for a fairytale, albeit in a medieval fashion, San Gimignano should be on your Tuscan itinerary. I am glad we chose to end the day trip to Tuscany with the evening walking past stone towers, ancient buildings and rustic architecture of San Gimignano. The historic center of this small walled town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The skyline of medieval towers makes San Gimignano very distinctive. You can see them rising from afar. This stunning skyline amidst green pains and vineyards made for a beautiful ending to our day. The charm of the town didn’t falter even when we entered it. There is one main road that cuts through the entire town and it is packed with tourists and boutique stores and lovely cafes.
We walked to the central square – Piazza del Duomo – where you can visit the Cathedral and see the various medieval towers. The only tower open to the public is the Torre Gross. But we were not up to climbing this tower and taking the scenic view. Instead, we just relaxed, soaked in the pleasant vibes, had a gelato, and did a lot of window shopping at the myriad leather, ceramic and food stores. I even bought a lovely pair of leather sandals.
Tuscan countryside is stunning enough to spend more than the day trip we managed from Florence. If you do decide to spend a few days here, there are plenty of options to stay in Tuscany from villas to castles.
Tuscany region also offers some incredibly fresh produce and best local Italian dishes to order. The wild boar meat is a delicacy cherished all over Tuscany. Pici is a delicious, hand-rolled pasta that originated in the Siena province. Another example of local cuisine is Panzanella, a Tuscan salad.