Having spent the first 3 days of our Italian honeymoon in Venice, we took a train to Florence for 1 night. The trains in Italy are a great way of getting around the whole country, they are regular and go all over the country. We pre-booked all of our trains on the Tren Italia website and they weren’t very expensive at all.
Florence is a really nice city, most famous for its art and museums. We’re not really that into art, but like to explore a city and soak up the culture, which Florence was great for. Plus, the gelato here is amazing! We thought Venice had good ice cream but we were mistaken. Almost every other store here is a gelateria, the ice cream piled high with irresistible flavours you just can’t resist!
We arrived around lunchtime, so after dropping out bags at our hotel we went in search of something to eat. Eating out in Florence is a lot cheaper in Venice. You can get a decent lunch menu (bruschetta or similar to start and then a pasta dish) for around 10 euro, which I think is pretty good value. One of our favourites at home is carbonara, so yet to try a proper Italian dish this is what I went for. I make a ‘light’ version at home, which is definitely not what you get out here, so I left in a ‘carbonara coma’ – it’s so rich!
As we were only spending a short time in Florence, we decided to do the city sightseeing tour, to take in as many of the sights as possible. There are a few routes that take you all around the city, and out to some other areas too. We usually like to explore a city ourselves, but I’d definitely recommend this if you are limited on time.
There is more of an atmosphere in the evening here than there was in Venice, with plenty of restaurants and wine bars spilling out onto the streets, so we had a nice evening meal, then a little stroll around while enjoying yet another gelato!
The Duomo is pretty impressive and free to enter into the cathedral part, so we headed here the next morning, before a little shopping in the afternoon.
In the evening we got a train to Chiusi, a small town in southern Tuscany, near to the border with Umbria. We picked up our hire car and headed out into the countryside for our hotel, Poggio Piglia. We were both really looking forward to this hotel, which is a boutique farm house hotel with only 9 rooms, a gorgeous restaurant, an infinity pool and acres of land where they grow their own olives and grapes for olive oil and red wine. After 2 cities, we were definitely looking forward to a bit of relaxation in the countryside.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t really on our side for days spent relaxing by the pool, rain was forecast every day! The staff at Poggio Piglia really are fantastic and couldn’t do more to make us feel welcome. They recommended we visit the wild thermal springs at Bagni San Fillipe, which was really incredible! It took a while for us to find it, but it was so worth it. The springs have a temperature of around 42C so even though it wasn’t a particularly warm day it didn’t matter and we ended up spending a few hours here!
Tuscany is probably most famous for its wine, so we made our way to the town of Montepulciano for some wine tasting. The town itself is well worth a visit. You wind your way up a hill as you go through the town, ending up at the top and in the main piazza, which is great to sit out in with a pizza (and a glass of wine!). There are plenty of places for wine tasting. Most tastings are free, but you I think you are expected to buy a few bottles. The tastings seem more of a ‘try before you buy’ kind of thing rather than a lesson about wine.
Our final day in Tuscany was another grey, drizzly one, so we decided to try out one of the many thermal spas nearby. This is totally different from the wild thermal springs we visited on our first day, and is a purpose built complex, using the thermal water from the springs, but it is more like the type of spa you would find in the UK. Some of it was quite random though, with lots of different rooms and areas for relaxation, different types of water and even a room where you cover your whole body with mud! We spent a couple of hours there, which was a nice way to finish our time in Tuscany before a hectic 4 days in Rome!