Florence, Pisa, Siena and Elba each have their unique must-see attractions, remarkable history and awe-striking views, but which one could be your perfect destination in extraordinary Tuscany? If you want to explore this fascinating region and country, don’t miss our special holiday offer with our travel partners, Riviera Travel…
Cities to Explore
The capital of the Tuscany region, the centre of medieval European trade as well as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is a must-see destination. The city is full of rich history, architecture and monuments with so much to offer lovers of art and culture. Ranked one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence treats the eye with wonderful gardens and breath-taking views.
As the very symbol of Florence, Ponte Vecchio, the Old Bridge, must not be missed. The only bridge across the river Arno until 1218, it is a priceless part of history, but also offers a unique opportunity for shopping with its traditional goldsmiths and jewellers.
If your visit is short and you don’t have time to enjoy all of Florence’s architectural and cultural delights, then we’d recommend two – the library of San Lorenzo and The Palazzo Vecchio. The former exhibits a piece of phenomenal work by Michelangelo and the latter offers a historical and artistic museum as well as a fantastic view of the city from its tower.
Finally, the trip wouldn’t be complete without a walk in the Boboli Gardens. Filled with statues, fountains, exotic vegetation and beautiful pathways, the gardens reach up a hill, the top of which offers an overview of the amazing city.
Food and drink
Besides the traditional Italian delicacies such as pizza, pasta and gelato, Florence is especially known for its Bistecca alla Fiorentina, which any meat lovers simply must try.
To go with the delicious steak, Florence and the region of Tuscany in general are known for their red wine – the parade of the feast of Carro Matto and the grape harvest being a much loved local tradition.
Best known for a certain tower, Pisa is also a city full of art, history and architecture. Located along the river Arno, it’s a great city to walk around, with a dynamic centre, a pedestrian street surrounded by shops and restaurants, and Campo dei Miracoli, the Field of Miracles.
Pisa is also very proud of its university, which goes back to the 12th century, which includes the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, an institution of higher education founded by Napoleon in 1810.
Needless to say, the top destination for a trip to this city is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The bell tower of Pisa Cathedral is known for its tilt but it also represents beautiful architecture and offers a great view from the top.
Another, perhaps less known, attraction, but as important to see, is the Monumental Cemetery, Campo Santo. Although surrounded by artistic buildings and a cathedral decorated with old frescos, one of its main features is the flowered and arched interior courtyard.
Finally, if you are visiting Pisa in June, you will get the opportunity to celebrate Giugno Pisano, in honour of the city’s Patron saint, San Ranieri. Events include the Luminara (70,000 wax candles illuminating the riversides), the Regatta of San Ranieri (a boat race) and the Battle of the Bridge (a battle to conquer the other side of the bridge, Ponte di Mezzo, with actors in historical dress).
Food and drink
Pisa is known for Cecina, a thin flatbread made of chickpeas, suitable for a vegan and vegetarian diet.
And for a sweet tooth, Pisa offers its handcrafted delicacy, Torta co’ bischeri, a cream pastry made with rice, chocolate, pine nuts, candied fruit, raisins and spices.
Built on three hills, Siena is a medieval city said to have been founded by Senius, the son Remus (one of the mythical founders of Rome). Accordingly, referring to the story of Romulus and Remus, the emblem of Siena is the female wolf who brought up the brothers. The city’s heart is the central piazza, Il Campo, which used to have the Roman forum. Twice during each summer Il Campo is the arena for Palio, a traditional horse race.
Besides Il Campo itself, it’s definitely worthwhile to visit the Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, Torre del Mangia situated there. The palace still houses the city’s municipal offices and exibits famous medieval art, including Simone Martini’s Maestà and Guidoriccio da Fogliano. The tower with its 500 steps offers an unforgettable view of the city.
The place to head after Il Campo is Piazza del Duomo. It offers a cathedral housing the Piccolomini Library, a baptistery and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo, with an amazing view and a crypt.
Food and drink
Siena has some local pasta specialities; Pappardelle con leper with its ribbon-shaped pasta and hare sauce, and Pici, a thick spaghetti with a rich sauce.
And you must try the region’s special desserts, Ricciarelli, an almond-flavoured biscuit, and Panforte, a traditional treat made of honey, dried fruit, nuts, spices and pepper.
The third largest island of Italy, Elba has so much to offer. Napoleon spent part of his exile there, and it’s part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, the largest European marine park. With its sandy beaches and rich nature, Elba is a great place to take a break from the bustle of the cities.
Elba is full of archaeological discoveries, which can be viewed in a variety of museums. Additionally, there are fortresses and military constructions such as Castello del Volterraio and a Napoleonic residence, Palazzina dei Mulini.
After sightseeing and museums, take in Elba’s natural surroundings with activities like diving, sailing, hiking and golfing.
And to relax at the end of the day, Elba offers the Thermal baths of San Giovanni.
Food and drink
Being an island, naturally Elba specialises in fish and seafood, such as Palamita (a mackerel-like fish), Stockfish with potatoes, Sburrita (a fish soup) and Octopus.
Pair these lovely dishes with Elba’s local red wine, Aleatico.
View a fabulous tour to Pisa, the Cinque Terre & Portofino, with Riviera Travel, an award-winning trusted partner of DC Thomson Travel, by clicking here.
With Riviera Travel you will experience more, with six included excursions, and the expertise of a tour manager, who will fulfil the tour while giving local knowledge of the history and culture of this beautiful region.