Medieval Tuscan Highlights – Siena and San Gimignano

Siena's Piazza del Campo

Two of central Tuscany's most popular visits are to Siena and San Gimignano. Both are walled cities with unique landmarks including San Gimignano's towers and Siena's striped cathedral and famous town square. Both are also cities that peaked during the middle ages and which eventually came under Florentine control during the Renaissance.

While we could easily spend more than a day in each city, especially Siena, we dropped in on San Gimignano in the morning and went onto...

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Pienza and the Val d’Orcia – Perfect Symmetry to Amazing Scenery

Pienza and its city walls

There is good reason that central Tuscany is on most travel bucket lists - it's almost a perfect combination of history, culture, food and scenery. Pienza, noted to be the "ideal" renaissance city, is not as well visited as Florence or Siena but I think is worth a trip especially to spend time roaming and driving through the surrounding Val d'Orcia which contain so many iconic Tuscan scenes.

I was here last year in May and unfortunately my trip coincided with a long weekend in...

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Florence’s Vasari Corridor – Avoiding Crowds the Medici Way

Florence had been one of my favourite cities in Europe for its great art, history and of course, shopping, but it is getting impossible to roam around these days without encountering crowds of tourists. This does make having a pleasant trip more challenging so I highly recommend that visitors who want to visit the museums and other historical sites to do so with a guide. I arranged a private tour to visit the Vasari Corridor, a secret Medici passageway while in Florence last year and it...

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Tuscany – Iconic Views, Good Food and Stay (and sheep) at La Bandita

Tuscany in the Spring

I've long been obsessed with getting photos of the idyllic Tuscan countryside - you know, the ones with the rolling hills and cypress tress. So last year in May, 14 of us friends and family stayed in La Bandita, a converted farmhouse on a hill between Pienza and Chianchiano Terme. Although the drive up and down the hill to La Bandita took a bit of getting used to, the place was really well located to explore central Tuscany. And best of all, the food at La Bandita, cooked on the spot by a...

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En Route to Rome – A Pit Stop in Orvieto

Exploring Orvieto

We had an evening flight to Palermo from Rome so faced with the quandary of what to do for a few hours after leaving central Tuscany, we decided to drop in on Orvieto for lunch and its amazing cathedral. Orvieto is a well preserved hill town in southwestern Umbria located almost midway between Siena and Rome. Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci International Airport) is around a 90 minute drive from Orvieto.

Orvieto is perched on top of a "tufo" (huge lump of volcanic rock) and commands a...

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