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This blog article will focus on my stay in Tuscany, but you should know that during this stay I also begin my journey by visiting Cinque Terre. The budget that I am going to communicate to you is therefore for the whole of my week-long trip and not only for Tuscany.
Budget for the road trip from Cinque Terre to Florence via Pisa (Saturday to Saturday, accommodation, transport, meals, activities included): about 600€ to 700€.
| How to get there and how to get around?
We decided to come to Liguria and then to Tuscany by car, from Marseille where we are staying. In time of COVID-19 this alternative seemed to us to be the safest if we had to return earlier than planned for X or Y reason. So we rented a small Peugeot 108 from UCAR in Allauch, for 8 days, and with 1600km included we paid 328€ for two or 164€ per person. This seemed to us to be a very good deal compared to the market prices. Of course we have to add to this the gasoil, about 60€ per person and also the tolls 54€ per person in total for our complete road trip.
Our accommodation, the Hotel Tenuta Sant'Ilario, was located in the heart of Tuscany, between Pisa and Florence, near Gambassi Terme.
We wanted to merge into Tuscany and to do agritourism to discover this beautiful region. This hotel is very authentic, melted in the middle of hills, vineyards, and cypresses and has a royal calm: perfect for a relaxing vacation. It has a huge swimming pool, unfortunately not heated in winter, but located in a very relaxing setting, a few minutes walk from the rooms.
We had the opportunity to eat at the hotel's restaurant, Trattoria Toscana Sant'Ilario. We enjoyed the meal a lot, I highly recommend it even if you are not staying in the hotel.
The breakfasts are brought as soon as we arrive in the breakfast room, they are very good, you will find salty or sweet food, enough to fill your stomach for the morning.
Only one negative point to consider if and only if you are addicted to series in the evening or if you can't get off work or social media, the Wi-Fi network was not at all efficient in our room, it was only efficient in the common rooms such as the reception, the breakfast room or the restaurant.
We paid 268.69€ for two, for 3 nights in a Classic room (which is very elegant and sufficient for the short time we spent in it), or 44€ per night. We spent more than usual on this accomodation but we wanted to live this experience, even if we had to eat pasta for the next 3 months lol.
You will find the link of our Classic room by clicking here.
MY ITINERARY TO TUSCANY
We said goodbye to Liguria and Cinque Terre to arrive in Tuscany and more precisely in Pisa!
We've been wanting to go to Pisa for a long time, to walk towards Piazza dei Miracoli, to see the symbol of the city, the leaning tower and the monumental Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary.
We parked in the pay parking Parcheggio Pubblico a pagamento, 2€ per hour, located 5 minutes walk from Piazza dei Miracoli.
The word to describe the tower is: surprising. In fact, it is surprising to finally realize in real life the degree of leaning of the tower. I really wonder how it is standing today, and I enjoyed listening to my boyfriend read me the picturesque story of this bell tower on the Internet (which I recommend you to do if you want to better understand what you see). We decided to visit it after a long hesitation at the sight of the exorbitant price (18€ to visit the Tower and the Cathedral).
Once again work on your cardio as you will have to climb it by the stairs (a leaning elevators do not really exist yet).
The feeling inside is very weird, you realize how much it is leaning, and I won't hide that once on the roof I was slightly afraid to find myself on the side where the tower is leaning. More seriously, the view is magnificent, it overlooks the Cathedral of Pisa, a medieval cathedral with a marble facade as well as the Baptistery and the whole city of Pisa. I strongly recommend you to visit the Cathedral which is worth it. The gilded coffered ceiling is sumptuous and deserves some torticollis. We did not visit the Baptistery because we had to make a choice for our student budget.
After this excursion we went to the heart of Tuscany, near the village of Gambassi Terme, in the Agrihotel Tenua Sant' Ilario. You will find all the information about this hotel in the housing section.
If you are looking for paradise on earth, you should go to Tuscany, where you will find everything you need: mountains, sea, islands, picturesque villages and medieval towns. The region is known for its delicious cuisine and remarkable wines.
Tuscany occupies almost 23,000 km² and has a population of over 3.5 million people. The tourist offer of the region is rich and diversified. In Florence, capital of the region, you can admire the works of the greatest artists: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Raphael, Botticelli, Giotto...
Inland, you can discover medieval villages perched on high ground or surrounded by cypresses, olive groves or vineyards. The regional folklore proudly put forward by the Tuscan people is appreciated by tourists. As in the Middle Ages, fairs, chivalry tournaments and processions are held during the festivals. The most famous festival is the palio, a horse race in the main square of Siena.
We spent the day driving through the Tuscan countryside between Pisa and Florence, discovering the Village of San Gimignano and Volterra.
We fell in love with San Gimignano. This "Medieval Manhattan" today has 14 towers made of stone and had 75 of them in the 13th century! The fact that the city retains its 13th and 14th century architectural features almost intact makes it very special: full of history and authentic.
I advise you to visit the 2 main squares, Piazza del Duomo and Piazza de la Cisterna. There you will find lots of small stores offering local products, and a few hotels and restaurants.
You can also go to Punto Panoramico via Via di Quercecchio, where you will find a small wine and tapas bar with a view.
I strongly recommend you climb to the top of the Torre Grossa, the highest tower in the village, because the landscape over the village and the Tuscan hills is impressive and majestic. We paid 9€ for the ticket that we bought at the entrance of the Torre Grossa and that allows you to go to the tower, to visit the bottom of it, and a church.
Afterwards, we ate in a restaurant with a wonderful outdoor terrace overlooking an exceptional panorama of the hills and Tuscan vineyards: Le Vecchie Mura.
Volterra, a pretty town not far from San Gimignano, has a similar charm with its medieval past. We went to the Roman Theater that I recommend you to see. It was built at the end of 1st century BC. Then we walked through the medieval center of the city, passing by Piazza dei Priori to see the fabulous Palazzo dei Priori. (PS: I never watched it but I learned that a scene from Twilight was filmed on this square in front of the palace) I strongly advise you to go in the city, it is worth it.
Florence…. the Ponte Vecchio, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and its dome, Michelangelo's David... this city is rich in history, rich in architecture and full of good vibes.
To begin, I wanted to advice you about parking. It is important to know that the historical center of Florence is a Limited Traffic Area (ZTL Zona a Traffico Limitato). This means that if you are not a resident you cannot park in the city center. So, you have 2 options:- If you want to be as close as possible to the city center and you don't mind paying for parking, then I highly recommend parking in Piazzale Michelangelo, where a statue of David is exposed. The advantage of this parking is that it is located 20min walking distance from the Ponte Vecchio, but above all it offers you an incredible view of the whole city of Florence and its surroundings. We parked there (on the blue squares, the yellow ones are reserved for the handicapped and the white ones for the residents) and we paid 2€ per hour, so if you stay 5 hours you will pay 10€.
PS: I hope once again that you will have worked on your cardio because all the steps you'll have to walk down from the piazza to get to the center of Florence will have to be walked up again.
- The second option is to park your car outside the center of the city and take public transportation to get to the center, there are buses and tramways.
| PONTE VECCHIO
The Ponte Vecchio is fascinating to see from the road along the Arno River. It is a bridge that was built between 1335 and 1345. It has a series of small apartments corresponding to the backrooms of the many luxury jewelry and goldsmith's stores along the bridge. It is simple, you are on a bridge without even noticing it.
| FONTANA DEL PORCELLINO
This boar is known for the ritual that tourists practice on him: we put a coin in his mouth and once the coin falls into the basin we touch his snout for luck. His real marble sculpture is exhibited in the Museum of Offices in Florence.
It is a charming large square where you can admire the Palazzo Vecchio, which is nowadays the town hall of Florence and a museum. I was in the 13th century, when it was built, the seat of the government of Florence, and then had various uses. When you are in front of the entrance to the palace, on your right you will find the Loggia dei Lanzi, a vaulted space with several statues including that of Perce holding the head of Medusa in his hand.
| CATTEDRALE DI SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE
It is THE monument to see in Florence. This cathedral also dates from the 13th century, it has a Gothic style but also marks the beginning of the Renaissance architecture. I won't give you a history lesson on it, you will find the necessary information on websites such as: https://duomo.firenze.it/en/38/cathedral. You can go and see the famous paintings on the dome of the cathedral, and it is even possible to climb the 463 steps (!!) to get to the roof of the dome, but this access is not free. For 18€ you can have access to the Cathedral, the Dome, the Baptistery, the crypt, the Campanile and the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. Reserve your ticket by clicking here . PS: Don't forget to cover yourself to visit the cathedral or you won't be able to enter.
I had already come to Florence 10 years before, and I didn't remember much, but this cathedral had marked me by its beauty, its colors, the patterns, the multiple sculptures, and above all, the Door of paradise of Lorenzo Ghiberti and many other artists, located on the Baptistery in front of the entrance of the cathedral, had marked me a lot because of its majesticity. It represents one of the most masterful works of the Renaissance.
We ate in a street adjacent to the plaza del duomo, in EATALY. It was good and not very expensive.
We wanted to see Michelangelo's famous David at all costs. Seeing him all the time at the end of the Avenue du Prado in Marseille, I had to see the real one. The entrance fee to the museum is only 2 € for the 18-25 year olds resident of the EU, and 12 € for adults. In addition to the David you will discover an impressive room composed of a hundred busts and other sculptures, then another room composed of religious paintings. go check the site to reserve your place here.
| PALAZZO PITTI
A Renaissance-style palace dating back to the 15th century, it was originally the residence of a famous Florentine banker, Luca Pitti, but a century later it became the residence of the Medici and then of all the reigning families of Tuscany.
Today it belongs to the municipality of Florence and has become the largest museum complex in Florence.
We didn't visit it we only went to the large square decorated with multiple wolf sculptures right in front of the palace doors.
General impression of this journey
My favorite places were: San Gimignano, the road through Tuscany, as well as Florence which is a very pleasant, lively, and very authentic city. Visiting all these places in October can be a good idea because we generally had not many people in tourist places, the temperatures are perfect, not too hot or too cold. Obviously the weather is not always perfect but overall it was fine. The car is one of the easiest ways to make this kind of trips to move from village to village and sleep in isolated hotels in Tuscany. Remember to always prefer the visit packs rather than one by one because it is more often worth it.
| Thank you !
I hope you liked this article about Pisa, heart of Tuscany, San Gimignano, Volterra and Florence !
If you have any other questions please feel free to ask me as a comment.
Don't hesitate to discover my article on Cinque Terre right here to continue to travel together!
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