Day Trips From

Day Trips From
Day Trips from Florence

Tips and Advise fro day trips from Florence by Road to Travel Inc.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Renaissance village of Cerreto Guidi

Ceretto Guidi is a charming hilltop village situated only 30 minutes from Florence and can be explored in a few hours. The town has a long history with the first mention dating back to the 8th century. It went through many feudal wars and upheavals. 

Cerreto Guidi
In the heart of the town stands the majestic Villa Medicea built in 1555 by Cosimo I dei Medici, who used it as a hunting residence. A local legend tells that Isabella dei Medici, Cosimo’s daughter, was strangled here by her husband, Paolo Giordano I Orsini, duke of Bracciano, for infidelity. Since then, it is believed that the ghost of Isabella wanders around the villa, which has been turned into a museum with an eclectic collection of artefacts and furniture from various historic periods. Curious visitors are shown the bedroom where the noble woman was supposedly killed. Check out the Historical Museum of Hunting on the first floor of the building to see hunting weapons from the 17th to 19th centuries.

There are several beautiful churches in the area that are worth exploring such as the Pieve di San Leonardo, Santuario di Santa Liberata and Oratorio di San Jacopo. Strolling along the ancient streets of Cerreto Guidi is like stepping back in time: old palaces, artisan workshops and stunning views over the surrounding vineyards and olive groves here have not changed much for centuries. 

Palio del Cerro
Every year in September, the town hosts the Renaissance-style Palio del Cerro, a historic event dedicated to the patron saint Santa Liberata with games, races and a costumed parade in which the town's residents of all ages participate. In July, visitors enjoy the bounty of hearty traditional dishes at the food festival Sagra del Papero e del Cinghiale and wine fair Mostra Mercato del Vino Chianti.


Photos by: Patrice Wangen/Flickr, Proloco Cerreto Guidi.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Accademia Gallery

Every year hundreds of thousands of people head to Florence’s second most visited museum, the Accademia Gallery. The majority of them are curious to see Michelangelo’s David but if you slowly explore the museum’s less crowded halls you will appreciate its rich collections and learn a lot about the city’s history.

The Galleria dell’Accademia opened in the 18th century as part of the adjacent Academy of Fine Arts. It grew over time as new masterpieces and collections were added.

Accademia Gallery
To get the most of your visit allow yourself at least two hours to see the gallery’s treasures. At the entrance, in the Hal of the Colossus, you will find the plaster model for the dramatic marble sculpture of “Rape of the Sabines” by Giambologna and some Renaissance religious artworks. One of them is a wooden panel, Cassone Adimari, depicting a Renaissance wedding of Florentine nobility. Spend some time looking at the beautifully detailed costumes and street scenes from the past.

In the Hall of the Prisoners see four unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo that were supposed to be part of the magnificent tomb of Pope Julius II della Rovere, the most spectacular tomb of Christian times. However, the project was never realized due to shortage of money and the statues eventually made its way to the Gallery. Here you will also find several beautiful works by Ghirlandaio, Fra’ Bartolomeo and Andrea del Sarto.

David
In the Tribune hall, in all its glory, stands the 5-meter high marble statue of David created by the 26-years-old Michelangelo. In the wings of the Tribune you can admire stunning 16th century religious paintings. 

Do not miss the quieter first floor of the Gallery, which houses a magnificent collection late 14th century Florentine paintings. A fascinating video display here will introduce you to the ancient techniques employed by masters to create altarpieces that are still used by restorers in Florence.


Photos via Flickr by: Jenna Rose Robbins, Steven Depolo.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Walking along the River Arno

One of the best ways to discover the city of Florence is to follow Lungarni, the streets that run along the River Arno. They were built in the 19th century when the city became the Kingdom of Italy’s capital. Medieval labyrinths of streets, markets and many houses had to be pulled down to make way for a more orderly and modern city grid. Strolling along lungarni you will explore some of the most spectacular sites. 

Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci
Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci brings you to Piazza Ognissanti with its majestic 12th century Church of San Salvatore di Ognissanti with a Baroque facade. Inside you can admire beautiful frescoes by Ghirlandaio and Sandro Botticelli. 

Head down Lungarno Corsini, one of the most elegant streets in Florence, lined up with many splendid palaces such as Palazzo Gianfigliazzi, Palazzo Piccioli, Palazzo Corsini al Parione. After crossing the St. Trinity Bridge, you will find yourself on one of the oldest areas in the city, Borgo San Jacopo that has retained a medieval character with its towers and palaces. It was heavily damaged during the World War II but, later, carefully restored.  

St Trinity Bridge
From lungarno Torrigiani you can take great snapshots of the famous Ponte Vecchio, the most photographed bridge in Florence, the Vasari Corridor that connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi gallery.

Across the bridge lies the Oltrarno district with its artisans workshops and studios that have been here for many centuries. You can see how local masters make ceramics, Florentine marbled paper and carve wooden furniture. The beautiful Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria del Santo Spirito is also located here where you can spend some time admiring its numerous masterpieces from various historic periods: Michelangelo’s wooden crucifix, sculpture by Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia and many others. 

View from Piazzale Michelangelo
There are several places in the area that offer spectacular views over the city: terrace of the Villa Bardini, Forte di Belvedere or Piazzale Michelangelo.


Photos via Flickr by: Ben Rimmer, Antonio Trogu, Renzo Ferrante.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The enchanting village of Panzano

Less than an hour drive from Florence, surrounded by Chianti Classico vineyards and olive groves sits cosily on a hilltop a charming village of Panzano. With its old stone buildings, windy streets and beautiful views of the fertile valleys along the Pesa and Greve rivers, Panzano is easily one of the prettiest towns in the Chianti area


Panzano

Stroll to the old part of town, Panzano Alto, where medieval walls are still visible. In old days, the town was overlooked by a splendid 13th century castle that over time has been incorporated in the newer buildings with its central tower becoming a private home. The Castle of Panzano played an important part in constant battles between the feuding Florentine Republic and Siena. One of the castle’s towers was used as the bell tower for the Church of Santa Maria built in the 18th century to replace the older one. Another local church that is worth a visit is the ancient Pieve di San Leolino with an elegant cloister and sublime triptych dating back to the 14th century.

Church of Santa Maria

Every year, in April, Panzano hosts an excellent festival Festa della Stagion Bona with a procession in historical costumes, music and traditional food. In September, during a wine festival Vino al Vino visitors sample produce from local wineries. 

Festa della Stagion Buona

No trip to Panzano would be complete without sampling the local vino. In Enoteca Baldi (Piazza Bucciarelli, 26) you can taste some of the best Chianti accompanied by fresh bruschetta and homemade pasta. For more substantial meals head to Solociccia (Via Chiantigiana, 5) where juicy simple meat dishes are served. Downstairs, at the Antica Macelleria Cecchini, the local celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini recites Dante's Divine Comedy for his customers.  At Montagliari (Via Montagliari, 29) you will enjoy Tuscan cuisine in a restored stone farmhouse with a pretty courtyard and a cosy fireplace inside for colder days. Their papardelle al cinghiale (pasta with a wild boar sauce) washed down with Chianti Classico will make you want to move to Panzano.


Photos via Flickr by: Josh Friedman, Josef Grunig, Renzo Ferrante.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Visit Lucca

The ancient city of Lucca is famous for its intact Renaissance city walls and 100 beautiful churches. A day trip will not be enough to explore all Lucca’s treasure but it will allow you a glimpse into one of Italy’s most famous cities past and present.

Lucca


Walking within Lucca’s walls you can trace its history from Roman times through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance period and beyond. A strong rivalry of Florence and Pisa, Lucca was an important independent state for many centuries. 

A great way to start your day in Lucca is a stroll on the ancient city walls that have been turned into a four-kilometre panoramic pedestrian promenade with stunning views over Lucca and the Apuan Alps’ peaks. From there head to the beautiful 11th century Il Duomo, the main cathedral, that has many 
treasures: 15th century Ilaria del Carretto’s Tomb by Jacopo della Quercia, the Volto Santo di Lucca, a wooden crucifix with an image of Christ that according to the legend was carved by his disciple Nicodemus, works by such Renaissance masters as Ghirlandaio, Tintoretto and Fra Bartolomeo. Along the main street, Il Fillungo, you will find another majestic church, San Michele in Foro with its four-metre statue of St. Michael the Archangel flanked by two angels on the top, elegant loggias and sculptures.


Lucca - Piazza dell'Anfiteatro


Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is another must-see in Lucca. If you stand in the centre of the oval square you will see the ways the building were built around the structure of the Roman amphitheatre that stood here a long time ago.

Lucca - Torre Guinigi

Climb up the steps on the top of the Torre Guinigi, one of a few remaining in Lucca, to admire the views over the city in the shade of the oaks that grow on the top of the tower. The Ducal Palace, Piazza Napoleone, Palazzo Pfanner and Villa Garzoni – there are many sights, picturesque squares and pretty streets in Lucca to explore. The ancient city steals many people’s heart who want to go back again and again.


Photos via Flickr by: Marc-Olivier Bergeron, Mathias Liebing, Alex Janssen.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Exploring Cinque Terre

Want to see as much of Italy as possible on your vacation? The five villages of Cinque Terre are only a two-hour drive away from Florence.

Riomaggiore, the most southern of the villages, is a good starting point for a quick tour to this magic corner of Italy. Stroll along the small beach, pop in to one of the local bars for an energising espresso coffee an you are ready to set off on a hike. All five villages of Cinque Terre are linked by an 11-kilometre long hiking trail with spectacular sea views. “Via dell’Amore”, the stretch of the trail connecting Riomaggiore to Manarola is an easy 45-minute walk on the cliffs above the turquoise waves.
Riomaggiore

Manarola is small, you can walk up and down the main street in 20 minutes. Check out the local museum devoted to sciacchetrĂ , the famous delicious dessert wine made in Cinque Terre. The village is home to the wine cooperative where 300 local growers bring their harvest. Linger on the by the sea looking up the neat terraced vineyards clinging precariously to the cliffs. Up there you can spot one of the world’s smallest monorails that is used for transporting grapes from the vineyards.

Via dell Amore

When you are ready to continue your journey, hop on the train to Vernazza. This picture-perfect town has great seafood restaurants and cosy cafes where you can enjoy local dishes. Vernazza was badly hit by flash floods in 2011 but the town is slowly getting back on its feet.

Vernazza

If you have time and sun is shining, relax on the tiny beach and swim between the fishing boats before heading off to explore another little gem of Cinque Terre – Portovenere. This historic town is packed with treasures: ancient churches, medieval buildings, Roman ruins. Breath in the fresh sea air, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere before heading back to Florence.



Photos via Flickr by: Sean Munson, Ellie LoNardo, Sarah Tzinieris.

Chianti Wine Region

The Chianti wine region offers a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Florence. Picture-perfect green hills, olive groves, medieval villages and, of course, long stretches of vineyards producing some of the best wines in the world. If you only have a day to explore the famous vineyards, head to the Chianti Classico area that lies between Florence and Siena. Its original borders were decreed by Cosimo de' Medici III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in the 18th century and included the beautiful villages of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Radda and Greve.


Chianti vineyards
 
The iconic Black Rooster on the label is recognisable across the world of connoisseurs as the symbol of Chianti Classico, a premium wine with its distinctive characteristic aromas that have been perfected over many centuries of winemaking traditions. Despite the relatively small size of the Chianti Calssico zone, each area lends different characteristics to the wine. The Chianti Classico from Castellina tend to be more delicate while the Greve area produces wines with concentrated flavours. That could be a great excuse to visit at least one winery in each area!

Gaiole in Chianti

Often called “the gate into Chianti”, Greve in Chianti is perfect for a  day trips from Florence. The town is famous for its triangular central piazza where a weekly local market has been running for many centuries. Apart from Chianti Classico, in local restaurants and delicatessens here you can also find excellent “Super Tuscan” wines and highly-prized local olive oil.

Castellina in Chianti

Further south lies Castellina in Chianti, which origins date back to the Etruscans. Its strategic position meant that the town had a rich glorious past. Its massive castle and opulent palaces built by Florentine and Sienese aristocracy are a testimony to those days. 

Gaiole in Chianti is another idyllic town with breathtaking views over the Tuscan hills, an 11th century castle and ancient churches brimming with artistic treasures.


Photos via Flickr by: Magnus Reuterdahl, Antonio Cinotti, Ryan Snyder.