“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” We all know that saying, but when it comes to cliché travel destinations, eventually you have an urge to do the exact opposite. For spring season Tuscany has been one of the top destinations for decades. But eventually ‘popular’ becomes boring and ‘a must’ becomes ‘please don’t’, right? So let’s discover Tuscany in a new light. Let’s explore all of the hidden gems that we’ve overlooked the first time around.
First and second time around we were all about charming vineyards and the cradle of renaissance – The city of Florence. We’ve checked immortal art works by Michelangelo, Masaccio and Lorenzo Ghiberti, we were in awe of the greatness of The Brunelleschi’s Dome that covers the Cathedral of Florence, and loved the familiar faces in niches on the Uffizi Gallery. We’ve made our meme photo with the leaning tower and enjoyed chickpea flatbread – ‘Torta di Ceci’ in Livorno.
Now it’s time for something fresh and new! Check our top 8 sights and unfamiliar places in Tuscany and Florence.
Did you know that the leaning tower of Pisa is not the only leaning tower there? There are also two bell towers that got a bit tired of standing straight. Bell tower of the St. Nicola church and the bell tower of the church of St. Michele degli Scalzi are also leaning.
If you’re a Pinocchio fan, you have to organize a small road trip 30 kilometres (19 miles) west and north of Florence, where Pistoia is located. Proceed to the small village of Collodi where Carlo Lorenzini – the author of Pinocchio – grew up. When he wrote this masterpiece, he chose the name Carlo Collodi as his pen name. If you travel with small children, you can take them to Pinocchio Park. If you choose to do that, be sure to check The Butterfly House that is located in the Gardens of Villa Garzoni – also located in Collodi.
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Love the Italian cuisine? Well, you can have a cake and eat it too – or in other words; You can make your own pasta and eat it too. Not following? Book a cooking class. With Chef Paolo near Lucca you can get a lecture on making pasta and true Italian sauces. Chef Paolo was born in a flour-mill and bread bakery in a little riverside village in the center of Tuscany in March 1952. Now he’s the Godfather of Italian cuisine and cooking classes. After a class and fun experience you’ll get to eat the Mediterranean feast that your class cooked, so this means that you will enjoy genuine meal and really appreciate it. You can read more about it here »
Many of us travel to Tuscany because we love European history, but when in Livorno, you have a great chance to have a taste of American 1950’s also. Taking inspiration from the American tradition and California’s vibe, Surfer Joe is the place to try great burgers, fries, and enjoy some live music in the 50’s diner ambiance.
Tuscany countryside is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, but The Cascate del Mulino with natural hot springs is one of the most charming spots there. The place with white-blue waterfalls and natural swimming pools, and a rustic mill in the background is a true natural gem that shows you the beauty of modest Tuscany life. If you visit Tuscany in February or March, it wont be as crowded as in the summer, so you can enjoy its peacefulness and natural magnificence. Like all natural splendors, the Cascate del Mulino can be enjoyed for free every day and if you’re brave enough, you can also take a dip at night, since its open. Directions: Via della Follonata, 58014 Manciano GR.
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If wine is your poison, wine cellars must interest you, but the secret is to visit the smallest, old-fashioned, family-operated wine cellars where you will get to know the owners in person, talk to them and discover the old ways of wine business. Azienda Agricola Montefioralle is a small family-run Chianti Classico winery. Only few thousands of bottles are produced every year there, but the small quantity production enables the Sieni family to take care of every little detail in order to produce high quality Chianti Classico wine. They offer private wine tastings, and you can order any wine you like and they gladly ship it to your home address. The address? Via Montefioralle in Florence.
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In Tuscany foodies find their soft spot – all the local wines, premium olive oil, cheeses from grass-fed cows, home-made jams and wild honey. Don’t bother with foodie tours and expensive shops. Pinzi Pinzuti has it all – plus numerous souvenirs. It’s a small shop, lead by a charming Italian lady named Marcellina. You’ll find it in Abbadia San Salvatore, a picturesque medieval town. Marcellina is a great animator of this fascinating place, where you can travel back in time, ask her about the culture and old traditions of Tuscany. She will happily answer all your questions and open the door to the local culture of her town and region.
Many of Tuscany tourists rent a bike or a car and explore it that way, and for sure this is a great idea. But at least for one day, you can move your body and hike the Brunello Trail – starting at Torrenieri and finishing at the town of Montalcino. It’s a proper thousand feet climb with an excellent view!
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