Ciao and greetings from Florence! This week's adventure is a fabulous Italy Vacation!
Day 1: Buongiorno! After touching down in Florence late last night, you just woke up for your first Italian morning at the AC Hotel Firenze. Your first stop of the day is to a little café on the same street as your hotel for espresso and a delicious Italian pastry. As you nibble on your pastry you walk along the Arno River, snapping pictures all the way down to the Ponte Vecchio. You walk across the bridge poking your head into some of the jewelry and art stores that line both sides of the bridge from bank to bank of the river. You make your way back to the North side of the river and take a short walk over towards the Palaza Vecchio to view the massive David replica statue and beautiful carved marble fountain. After a quick tour around the Palaza, you enter the museum and head straight for the museum’s tower, which offers incredible views of the city you are about to spend the next few days exploring! After your first taste of real Italian pizza for lunch, your next stop, the San Lorenzo leather market, is a short walk away. You know you can’t leave Florence without taking a look at the high quality leather items that this market offers. After a little shopping spree, your final stop of the day is the Bargello Museum, one of Florence’s smaller museums, that houses pieces by everyone from Donatello to Michelangelo.
Day 2: Your second day in Florence starts out with a morning tour around the Medici Chapel. A short walk from the hotel, you head out and grab pastries and a cappuccino from your new favorite local café. The Medici Chapel has a small gallery, Medici family tombs and the large San Lorenzo octagonal dome. After snapping some gorgeous photos you walk back to the hotel to regroup. It’s a very short walk from there to the Stazione Santa Maria Novella, or the Florence train station, which is your next stop. It’s time for an afternoon trip to Pisa! The city is extremely easy to get to with a short, direct one-hour train ride. You can’t visit central Italy and miss out on the classic Leaning Tower pictures. Pisa offers more than just a walk up a leaning tower, so you spend the afternoon and evening there wandering around the city and end a long day with a delicious pizza dinner. Another train ride and you’re back to Florence for a good night’s rest in preparation for day three.
Day 3: Day three is your museum day! As the ultimate Renaissance city, Florence is home to some of Europe’s most incredible art. You start the morning at the Galleria Dell’Accademia, home to the world’s most beautiful man, Michelangelo’s David. After a thorough tour of the Accademia, it’s time for some Italian sustenance at one of the many outdoor restaurants that bask in the shadow of the famous Florence Cathedral’s Duomo. The rest of your day is dedicated to an extensive tour of the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s oldest and most famous art museums. The Uffizi is a seemingly endless maze of galleries housing works from some of Italy’s favorite artists including Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio and many more. The Uffizi keeps you entertained until dinner time when you head back for a low-key meal at the AC restaurant.
Day 4: Today is your day to explore the beautiful Tuscan countryside! You rent a car early in the morning and hit the road for the Chianti wine region – a short and scenic hour-long ride away. You spend the morning touring around Chianti and surrounding areas taking in the beautiful scenery and plenty of the famous region’s wine – including stops at wineries such as Fattoria Viticcio, Castello di Brolio and the House of Chianti. It is now time for your Tuscany Hot Air Balloon flight, a 1-hour ride over San Casciano in Val di Pesa. As you soar 2,000 feet above ground you are able to see a stunning aerial view of rolling hills, sprawling vineyards and the other natural beauty that Tuscany is famous for. After you touch back down, you decide to end your special day at the medieval walled city of San Gimignano, where, for dinner, you eat the best fresh pasta you have ever had in your life. Finally, an after-dinner tour of the city leads you directly to a local gelato shop for a little snack before hitting the road back to Florence.
Day 5: It’s your last day in Italy and you’ve saved arguably the best for last. Today you’ll see the Florence Cathedral and Duomo, the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens! You definitely want to start this morning with some coffee because it’s going to be a non-stop, fun-filled conclusion to your trip. You hit the Duomo line early to beat the crowds and climb all the thin, winding staircases to the top, where you take in an incredible 360-degree view of the city you’ve been exploring for the past few days. After a couple of hours exploring the Cathedral, you go for a little walk to the other side of the Arno River for the rest of your day – starting with a freshly made Panini followed by your final Italian gelato! At the Pitti Palace—former home of the famous Medici family starting in the mid-1500s, now Florence’s largest museum complex—you make sure to get a look at some of the best galleries including The Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum and the Royal Apartments. Next head right outside the Palace for a leisurely walk around the Boboli Gardens, beautiful formal 16th-century Italian gardens scattered with Roman sculptures and other antiquities. Your very last Florence activity is a short walk up to the Church of San Miniato to watch the sun set with a panoramic view of the entire city spread out in front of you. You couldn’t think of a better way to end a jam-packed Italian adventure.