Have you ever imagined a place so often in your mind that when you get there it almost seems a little familiar? This was the case with Tuscany. On our picture perfect drive through the countryside, the scenery was just as I thought it would be, and more. Rolling hills, large open spaces, sunflowers – it was almost like everything we were looking at was on a page ripped from a book or a magazine.
Our first stop was Pisa. I’ll admit this wasn’t at the top of my list but Baby Bug was very interested, and really when you’re literally driving right by – why not?
Glad we made the stop, but it wasn’t really what we expected. I had envisioned it to be in a quaint medieval village, but these two buildings were just kind of in the middle of a field surrounded by souvenir booths and even a McDonalds. And so many people! Like I said, glad we stopped but in our opinion this is somewhere you may want to see but you don’t need to be here for a long period of time – perhaps a photo and some fries, lol.
Next stop was Florence. I didn’t really have any expectations of Florence, other than it was a city known for it’s art and museums. We really enjoyed Florence, it is a beautiful city and it felt very easy to get around. There seemed to be a lot of shopping – which could be good or bad? (depending on your luggage allowance and your budget)
And speaking of shopping, one of my favourite areas of the city is the Ponte Vecchio (means “old bridge” in Italian). This segment bridge crosses over the Arno River and is made up of several different shops. Mama Bug felt drawn to this beautiful and unique bridge. Interesting fact: this bridge was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed in World War II.
Porcellino (means “piglet” in Italian) is a bronze boar that is a very popular tourist attraction. Tourists put a coin in the boar’s mouth and it is said that it will bring them good luck. It is also said that if they rub the boar’s nose, it will ensure that they will visit Florence again. Needless to say the boar had a full belly and a very shiny nose once The Lucky Bugs were through with him 😉
Florence is home to two of the most famous art museums in the world The Uffizi and the Galleria dell’Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David). Lines to get in can be very long so if planning to visit, buying your tickets in advance is highly recommended. Or maybe a Firenze card, depending on how long you are staying and what you want to see? (this pass may or may not save you money but will save you time because there is a separate entrance allowing you to bypass the long lines, especially in peak times.)
The Cinque Terre (meaning five lands)
Technically this area is not a part of Tuscany, however it is very close, so Mama Bug decided to add it in. Like most of you, we had never heard of this place until watching an episode of Rick Steves. I liked what I saw so much that I wanted to include it into our Italy itinerary. Unfortunately many others felt the same way when watching the Rick Steves episode, so this relatively unknown area has really grown with tourists in the last few years.
This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is located on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of Italy. It is made up of 5 small villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Despite the crowds, this area gave us a more authentic feel of Italy. It can be difficult to get to and around these beautiful little villages, but so worth it. There were some tourists but it mainly felt like locals were the majority.
No matter what your plans while in Tuscany, you are sure to want to go back for more and stay for as long as you can!