Tuscany - Siena

The Tuscany countryside tour was one of the highlights of our Italian holiday!

We started off early morning by 8:30AM after some beautiful breakfast at Palazzo Ruspoli where we stayed in Florence.

Florence – My Visual Travelogue in the Walking City

Breakfast - Palazzo Ruspoli Florence
Breakfast – Palazzo Ruspoli Florence

After breakfast, we walked towards Santa Maria Novella to board our Bus.

It was a comfortable bus and we had free wifi inside. The countryside drive, after getting outside Florence, was gorgeous. Our first stop was Sienna and it didn’t take very long.

Sienna (Siena)

Sienna gave a start to the essence of Tuscany! As we walked to get inside the historic part of Sienna, everything suddenly seemed quaint and magnificent!

We first stopped at Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena- the World’s oldest Bank!

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena- the World’s oldest Bank
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena- the World’s oldest Bank

The history can be googled of course! Just the thought of spending a few moments in front of oldest surviving Bank branch (Founded in 1472) of the world, felt too good!

As we continued walking in those medieval streets of Sienna, it took us back in time!

Rustic Streets in Sienna
Rustic Streets in Sienna

Once we reached Piazza del Campo – the Sienna Square, it reminded me of all the traditional horse races which I saw on TV!

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The location is very picturesque and there are several wine bars and cafes where you can spend a while appreciating the real splendor of Sienna! Food and wine is typical to the awesomeness of the Tuscan region! The airs at Piazza del Campo are rustic and if you have time, you can spend an entire day over some good wine and Pasta!

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After a short while here, we walked towards Duomo di Siena – the Siena Cathedral. It is equally beautiful inside as it is from the outside!

Duomo di Siena - the Siena Cathedral
Duomo di Siena – the Siena Cathedral

For EUR 5, this entrance fee for the 800 years old Cathedral is worth the art it has to manifest. You can also carry your camera to take pictures inside.

Inside Siena Cathedral
Inside Siena Cathedral
Inside Siena Cathedral - Intricate wood work
Inside Siena Cathedral – Intricate wood work

Once outside the Cathedral, we walked to many of the nifty shops to pick stuff to carry back home. You could buy real good chocolates and cookies in Sienna to eat on your train journeys. Souvenirs in Sienna are more expensive than Florence. If you plan to go to Florence then reserve all your shopping time there.

Knick knacks - Siena!
Knick knacks – Siena!

After some short breaks in many of the local shops and eateries, we left Sienna!

Fattoria Poggio Alloro – Ranch in San Gimignano

We proceeded towards one of the countryside ranches close to the historic town of San Gimignano. This Ranch, Fattoria Poggio Alloro, was our stop for Wine Tasting, Olive Oil Tasting and some really amazing 3 course lunch!

Fattoria Poggio Alloro - Ranch in San Gimignano
Fattoria Poggio Alloro – Ranch in San Gimignano

I loved the wines we tried here. The Chianti served there was excellent! For lunch, we had the olive oil Bruschetta, choice of Red or Olive oil Pasta, a salad-style main course with farm matured cheese and Biscotti with some port-wine for dessert!

Pasta in Tomato Sauce with Mature Parmesan Shavings and some Chianti
Pasta in Tomato Sauce with Mature Parmesan Shavings and some Chianti Wine

If ever I go back to Tuscany I would love to spend a few days here. They do have country-fashioned accommodation amidst nature. The vineyards here are beautiful and so is the outstanding Olive cultivation.

At Fattoria Poggio Alloro, you can purchase not only wines to take back home but also the best quality saffron!

After capturing some really striking pictures of the never ending vineyards, we continued towards San Gimignano

Tuscany Countryside View!
Tuscany Countryside View!

San Gimignano – The Italian Hill Town

San Gimignano added to our already admirable day! We stepped into many local shops again to buy natty things to take back.

Side Streets - San Gimignano
Side Streets – San Gimignano

We also stopped to buy some wine again!

You may already know the awesomeness of Gelatos here! There are two excellent ones not to be missed as they are known to be the world’s 2 best Gelaterias!

As you enter the main square, you will find both around the same place.

Gelateria Dondoli – Supposedly the best!

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 Gelateria dell’Olmo – The second best!

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I couldn’t make out much difference as they both were absolutely fabulous!

You will see a long queue facing towards you while entering the main square. Don’t let the queue back you off! It will move real quick and the service is very efficient!

San Gimignano Square
San Gimignano Square

If I had the time, I would have spent days at San Gimignano! It is a fine-looking pastoral town with remarkable locals and superb food! I will definitely return back some day!

After leaving San Gimignano, we left for Pisa!

Pisa – The City of the Iconic Leaning Tower.

We reached the town of Pisa in a little more than an hour. Pisa is naturally a good-looking city with pretty landscapes.

Town of Pisa - View over River Arno
Town of Pisa – View of a far away bridge over River Arno and mountains in the background!

There is a Choo Choo train service to the Leaning Tower of Pisa that we chose to take from where thee bus left us.  It was a sunny afternoon when we reached the Leaning Tower. There was enough light to take some cheesy pictures and do those touristy things!

We spent more than 2 hours at the monument.

Tip -Do book your tickets early if you wish to climb the tower.

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Frontal View
Leaning Tower of Pisa – Frontal View
Leaning Tower of Pisa - Side View
Leaning Tower of Pisa – Side View

After a shot of espresso at a cafe outside, we proceeded towards Florence. It took us close to 2 hours and we reached Florence after the sunset.

It was a lovely day and I hope to return to Tuscany for a longer duration next time.

Check out my time in Florence –

Florence – My Visual Travelogue in the Walking City

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9 Comments

  1. Hi, I loved your article on Italy. Wanted to know that did you book a tour for Tuscany & Pisa from Florence or you did it on your own using public transport? What is advisable? I am getting a tour for Rs. 13,000 for 12 hours for a couple covering Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti & Pisa. There are many sites where it is mentioned that a tour for Tuscany & Pisa is advisable. Waiting for your response. Thanks. Aditi

    1. Hi Aditi
      Yes, I booked a Tuscany tour including Pisa (was short of time as we had to reach Civitavecchia for our med-cruise the next day 🙂 )….. Rs.13k is what I have seen on Viator! It is not a great deal though! I would suggest you to try “iSango” – I booked from them too! It is a UK based company and they collaborate with “Walkabout Florence Tours” who are really good! They are currently available for Rs.5812 per person (you will get a 10% disc on sigining up with them ) …. All the best 🙂

      1. Great, thank you. 🙂 I have booked with them. Are there any other tours which you would recommend in Italy like the Cinque Terre, Pompeii, Mt. Vesuvius Trek, Amalfi Coast or are they perfectly doable on own?

        1. While in Florence, I would recommend doing Cinque Terre on your own taking the train (day trip should be fine if you are short of time). We did it that way – Train and on our own!
          While in Naples, I would definitely suggest going to Amalfi Coast. Doing this on your own can be a bit difficult because the buses are not very regular. But if you plan to stay in either Positano, Sorrento or anywhere in the Amalfi Coast then go there on your own because you will not have any time restriction!.. Its such a fantastic place! I will come up with a review soon :)… If you want to book a day tour to Amalfi try “worldtoursitaly.com”… They are fine, we tried them.
          Regarding Mt. Vesuvius Trek, you may do it one day while you are in Naples but I didn’t do it as it was not my area of interest 🙂

          1. We are staying in Amalfi region for 2 nights before moving on to Capri, so I guess we can cover it on our own then. Thanks for the guidance. 🙂 Loved the pictures which you have posted in your articles. Keep writing. 🙂

  2. I absolutely loved Tuscany. Your photos took me back to the delicious gelato that I ate when I was in Tuscany. I did a really fantastic wine tour when I was there and definitely loved the architecture! 🙂

    1. Thank you Karen :)…Definitely a beautiful place 🙂

  3. Tuscan countryside looks very inviting to just sitting down and enjoying a glass of wine. I have never been to this part of Italy and it seems that I missed a lot.

    1. Yah.. That is the best part of the Tuscan-side – you can sit and laze around the whole day with some Chianti :)…

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