Explore the birthplace of the Renaissance in all its splendor. Discover Rennaissance art in Florence, browse bustling markets for fresh produce and cured meats, and stroll through narrow medieval streets to see the 1,000-year-old Ponte Vecchio bridge. Head to the Tuscan countryside to visit Siena and see the medieval Monteriggioni fortress, and learn the secrets behind a homemade Italian meal. 

Highlights

  • Tour Florence's beautiful medieval piazzas & cathedrals
  • Take in the gothic architecture of medieval Siena & San Gimignano
  • Join a cooking class and learn to prepare an authentic meal

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Florence Florence
Day 2 Florence Self-Guided City Tour Florence
Day 3 Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano Florence
Day 4 Local Cooking Class in Florence Florence
Day 5 Depart Italy  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Florence

Various cured meats in the Mercato Centrale
Various cured meats in the Mercato Centrale

Welcome to Florence, the capital of Italy's Tuscany region! Arrive at Florence Airport and transfer to the city center to check in to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and settling in, or head out for a stroll and dinner downtown. 

Florence is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, including the iconic Duomo, a terracotta-tiled dome, and the Galleria dell'Accademia, which displays Michelangelo's "David" sculpture. You might also consider heading to Studio Artemisia, located steps away from the Ponte Vecchio, for a class on ancient fresco painting techniques. Alternatively, walk through the peaceful Boboli Gardens to see the oval-shaped Isolotto, a small island surrounded by various sculptures and greenery.

In the evening, stroll around the historic L-shaped Piazza della Signoria, located in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, for some people watching, followed by dinner and drinks in the hip Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood.

Day 2: Florence Self-Guided City Tour

Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site
The Fountain of Neptune in Florence's Piazza della Signoria, a UNESCO site

Spend the day strolling the streets of Florence and exploring this incredible city with this suggested self-guided route. Altogether, it covers a couple of miles, yet you'll want to take your time to enjoy the sites along the way for a full-day experience. Start at the iconic Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Florence's Duomo is the third-largest church in the world. Entrance into the main sanctuary is free, and keep in mind the modest dress code. As there is often a line to get in, give yourself an hour to visit this iconic spot properly. 

From there, make the 5-minute walk over to the Mercato Centrale, on the second floor of the San Lorenzo market, where you'll be able to stroll through the stalls of local goods and grab a morning coffee to start your day. Give yourself an hour or two to soak in the sights and smells and buy some traditional leather goods as souvenirs. The nearby Piazza della Republica is the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere of Florence's city center and the incredible architecture that embodies it. 

Take a moment to pass through Piazza della Signoria, where replicas of famous statues, including Michelangelo's David, line the square before stopping for lunch nearby. Across this same piazza, you'll find the entrance to the Uffizi museum. Even if you decide not to make a stop to peruse the expansive art collection, you can cross through its courtyard, Piazzale degli Uffizi, to make your way to the Ponte Vecchio. This famed bridge is now dotted with jewelry shops and is an iconic sight in the Florence cityscape. Cross the bridge, admiring the views along the Arno River that passes underneath. 

End your day with a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a bit of an uphill climb or a quick taxi ride away. This spectacular viewpoint offers an incredible view of all of Florence. It is the perfect place to watch the sun set before heading to Piazza Santo Spirito for some pre-dinner aperitivos. 

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Day 3: Tuscany Day Trip: Siena & San Gimignano

Cathedral and Historic Center of Siena
Cathedral and Historic Center of Siena

In the morning, you'll head to the countryside to explore Tuscany. Your first stop will be the medieval village of San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located an hour away from Florence. Explore the beautiful squares, palaces, and churches of the city before taking a break in a terraced café. 

In the afternoon, you'll visit nearby Siena, a medieval city brimming with historical sites. You can't miss the incredible main square, Piazza del Campo, which the Gothic Pubblico Palace surrounds, the Tower of Mangia, and the Gaia Fountain. From here, walk over to the 13th-century cathedral, Duomo di Siena, which dominates the city's skyline. The town comes alive with festivities in the summer months, as the Palio takes place in July and August. This exciting horserace held twice a year in the main square of Siena ignites the town in fervor. 

Finish the day with a visit to the medieval fortress town of Monteriggioni. The intact castle walls surround this town perched on a hillside and are a sight to behold. Continue to the Chianti Classico wine region to visit a typical Tuscan winery before returning to Florence for the evening.

Day 4: Local Cooking Class in Florence

Learn How to Make Traditional Italian Pasta
Learn How to Make Traditional Italian Pasta

Enjoy a leisurely morning in Florence with breakfast at your hotel and a stroll through the historic center. Popular highlights include the sprawling 15th-century Pitti Palace and the world-famous Uffizi Gallery, which houses works by artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Be sure to purchase your tickets to the Uffizi online in advance!

In the afternoon, you'll meet your host near the center of Florence for a traditional Italian cooking class. Welcoming you with a glass of prosecco, you'll warm up with an appetizer of Italian cheeses and other local products. Then it's time to learn to cook regional Italian pasta from recipes passed down through generations. Lasting three hours, you'll learn to cook four dishes from scratch, including a side or dessert. In the summer months, you might be able to use the small vegetable and herb garden in the courtyard where zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs are grown. 

The best part of the class is at the end, where you'll enjoy your freshly-made dinner in traditional Italian style, shared with your hosts.

Day 5: Depart Italy

Sunset over Florence
Sunset over Florence

Your exploration of Italy will end after breakfast, with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination.

Map

Map of Highlights of Florence - 5 Days
Map of Highlights of Florence - 5 Days