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
  • Explore the Tuscan towns of Siena and San Gimignano
  • Try your hand at Florentine cuisine during a cooking class
  • Discover the rugged nature and medieval villages of the Cinque Terre

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival 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 Day Trip to Cinque Terre Florence
Day 6 Goodbye Italy  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival 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 relaxing 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. Make the most of your time at some of these spots:

  • Head to Studio Artemisia, located steps away from the Ponte Vecchio for a class in ancient fresco painting techniques
  • Take a walk through the peaceful Boboli Gardens to see the oval-shaped Isolotto, a small island surrounded by various sculptures and lots of 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
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. All together, the route is just a couple of miles, but take your time to enjoy the sites along the way for a full-day experience.

Start your day at the iconic Duomo, the earlier the better! Also known as 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 - but keep in mind a modest dress code. As there is often a line to get in, give yourself an hour to properly visit this iconic spot. 

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 to buy some traditional leather goods as souvenirs. After, 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 that of Michelangelo's David, line the square and give it an incomparable air of elegance 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, stopping to admire 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 and is the perfect place to watch the sunset before you head over 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 with a coffee in a terraced cafe. 

In the afternoon, you'll visit nearby Siena, a medieval city brimming with historic sites. You can't miss the incredible main square, Piazza del Campo, which is surrounded by the Gothic Pubblico Palace, the Tower of Mangia, and the Gaia Fountain. From here, walk over to the 13th-century cathedral, Duomo di Siena, which dominates the skyline of the city. In summer months, the town comes alive with festivities, 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 a 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 on 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 few slow strolls 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 de 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. They'll welcome you with a glass of prosecco. Enjoy the venue as you begin the experience with an appetizer of Italian cheeses and other local products.

Next you'll roll up your sleeves and learn to cook regional Italian pasta from recipes passed down through generations. Your hands-on Italian cooking class will last about three hours. You'll learn to cook four dishes from scratch, including a side or dessert. Observe the chef's different tricks and techniques involved in cooking Italian family recipes. 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 a traditional Italian style, shared with your hosts.

Day 5: Day Trip to Cinque Terre

Town of Manarola
Town of Manarola

In the morning, depart for a full day on the Cinque Terre, a section of the Italian coast famous for its medieval villages, stunning cliffs, and beautiful hiking trails. 

Start in Riomaggiore, one of the five villages that make up the historic Cinque Terre region. Walk along the beautiful Via dell' Amore (Lover's Pathway) to enjoy views of the coastline and sea. Unfortunately, due to landslides, part of this path is closed to the public. However, the views along the cliffs are still exhilaratingly beautiful and definitely worth the walk. 

From here, continue to the town of Monterosso al Mare for some free time. The city's medieval center remains nearly perfectly preserved, with its ancient tower-houses and network of carrugi (narrow alleyways that lead from the sea to the cliffs above the town). Monterosso is also renowned for having the best gelato on the Cinque Terre (make sure to try some!) as well as breathtaking views of the sea. 

From here, why not head up the coast to the town of Vernazza, a small resort town located at the mouth of a river and naturally protected from wild sea swells by a rocky promontory. This natural wave break protects the harbor, making it the only major docking point in the Cinque Terre. Enjoy lunch on your own time as you explore the local cuisine and savor regional delicacies. 

After the day's sightseeing, follow your nose to the neighborhood bakery to sample the local Focaccia with pesto for a delicious snack you won't find anywhere else. Buon Appetito! 

In the afternoon, transfer back to Florence.

Day 6: Goodbye 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 - 6 Days
Map of Highlights of Florence - 6 Days