My dear friend in Tuscany

Paneforte and other Italian sweets
Paneforte and other Italian sweets

One of my dearest friends and a fellow art/food lover is currently travelling around Italy with her partner, J has been wanting to visit Italy for many years and I am so excited that her time has come and that she is getting to see the chaotic city of Rome and the beauty of the countryside. It also means that I’ll have someone else to talk Italy with and she hopefully won’t get that glazed look in her eyes that I see in others when I’m daydreaming aloud about my holiday.

Today J will be travelling through Tuscany and spending time in Florence, on my desk is a copy of her itinerary and it is great for reminiscing about our trip and the various cities and towns we visited. My first visit to Florence was in 1999, I was travelling alone so had signed up for a tour, not everybody’s idea of travelling but perfect for a shy, single girl who had mainly travelled overseas with family. The David was a highlight for me, at that stage photography was allowed in the gallery so I made sure I captured him from all sides, the rest of my (short) time in Florence was spent on the hunt for a leather jacket and eating delicious pizza in a restaurant near Basilica di Santa Croce. There was no time to rub the nose of the boar on the Ponte Vecchio, nor did I try the local gelato and the Uffizi was not even on my radar, however I did get to see the interior of the Duomo and Basilica di Santa Croce and began to appreciate the influence that religion had on art and architecture. Apart from driving through the countryside to reach our accommodation in Pontassieve and stopping for a quick visit at Pisa to see the Leaning Tower, there wasn’t a chance to really see much of Tuscany so I made sure that we spent some time in a Tuscan hill town on our last trip.

Last year we spent three nights in Florence and four in Siena, we could have stayed longer however I was keen to also visit a few towns in Umbria and didn’t want to waste time hopping from town to town each day. Florence the second time around was a different experience, we didn’t have a set schedule although there were a couple of things that were a must: The Uffizi, climbing Brunelleschi’s Dome, Boboli Gardens, a cooking class and the Ponte Vecchio. The aim was to also spend time just enjoying the city: walking along the river, drinking coffee or a glass of wine in a piazza, exploring the food markets and doing a bit of shopping. I am hoping that J is able to enjoy some of the simple pleasures and not spend all of her time racing from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, however, when you spend over 24 hours on a plane and several thousand dollars in plane tickets it is important to make sure that you see everything you want to see.

When thinking of Tuscany I had a particular image stuck in my mind, one of rolling hills, stone houses, cypress trees, fields filled with poppies and olive trees. Thankfully it wasn’t far from the dream, renting a car made it really easy to get around and there were plenty of places to stop for a break, have a bite to eat and take photos. In the four days we visited Volterra, San Gimignano and Pienza as well as spending time in Siena and it was a nice balance because we could take our time in exploring the towns without feeling pressured to move onto the next destination. Next time we will stay somewhere else and see a different region of Tuscany, if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them šŸ™‚

View from Uffizi cafe
View from Uffizi cafe
Tuscan countryside
Tuscan countryside
San Giminano Ceramics
San Gimignano Ceramics



12 thoughts on “My dear friend in Tuscany

  1. This Sydney Life April 21, 2012 / 2:58 pm

    Hi 2BD – not Tuscany, but consider a cycling tour of Umbria (still less crowded than Tuscany in high season). It is such a great part of the world for cycling – the Italians are so polite towards cyclists, not at all like we Australasians! – and full of medieval villages and great picnic spots. Bevagna was a favourite of mine. šŸ™‚

    • twoblackdoggies April 21, 2012 / 3:03 pm

      That sounds wonderful, thank you – is a cycling tour hard work? We stayed in Assisi and Orvieto and loved both towns, really want to see more of Umbria as well. Will check out Bevagna, what other towns did you love in Umbria?

      • This Sydney Life April 21, 2012 / 3:10 pm

        No, a cycling tour is not hard work (if you pick the right tour!) We did one where we rode every other day and our luggage was moved for us. Assisi was my other particularly memorable spot, but if you’re cycling, you meet local Italians along the way. If you’re lucky (we were), they invite you into their home for a glass of vino… šŸ™‚ My kind of travelling.

      • twoblackdoggies April 21, 2012 / 3:15 pm

        Definitely something to consider for our next trip, it is a couple of years away but already I am enjoying the ‘research’ side of travelling šŸ™‚

        Your idea of travelling sounds delightful, my husband is much more outgoing so we managed to meet a variety of people on our last trip.

      • This Sydney Life April 21, 2012 / 3:50 pm

        According to LM, I am guilty of talking to everyone. šŸ™‚

  2. The Blissful Adventurer April 21, 2012 / 3:04 pm

    Siena is a place for which I have many good stories šŸ™‚ I want that food and to be back šŸ™‚

    • twoblackdoggies April 21, 2012 / 3:05 pm

      The food was excellent, particularly the roast pork on panini that we ate in Piazza del Campo, made all the more memorable because we were asked to take our picnic elsewhere šŸ˜‰

      • The Blissful Adventurer April 21, 2012 / 3:10 pm

        lmao! Next time you go please let me know and I will send you to Montalcino to meet my friends and enjoy their amazing wine!

  3. megtraveling April 21, 2012 / 11:11 pm

    I’m getting ready for my trip to Italy and I enjoyed reading about your memories and also your recommendations! You really take the best pictures too… šŸ™‚

  4. imemine April 22, 2012 / 7:55 pm

    Hi there…thank you for this post….we were in Italy this time last year and i am getting itchy feet again just looking at the photos…we stayed in lucca which is a gorgeous walled city…very quiet at night and full of special treasures….close enough to day trip…siena…florence…barga…cinque terra …pisa ( which for some strange reason we missed) and very nice to come home to …i did a post on it a while ago..a few cute photos……would like to be back !!!

    • twoblackdoggies April 22, 2012 / 8:20 pm

      Us too! It is really hard to believe that it has been 12 months since we went overseas and both my husband and I have extremely itchy feet šŸ™‚

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