In 2014 we had the pleasure of visiting Italy, and more specifically the Tuscan Region.
Tuscany is made up of a number of towns- we visited three of them- Florence (also known as Firenze), Siena and Pisa ( yes, where they don’t lay foundations very well , so building don’t stay upright, lol).
Our first stop, via the FAST train network, was Florence. Here we visited the Duomo Catherdral, an impressive church building from the 1200’s, we visited the Accademia where we gazed upon the famous Statue of David, and we had a guided tour which walked us over the Ponte Vecchio – an arc bridge built by the Medici family in the 1300’s to enable them to travel from their palace to their offices without having to walk amongst the peasants.
This was an OMG moment for me, as the mention of the Medici Family transported me back to year 10 history class and my words came to hit me in my face- “Why do i need to know about some random family in Italy in the 1200’s- as if it will ever be relevant to my life” and there i found myself walking on the bridge they built and casting my eye on the magnificent artwork that they commissioned and paid to have made.
Whilst still in Florence, we arranged for a full day tour- so we could visit the town of Pisa and visit a real tuscan winery, as we would not be able to visit Pisa at any other time.
So we enjoyed the day inspecting the grapes, sampling the wine and holding up buildings and pushing buildings, and picking up buildings….. you get the drift
After Florence, we hit the regional train service, where we travelled up to Cinque Terre ( just outside of the Tuscan region) for a couple of days.
After that we caught the regional train to Siena. Here we learned about the famous horse race that takes place every year in the main square (where the horses with bare-back riders would hurdled around the town centre and try to avoid hitting the people there to cheer them on) , we learned how the town was divided into 12 areas (each with their very own flags) which was a VERY important lesson to learn in hindsight.
We drank lots of spritz ( the choice drink of siena and most of italy) , we shopped for leathergoods and at the end of the night, we would look for the flag- (yellow with the black eagle) which would ensure we headed in the RIGHT direction to find our hotel.
If you didn’t learn the lesson of the flags, you could be walking aimlessly around for hours and hours, as all roads lead right back to the centre of town.
Tuscany was a beautiful part of Italy and i would recommend to anyone, if you are going to visit Italy, don’t just hit Venice and Rome, get in and visit the Tuscan Region too!