One of the most picturesque places in Tuscany, San Gimignano is not one to miss. Located on top of a Tuscan hill the town boasts exquisite views of the surrounding countryside. Also home to the famous, ‘Gelateria Dondoli’ which has notably been crowned the best ice-cream in the world. Having sampled their white chocolate and caramel flavours myself I can confirm, it’s a well deserved title! Although it is a little bit tricky to reach I would definitely recommend taking the journey, you won’t regret it.
Note: I would advise you to avoid Sunday’s if you’re relying on public transport.
Having lived in Arezzo for 8 months I have come to know the city very well and it would be at the top of my list for an authentic Tuscan experience. With its handy location on the main train line Arezzo is easily accessible from bigger cities such as Rome, Florence and Bologna. When arriving from the station you need only take a short 5-minute walk to reach the charming historic centre. The narrow streets are lined with quaint shops and independent restaurants. Shopaholics can still get there fix as you can find well disguised retailers such as Zara and Sephora. It’s no secret that Arezzo is Tuscany’s most affluent city which is evident in its pristine appearance and impeccably maintained surroundings. Here you can enjoy all things Tuscan in a city very much untouched by tourism!
What an underrated gem this place really is. When I first visited Verona I had no great expectations and I must say I was blown away. The city centre is immaculate with a great range of shops and an incredible choice of restaurants. During Winter the city is filled with delightful markets that create a lovely warm atmosphere. Not only can you visit the notorious balcony from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but you can also hop on the train and be at the incredible lake Garda in just over 20 minutes. Known for its crystal clear waters and breath-taking mountainous surroundings, Garda is Italy’s largest lake. If you enjoy both city and country life, then I would definitely put these two on your list!
(Similarly, you can visit both Milan and lake Como very easily).
Le Cinque Terre
Arguably the most picturesque location in Italy. “Le Cinque Terre”, meaning “The Five Lands”, is the only man-made world heritage site in Italy. The five sites can be easily accessed by purchasing a specific Cinque Terre train ticket which can be purchased at any of the stations tourist office. Each village has unique qualities making every stop exciting and exclusive. The group is made up by, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia and Monterosso. Be sure to visit, “Nessun Dorma”, the beautiful restaurant in Manarola that is famous for its breathtaking views.
Hailed the food capital of Italy, need I say more? Bologna is a quirky and dynamic city with so much to offer. The cities edgier vibe offers an alternative and less stereotypical Italian experience. The vibrant atmosphere reaches new levels in the evening as the cities best restaurants and bars come alive. Not to mention, it has not one but two leaning towers to observe, stand aside Pisa!