Summer in Italy
Is there anywhere better to be during the summer than under the Tuscan Sun? We think not! So pack your bag, forget your diet and prepare yourself for sun, wine, gelato and pasta for days. Here is our ultimate guide for a week in Italys wine country.
TOP 5 places in Toscany
Montalcino - This small village is the home of the Brunello wine, which is considered one of the best wines there is. So make some time to visit Castello Banfi. You will be able to visit the winery as well as enjoying a set 5 course meal while watching the sunset. Obviously, the meal is paired with Brunello wines.
San Gimignano - This UNESCO site is called the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” for its many towers. Don’t forget to try the gelato at Gelateria Dondoli.
Montepulciano - Montepulciano is larger version of Montalcino, packed with great resturants, wine bars and art galleries. Its known for Vino di Nobile di Montepulciano and the local thick pasta, called Pici pasta.
Siena - Start the day by visiting Piazza del Campo, the big square in the middle of the city. Siena is larger than most of the other villages in Tuscany. Which means there is a lot more options for shopping here. So if you are looking for something local to bring home, this is where you can find it.
Florence - One of Italy’s largest city, so you will not get that small Tuscan Village feel here. Although there is lots to do and see. If you like sculptures and architecture you should not miss Florence! On the way to or from Florence, you can also stop to do one of the many cooking courses surrounding the city. On these courses you will learn how to make your own pasta, and make a true Italian meal.
POOL SIDE ESSENTIALS
Toscany gets crazy hot during the summer, so be sure to book hotel with a pool! I always bring a separate bag for all my things I might need pool side, like sunscreen, wallet, phone and a book. I also keep a separate bag to store my shades and jewelry for when I go in the water.
HEad to the coast
If you have time, Cinque Terre is a must see when you are in the region. The 5 villages that make up Cinque Terre are all located by the coast. You can walk in-between most of the villages. Some trails might be closed due to weather conditions or land slides, but in that case there is a train that also stops at each village.
A tip is to stay the night in La Spezia, a 10 min train ride away. It’s a lot cheaper accommodation, easier to park your car and the trains run often and late.
Monterosso al Mare: The only village with a proper beach. It’s also the largest and most packed of the 5 places.
Vernazza: This is my favorite of the village, with cute little stores, good restaurants and some rocks you can sit on while watching the waves or reading a book.
Corniglia: The only village not located by the water. On the hour long walk here from Vernazza, you can stop for a lemonade half way at a café with one of Italy’s best views.
Manarola: Best place to see the sunset, as it sets nicely over the colorful houses.
Riomaggiore: You can swim here if you dare to brave the rocky beach. Just be careful if the waves are too high, since the currents can get really strong. There is a café/bar with a terrace where you can look at the waves hit the cliffs, all while sipping on a glass of Aperol.
South of the famous 5 villages that make up Cinque Terre, you will find Porto Venere. This less known village is just as beautiful and far less crowded. In Porto Venere you can find a church situated on the top of a rock. Climb the stairs to see some great views of the ocean and a church with incredible details. On your way down you can take the route through the narrow alleys, to see some of the colorful houses up close. Porto Venere also has, as the name suggests, a beautiful port, where the restaurants are all lined up along the water.
Portofino is the heart of the Italian Riviera. This village is most famous for its picturesque harbor and for all the celebrity visitors that come each summer. If you are looking to go for some luxury shopping, this is the place for you. If not, I suggest you just go to the main plaza for some people watching at one of the cafés. This is the perfect place to get some Aperitivo, the Italian drink/food special where you get some snacks when ordering a drink.
If you are traveling by car from Tuscany to the coast, you can make your lunch stop in Pisa, to see the world famous leaning tower.