Claudiaexpat shares her top ten places not to miss if you visit Tuscany.
As many of you know, HOME for me is Tuscany, more precisely the area between Volterra and San Gimignano where we own a little house and where we return every summer. There are things I have grown to love deeply, and I thought to share them with you, in case you pay a visit to that enchanted region (which I warmly recommend).
Here are my top tips from Florence to Volterra:
1. Florence: while it might prove a bit difficult to get into Uffizi Museum (one of the best in the world, and I warmly recommend you to book online in advance if you don’t want to miss it), a visit inside the Palazzo Vecchio and its museum is easier. The palace is a jewel. And you have a fountain with sparkling water (!) on the left wall of the Palace (keeping the Palace in front of you)
2. Siena: don’t miss the walk on the roof of the Duomo. You can find details here: http://www.operaduomo.siena.it/eng/index.htm (you might want to book in advance, depending on the time of the year you visit). It’s absolutely breathtaking, and well explained.
3. Poggibonsi: there is a lovely restaurant in the centre of Poggibonsi. It’s called Ristorante Italia (Via Trento 34) and it’s a typical family-run trattoria, nice food and great atmosphere.
4. Colle Val d’Elsa alta (alta means “high”, it’s the old part of the city), is a jewel. You can stroll through its streets and never get tired. Here you have the famous restaurant Arnolfo (http://www.arnolfo.com/#), one of the best restaurants in Italy. This is a one-time experience, but definitely worth the while.
5. Wine: my favourite place to taste and buy wine is Poderi del Paradiso (http://www.poderidelparadiso.it/), close to San Gimignano. They are lovely, patients, make you taste whatever you feel like trying, and some of their wines are fantastic.
6. San Gimignano is a place you must not miss (http://www.sangimignano.com/en/). My favourite there: La Grotta di Fulignano (restaurant, https://www.facebook.com/lagrottadifulignano/), Gelateria Dondoli (for the best ice cream, http://www.gelateriadondoli.com/), Piazza Sant’Agostino (it’s a square…beautiful, romantic), and then of course The Duomo and a bit of shopping, though for souvenirs and leather products I would recommend Volterra
7. If you love cheese, go and buy at my neighbours, Fratelli Carai (http://www.formaggicarai.it/), between San Gimignano and Volterra. It’s superb.
8. Castello di Luppiano is a XIII century castle built on archaic walls, and it is on the way to Volterra from San Gimignano. The castle was bought by an English family a while ago, and cannot be visited, but is it located in one of the most amazing valleys of the area, which is worth the while visiting – supreme landscapes! From San Gimignano to Volterra, check a dirty road on your left after “La Spicchiaiola” (indicated on a blue panel), and follow it.
9. Mazzolla, Trattoria Albana. This is my absolutely favourite restaurant in all of Tuscany. Please don’t miss it. I wrote about it here: http://expatatable.com/trattoria-toscana-in-mazzola-italy/ On the way to Volterra from Siena, it is a tiny medieval village (44 inhabitants) and hosts this absolutely fabulous trattoria. Food is delicious and very typical.
10. Volterra: all of Volterra is fabulous, from its Palazzo dei Priori, to the narrow medieval streets, from the little shops to the Etruscan Museum. My favourite to buy great Tuscan food is Volaterra, near Piazza dei Priori (http://volaterra.it), and they also have a restaurant, a bit further down, it’s called I Fornelli (http://osteriafornelli.it/), wonderful food and a superb view.
There are, obviously, so many more things I could share, little details I have accumulated in the course of the years, and hidden things that are not so easy to explain. Should you need any further information, get in touch with me. And visit Tuscany!!!
Claudiaexpat (Claudia Landini)