Why Florence

  • Rich in tradition
  • Good food
  • Good wine
  • Rich in history
  • Medieval villages
And why not, perhaps, a half-day trip to visit some small villages in our surroundings, starting in the afternoon and arriving at dinner time, when you can decide whether to stop out for a typical dinner or return home. Here are other Tuscan villages to discover together!
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Fall in love with Tuscany! 💕

This is our intent. We are trying to introduce you to our Tuscany as much as possible. You will learn to love her as we do!
Today we offer you some destinations to visit near Florence.
Let’s begin!

VINCI

Known throughout the world for being the birthplace of the greatest genius of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. Vinci is a perfect place to spend a day full of culture, but also to explore the countryside with its vineyards and olive groves, loved by Leonardo.

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Vinci is located on the hills of Montalbano, an area embraced by the provinces of Pistoia, Prato, and Florence. Inside the village, there are many things to see related to Leonardo’s life: the house where he was born, just 3 kilometers from Vinci in the middle of the countryside, the church where he was baptized, the museum that collects Vinci’s models and machines and the documentation center.
In the center of the town is the castle of the Conti Guidi, also known as the “ship’s castle“🚢 due to its elongated shape that recalls that of a boat. Since 1953 it has housed the Leonardo Museum with one of the largest collections in the world of Leonardo’s models, reconstructed following the indications of his precious drawings. More than 300 works and objects are exhibited, including war machines and prototypes of “airplanes”.
The journey begins at Palazzina Uzielli (where the ticket office is also located and the museum’s exhibition itinerary begins).
Not to be missed is the wooden work that pays homage to the Vitruvian Man (one of Leonardo’s best-known works in which a man of ideal proportions is illustrated) located behind the castle, on a panoramic terrace: it is a perfect place to take a photo of the Vinci countryside. The sculpture called, “The Man of Vinci“, was created by Mario Ceroli and donated to the city by the artist in 1987. Today it is the symbol of the city of Vinci and its strong bond with Leonardo.

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FIESOLE

Fiesole is the town that rises on the hill immediately behind Florence and, thanks to its elevated position and the short distance from the Tuscan capital, it can boast an incomparable view of the lily city.

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Today Fiesole is a destination for tourists looking for intense cultural experiences among monuments, villas, and museums but also for thousands of people who want to enjoy the view over the city, which is one of the most photographed in the world. Fiesole is therefore today one of the most popular destinations for a stay by those who want to visit Florence and its surroundings, but also for those looking for a restaurant in a panoramic position or, simply, want to take a walk “out of town“.
Aristocratic and secluded, Fiesole is a secret town, made up of beautiful Renaissance villas, avenues edged with cypresses, gardens, and a remarkable archaeological area, testimony to the ancient past.
In Fiesole you can admire the Cathedral of San Romolo, in Romanesque style, easily recognizable thanks to the characteristic tower-shaped bell tower; the Bishop’s Palace, founded in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 17th; and the ancient Church of Santa Maria Primerana, built on Etruscan foundations and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Along the way to the ancient acropolis, you will find the basilica of Sant’Alessandro and the church with the convent and the Missionary Museum of San Francesco.
The beautiful surrounding nature then makes Fiesole an ideal point to take beautiful walks, for example towards Monte Ceceri or the Caldine.
Finally, do not miss the Archaeological Civic Museum, which documents the history of the city and its territory, the Bandini Museum, where you can admire the collection of the canon from which the museum takes its name, and the San Jacopo Chapel, which in addition to the frescoes houses inside a collection of paintings, crosses and liturgical goldsmiths.

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PRATO

Fine fabrics and ancient flavors make Prato Tuscan excellence still far from mass tourism. Set between Florence and Pistoia, this city of art deserves the right time to be discovered. The Tuscan city of cantucci, mortadella, and draft awaits you for a journey of taste and art. Contemporary art 🎨 with the Pecci Center, ancient art with the Palazzo Pretorio Museum, sacred art with its polychrome churches but above all textile art with the Textile Museum and a tradition that has its roots in ancient times, making loom production the greatest economic resource of the city and the province. Prato carries on the Made in Italy craftsmanship and conquers lovers of beauty and goodness.

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You will be attracted by the particular Pisan-Lucca Romanesque style of the beautiful Cathedral of Santo Stefano, with its late Gothic facade, characterized by stripes in white marble and green marble from Prato. In the cathedral, there is the relic of the Sacra Cintola della Madonna. The interior with three naves boasts a geometric floor and houses the grandiose cycle of frescoes by Filippo Lippi. Once outside, enjoy the lovely Piazza Duomo and start exploring the historic center.
From Piazza Duomo proceed towards Piazza del Comune where you will meet the Bacchino Fountain, the Town Hall, and the Palazzo Pretorio, a thirteenth-century building with red brick and Alberese stone facade. Inside, the Palazzo Pretorio Museum has been opened, which houses over 3000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, tapestries, and ceramics, from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.
Inside a splendid medieval city, there is a splendid example (among other things unique in the whole of Central and Northern Italy) of Swabian architecture! We are talking about the Emperor’s Castle, built around 1240 to a design by Riccardo da Lentini.
In the Textile Museum, you can admire all possible fabrics, in a collection of artifacts unique in the world. The ancient “Cimatoria Campolmi Leopoldo e C.”, a large nineteenth-century factory within the walls of Prato, hosts a fascinating exhibition itinerary, which starts from the ancient boiler room, occupied by the steam energy generator and ends room for temporary exhibitions.
Among the things to see in Prato, the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art cannot be missed, which hosts a fun artistic world made up of visual and performing arts, cinema, music, architecture, design, fashion, and literature.
Not only monuments but also food and wine 🍷. If you are looking for local flavors, do not miss the Carmignano Wine Route, a path that winds through the Tuscan countryside just outside Prato and which takes you, between relaxing walks and guided tastings, to discover the D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. and typical Prato flavors. But also in pasta factories, delicatessens, and shops to taste products such as mortadella di Prato, capocchia (soprassata), bozza di Prato, traditional peasant bread, and cantucci, dry almond biscuits ideal for dipping in vin santo.

PISTOIA

With just 20 minutes by train from Prato Central Station, you can reach Pistoia, a medieval city that deserves a visit of at least one day. Your tour could start from the Piazza del Duomo, overlooked by noteworthy monuments such as the Cathedral of San Zeno, the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Corte, the Palazzo dei Vescovi, the Pretorio, and the Municipality. Stroll among the Art Nouveau buildings, experience the lively fruit and vegetable markets, admire the glittering goldsmith shops, and fill your eyes with the colors of Renaissance architecture, an example? The Robbiano Frieze of the Ospedale del Ceppo, returned to shine following the last restoration.

EMPOLI

A town that has nothing to envy to the other “beauties of Tuscany“, almost never among the first on the list (unjustly), but always ready to make the tourist feel “at home”.
But what to see in Empoli in one day?
1 Collegiate Church of Sant’Andrea building that dates back to 1093 and directly overlooks Piazza Farinata degli Umberti (called by the people of Empoli “Piazza dei Leoni” 🦁 for the fountain by Luigi Pampaloni ⛲). It is the beating heart, the fulcrum around which the entire urban layout of the city has developed. What is striking is the beauty of the façade which with its white and green marble displays a Florentine Romanesque style. Inside there are works of art of inestimable value, such as the triptych by Lorenzo di Bicci, the Madonna dei Buglioni in the Cappella della Concezione and the fresco by Raffaello Botticini.
2 The Glass Museum. The tradition of glass processing throughout the Empoli area is long. There are many testimonies of this fascinating artisan activity since the 1400s. Visiting the Muve means entering the heart of history, thanks to the references to workplaces and the many and precise references to the processing phases. Empoli is the city of glass. You didn’t know, did you?
3 Palazzo Ghibellino one of the most important historic buildings in the city that always overlooks Piazza Farinata degli Umberti. Inside is the Civic Museum of Paleontology: many fossils and rocks that document the history of the Earth 🌎 are jealously guarded here. A destination recommended for everyone, from the youngest to the adults: a fantastic tactical-sensory journey to discover how our Planet has changed over billions of years.
4 Church of Santo Stefano degli Agostiniani ⛪. Inside you can admire the frescoes by Masolino, the table by Bicci di Lorenzo and the wonderful marble Annunciation by Rossellino.

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Around Florence

We recommend going to Empoli in spring 🌸 to have the opportunity to participate in an important historical reenactment and an extraordinary event. We are talking about the Flight of the Donkey and LudiComix. The Flight of the Donkey is a historical tradition that takes place in the period of Corpus Domini. Many games of the palio, a delicious medieval dinner, and a colorful historical parade, up to the long-awaited flight of the donkey. Guys, in Empoli it is possible to see donkeys fly! LudiComix is ​​like Lucca Comics, but simply less in scope. A joyful festival open to all fans of video games, TV series, comics, and so on and so forth. Impossible to get bored! 😂
Finally, we advise you to see it at Christmas 🎄. It is full of decorations, plays of light and fascinates young and old.

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MONTELUPO FIORENTINO

A journey to discover the extraordinary ceramic tradition of Montelupo Fiorentino, through thematic paths that follow different routes and cross many stories: of men, of customs, of science, and of economics. In Montelupo, there is a beautiful museum of ceramics and the first and third Sundays of the month are dedicated to children: creative workshops, games, stories and much more, to stimulate creativity.

BUGGIANO

It is a small Tuscan town in the province of Pistoia, in Valdinievole, between Lucca and Pistoia. It is a delightful village even if small, to be able to walk in its historic center and visit the Palazzo Pretonia, the Pieve di Santa Maria Maggiore and the small medieval village in the B. Castello hamlet.

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Buggiano Castello is none other than the upper part of the village of Buggiano. Worth seeing because it is here that the ruins of the ancient fortress are located, with a well-preserved tower and the gate of San Martino. Obviously, the castle is worth visiting as well as the San Rocco gate from which you can enjoy an incredible panorama.

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ARTIMINO

Imagine a valley with at its two extremes, connected by a beautiful tree-lined avenue, two hills, on one the Villa, on the other a small village which is accessed from Porta Turrita, a well-preserved medieval tower. Artimino can be visited in a short time among the cobbled streets, the craft shops and a very famous ice cream 🍦 where the Florentines love to spend the hot summer nights here. Villa Ferdinanda, the most important Medici villa in the region, also called the villa of the hundred fireplaces. An unmistakable white shape, imposing and massive crowned by chimneys as there are rooms in the villa that needed to be heated. On the main facade there is a splendid staircase that leads to one of the entrances and from which you can enjoy the view over the Borgo di Artimino.

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Not far from the Borgo there is a small fifteenth-century parish church surrounded by greenery. The Pieve di San Leonardo gives you an appointment only once a week at 11.30 before Sunday Mass.

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MUGELLO

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Florence

Mugello is a large valley north of Florence that extends along the course of the Sieve in correspondence with an ancient lake of marine origin. Since the end of the twentieth century, the landscape has been enriched by the Bilancino Lake, a large artificial reservoir created to regulate the flow of the Sieve and ensure the water supply to the Florentine area. Like other areas of Tuscany, Mugello is also a very interesting land where, in addition to a largely wild and unspoiled nature, there are historic villages, medieval churches and castles, Renaissance villas, and even a famous international racetrack.

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The first point on the list of what to see in Mugello is the village of Scarperia. Scarperia in fact known for the Mugello International Circuit, but in reality, even before this, it is a beautiful medieval village that is part of the club of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy 🌏“. Founded by Florence in 1306, the city is one of the so-called Terre Nuove of Florence. There is one of the main monuments of the whole Mugello, the beautiful Palazzo dei Vicari, once the seat of the Florentine government, and today the seat of the Municipality and the Museo dei Ferri Taglienti. Inside the palace you can admire several frescoes and other works, while on its facade there are numerous coats of arms that belonged to the Florentine vicars.

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Borgo San Lorenzo, in the middle of the valley along the course of the Sieve, is the main center of Mugello. Known since Roman times under the name of Anneianum, Borgo preserves a valuable cultural heritage. The most important monument is undoubtedly the Pieve di San Lorenzo, a large Romanesque church characterized by a unique brick bell tower. Also very interesting are the Renaissance villa Pecori Giraldi and the Chini Manufacture Museum set up inside.

Moving further towards Romagna, after passing the Passo della Colla, we enter the territory of Marradi. Despite being in the province of Florence, the village is crossed by the Lamone river, which flows into Ravenna, and the central position between Florence, Faenza and the Adriatic coast has determined its fortune in the past. Among mountain chalets typical of the Apennine villages and city-style avenues and stately buildings, Marradi has its heart in Piazza le Scalelle, overlooked by the Palazzo Comunale, the seventeenth-century Palazzo Fabroni and the Church of the Suffragio.

We close our list of what to see in Mugello with Palazzuolo sul Senio, the center of the so-called Tuscan Romagna. Palazzuolo, like Scaperia, is also part of the club of the “most beautiful villages in Italy 🌍“. An enchanting village with a more exquisitely medieval flavor, Palazzuolo and its surroundings offer remarkable monuments such as the Parish Church of Santo Stefano, the beautiful Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Neve in Quadalto, the Badia Susinana and the elegant Palazzo dei Capitani. Finally, Palazzuolo is a Tuscan village well known in the world of hôtellerie, hosting the first widespread hotel in Italy in its alleys.

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MONTECATINI ALTO

A few steps from Montecatini Terme, at 290 meters above sea level, there is the true historic center of the town. Look up and you will see Montecatini Alto, a delightful medieval village with narrow streets to discover and corners to admire. On one side the Rocca di Castello Vecchio, the Church of San Pietro and the Bell Tower overlooks the imposing, while on the other side you will see the Clock Tower and the Church of the Carmine in Baroque style.

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It all began in the Romanesque era when Montecatini [Alto] was an ancient castle 🏰. Montecatini, famous for its spas all over the world, was born, however, only at a later time. The waters of the ancient swamp below, already known for its healing effects, then facilitated the emergence of wellness and beauty centers. Thermal establishments that have gradually formed the center of Montecatini Terme.

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Once eight doors opened on the walls, today, however, you can admire only one: Porta di Borgo with the Benedictine Monastery of S. Maria a Ripa. Take a walk in Montecatini Alto: a pleasure for the eyes and also for the palate. The main square, in fact, is full of restaurants and clubs where you can taste a good wine and taste typical recipes of the Tuscan tradition.

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Post Author: wildcouple95 |

We are Alessia & Luca. From Tuscany with love ♥ Passionate about travel, photography, nature, sports and trekking. Fall in love with our Italy, with its beautiful crystal clear waters and high mountains, but we don't miss opportunities to travel abroad. Let's travel together!

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