Do you know that the Cinque Terre is super-duper close to Tuscany?
Many people don’t realize how small Italy is, and that travel distances are very short.
Here are some cool facts:
- You can take the train to almost anywhere in Italy in under a day. For example, the train from top to bottom (Turin to Lecce) can take under 11 hours and cost less than 90 euro.
- You can fly within Italy and be anywhere in under 3 hours. If you book ahead, prices can be less than a cheap hostel room. You’ll laugh when you see the deals.
With very little time, and very little money, you too can see everything you can dream of seeing in Italy – you just gotta get there.
I have a very simple plan
One of the questions I get most from our trip guests is,
“Where should I go after my trip with you?”
It’s a great question, and I have some ideas for you.
You can combine our tours to the Cinque Terre with with so many options. Many of our guests have stopped in Paris or London before or after the trip. Many airlines offer a free stopover, which is a fantastic loophole.
My simple plan is … go and see Tuscany.
And I’ll show you why.
What to do in Tuscany: The Simple Plan
What I like about combining a Tuscan holiday with a holiday to the Cinque Terre is that it’s very different. Therefore, you have an Italian “best of both” experience. Below, I’ve highlighted the differences between the two regions.
What to Do in Tuscany: Combine City and Country
We all know how much work planning a vacation can be when you’re traveling on your own. Unless you’re traveling on a guided tour, you’re in charge of making 101 decisions.
Today I’m going to give you two simple ideas for a Tuscan holiday. They’re the only two itineraries you need if you have anything less than seven nights to spend in Tuscany. They combine city and country and are divided by budget. Simply pick one or the other. Stop over thinking and Googling. These are two solid plans that deliver what you’re looking for: relaxation and inspiration all rolled into one.
- Option 1 is for you if you want to keep it simple and take the train. The train is easy, inexpensive and fast.
- Option 2 is for you if you would like to rent a car and explore the countryside. Cars give you more flexibility.
- Remember: There’s no right or wrong way to travel in Tuscany — just choose the one that works for your comfort level and budget.
- Note: These itineraries depart from Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre, where we host our tours. But you can adapt them to begin anywhere you like.
Tuscany: simple and inexpensive (without sacrificing experience).
The plan: Lucca – Fiesole – Florence
The Transport: You’ll stick to public transit.
The lowdown: Lucca is a picturesque, well preserved and very safe walled city. It has incredible art and architecture, without the frenetic energy of a larger city. You can rent a bike and cruise around, shop, wander, take photos and just sit and drink 10 cappuccino in 10 different piazze. Fiesole is a miniature hill village outside of Florence, with 8th/9th century Etruscan ruins, and you can arrive using cheap public transit. Florence is my favorite city in Italy, and like a good kisser, it never disappoints no matter how many times you do it. You can fly home or to other places in Europe from the Florence airport.
What to do in Tuscany, step by step:
Step 1: Take the train from Riomaggiore – Lucca. It takes about an hour, and the trains leave all day, every day. See the schedule here.
Step 2: Sleep in Lucca for two nights. The B&B La Gemma di Elena, is central, and 50 euros per night. Ostello San Frediano is less. Here’s a private apartment for a steal.
Step 3: Take the train from Lucca to Florence. It’s about 1.5 hours and costs under 10 euros. You can stop in Pisa on the way, if you would like to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa – which is pretty cool. The piazza surrounding the tower is stunning.
Step 4: Arrive in Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence. Walk out the door and hail a taxi, or walk to Piazza di San Marco and catch a city bus. The No. 7 bus leaves from Piazza di San Marco to Fiesole every fifteen minutes and costs a few euros. The trip is about 25 minutes.
Step 5: Stay two nights on Fiesole. This tiny Tuscan hill town is adorable. Convenient places to stay are Residence Fiesole or Casa Torrini. Albergo Villa Sorriso is a good buy. Villa San Michelle is a luxury hotel; go and have dessert at the restaurant and enjoy the view.
Step 6: Take the bus from Fiesole to Florence. 25 minutes.
Step 7: Stay three nights in Florence. You can fly out of Florence.
For my recommended sleeps look at my article: where to stay in Florence. I heard a new hotel just opened in my favorite neighborhood, Oltrano. The new hotel is called Soprarno Suites.
For your stay in Florence, check out my recommended restaurants in Florence. Here are my tips for what to do in Florence.
Tuscany on a splurge (because you only live once).
The plan: Pienza – San Gimignano – Florence.
The Transport: You’ll need a car. Rent one or hire a driver.
The lowdown: Pienza is a Tuscan Renaissance town in the Val d’Orcia, between the famous wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino. Pienza is a UNESCO world heritage site. San Gimignano is another hill town, which is famous for its towers. I’ve stayed there around Christmas, and I can tell you, no matter what season, SG is very romantic and amazing. Florence is my favorite city, and you can fly out of Florence, or travel to points north (Venice) or south (Rome).
What to do in Tuscany, step by step:
Step 1: Take the train from Riomaggiore to La Spezia. The train takes 10 minutes and runs all day, every day. See the schedule here. Rent a car.
Step 2: Drive from La Spezia to Pienza. It takes three hours.
Step 3: In the country estate surrounding Pienza, sleep at the most amazing La Bandita for two nights. I recommended the hotel to my friend, and she loved it.
Step 4: Drive from Pienza to San Gimignano
Step 5: Stay for two nights in San Gimignano. You can stay centrally, or stay outside the town with a beautiful view of the town. I love Fattoria Poggia Alloro.
Step 6: Drive from San Gimignano to Florence. Go to your hotel and drop off your luggage. Then return your car, as you won’t need it in Florence.
Step 7: Stay three nights in Florence. You can fly out of Florence, or travel from there.
For my recommended sleeps, look at my article where to stay in Florence. Also check out a new hotel, Soprarno Suites.
For your stay in Florence, check out my recommended restaurants in Florence. Then look at what to do in Florence.
Check out more ideas for your Tuscan vacation.
Which Town is Tuscany Should I Visit?
I hope this gives you some ideas about how you can extend your trip after our tours. When you join join an Italian Fix tour, you get full support to help you plan your trip to Italy. The best thing is — it’s free. Here’s the upcoming schedule. When you travel with us — you’re never alone. That’s no fun.
Let me know if you have any questions.
With love + chianti,
Thanks for checking out our blog!
Are you interested in travelling to Italy with us on a day trip?
Check out our Day Tours of the Cinque Terre and Florence HERE!
We’d love to see you in Italy!
Hi, Bianca. We are planning on coming to Italy in mid-May for our honeymoon and loved reading your itinerary on Cinque Terre! Enough so that we are spending 5 nights in Cinque Terre and working on hotel accommodations in Riomaggiore. 🙂 Your itinerary sounded perfect for what we are looking to do (outdoors, local wine and food, etc.)! We also wanted to spend a day in the Tuscan country while we are staying in Cinque Terre, so we would love to get your thoughts on where to go and what to do (ie. good place to enjoy the view and drink wine). Also, after our 5 night stay in Cinque Terre, we plan on heading down the coast to spend 4 nights in Sorrento. Thoughts on where to stay and what to do in the Almafi Coast? Thank you so much for your itinerary on Cinque Terre and any additional help!
Congrats on your honeymoon! That’s exciting. Check out my tips for Tuscany here:
Plan your travel here:
I’m not an Amalfi expert — you should look on the blog: http://www.ciaoamalfi.com/