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Planning Your 7 – 10 day Trip to Italy: Tuscany, Liguria, and Emilia-Romagna

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This proposed itinerary starts and ends in Florence. The trip is circular, covering approximately 500 miles, and includes the charming region’s unique and interesting destinations.

Florence

Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is celebrated for its art, history, and culture, making it one of the most visited cities in the world. The city’s rich heritage is evident in its architecture, museums, and charming streets. To fully appreciate the city’s many highlights, we recommend spending at least two days there. Although it’s a daunting task to condense the list of key attractions in Florence, here are a few recommendations:

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The Cathedral of Florence (Il Duomo): Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, with its iconic red dome designed by Brunelleschi, is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. There are panoramic views of the city from the top of the cathedral. The complex also includes the Baptistry with Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise” and Giotto’s Bell Tower.

The Uffizi Gallery: A world-renowned museum displaying an unparalleled collection of Renaissance art, including works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”

Ponte Vecchio: A medieval bridge spanning the Arno River, lined with many jewelry shops.

Piazza della Signoria: A square featuring Palazzo Vecchio, sculptures, and the Loggia dei Lanzi, an outdoor sculpture gallery.

Santa Croce Basilica: A basilica serving as the burial place for Italian luminaries such as Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei.

Pitti Palace: A magnificent palace that was once the residence of the Medici family, now housing several museums and beautiful gardens.

Ponte Vecchio over Arno river in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Vinchi

In Vinchi, you can immerse yourself in the world of one of history’s greatest geniuses while enjoying the natural beauty and culture of Tuscany. The village is the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, and the house where he was born in 1452 has been turned into a museum that is dedicated to his life and work. With models, replicas of his inventions, and an extensive collection of his sketches and writings, the museum provides a fascinating insight into his genius. Nearby is the Conti Guidi Castle (Castello dei Conti Guidi), a beautiful medieval castle with panoramic views of the village and the surrounding countryside. Be sure to visit the Church of Santa Croce, a 13th-century church that houses several magnificent works of art.

Vinci, view and bell tower of the church. Florence, Tuscany Italy

Lucca

Lucca, nestled in the heart of the Tuscany region, is a city of exquisite beauty and charm. Renowned for its meticulously preserved Renaissance walls, distinctive historical architecture, and an inviting, laid-back ambiance, Lucca offers a delightful experience. Take a leisurely stroll along Lucca’s Renaissance Walls, encircling the historic city, and venture into the subterranean passages beneath them. Explore Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, an enchanting oval square situated in the heart of the old town, ingeniously built on the remnants of an amphitheater. Immerse yourself in the Gothic allure of Duomo di San Martino, an Italian cathedral with captivating architecture. For a unique perspective of Lucca, ascend Torre Guinigi, crowned with majestic oak trees—a symbol of the city. The tower not only provides a panoramic view but also stands as an iconic landmark against the backdrop of the city’s distinctive red-tiled rooftops.

View of Piazza dell’Anfiteatro square, Lucca, Italy

Pisa

Pisa’s global fame may rest on its iconic leaning tower, but the city is also home to a variety of cultural and historical wonders. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, a focal point of the UNESCO-listed Piazza dei Miracoli, is a must-see attraction. Within the square, you’ll see the grand Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistry with its remarkable acoustics, and the historic Camposanto Monumentale cemetery, distinguished by its Gothic architecture, unique sculptures, and wall paintings. Don’t miss a visit to the Museum of Sinopias (Museo delle Sinopie), with its unique display of sculptures, paintings, and historical artifacts. Enhance your experience by strolling along the picturesque Arno River, crossing charming bridges, and discovering some of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens.

Leaning tower of Pisa

Carrara

Carrara is renowned as the origin of the world-famous Carrara marble, famous for its unparalleled quality. The town’s marble quarries have been operating for centuries, and Carrara has been the marble of choice for eminent sculptors throughout history. Legend has it that Michelangelo personally selected blocks for his masterpieces such as “David” and “The Pieta.” Notable artists such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Auguste Rodin also worked with Carrara marble. Guided tours are available for visitors to observe the marble extraction process and explore the historical and cultural importance of this industry.

industrial marble quary site on Carrara, Tuscany, Italy

Cinque Terre

This UNESCO World Heritage site features breathtaking coastlines and picturesque villages. The five charming villages, situated amid dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and distinctive hiking trails, are a renowned highlight. It is advisable to allocate a full day for visiting or exploring some of these villages. Convenient access is provided by a train departing from the city of La Spezia, making stops at connecting stations for the following villages:

Vernazza: This charming village features a picturesque harbor, colorful houses, and the medieval Doria Castle.

Monterosso al Mare: The largest among the five villages, it is known for its beautiful beaches, ancient church, and charming streets.

Riomaggiore: Riomaggiore is famous for its colorful buildings, narrow streets, and beautiful waterfront promenade, along with the ancient Riomaggiore Castle.

Manarola: The town offers breathtaking views, especially from the Punta Bonfiglio viewpoint, with its colorful houses clinging to the cliff.

Corniglia: Situated on a hill, Corniglia provides a different perspective on Cinque Terre. It is the only village without direct access to the sea, requiring a climb up stairs to reach it. The view from the terrace is well worth the effort.

Colorful harbor at Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Modena

Modena is a city that blends cultural, historical, and culinary elements. Highlights include the magnificent Modena Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower, which offers breathtaking views. Piazza Grande, the expansive square encircled by historic structures like Palazzo Comunale and the Clock Tower, serves as the city’s focal point. Modena is synonymous with luxury sports cars, particularly Ferrari, and the Ferrari Museum provides the opportunity to explore the carmaker’s history. The city’s deep-rooted history is reflected in its Romanesque architecture, ancient Roman walls, and cultural landmarks such as the Military Academy Museum at Palazzo Ducale.

Modena, Italy

Bologna

Bologna boasts a fusion of history, culture, and culinary delights. Notable attractions include Piazza Maggiore, home to the Basilica of San Petronio, and the historic library, Archiginnasio, hosting the Anatomical Theater. Explore the remarkable Santo Stefano, a complex comprising seven churches. The city is famous for its porticoes—covered pathways with historical roots. Art aficionados will enjoy the National Art Gallery, the Archaeological Museum, and the distinctive Museum for the Memory of Ustica. For breathtaking views, visit San Michele in Bosco Basilica atop a hill. The local cuisine is outstanding, featuring delights like tagliatelle al ragù, tortellini, and mortadella.

Night cityscape of Bologna

Ravenna

Known for its extraordinary Byzantine mosaics, Ravenna’s highlights include the Basilica of San Vitale, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, and the Baptistery of Neon, all adorned with stunning mosaics. Explore the historic center and sites related to Dante Alighieri, including his tomb.

main square in Ravenna in Italy

San Marino

San Marino, a micro-republic within Italy, attracts travelers with its rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. The medieval charm, picturesque landscapes, and historical allure create an unforgettable travel experience. Key points, accessible by cable car, include the iconic Three Towers offering panoramic views, the splendid Basilica of San Marino, and the historic Palazzo Pubblico. The State Museum, Museo di Stato, highlights the nation’s heritage. Liberty Square is the heart of the historic center, surrounded by cafes and shops. Visit Rocca Cesta on the cliff and don’t miss tasting local wines in underground cellars.

Rocca della Guaita,San Marino, Italy.

And now back to Florence… We wish you safe and enjoyable travels!

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