Enjoy a wonderful private excursion from Florence to visit some of the loveliest Tuscan towns (San Gimignano, Siena & the Chianti countryside)! Your first stop today is San Gimignano. A small medieval town in Tuscany, San Gimignano has a splendid skyline made up of 13 towers.
This 11th century town rises 334 meters above the Elsa Valley along the ancient “Via Francigena” on which traders and pilgrims going to Rome traveled. San Gimignano prospered considerably during this period thanks to this route and all the inns that were built along its way to accommodate these travelersToday, San Gimignano’s important cultural and natural heritage have been recognized by UNESCO. Besides its 13 remaining towers (there were once about 40!), you can also see the “Duomo” or Collegiate Church and its magnificent frescoes, the “Palazzo del Popolo”, the “Palazzo Nuovo del Podestà” which is now the town hall, and the infamous Museum of Torture and its macabre displays of early torture instruments. You will love just wandering up and down the main street in San Gimignano and going in and out of the numerous specialty shops. The ceramics are beautiful here but there are also places for buying leather goods and linens. For food and wine lovers there are many shops that sell delicious local products including San Gimignano’s “Vernaccia” white wine. You will be able to taste this wine in several of the wine stores in the town.
On the way from San Gimignano to Siena (if interested) you will have the chance to stop in Monteriggioni. This is one of the best known and classic walled towns in Tuscany. This village was built on a hill by the Senese between 1213 and 1219 to overlook the ancient Roman road, the Via Cassia. This was a perfect position allowing for surveillance of the valleys below in the direction of the city of Florence, which was the historic enemy of Siena. We’ll be making a lunch stop here at a typical trattoria where we’ll enjoy some mouth-watering Tuscan food before we go on our way Siena.
After that you will reach Siena, the birthplace of the beloved Italian Saint Catherine. This beautiful city made of brown Siena-colored bricks (so that’s how they named the color!), its jumble of narrow streets and delightful squares, the medieval towers that make such a spectacular skyline, its spectacular cathedral, the tall and trim Torre del Mangia, all together create an enticing atmosphere almost like stepping back in time. Siena is built on three hills and is home to one of the most authentic and important Gothic cathedrals south of the Alps. Despite the city’s architectural masterpieces, it is the unusual shell-shaped Piazza del Campo that receives the most consideration having been seen in numerous films and photographs. This brick covered square is used twice a year for the famous “Palio” horserace, an event that involves the entire population and is considered one of the most important events in the life of the Senese people. This reckless bareback race is run on July 2nd and August 16th, has Roman origins but has first been officially recorded in 1283. A kind of happy frenzy rules over Siena during the time leading up to the Palio and visitors can get the chance to observe the locals during the many ceremonies that are involved in the “Palio” race. Almost anything will be done to win this extremely competitive race and bring home the “Palio” a silk banner that will proudly displayed in the “contrada” or neighborhood it represents.
On the way back to Florence you will drive through one of the most beautiful countryside in the world, the Chianti region, following the Chianti “Wine Road” that winds between olive groves and vineyards. You will drive through the villages of Castellina in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti and you will reach the town of Greve in Chianti named after the river that runs through it. Greve in Chianti is the birthplace of the famous Tuscan explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the Tuscan who discovered the New York Harbor and in fact has a bridge there named after him.
There is a statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano here in the Piazza Matteotti, a gently sloping square which is the hub of life in Greve. Around this square under the graceful porticoes you will see many local shops and wine stores. The famous butcher shop Falorni is here and has been for 500 years, the Enoteca le Cantine where you can find and taste more tha 100 different wines, and much more. less >>
The proposed itineraries are only examples of possible tours. For different pick up / drop off locations or customized itineraries we invite our clients to contact one of our tour coordinators to help them design their own tour.