Livorno – Renaissance by the sea.
There are so many beautiful buildings in Livorno, they seem to spill over into the blue-green Med. Stroll by the water, fall in love with the local architecture, and if you’re lucky, you might even see dolphins splashing around the pink rocks along the shoreline.
San Gimignano – Tuscan towers
Perched at the top of the Elsa Valley, San Gimignano’s famous towers can be seen for miles around, the pink stonework contrasting with the rich green of the surrounding hills. Make sure you check out the Museo d’Arte (look out for the wooden angel dating back to the 14th century) and the Sacra and Piazza della Cisterna.
Siena – Campo it up
Park up and head straight to the Campo – the spectacular city square, which hosts the annual horse race (Il Palio) every July and August. From here, wander the town’s winding streets and soak up the laid-back Sienese atmosphere.
Arezzo – Bargain hunting
Lose your way among the architectural hotchpotch spanning six centuries. Twelfth-century houses happily sit next door to 18th-century civic buildings, interspersed with the ubiquitous family-run espresso bars. Head to the Piazza Grande on a Sunday and spend a couple of hours rummaging for bargains at the weekly antique market.
Lucca – Walk the line
Head to the Duomo di San Martino (in the piazza of the same name). As you walk in, look to your right for the group of statues known as The Begging of Saint Martin (L’Elemosina di San Martino), which date back to the 13th century. As the sun goes down, take an early-evening amble around the 4km city wall.
Need to know information
|Round circuit: 310 miles (550 km) 6-7 hours' driving time approx.|| |
Best season: If you want to miss the crowds, avoid June, July and August
Tips: Cinque Terre Card- available from railway stations, you'll need one of these to walk the coastal paths in the area. It's also valid for local trains and buses and costs EUR5.40 (£3.75) for a day.
Soundtracks: Jet Sounds by Nicola Conte
Essential Item: Kempton Picnic Hamper
Tuscany must sees
If you find yourself with some free time on your hands or you can just squeeze in one trip then take your pick from the following five gems.
Florence (Uffizi Gallery)- Art HQ
You could spend weeks admiring art in Florence and only scratch the surface, but the Uffizi is essential. Marvel at the Botticellis, Canalettos and Titians before taking a stroll across the nearby Ponte Vecchio, lined with jewellery shops.
Cinque Terre- Top up the tan
After all that art and architecture, this cluster of five romantic villages nestling in the hills above the rocky coastline provides the ideal opportunity to catch some rays. Monterosso al Mare is the most accessible by road and there are free beaches here.
Montepulciano- Sip back and relax
Tuscany's highest hilltop town is home to the famous Vino Nobile wines, (try deep red, fruity Casal Daviddi). Fill your glass, sit back and watch the world go by.
Hotel Ristorante Il Maniero- Eat your heart out
Book a table in the vault of this medieval castle, about 20 minutes from Assisi and savour truffles and other Umbrian classics. If you eat too much, stay over.
Castello di Brolio- Liquid history
If you have time, take a detour from Siena on the SS408 and head to this amazing vineyard, owned by the Ricasoli family since 1167. For a separate fee you can take a tour of the castle, which has breathtaking views out across the Chianti region.