Florence & Tuscany: Italy Travel Guide

florence and tuscany italy travel guide hailey gardiner

Ahh…Tuscany. What I wouldn’t give to drive past those rolling green hills dotted with vineyards, watch golden sunsets, and eat bruschetta covered in ripe tomatoes from the garden and dripping with fresh pressed olive oil again. After a few busy days in Rome, we took a train to one of the most beautiful regions of Italy and absolutely fell in love with the old Etruscan cities, villages, and landscapes.

We stayed at a B&B just outside of Florence in Polcanto that was recommended to us by a friend, which turned out to be my favorite part of the entire Italian adventure! It was an absolute DREAM! We were the only guests there, and our hosts were the kindest older couple. It felt like a stay with our long lost Italian grandparents! They picked us up from the train station, cooked us the most delicious breakfast every morning, and even taught us how to make pasta fresca, pesto, and bruschetta in their home. It was the most authentic, personal experience we could have hoped for on a trip to other side of the world!

The nearest village to our accommodations was Fiesole, a tiny Tuscan town at the top of the foothills above Florence. Our hosts dropped us off in Fiesole and we took in the view overlooking Florence. It was so breathtaking!

If you’re staying in the city of Florence, I highly recommend getting out and exploring Tuscany somehow, even if it’s just a quick bus ride up to Fiesole! You can take bus #7 from Via La Pira just off of Piazza San Marco in Florence back up to Fiesole, then the same bus back down. Buy your bus tickets with change on the bus or beforehand at a convenience store.

We then made our way into Florence and explored the city for a day! To be honest, the city of Florence felt a little flat after coming down from the Tuscan countryside, but many friends who’ve traveled to Italy as well as locals said that Florence was their favorite city! Personally, I found that it was the simple things that have stayed with me. And by simple things I mean the food. Ha! The home cooked food and familial, cozy feel of our B&B in Tuscany just filled my heart (and stomach) so much more than the massive art museums, churches, and city vibes of Florence. Buuuut if you’re an art and history connoisseur, this is your boy Michelangelo’s home TOWN! So you’d probably love it. As I always say, you do you!

We walked from the bus through some really narrow alleyways and emerged right in front of the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore). We’d seen pictures and read about it, but upon my word, this church was HUUUGE! Instead of taking a tour or waiting for it to open to the public in the afternoon, we stepped inside before the morning mass started and listened to the voices of the clergy echo through the cavernous hall for a few minutes. It was haunting! Unfortunately the walk to the top was closed while we were there, but we’ve heard it’s a great way to see Florence from above! The dome on the Duomo is what inspired Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (which we had seen the day before in Rome), so it’s definitely a must-see!

And I got hangry, I mean, hungry (what’s new) and ate a sandwich at Sandwichic. I LOVED the bread in Florence!

We reached the Arno River and crossed the Ponte Vecchio; a really old bridge full of shops and a beautiful view!

By then my husband was hungry, and being the pizza KING that he is, found a pizza spot called Gusta Pizza. And let me tell ya, this was our favorite pizza of our whole trip! The line moves really fast and each pizza is less than 10 Euros (cash only). You can only eat inside if you order to stay, so we took ours to go and ate it on the steps of the Pitti Palace right across the street. So good!

Aaaaaand then we got gelato for dessert at Perche No! Florence claims to have the best gelato, and I must say my hazelnut and dark chocolate combination was indeed delicious!

We then visited the one museum we were able to get tickets to on short notice, the Uffizzi Gallery, and while it was awesome, it was quite overwhelming and difficult to appreciate all the art without a guide. I’d recommend either going with a tour guide or getting the headset for the tour! Again, museums were not our favorite part of our trip, but if that’s your thing then you’re going to be one happy kid in Florence! Michelangelo’s David is at the Galleria dell’Accademia . Make sure to buy your tickets WAY in advance. We weren’t able to get tickets, but did see the replica of the David statue in the main square.

After a long day in the city, we returned to our B&B for a cooking class that changed my life forever.

We made ravioli with fresh local goat’s milk ricotta cheese, vegetables and herbs from the garden, and olive oil from our host’s neighbor up the road. It was the best meal and some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life!

Topped with brown butter, sage, and fresh parmesan…DIVINE! I have yet to try to make this at home, but I know it will never taste the same. Even if I have my own goat.


If you’re planning a trip to Florence, I hope this guide gets you SO excited! Feel free to message me (via our contact form) with any specific questions and I’d love to help you make your plans. You can also follow my current travels and adventures on my instagram.

The next destination I’ll be recapping is the magical, mysterious city of Venice!

Oh boy. Hold onto your carnival masks because it’s going to be a good one!

This post was originally published on Sisters & Sage in 2018.