Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tuscan travel diary - Part I

I still battle the idea of a Tuscan holiday. Not in a Lionel Shriver 'I loathe Kevin' sort of way but in the sense that it still doesn't feel like a holiday but more like a tour de force. When we settled on the Italian region of cheese and art and cypress trees as our destination, I envisaged horse rides over grassy hills, balloon flights in the early morning and picturesque drives. Only the latter materialised as the first was just ignored by my co-travellers and the second proved a little too expensive x3.

To paint the most accurate picture, it is challenging and exhausting but only if you come set on seeing EVERYTHING like yours truly. The area is full of quaint little villages which almost all have some jewel of a church or piazza but at one point they will blend in a mass of unrecognisable places. There is nothing I hate more than simply calling something 'that place', it means I haven't done my job as a tourist. So, if you plan on visiting, chill out and go with the flow, there's sure to be the perfect place to pop on your journey! Hopefully, this travel diary will only make it easier to decide :)

DAY 1: London - Milan - Bologna - Sesto Fiorentino

The flight was on the early side but hey, that only meant I could have pancakes in the airport which to be fair put a smile on my face for a few good hours. Yes, I am very easy to please in some respects. The drive from Milan to Bologna slightly long and tedious but my parents insisted on entertaining me (more themselves to be pretty honest) with stories from their eventful previous trips from their youth. Bologna was where I had my sights set on some bolognese pasta, for obvious reasons that need no further explanation. That being said, it was bloody hard to find and when we did, they weren't that great sadly. We arrived at our hotel in the outskirts of Florence late at night but I might do a separate post on that!
Morning aerial view of the Alps, yes please! Especially after pancake breakfast at like 6.30
The tea section is proper disgusting, the Nutella on bread sticks though quite the opposite!
The traditional sort of Venetian red brick architecture of Bologna
And traditional arcades - which makes Bologna perfect for rainy days 

One of the towers, they were obsessed with building tall towers to show the wealth of the family. Most of them are now leaning at quite dangerous angles
A must-try delicatessen with everything from local mortadella ham to prepared artichoke hearts

The beautiful fountain of Neptune
The main cathedral, very old but not very exciting inside 

More leaning towers 
Next to the old university campus, is this gem! Their giant stuffed croissants (next photo) are delicious

DAY 2: Pisa - Lucca

Pisa was amazing! I loved the architecture of the great three: the Baptistery, the Cathedral and off course the Leaning Tower. Apparently they're almost 1000 years old, which they do not look ok? Hard paying compliments to buildings but someone's gotta do it. There's also a pretty good reason why no one talks of anything but these buildings when mentioning's because it's not very eventful. I'd give it a skip if I were you only to spend more time in Lucca, a charming town with cobbled narrow streets and some pretty cool Roman architecture as well as Tuscan churches.
One of the most beautiful (and oldest) architectural complexes I have seen 

The facade of the cathedral in pisan-romanesque style

The Baptistery (the round, first one) - not worth it inside

Stunning ceiling in the Cathedral 

We all know what this one is called

People doing weird poses ... freaks*
*only can probs find me in there too 

Lots and lots of foccacia bread 
Traditional tuscan minestrone 
Cheesy gnocchi
Orange blossoms
The Arno river in Pisa
A giant and I mean huge lemon

I loooveee this stuff!  
Promenade around the old city of Lucca

The main cathedral
Charming narrow cobbled streets
Best flats in all colours! 

Some sort of impromptu social event...guess the invite got lost in the mail then :(
The old Roman theatre turned into a piazza with habitable houses! 

DAY 3: San Casciano in Val di Pesa - Greve in Chianti - Panzano in Chianti - San Gimignano

Skip the first, have lunch in the second, stop briefly in the third and spend the rest of your life in the last. Seriously, San Gimignano is a gem! Good ice cream, good food, good vibe, nice authentic local shops and super interesting history. If I could go back in time, I would spend most of the day there!

Zucchini flowers! Not posh, I swear
I call this the daily cappuccino express. Daily for frequency and express for how it makes me act after.

Machiavelli's house for all you Italian literature nerds. Ciao!

Gabbiano Castle where, chances are, I'll have my wedding. If any sane person will allow it. Life is tough.

The only triangular square. Ok.

One of the oldest butchers, pretty epic but equally scary.

Had lunch on the terrace, sooo tasty!
Spinach and gorgonzola souffle with pine nuts.

Vino de life!

Local fillet of some meat, forgot what it was, asparagus and more cheese sauce.

My mum's beef in wine it was beyond words.

I think this guy makes pizza?!

You can use any of the above as desktop screens, you're welcome.

Alert, tasty handmade sweets!

One of the best gelatos is the world, and I aint joking about my gelatos. They have some crazy good combinations like ricotta and blackberries or pink grapefruit and champagne... the list goes on!

The town only has 14 of these towers left which was made by the wealthy families in San Giminiano to show off their wealth. Literally something out of Brother Grimm stories. 

No joke and no edit. I love my camera. I should tell it more often.

Don't go away, there's still a part 2 to come and seeing as I have exams and need reasons to run away from responsibilities, I might post it sooner! 


  1. food and everything looks awesome :)

    1. Thaanks! It was soo worth it, especially the gelatos!


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