The second tour I took with Walkabout Florence Tours was the “Best of Tuscany Tour.” This is an all day trip to Siena, San Gimignano, lunch at a Tuscan Vineyard, and Pisa. Our guide this day was Elisa. She was so bubbly and filled with endless information.
Our first stop was in the town of Siena. We met with a local tour guide who was able to give us in depth information on what this town has to offer. Some of the attractions were the oldest bank still running in the world, the beautiful cathedral, Piazza del Campo, and keep your eyes out for the 17 different contrades (districts) that are marked with their mascot signs that represent what that district is known for. The Cathedral is filled with art (by Raphael), statues (made by Michelangelo), and the decorative floor, where a large portion is covered most of the year, but uncovered during the months of September and October. Your guide will point out all of these items and explain them in better depth.
A reason to come back to Siena on June 2nd or August 16th: The Palio de Siena is a horse race held twice a year in Siena between the 17 different city contrades. Thousands of people flood the Piazza del Campo to watch 10 jockeys ride bareback around the track 3 times. The horses are assigned to each jockey 3 days before the race. The city ward wins the ultimate prize… bragging rights and a trophy until the next race. These races have been ongoing since Medieval times with the exception of the time during the black plague that wiped out 50% of their population.
Walkabout Florence Tours took us to a beautiful organic winery for lunch where we had a 4 course meal with pairing wines from their vineyard. After lunch there was the option of purchasing wine to be shipped home (depending on where you live). I live in Minneapolis, MN (USA) and was able to get 6 bottles of wine with delivery for around $150 USD. We were given a tour of the farm where they grow the grapes, olives, and raise cattle for meat along with an explanation on how their vineyard machines work. The best part? You can’t beat the view!
San Gimignano is a 13th century midevial town with views that are the epitome of Tuscany. Here we were given our own time to walk around the town, get gelato from the world champions of gelato making (the line moves fast), relax in the center piazza, climb the twin towers, or walk to the park for beautiful views.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most well known tourist attractions in the world. When you make your reservation for the “Best of Tuscany Tour” through Walkabout Florence Tour’s website, you will be given the option of walking to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa for a little extra. This was just opened to the general public in the past few years. Only a certain amount of people are allowed each day to climb the tower, so I highly suggest making your reservations with this tour. It was one of the coolest experiences walking the old marble stairs and feeling yourself start to tilt with the winding of the staircase. At the top, you will have a great view of the town of Pisa and watch all the people below working on their funny tower pictures!
The Pisa Duomo and Cathedral are located in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Access to the Cathedral is free, but you will need to pick up your free ticket from the ticket office or you can use the ticket that gets you to the top of the Pisa tower. If you wish to enter the Duomo, it is an extra cost and tickets can also be obtained from the ticket office. Note: Purses or backpacks are not allowed in any of the buildings. You are allowed to leave your bags on the bus, but take your valuables.
The Best of Tuscany Tour was a nice mixture of a walking tour with historic information and time to independently venture around each location. If you would like to book the “Best of Tuscany Tour” excursion click here. To see what other activities Walkabout Florence Tours has to offer, visit their website by clicking here. They don’t only excel at tours, but offer cooking classes as well. While you can find Walkabout Florence on large websites such a Viator, it is helpful to them if you book straight from their own website. SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES!
Also read: Walkabout Florence Tours (Cinque Terre Trek)
*Disclaimer* This is a sponsored post for Walkabout Florence Tours, however, I never recommend something I didn’t enjoy doing myself.