A week-long itinerary in Italy’s renaissance heartland
From rich meats and red wines to the sun-drenched flavours of tomatoes and olive oil, Tuscany is made for culinary escapes. And, with one-of-a-kind boutique hotels in Tuscany and in-the-know destination tips, our itinerary makes it simple to plan your luxury adventure. When you’re ready to get started, simply call our experienced Travel Advisors.
AT A GLANCE
• A one-week independent itinerary for Tuscany, starting in Florence
• Spend days wandering around renaissance piazzas and exploring vineyards – and nights staying in specially selected SLH boutique hotels
• Highlights include the markets and trattorias of Florence, the olive oils of Siena and the wine and rolling scenery of the Val D’Orcia
Whether you’re scaling the Duomo cupola or gazing at Palazzo Vecchio frescos (or Ponte Vecchio jewellers’ displays), you’ll have more than enough ways to fill two or three days in Florence. But what should you eat along the way?
One dish that grabs the spotlight is bistecca alla Fiorentina: served pink in the middle and made to share. Braver carnivores could try lampredotto – a bread roll filled with the chopped fourth stomach of a cow, seasoned and slowly simmered. Head to Mercato Centrale for the best sandwiches. Vegetarians need not despair, though. Much of Tuscany’s staple food is based on beans and vegetables, such as the hearty ribollita soup.
Few views say ‘Florence’ quite as much as gazing down the Arno to Ponte Vecchio. At Hotel Lungarno, you can take it in over breakfast on the terrace. Choose Palazzo Vecchietti to stay in a spacious suite set in the former private apartments of a 16th century noble family. Or take a look at our other three hotels in Florence, from city-centre villas to retreats in the surrounding countryside. Suggested stay 2-3 nights.
SECONDI: SIENA AND AROUND
Florence’s historic rival, Siena is a treat for those interested in medieval art. When you’re not soaking up the atmosphere on Piazza del Campo or exploring the pink-hued Duomo, seek out the province’s distinct produce.
Siena is known for its hand-stretched pici pasta. Traditional sauces include game such as hare, but many are vegetarian friendly, from breadcrumbs roasted in olive oil to tomato and garlic. This city also has a strong baking tradition. Pick up nutty, spiced cavallucci to nibble as you wander. And look out for pinolata senese – a cake made with custard and pine nuts, soaked in sweet Vinsanto wine.
The surrounding countryside is famed for its extra virgin olive oil: Terre di Siena DOP. Discover its complexity at a tasting – from a burst of spring grass to a subtly peppery aftertaste. If you want to take home a bottle or two, expect to pay at least as much as you would for a good bottle of wine.
Unpack your suitcase at: Relais la Suvera
Relais la Suvera is a former papal villa set on a wooded hill within easy reach of Siena, and features a tranquil pool and spa. Suggested stay 2-3 nights.
DOLCI: VAL D’ORCIA
Rippling landscapes punctuated by the sharp flicks of cypress trees, rolling up to honey-coloured hilltop towns – Val d’Orcia is Tuscany as you’ve always imagined it. Spend your days strolling around renaissance castles surrounded by vineyards, or work up an appetite cycling some of Italy’s most cinematically scenic routes.
Two towns here come top for standout local cuisine. Pienza, with its perfectly preserved centre dating from the 1460s, is home to Tuscany’s finest pecorino cheese. This sheep cheese’s distinctive taste is a result of the surrounding grazing land, which is rich in rare herbs and plants such as meadow salsify and wormwood. There’s no shortage of places to buy some – and it makes an ideal snack as you wander around the town walls.
In nearby Montalcino, it’s all about wine. The vineyards here produce the renowned Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, a rich red wine first made in the 1300s. Opt for a tasting at your hotel to linger over a glass (or two). Ideal bites to go with it include crisp crostini topped with Tuscan chicken liver pâté.
Unpack your suitcase at: Castello di Velona, Montalcino
Castello di Velona is a restored 11th century castle, which sits in its own vineyards. If your travels have left you inspired, you can even enjoy a cooking class. Suggested stay 2-3 nights.
If you’re flying into Rome, a high-speed line connects Termini train station with Florence – there are also easy train connections to Pisa. Pick up a hire car when you’re ready to leave Florence, as you don’t need one to explore the city. Ask our Voice Reservation Team for details about transfers or transport provided by individual hotels.
Book your boutique hotels
To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We’re ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.