In this guide, we accompany you through the best day trips from Florence! Enjoy the amazing villages near Florence with their traditions, natural landscapes, food and wine specialities.
The Tuscan capital is one of the most famous cities in the world, everyone knows Florence even if only by hearsay. The best known definition is ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’. But Florence is much more. It is a historic, modern city, where trends can be breathed in the air, even just by walking around…
It is a cosmopolitan, timeless city. It is the city of the most famous artists of all time, from Michelangelo to Dante Alighieri to Leonardo da Vinci. It is the city of Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, of the Duomo with Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Uffizi Gallery, not forgetting the romantic Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge over the Arno River… But it is also the city that makes you lose your senses with its robust, genuine flavours, to be accompanied by the wine of Chianti.
You go to Florence, visit it and then return, because there is always something left out. Sought after by tourists all year round, it deserves a trip in spring and autumn, when the climate delights tours and excursions.
Near Florence there are wonderful villages, along the coast or inland, surrounded by green hills with their vineyards and olive trees. Villages with centuries-old traditions, some dating back to Etruscan and Roman times, others medieval and Renaissance, where you can visit churches and castles, towers, palaces, villas and gardens.
For their value, UNESCO has declared some of them as World Heritage Sites: San Gimignano, Siena, Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, the Val d’Orcia territory and the Medici Villas.
In this guide, we accompany you to discover the most beautiful and characteristic towns and villages near Florence.
Towns near Florence: let’s plan a day trip from Florence!
Some of the most beautiful places to visit in Italy are located in the surroundings of Florence. The city becomes the perfect base for tours and excursions. Whether by car, train or bus, follow this intense Tuscan itinerary to discover the most characteristic villages and towns that can be reached in a short time (maximum 1.5 hours).
Among the places to visit near Florence, Fiesole is only a few minutes far. The village is located on a hill of Etruscan-Roman origin and still preserves traces of its past in the Etruscan Walls and the Archaeological Area. It is here that the most important buildings from the Roman era can be found: the theatre, which still hosts concerts and shows; the temple and the baths. The Archaeological Area is also the location for some important events such as ‘L’Estate Fiesolana’, from mid-June to the end of July, and the ‘Premio Fiesole ai Maestri del Cinema’.
Curiosity: the town was chosen by E. M. Forster as the location for his work ‘A Room with a View’, because of the marvellous view over Florence and the surrounding hills, dotted with vineyards and olive groves.
This is an ancient village of Etruscan origin and later inhabited by the Romans, surrounded by the peaceful green of vineyards, fields and woods, in the Empolese Valdelsa area. But the real attraction here is the ceramic art of which the village has been a promoter since the 13th century. Many Renaissance ceramics from Montelupo can be found in the most important museums around the world. Every year, usually in June, the Ceramics Festival is held. But you can also visit the Museum of Ceramics.
However, the village also offers other attractions. Not far from the historical centre, for instance, inside a park you can visit the beautiful Villa Medicea dell’Ambrogiana.
Regarding gastronomy, you can taste the very typical dishes of Tuscan cuisine. The strong piece here is undoubtedly “Pan Bistugio”, a traditional cake made with eggs, lemon peel, pine nuts and almonds.
When you think of Florence day trips, your mind opens over this vast area of Mugello and Alto Mugello, or Tuscan Romagna. A marvellous territory to be explored far and wide for its great variety of landscapes, from plains to hills and mountains. Not to mention the medieval villages, castles and Renaissance villas spread in the area.
Mugello is also famous for its food and wine specialities such as the famous ‘tortelli di patate’ (potato tortelli), the Marrone del Mugello, ravioli with herbs, farinata, crostoni with black cabbage, and stuffed rabbit.
There are ten villages to visit around: Barberino di Mugello; Borgo San Lorenzo; Dicomano; Firenzuola; Marradi; Palazzuolo Sul Senio; San Piero a Sieve; Scarperia; Vaglia; Vicchio.
The largest one is Borgo San Lorenzo, where you can visit the Abbey of San Lorenzo and the Pieve di San Cresci in Valcava. While the smallest is Vicchio, the village that saw the passage of important artists such as Giotto, whose birthplace and museum are located in Vespignano; the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini; the painter Beato Angelico.
Mugello is also home to two beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Medicean Villas: Villa di Cafaggiolo, in the municipality of Barberino di Mugello, and Villa del Trebbio, near San Piero a Sieve.
Florence day Trips in Chianti and its Hills
Chianti is the heart of Tuscany, the wine region located about an hour away from Florence where hills and vineyards are devoted to the production of the famous red wines Chianti and Chianti Classico. But also one of the best-loved areas for the variety of its landscapes, rural panoramas and gastronomic specialities.
Among the towns to visit in Chianti, Badia a Passignano, Volpaia, Radda, Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Montefioralle, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
Montefioralle (Greve in Chianti)
A small village near Florence, Montefioralle is nestled in the Florentine Chianti hills. In spite of its small size, it is considered one of the most beautiful villages for its retro style and the atmosphere you can breathe.
The first impressive feature is the conformation of the village surrounded by walls formed around the Castle of Montefioralle, from which radiate the narrow streets that criss-cross the historic centre. In this tangle of buildings, you can discover the house of Amerigo Vespucci and the Church of Santo Stefano.
In Montefioralle there are many events dedicated to wine tasting and local delicacies, including:
- on 19 March, the ‘Festa delle Frittelle’ is held for St Joseph
- in May, “Wines of the Castle in Montefioralle
- in June, The Fragrances of Lamole
- in September, the Chianti Classico Expo in Greve in Chianti
Barberino Val d’Elsa
An ancient crossroads between Siena and Florence, this village is one of the most beautiful in the Chianti area and the birthplace of Barberino Chianti Classico DOCG.
The historic centre of the village is a pedestrian area crossed by a long avenue, Via Francesco da Barberino, that connects the two ancient gates to the city, Porta Senese and Porta Fiorentina. Walking along the main street, you can see the most elegant buildings in stone and wood, such as Palazzo del Cardinale and Palazzo Pretorio.
Among the religious monuments worth visiting is the Church of San Bartolomeo with its beautiful frescoes and a panoramic view of the valley with vineyards and olive groves.
Barberino Val d’Elsa is the starting point for many excursions to discover of the surrounding nature and, along the wine roads, and to taste the Chianti Classico wine.
In our guide dedicated to Florence and its surroundings, you cannot miss this very special Moorish-style castle in Leccio, in the municipality of Reggello. Its oriental architecture, with walls and defence towers, stands in the middle of a beautiful park of almost 200 hectares, surrounded by the thick sequoia forest.
Commissioned by Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona (1800) its distinctly Arabian style pairs the castle’s interior which conceals rooms with the names of oriental countries.
Over time, the structure underwent various transformations until it became a luxury hotel in the 1990s and then fell into disuse. At the time we are writing this guide, it cannot be visited. But it is still worth seeing it from the outside for its architectural features and for the splendid walk through the fabulous exotic vegetation. It is no coincidence that the castle and the park have been chosen as the setting for a variety of films, among them the famous Matteo Garrone’s ‘Tale of Tales’.
This small village near Florence, Vinci, is popular for its characteristic historic centre resembling the shape of a ship with two masts, which is why it is called ‘Castel della Nave’.
Vinci is famous for being the birthplace of the great inventor and scientist, Leonardo di Ser Piero Da Vinci, in 1452. And there are many places here that remind us of him: the Museo Leonardiano in Piazza del Castello, which houses drawings, plans and machines, and the house where he was born in Anchiano, 3 km from Vinci.
That said, there are also other attractions to visit, including the Conti Guidi Castle, known for the Madonna and Child by Giovanni della Robbia, and the Church of Santa Croce, where Leonardo is said to have been baptised.
Many excursions on foot or by bicycle also depart from Vinci in the Montalbano area, inside the Parco Reale Mediceo, leading to the discovery of archaeological sites or ‘natural monuments’, such as the holm oak grove of Pietramarina.
From Florence it is also easy to reach San Miniato, in the province of Pisa. The small town of Etruscan-Roman origin is famous for its white truffle and its medieval-style monuments.
These include the symbols of the power of Frederick II, the Germanic emperor who made the town his vicar for Tuscany: the Rocca Federiciana, which dominates the town from the top of the hill, and the town’s symbol, the Tower of San Miniato, built in the 13th century.
Not to be missed, the Convent of San Francesco and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio. San Miniato is also famous for its typical flavours and products, such as the aforementioned white truffle, to which the ‘Mostra Mercato del Tartufo Bianco‘ (White Truffle Market Exhibition) is dedicated, wrinkled tomatoes, mignola olives and artichokes.
One of the most interesting villages to visit in the surroundings of Florence is Certaldo, the birthplace of Boccaccio, the 14th century Italian writer and poet, formed by the upper, medieval area (Certaldo Alta) and the more modern one, developed in the 18th century.
Strolling through the narrow streets of the town, you come across Palazzo Pretorio, the most important building displaying its coats of arms, symbol of the most important families that have ruled the town, and Boccaccio’s house. Not to be missed are the Church of Saints Jacopo and Filippo and the Parco della Canonica.
Among the best day trips from Florence, don’t miss Montecatini Terme with its splendid buildings in Art Nouveau style, an artistic movement that characterised the 20th century.
Montecatini Terme is not only a destination for those seeking thermal relaxation, it is also a town with interesting monuments and sites, such as MO.C.A. – (Montecatini Contemporary Art) the first civic gallery in Montecatini with world-famous artists, the Thermal Park, Montecatini’s green area where various events also take place, and the “Dino Scalabrino” Art Academy Museum of Contemporary Art.
Also it’s worth visiting Montecatini Alto, which can be reached by funicular on Viale Diaz, the second oldest in Italy, after the one in Naples. Gigio & Gigia are the two Art Nouveau iron trains that have been running since 1896!
If it is true that every season is suitable for visiting Montecatini Terme, it is also true that Christmas is the magical time for its evocative atmosphere, especially for the little ones who can enjoy Christmas’s House and the Christmas City.
Another small and ancient village to be included in our guide dedicated to Florence and its surroundings, located in the province of Pistoia, in the hamlet of Pescia, where you can count very few houses all perched on a hill.
As soon as we enter the village, we breathe in a special atmosphere that lets us experience the story of one of the most beautiful fantasy novels ever written, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Lorenzini, aka Collodi.
The most famous scenes of the tale “Pinocchio” are depicted on the walls of houses and in Pinocchio Park. A popular destination for children is also the House of Butterflies” or “La Casa delle Farfalle”, a large greenhouse with an exotic garden populated by thousands of tropical butterflies.
But Collodi is also a characteristic medieval village on a hill with many small houses perched on a slope, where you can visit some monuments including the Pieve di San Bartolomeo and the splendid Villa Garzoni.
Casentino Forests National Park
The park, one of Italy’s most important forestry heritages, is also a popular destination for fans of itineraries and excursions on foot or by mountain bike. The protected area in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines offers very varied landscapes, including forests and ancient trees, streams and waterfalls, and mountains that hide wonderful villages.
The park is also home to the hermitages of Camaldoli and La Verna, which have seen the passage of historical figures such as Dante Alighieri, Ludovico Ariosto, San Romualdo and San Francesco d’Assisi.
You can visit various small towns within the park area, such as Bagno di Romagna, Premilcuore, Santa Sofia, Tredozio and San Benedetto in Alpe. From Florence, the Casentino Forests National Park is about one hour away.
An hour away from Florence is Lucca, a small town at the foot of the Apuan Alps, the fulcrum of many international events that fill the calendar all year round. The historic centre is very characteristic with its cobbled streets, surrounded by high Renaissance walls that can be walked along a tree-lined stretch of more than 4 km. Impressive 16th century walls are among the few living examples.
Among the things not to be missed in Lucca, Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the heart of the city, the Cathedral of San Martino, one of the oldest churches in Tuscany, with its bell tower from the top of which you can admire the whole city.
Also not to be missed are historical buildings such as Palazzo Bernardini, built in the 16th century, the two Towers, Torre Guinigi, on top of which is a hanging garden with beautiful holm oaks, and Torre delle Ore. And also, Palazzo Pfanner, dating back to the 17th century, with its Italian Baroque garden chosen as the setting for important films.
Among Lucca events and activities to do:
- Lucca Comics, an international fair dedicated to comics, games, animation, video games and fantasy and sci-fi imagery, between late October and early November.
- Lucca Summer Festival, with musical events and concerts in June.
- Cycling itineraries along the Via Francigena, from Lucca to Siena.
A small city close to the coast, famous for its so-called ‘Piazza dei Miracoli’ (Cathedral Square), which gained UNESCO recognition in 1987. It is here you can find the best examples of Pisan Romanesque such as the famous ‘Leaning Tower’, the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto. The piazza is also home to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and the Museo delle Sinopie.
To see Pisa from a different perspective, we recommend climbing its ancient walls. To discover a less touristy but still artistic side of Pisa, take a walk on the bridges along the Arno River, beyond which you can see the gardens hidden among the remains of the Pisa Fortress.
Don’t miss the Church of Santa Maria della Spina and Palazzo Blu and the mural painted by the pop artist Keith Haring before his death.
In the province of Pisa, only about an hour from Florence, there is Volterra, one of the oldest towns of Etruscan origin, later a Roman settlement. Famous for its alabaster production and for being the location for some scenes in the ‘Twilight’ saga, Volterra is called the land of vampires, the Volturi, a very ancient lineage.
The monuments not to be missed here are the Duomo and the Baptistery of San Giovanni, and the Alabaster Museum, the precious stone.
Arezzo is 75 km from Florence. It takes about an hour to reach the town by car. And of course, you can also travel by train from Santa Maria Novella and reach Arezzo in 58 minutes.
Among the things to see in Arezzo, starting from its historical centre, the most important and suggestive are the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato, Vicolo dell’Orto, where Francesco Petrarca’s birthplace is located, the Fortezza Medicea, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the National Archaeological Museum.
An event you might encounter in June or September is the historical event ‘Giostra del Saracino’ in Piazza Grande, Arezzo’s most important square, which was the backdrop for some scenes in Benigni’s film ‘Life is Beautiful’.
Siena is what we usually call an ‘open-air museum’. Its historic centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
It is in Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful squares in the world, the iconic theatre of the traditional Palio that you can visit all the best of Siena: the Duomo with a floor full of esoteric symbols and religious stories, a majestic Gothic cathedral with baptistery, crypt and museum; the Museo Civico with magnificent frescoes; the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia; the Fonte Gaia.
One of the villages near Florence, in the province of Siena, worth a visit if only for its medieval landscape that has remained the same over time, as soon as one glimpses the half-dozen surviving towers. A landscape that has earned UNESCO recognition as World Heritage Site.
Here, too, a majestic cathedral displays frescoes by the most famous artists depicting episodes from the New and Old Testament. In the same square, Piazza del Duomo, you can also find the famous Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà and the tallest of the towers, Torre della Rognosa. Also worth seeing are Piazza della Cisterna, for its particular shape and paving, and the Rocca di Montestaffoli surrounded by it’s beautiful park that lets you see the town from above.
This is one of the most beautiful medieval towns to visit near Florence, famous for its wine: the Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Small but with many attractions concentrated in Piazza Grande, where you can find the Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Palazzo del Comune, and noble palaces. In the centre you can also visit the Fortezza Medicea, once the theatre of continuous clashes between Siena and Florence, while just outside the walls, the Church of San Biagio, a beautiful Renaissance example.
Montepulciano is also famous for its thermal baths at Sant’Albino and for its lake surrounded by unspoilt vegetation.
One of the most awaited events during the year is ‘Cantine in Piazza’, held in August in Piazza Grande to celebrate the wine. In August, also the Bravio delle Botti takes place, the challenge between the 8 contrades of the village in honour of the patron saint, an opportunity to taste the most famous and typical Tuscan flavours.
Now that you know all the best cities near Florence to visit, all you have to do is book your trip to Tuscany!🧳😉