Tuscany is one of the best destinations to include in your travel bucket list. If you love art, it would be a wonderland. If you love eating, you can taste and indulge in its delicious food. Fancy walking or cycling in mountainous but safe paths? This is also the place to be. Thousands of tourists go to Tuscany for different reasons and if you’re also planning to go, one of the smart tips is to choose your preferred accommodation from several Tuscan holiday rentals available to make sure you’ll get a slot. This article is a short but useful and practical travel guide to Tuscany, to help you get familiarized and know what to expect.
1. Mind the currency
As a tourist, money can get you places. Have your currency exchanged in trusted centers only or better yet, in the airport. Tuscany in Italy is part of the European Union using euros as their currency. The best thing is knowing the conversion rates so you can rest assured that you’re not being cheated on.
Watch out for 1 and 2 euro coins since you might be using them a lot, especially when in need of change or when using the public restrooms, using payphones, or riding public transportation.
Whenever and wherever you purchase something, ask the receipt from the cashier or the store. As mandated by their law, customers who do not get receipt will be fined. This is a way for the local government to reduce “dirty” or unlawful transactions for visitors, especially for foreigners in Tuscany.
2. Get around safely
There are many places where you can travel and stroll around on foot. Natural parks, museums, and galleries are mostly nearby and you won’t also need to drive to get to interesting restaurants and cafes. But if you need a cab, calling and reserving in a taxi stand is a must. It’s difficult to find a cab immediately more so when in a crowded area full of tourists who are all trying to get a ride at the same time.
Driving a rented car is also possible, but if you plan to drive, make sure to follow their rules strictly. Fines are very common. Be mindful of legitimate parking spots, don’t go over-speeding, and drive safely. It’s recommended to get a trusted navigation system so you won’t end up wasting a lot of time finding the right way to go. Do not leave your valuables in your parked car. The sight of suitcases or bags can easily attract thieves to help themselves.
When you run out of gas, fill up in gas stations that allow credit cards, or better yet, always bring cash. Also, try not to be caught up in traffic during rush hour (8am-9am, 6pm-8pm), especially when you’re touring in Florence.
3. Wear comfortable footwear
Traveling doesn’t always require riding a vehicle so whenever you find yourself in, wearing comfy shoes is a must. Most tourist spots require about an hour of walking. If you’re up for it, enjoy a 2.5-hour walk starting from Ponte Vecchio up to Piazzale Michelangelo. The way is not a difficult walk. Definitely hear the stories from the local or your tour guide so you can better appreciate what you’re seeing. Gardens are also nice walkable areas to get great photos. For sure, you will have a good time walking through the cobbled streets and it won’t take long before you fall under the spell of Tuscany.
4. Visit small towns and villages
In Tuscany, you can find inspiring landscapes and beautiful views anywhere. To stay away from packs of people, it’s a good idea to visit small charming towns and medieval hilltop villages. Consider Cortona, a traditional walled Etruscan town. Albeit a small town, it has various stunning sites to visit such as the Diocesan Museum, the MAEC, and beautiful churches like the Santa Margherita Sanctuary.
Montepulciano is another great place to discover. There are also quite a number of pretty things to see surrounding the palazzos. Be amazed at Renaissance architecture, admire the rough brick exterior of the Duomo, and fall in love with a glass of local Nobile wine.
5. Immerse yourself with some knowledge of history
Tuscany is rich in history. Learning about the facts behind historic churches and monuments is an edge over plainly sightseeing in this handsome city. Since Tuscany is an artistic powerhouse, edgy art pieces and sculptures will look far better when you have a sense of how they were made and where they originally came from.
6. Know the best time to go
Most tourists come to Tuscany during summer, when the mountains and hills tend to remain cooler than its valleys and coastline. But to escape the crowds and hurdles of queues, the best time to go is during a shoulder season. This is in between April and May or October and November.
7. Taste wines
If you love drinking wines, visiting the Chianti region is a must. When planning to have a wine tour, check out the Sant’Agnese Farm in Castellina, where you can have multiple tastes of its Chianti and grab a memorable lunch. Ask if you can also sample their 30-year-old balsamic vinegar on vanilla ice-cream. It’s one of the best experiences you’ll treasure for years to come!
Part of your itinerary is basic guidelines to watch out for especially if you’re a first-time visitor in Tuscany. The rules can be daunting, but by remembering these few important ones, you can instantly pass as a law-abiding tourist. By knowing some history and doing a lot more in-depth research about interesting places to visit, you’ll have a more enjoyable stay in Tuscany.