By Kailei Richardson
This time last week I was vacationing in Tuscany. Rich with amazing culture, delicious food, interesting sights and lots of sun, this was definitely a trip to remember.
The first stop on my Tuscan Tour was Scandicci, a suburb in the hills just a few kilometers outside Florence. I was attending a wedding at the historic Villa Poggio ai Merli, which is also where I stayed. Dating back to 1400, this villa not only had amazing views of surrounding Tuscan hills, but it also was full of olive trees, beautifully landscaped grounds and a relaxing pool. Though so close to Florence, we felt secluded, as though we were the only people on the hill. If you want a wedding in Italy, make sure to check out Villa Poggio ai Merli!
Next up was Viareggio, located on the coast along the Tyrrhenian Sea. Just an hour and a half train ride from and almost directly west of Florence, this resort beach town was buzzing with Europeans on “holiday. “ Most of the Viareggio beaches are private. The good thing is, you get your own chair and umbrella; on the other hand, you have to pay at least $10 per day for them. Viareggio was very relaxing – I definitely felt like I was on vacation there. The food was great and I got my fair share of sun.
The final stop was Florence (Firenze). Being there just reminded me how little we appreciate art and culture compared to Europeans. Granted, we have different histories and Americans did not have royal families to patron the arts, but it was refreshing to see the history of the city so apparent everywhere I went. Just strolling down the street I could see buildings centuries old, breath taking cathedrals, and statues sculpted out of the finest of marbles.
If you ever find yourself in Florence, here are some “must dos”:
• Though there are numerous galleries and museums in Florence, you must go to the Uffizi— the “Louvre” of Florence. Built in the 1500s, it has not only beautiful art pieces, but it’s also an incredible building.
• Walk across the Ponte Vecchio – a medieval bridge over the Arno River. This bridge is lined with shops and apparently has a private covered walkway used by the famous Medici family. It was rebuilt twice due to flooding early in the 1000s and was the only Florence bridge not destroyed in World War II.
• Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral church (known as il Duomo). The original structure began construction in 1294 and took almost 150 years to build. By climbing over 400 stairs you can see amazing views from the top of the dome, as well as the intricate painting inside the dome.
• Eat! Tuscan cuisine is amongst the best in the world, so take advantage of it! Enjoy Italian wine, gelato, pizza, pasta, truffles, and prosciutto (and anything else you can try!). Made with such fresh ingredients, you won’t be able to resist savoring every morsel.
• Shop! Florence is known for its leather goods. There is no shortage of well-crafted leather jackets, gloves, handbags and shoes.