Having been in Florence for little over a month, I am beginning to realize the benefits of getting out of the city on the weekend – even for just a day. While Florence is an exciting city full of infinite opportunities, it can sometimes be overwhelming. The following are my three favorite towns a short train ride from Florence that are perfect for day trips. These towns offer a much needed change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Florence.
My favorite town I have visited so far in Tuscany is Lucca, a tranquil town surrounded by massive ancient walls. On top of these walls, there is a lovely tree-lined path where locals bike, walk, and picnic. I would definitely recommend renting a bike (for less than €5 an hour) from one of the many bikes shops in town and biking along the 4.9 kilometer loop around the town.
In the town itself there are also cobblestones streets to explore. While walking around Lucca, you will stumble upon beautiful Romanesque churches and the quintessential Italian piazza complete with a carousel. The latter is the perfect place to eat gelato and people-watch.
How to get there? It is easy to double up a day trip to Pisa with a visit to Lucca (20 minute by train). From Florence, Lucca is an hour and a half train ride away for €7.50 one way.
I went to Arezzo on a SRISA-sponsored field trip on the first Saturday in February, which was concurrent with the antique fair. This antique fair, which is held the first weekend of each month, is the largest antique fair in Italy. It was spectacular to see in person, even if it was a rainy, gloomy day.
Another beautiful stop in Arezzo is at the late Medieval church Basilica di San Francesco to see Piero della Francesca’s stunning fresco depicting the Legend of the True Cross.
How to get there? The town of Arezzo is an hour by train from Florence on the Roma line. A one way ticket costs €8.40.
The Medieval hilltop town of Orvieto is another perfect place to escape from Florence for the day. Orvieto sits on top of a big piece of soft tufo volcanic stone. Because of this stone, the town boasts a rich underground history. Orvieto sits atop a network of Etruscan-era caves, wells, and tunnels. Guided tours of these caves are available and highly recommended.
Along with the caves below Orvieto, there are wells – the most impressive being St. Patrick’s Well. Built in the 16th century, this 175 feet deep well served as a safe place to store water in case of siege. Be sure to walk the 496 steps down and throw a coin in the bottom of the well!
How to get there? Orvieto is around a two hour train ride from Florence, with a one way ticket costing €16.10. Don’t let the distance and cost of getting to Orvieto prevent you from going. The peaceful nature of the town makes it all worth it.