Read more about the article San Gimignano – Italy
San Gimignano - Italy

San Gimignano – Italy

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Medieval Skyscraper City

Finally the city I wanted to reach 2 years ago but could not fir running out of time visiting Cinque Terre for the first time and repeating Siena where I did not return since 2001. In this occasion, the trip was planned having as main consideration San Gimignano, and of course taking the chance for revisiting Florence, the third time in that city, however, never enough. Flying to Pisa and making the base over there was all pointing to be the perfect decision, and not only because of flying there is a fraction of the cost than getting into Florence, but also saving half the cost in a hotel there, and as last, the commuting from Pisa is easier, better and faster than if coming to San Gimignano from Florence instead.

As you’ve might have read at the heading of this guide, one of the nicknames is the “Medieval Skyscraper City”, or the “Medieval New York City”. Once you are there it is easy to know why, the many tall stone and brick towers spread across, yet believe it or not, once upon a time there were 72! Now it’s a very reduced number to “just” 14, although it is still the only city in the world with such a large collection. But why building such towers? It was all about a display of family wealthiness. The larger and higher, the wealthier the family was, like a competition. Nevertheless the past, it is today a fascinating and unique sight to see, hence its protection in being listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city is way more that its towers. A wide playground for the arts and culture with impressive buildings, palaces and churches complete with beautifully preserved paintings dating as old as the 13th century. Small town that’s for sure, easy and straightforward to visit where a half day is well enough. Careful in not overestimating your time as there is no need for that, and if you are a first timer in Pisa, let me tell tell you it is then possible to enjoy both cities without rush in one same day.


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Read more about the article Florence – Italy
Florence - Italy

Florence – Italy

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The Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance

Returning for a 3rd time in my life to one of the most wonderful cities in the world: Florence. It was year 2001 with my school for a cultural trip through Italy where we would spend 3 days in Florence, then in 2009 as a quick day trip from London where I would return to both Pisa and Florence, and back at night to London; and now, a well deserved return with some more time to revisit this beautiful city. Flying to Pisa does always work well, and this occasion was no exception. It is the perfect base to visit numerous other cities and places around as are Cinque Terre, Siena, San Gimignano, and of course, Florence, barely an hour away by train. For sure it won’t be the last in any case, but for now, it will be good enough for creating a well deserve guide for it.

After Rome, this is the next most visited city in Italy and by far, one of the most emblematic, acclaimed and visited cities in the world; while once upon a time, the most important city in Europe for the course of over 250 years. It Ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s inscribed as you could imagine, in the UNESCO World Heritage list due to its artistic, architectural and cultural heritage.

Florence is the birthplace of Opera, the Renaissance and neoclassical architecture. The cathedral’s Brunelleschi’s dome is the largest built in brick and mortar in the world, and third largest Christian church in the world. With so much rich history and the hundreds of sights it is guaranteed you will have a great time in the city. Plan at least two full days to enjoy the most, never a day trip unless you’ve already been here before. It is the fact that even a 2 full days will still be too short time if you consider on visiting the many museums and galleries, which some of them you cannot simply give a miss to be honest. (more…)

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Read more about the article Siena – Italy
Siena - Italy

Siena – Italy

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In Legend: Founded by Senius and Aschius, sons of Remus

On the following day of this quick and very busy weekend after being to Cinque Terre, we decided to spend it for visiting Siena. For me this means returning to a city I’ve already visited back in the year 2001 as part of my end of school trip across France and Italy. All I could remember back then, and very briefly, were the beautiful Piazza del Campo with the iconic tower and the cathedral, both of which icons number one in the city. And even knowing this visit right now would also be extremely explicit; it was in fact perfect because it is of small size and for remembering what I’ve already seen so many years ago.

For centuries a rival city of Florence and Pisa, it managed to retain the entire Medieval core in perfect state, nowadays completely restored and imposing to any visitor. The over 7 kilometres encircling fortification walls are still immaculately standing, while the original water tunnels still provide water to the many fountains that embellish the squares and streets. Regretfully, Siena is just a stop-over along the route for majority of tourists, day-trippers, on the same way Pisa is, while Florence in the other hand benefits from the hordes of tourists that stay longer and make that city their preferred choice and base.

In any case, that is correct. A day is well more than enough to see everything, and unless you chose staying overnight in Siena, (or Pisa) rather than the over expensive Florence, then if cost saving is not the reason I cannot imagine any other reason why to stay here longer as you will run out of sights and things to do after the first day. (more…)

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Read more about the article Pisa – Italy
Pisa - Italy

Pisa – Italy

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Colonia Iulia Obsequens

The third time in this city, and not the last for now so far. And the reason you might ask? Well, being a great base in the middle of plenty more notorious cities and sites to visit, and a perfect international airport next door to the city centre lowering the cost of the flights to sometimes peanuts. Although it’s now long gone such Ryanair deals where we did pay 1 pence per way per person back in 2009 when we came in a group of 7 friends. Crazy times were these too; and if that’s not enough, that year our plan was in fact visiting Pisa in the morning and Florence in the afternoon, returning at night to Pisa airport for the flight back to London. It was such a summery weather that we enjoyed every moment without feeling any lazy or tired. That’s just an example of possibly a 100 more that fall into the same circumstances during that past years.

With the time all changes of course, and returning to the cities we once saw that quick for a well deserved visit was the key focus on travelling, at the same time that enjoying new places. After all, visiting Pisa will not take you too long due to its reduced size, and reaching the amazing coastal villages of Cinque Terre, FlorenceSiena, or San Gimignano are just minute’s away by frequent buses and trains, and so was the aim in the trip planned in February 2016: Cinque Terre and Siena. Now 2 years after and I return to complete what I did not see yet, the masterpiece of San Gimignano, and of course another visit to Florence, thus taking the chance to also properly update the travel guides for Pisa and Florence which I wrote some many years ago and were in much needed state of make-up. But hey! back then I was still new into blogging with just a dozen of guides, while as of today it’s 410 so far for anyone to enjoy and completely free.

So now that you made it to the city, say hi to the other thousands of tourists with the same idea. It’s literally crazy any time between April and October to be here. Absolutely everyone concentrates in the Piazza dei Miracoli where the famous monuments are. You can have a little rest towards the evening when the hordes of tourists on guided tours leave, but the city is more than just this square, and you have the chance to see it for yourself if not being rushed in a tour. The moment you continue to explore around, the streets become empty, just the locals around, and so the more traditional and real restaurants and bars appear.


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