Florence is the biggest town in Tuscany, it boasts centuries of history. Full of museums, suggestive alleyways, you need at least a full day to take it all in. There are minyanim organized in Florence by the Lubavitch shluchim as well as the local community. The Florence Synagogue is in our opinion the most beautiful in the world by far!
Livorno is probably our favourite town in Tuscany, it’s not medieval, it’s not ancient and well kept, there are not tourists, just very tanned, very loud and very friendly italians! It reminds us a lot of Israel but with a Tuscan twist. It’s a port town where before the war over 1/3 of the population was Jewish. It was bombed by the Americans during WWII (the ancient renaissance synagogue was destroyed during the bombings). Today it’s a place one can discover everyday Italians, far from the tourist traps. The central market is absolutely amazing and walking along the canals and the very long promenade along the sea before having a drink on the sea front is one of our favorite activity! It is also home to the most active Jewish community in Tuscany with minyanim everyday and a mikveh.
Pisa is a nice town to take a stroll as it is full of charming pedestriand streets, shops, a park and of course….the leaning tower. Half a day is plenty. There is also a beautiful ancient synagogue that has just been repristined. Shabbat services are organized by the community which is very welcoming albeit small and aging. It is not far from the sea and the port has just been completely revamped and now bustles with a marina, coffee shops etc.
Lucca is one of Lara’s favorite city. Just the right size for an afternoon visit. It’s medieval yet modern, it’s a town where one can sense history while discovering everyday Italian life. The
countryside surrounding Lucca is interspersed with beautiful villas from the 1700’s and up.
San Gimignano is a very picturesque medieval town, well preserved and known for its many beautiful towers. The road leading to the town is magical, full of great views and panoramas.
The road for us, is just as much part of the pleasure of the visit as the town itself. One can easily visit San Gimignano, and Volterra on the way to Sienna if you leave early in the morning.
Monteriggioni is a very very small town with perfectly preserved walls, it just seems to come straight out of a different century. Being very small, I would only advise going there on the way to Sienna or as a short stop on the road to have a coffee.
Volterra, is a town perched atop a steep hill, with amazing panoramas and rich medieval architecture. A great city to stroll around, taking in the sights and having a picnic on the way to San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.