Europe Trip 2023: Italy's Tuscan Region (Pisa, Montecatini Terme and Florence)

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Our tour continues through Italy, and we are visiting the region of Tuscany. 

From Switzerland we travelled for a few hours to cross the border to Italy. On our way to Tuscany, we saw the Carrara mountains which is the famous quarry for marble. From afar, they looked like snowy mountains like the Alps, but they are just white marble. A lot of famous marble structures and statues were made of Carrara marble. I have read that they have regulated quarrying and they can only mine certain amount per day, and certain efforts are being made to manage extraction sustainably. But I wonder, how long will it take before the marble reserves run out?

Anyway, our first stop in Tuscany is in Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is one of the iconic structures in Europe and I was so excited to finally see this tower in person. Of course, we took lots of photos and we did silly poses with the tower as the background! Actually, our tour leader has came up with a fun contest — whoever takes the best and funniest photo will win a prize from him. Our tour mates were so creative and clever with their poses!  

Aside from the tower, there are other structures in this area which are the Pisa Cathedral and Pisa Baptistry. The leaning tower is actually just a bell tower. We went there on a Thursday noon and it was very crowded. I guess the crowd in the morning would be lesser and you would be able to take better photos.

After spending a few hours in Pisa, we carried on to our next stop which is a small spa town of Montecatini Terme where we also spent the night. Montecatini is famous for its thermal waters which are believed to help cure illnesses. This belief goes back since the time of the Romans. 

We actually were not able to really explore the place since we arrived there quite late in the afternoon. We were supposed to go to Montecatini Alto and ride the funicular but only a few people signed up for this activity so our tour guide cancelled it. My husband and I just randomly walked around the area, and ate dinner with some of our tour mates before calling it a day.

The following day, we had an early call time as usual as we needed to travel to our next destination, Florence! Prior to going, I actually did not know much about Florence. I think it's not as popular as Rome, Venice or Milan. At the end of the trip, even though we only had a couple of hours explore and barely scratched the city's surface, it had become my favourite city in Italy. Florence has a charming vibe and it is home to fascinating Renaissance architecture and art. It's literally an open-air museum!

We saw the Doumo di Firenze, the Basilica di Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, and lots of statues like the Statue of David by Michaelangelo (although we only saw the replica outside the gallery), Perseus with the head of Medusa by Cellini, Statue of Dante Alighieri, and a lot more.

Aside from exploring, Kevin and I did a bit of shopping here. There is long stretch of street called Via de Tornabouni where you can find luxury shops. The prices of luxury products are really lower in Europe than in Singapore, and it's even lower because of tax refund. Anyway, I bought a perfume in a store called Santa Maria Novella. I was so drawn to the aesthetics of the store and decided to enter; next thing I know, I was already paying for the perfume! Haha! When I googled about it, I discovered that the brand was founded in Florence in 1221, and it's considered the oldest pharmacy in the world. 

Our call time back to our coach was in the late afternoon. Our tour mates and I decided to have a late lunch before going back to our coach. We ate at one of the pizzerias located at Piazza del Signoria as this is where our tour guide will meet our whole group before going back to our coach. 


And that wrapped up our short visit to the Tuscan region of Italy. It would have been better if we had spent a bit more time here, but it served as a great introduction to Italy for us. It had set the stage for what lies ahead in the next cities we had visited. Hopefully, we have the opportunity to visit again and we will make sure to spend a bit more time here!

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