Today I am nothing short of Jealous. Anita… long time commenter here at Rock My Wedding was married in Italy (cue green eyes from me) and then got to spend her honeymoon in Tuscany too. (I’m now beside myself with envy.)
However, I just happen to be planning a summer getaway as I type so I’m going to be eagerly looking for tips and tricks in our latest Rock Your Honeymoon installment, a road trip through Tuscany, taking in the beautiful rolling hills, Italian wines, stunning hilltop towns and villages, the wines, the culture, the food… did I mention the wines?!
I’d better hand you over to Anita to spill the beans on the first part of her trip before I mention it again 😉
A Tuscan Romance
We got married in Tuscany, so it made sense to stay there for our 12-day honeymoon. I had been to San Gimignano and Florence before but many years ago as a teenager – not the ideal age for appreciating art, culture and fine food and wine! In any case there were plenty of places I hadn’t seen and Mike had never been at all, so I started planning.
I got a couple of guidebooks on Tuscany and got a rough idea of the places I wanted to go to. I was adamant that I didn’t want us to try to do/see too much as I have been on those kinds of holidays before where you spend the whole time rushing from place to place and I wanted this holiday to be a bit relaxing too – it was our honeymoon after all! It was while I was still planning our route that I happened to be reading Rebecca’s wedding report, where she mentioned a villa called Vignamaggio which she had briefly considered as a wedding venue. I googled Vignamaggio and fell in love!! I knew it had to feature on our route.
When I looked at the map, conveniently almost all our locations formed a nice little circle around central and northwestern Tuscany, from San Gimignano (where we definitely had to start from because that was where the wedding was), to Siena, to Greve (where Vignamaggio is), to Florence and then finally Lucca. We flew in and out of Pisa, but didn’t really bother about visiting it as everyone says that except for the famous leaning tower there isn’t much else there. The only other place I would have liked to visit was Cortona, but that was just too far away to make it possible on this trip, so it’s on the list for next time!
So we had our route, yay!! All our locations were close together enough that the longest we ever had to drive in 1 day was 2 hours, perfect, especially as this was always through beautiful countryside!! The longest drive was from Florence to Lucca, but we broke this journey in Pistoia as that happens to be where our wedding planner Ben lives, so we stopped for lunch with him en route. Needless to say there’s plenty of pretty ristorantes and trattorias along all the routes so you can stop wherever you want!
Our flights were booked well in advance as we couldn’t risk not getting to our own wedding! (We flew with Jet2 from Manchester to Pisa, very basic but they are (I think) the only airline which flies that route and as it’s only a 4hr flight I didn’t see the point of spending loads!) but I didn’t actually get around to booking the hotels for our honeymoon until about 5wks before!! With the exception of Vignamaggio (which I booked direct with them) all the other hotels were booked via https://www.lastminute.com for the simple reason that I get cashback from them (because I work for the NHS).
Our car hire was with Hertz who were mostly very good, however if you plan to share the driving, be careful as they will charge you extra per day to insure a second driver! We only discovered this when we arrived to pick the car up and it was over £100 more than we had expected to pay! We went for the most basic car and got a Ford Fiesta which was fine for us, but there are plenty of options to upgrade to something more fancy if you want to! We had heard a lot about the crazy driving in Italy but mostly we had no problems, although be aware most of the roads in Tuscany are quite narrow and winding. The only place which was a bit scary for driving was, not surprisingly, Florence – I let Mike do all the driving there!!
Because we got married in San Gimignano, we had made a flying visit there previously the year before to see our venues and meet our wedding planner. This year we were staying outside San Gimignano in the villa we had hired for a week for us and our friends/families (Villa di Ulignano https://www.villadiulignano.it/ however this has to be hired exclusively by a large group) however when we went last year we stayed in Hotel L’Antico Pozzo right in the centre of San Gimignano which was a beautiful old converted townhouse.
Price per night when we stayed there was about £110 per night but this is nearly 2 years ago now so may have changed slightly.
We stayed in the NH Hotel Excelsior which was probably my least favourite of all the places we stayed. Although the lobby area was lovely our room itself was quite small and poky and unfortunately didn’t overlook the beautiful city, but the football stadium!
However it wasn’t really a big problem as we weren’t in the room much but out exploring Siena and the hotel is in a brilliant location, less than 10 minutes walk from Piazza Campo and only a couple of minutes walk from our favourite cafe!! Price per night was about £85 for bed and breakfast.
Our fabulous R&R stop!! We stayed, of course, at Vignamaggio which is not just a hotel, but also an ‘agriturismo’, which means it is also a working agricultural business, in this case making oil and wine.
We had a stunning suite at Vignamaggio overlooking the vineyards. Price was about £200 per night (not including breakfast!) BUT the place was stunning and we did have a suite (with 2 bedrooms, a living/dining area and kitchenette and bathroom).
We stayed at the Atlantic Palace Hotel which was a beautiful converted old palazzo and our room was decorated in gorgeous Art Deco style. We were 10 minutes walk from the Duomo and Piazza Repubblica which was great.
Importantly for central Florence the hotel has a deal with a nearby underground carpark so when you pull up at the hotel someone comes and drives your car to the carpark and then drives it back to the front of the hotel when you’re leaving! Price per night was £100 for bed and breakfast (but parking costs extra).
The last stop on our honeymoon was at the Hotel Ilaria which was a modern, airy hotel inside the city walls.
Nothing is very far away from anything else in Lucca so everything was within walking distance!! Price per night was £110 for bed and breakfast.
I’m looking on the Jet2 website as soon as I finish this post. Italy here I come! And you can see what Anita did there next week 🙂
Now it’s your turn: Any amazing recommendations on where to stay in Tuscany to share with us lovelies?