Who doesn’t love Tuscany, Italy what with such gorgeous light, good food, delicious wine and romance oozing everywhere!? Claire from The Green Eyed Girl is sharing her Tuscany trip with us today and it is nothing short of amazing!
From Claire: For our honeymoon two years ago, my husband Will and I decided to visit Italy, a country neither of us had really explored much of before. When we were planning the trip we realised there was so much of the country that we wanted to see that it would take much more than just one trip. We decided to start a new tradition, and take it in turns to surprise each other with an anniversary trip to different parts of Italy.
So it was my turn this year. I decided upon Tuscany for the beautiful scenery and delicious food and wine. The pressure was on to arrange something as good as Will had the year previously so I enlisted the help of Book it Becki. Becki is an executive PA and is a whizz at finding the perfect place to stay. I gave her my dates, location preferences and hotel requirements and she came back a few days later with an incredible list of options. She saved me literally hours of website trawling and fretting, and found a number of places that absolutely matched what I was looking for. I could have cried with happiness and thoroughly recommend her if you are struggling to find somewhere to stay at home or abroad. Becki gifted me her service for this trip, but I would absolutely have been happy to pay for the service I got.
Lunch in Pisa
We flew from Birmingham to Florence super early, which meant that by 10am we were in Italy, had picked up our hire car and were on the road to our first destination, Pisa. I had heard of the tower, of pizza and the romance (thanks to Frank Sinatra) and found it all quite unbelievable! It is possibly one of the first things that sparked my wanderlust, so I knew I had to take the opportunity to visit.
Pisa is as touristy as you would expect it to be – but it is still quite charming. I loved seeing the tower and *trying* to get one of those shots! Uncool or not, I embraced it and even bought a little souvenir for my dad.
The buildings around the tower are spectacular too, and the town itself is pleasant to wander around. Perhaps not somewhere where you would want to stay over, but definitely worth a visit for a few hours if your itinerary allows. We stopped at a cute cafe for a platter of cheese (as you do), a coffee and a quick limoncello and set off again for the next part of the surprise – our first hotel.
Borgo Pignano, Tuscany
I had Borgo Pignano on my bucket list for some time - it really is Tuscan hotel goals. It met and exceeded our expectations and absolutely wowed Will when we arrived, which was the aim of the game! It has incredible views of the rolling Tuscan hills, a show-stopper of a pool and beautiful interiors. I loved the little vintage Fiat too and took many a photo of it!
Our room was gorgeous – it had double aspect windows each with the most beautiful views, and a three tier bathroom with a rolltop bath and ginormous shower. It was hard getting used to not seeing this view in the morning when we returned home!
The food was very good too – there was a casual restaurant that served delicious Tuscan food including stone baked pizza and we loved it so much we ate there every night of our four night stay – something we never do. I had the same starter three times it was so good.
Every night we would come down to the lawn in time for an aperitif before sunset. The little bar would be set up serving cocktails, wines and of course Prosecco and it was the most perfect place to relax and enjoy the fresh Italian air.
Wine tasting in Tuscany
When in Tuscany you have to go wine tasting. For miles across the region all you can see is vines and olive trees and the production of wine and oil is at the heart of the area. They are fiercely proud of their produce and it is not hard to see why. We visited a place close to us called Guardastelle and we had a lovely experience. We also realised that they offered accommodation and it looked great. Set in beautiful grounds, it was walking distance to San Gimignano and looked like a really good option if you want to stay somewhere and not need to rely on a car. After a tour of the vines and learning how to make the wine, we got to taste a number of wines whilst enjoying a three course lunch.
On our first full day we decided to explore the local town of San Gimignano. It is very popular and for good reason – it is beautiful! The world being a very small place, thanks to Instagram old family friends got in touch to say they were also in the area, and within 15 minutes of them messaging we were sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a drink together! I love it when things like that happen.
The weather wasn’t great for our first visit and I didn’t manage to get very good pictures, so we came back to San Gimignano on our last day in this part of Tuscany for a little wander and a spot of lunch.
Road trip to Saturnia and Montalcino
You know how it goes some times – you see a place on Instagram and just have to go there? No? Only me? Well, I saw an incredible picture of this otherworldly place about a week before our trip and realised it was in Tuscany. Of course, I needed to see if for myself! It was also a good opportunity to see a lot of the region and we headed out for a day trip in the car.
The place was called Saturnia – a natural hot spring that has created the most incredible landscape. It was a good few hours drive away so we set an alarm and set off to explore. It took us a lot longer to get anywhere in Tuscany than it should have mainly because we kept taking it in turns to shout:
LOOK AT THAT! STOP THE CAR!!
I don’t think my pictures even come close to capturing the beauty of it all.
We pulled up to Saturnia and joined the hordes of people who had the same idea as us! It was an incredible experience, slightly marred because of the crowds though. If you want to visit, I recommend getting there eeeaarly! It is free, so no wonder it is so popular, and really where else can you see this and bath in water naturally as hot as a bath?!
From there we took the winding roads over to Montalcino which is a beautiful hilltop village renowned for its wine. I must admit, the roads and the long time in the car had taken it’s toll on me by now and I was feeling very car sick. We had a walk around and a gelato and decided to make our way back home by the straightest route possible! It is somewhere I would happily go back to again to explore more of though.
After four gorgeous days in Borgo Pignano, we packed up our bags and headed to our second hotel stay which was a little closer to Florence.
Villa Le Calvane
Our second stay of the trip was the beautiful Villa Le Calvane. The property is very old but has undergone a complete transformation and is now a very elegant, very refined hotel with a relaxed vibe. It is a great honeymoon hotel, and funnily enough by chance a work colleague of mine was visiting the very hotel for his honeymoon only days after us.
The weather turned in our favour during our time there so we spent much of it lazing by the pool, drinking wine and generally eating too much! pool, drinking wine and generally eating too much!
We were treated to a number of spectacular sunsets that stopped us in our tracks.
On the recommendation of the hotel, on our last full day we visited a little town called Certaldo. It was a Friday when we visited and there were very few, if any tourists there and it gave us the feeling of what it would be like to live in Tuscany.
We took the furnicular up the hill to the old town and were greeted by one of the most gorgeous, quaint towns we had seen. We wandered around, stopping for photos by the little Fiat 500 naturally, had a coffee, wandered, stopped for lunch. All the usual Italian holiday activities!
We ate lunch at a restaurant called Ristorante L’Antica Fonte which I would recommend. The pasta was the best I had eaten all trip.
Credit: The Green Eyed Girl
My background is as a wedding & lifestyle photographer, shooting both digital and film to create authentic, soft and natural fine art photographs. Working primarily with natural light to give my work a beautiful, light and airy touch infused with soft tones.
I have always appreciated and valued the simple things in life and finding the interesting in the ordinary. Coco Lane was founded as I wanted to create something that is about an experience, the slower pace of life, cosiness and candlelight, cuddling up on the sofa with loved ones, being with the people you love, sharing food with close friends, a feeling of home, nurturing a chosen career, wanderlust travels, savouring the small moments in everyday life and just being you and enjoying a cup of tea.
I'm excited to bring you stories that promote all those moments in life that give us value and meaning; inspiring us to live beautifully.
"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is. Go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good" - Roald Dahl