Florence is one of the most popular cities in Italy, and from there, you can easily take the train to other impeccable places throughout the region, such as Viareggio on the coast, the famous Cinque Terre (pronounced chink-wa terra), Pisa, and lesser known towns like Lucca.
If you missed the first part of our Italy series, check out our guide to La Dolce Vita in Florence here.
After you’ve spent time in Florence and you’re ready to explore other parts of Tuscany, it’s easy to purchase train tickets here or simply download the Trainline app and choose routes from there. A train ticket for Firenze (Florence) to Viareggio, for instance, is only about $10-20 euros and most leave from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station.
TO THE COAST
Hop on the bus and then take a 1.5 hour train ride to the coast at Viareggio, known as a major port for yacht building.
Hotel Plaza e de Russie
Plaza e de Russie is a Relais & Chateaux hotel right on the front, overlooking Viareggio’s promenade. Location, location, location is what this refined, elegant hotel exudes. With its beautiful azul-colored furniture, the rooms are an extension of the sea just outside the window. Ask for a junior suite that overlooks the boardwalk and you’ll have a bedroom, bathroom and separate seating area (with a couch, desk and shelving).
This 44-room five-star hotel features the restaurant Lunasia (one Michelin star) and a peaceful breakfast restaurant offering an a la carte menu for breakfast included with your stay (or you can order off the menu for a heartier selection). Sitting across from the 4 km pedestrian boardwalk, the Plaza (built in 1873) is surely one of the chicest spots to hang your hat overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea on this part of Italy’s west coast.
The town is known for its Carnival, but also the market along the Passagiate on Thursdays. Rent a bike and ride the paved pathway up the coast through various other small towns, visit a “marble safari” quarry, and make sure and treat yourself to a savory seafood dinner at Il Porto.
The Italian Round Up
Grab yourself a copy of How to be an Italian by Maria Desmondy to fill your mind with inspiration and knowledge before you go. Desmondy’s grandparents live in a small Italian village but she was raised in Australia. As an adult, she moved to Rome and, as a journalist, does a great job of explaining every facet of Italian culture from both an Italian and expatriate perspective. Broken down into sections such as culture, food, wine, fashion, lifestyle, you’ll lean and absorb so much about the art of slowing down on your trip and key words/ phrases you shouldn’t be afraid to use regularly, such as:
• Grazie (Thank you) You’ll use this everywhere, all the time, if you’re being polite and proper (waiters, hosts, check in, etc.)
• Buongiorno (Hello) Use until around 2pm and then buonasera after (This common greeting is heard nearly every where you go; the Italians have a refined friendliness about them.)
Learn phrases such as:
• La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life) Essentially, allowing yourself to be in the moment and enjoy where you’re at and what you’re doing.
• Similarly, the Italian way is about doing things “con calma”- no rushing. Stopping to take it all in, to really appreciate moments. The real Italian mantra. Savor the moment.
• Sprezzatura: Appeared to be without effort and almost without any thought.
• La Bella Figura: Making a good impression and placing importance on beauty and aesthetics
• Dolce Far Niente: Not taking yourself too seriously and enjoying simple pleasures. It’s the Italian form of mindfulness, the ability to sit idle and take in the moment. It’s about being.
Also read Lost in Florence for loads of tips and places to visit along the way.
Plus check out these other Italian products to help you get con calma and into la dolce vita frame of mind.
From the top of the boot to the heel of Italy, it’s less than 1,200 km (740 miles), which means it’s only a 12-hour drive. For perspective, it’s about 17 hours to drive from the bottom to the top of Texas.
Capturing the Moment
To hire a professional photographer to capture your memories in Florence, check out Flytographer.
It’s now a bit easier to travel to Italy, a top international destination for Texans.. According to the Italian National Tourist Board, vaccinated international travelers are no longer required to show proof a negative COVID-19 before visiting Italy. Now, vacationers must simply show proof they have been fully vaccinated. While Italy is relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, the experts at InsureMyTrip still recommend travelers take precautions when vacationing abroad and this includes purchasing travel insurance.
Did you know most domestic health insurance policies do not cover travelers while they are outside the United States? A comprehensive policy that includes travel medical can help cover the costs if you have a medical emergency while traveling and this may include issues related to COVID-19. A travel insurance policy can also offer protection for flight delays, trip cancellation, baggage loss or emergency medical evacuation.
You’ll find more expert advice and information about travel insurance for Italy here.
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Cover photo courtesy Hotel Plaza e De Russie
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career with Austin Woman Magazine when it premiered in the fall of 2002. Now, she writes “The Texas Traveler” section for Austin Woman Magazine and can be seen on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips.