Although living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world is a reward in and of itself, expats living in Florence may find that they want to escape the city occasionally for the sake of a little solitude and exploration. After all, the constant stream of tourists through the Piazza dei Signori and San Lorenzo markets can be tiring and may inspire a desire to spend at least some time away from Florence.
Those looking for an escape can rest assured that there are several options to choose from when it comes to a weekend break from Florence.
Weekend breaks from Florence
Those looking for a weekend getaway with natural splendour, fantastic food and beautifully authentic villages would be hard-pressed to find a better place to indulge than the Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a string of five small coastal villages. Easily accessed by train, expats can hike between each village, take in the scenery and admire the colourful buildings dotting the enchanting and rugged coastline. The Via dell'Amore (the Way of Love) offers a great walk that is neither too long nor particularly challenging.
Made up of a few small towns along the Mediterranean, Versilia boasts a diverse range of activities that are all within a two-hour train ride from Florence.
The world-famous Carnevale of Viareggio with its parade of floats and masks, which takes place each year in winter, is rivalled only by Versilia's beaches in the summer – although expats shouldn't expect to find a fee-free beach. The harbour is equally famous and is home to the greatest yacht makers in Italy.
Expats who are in Versilia in July or August might be able to see the Festival Puccini, a summer opera festival.
If walking between each of the Cinque Terre seems a bit daunting, expats can visit Porto Venere, which is just before the Cinque Terre on the train line. Like Cinque Terre, Porto Venere is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quaint seaside houses painted in bright colours against the backdrop of a stunning seascape, a lone church hewn in rock and stone overlooking the sea, and the magnificent view after walking through Byron's Grotto, are just some of the highlights that visitors can look forward to. Porto Venere is a truly breathtaking place to spend a weekend.
For expats who want to experience Tuscany at its most picturesque, South Tuscany and the Maremma are ideal for a quick stay. The natural hot springs of Saturnia will leave one’s skin feeling soft for days, and the area's exquisite wine, cheese and charcuterie are not to be missed.
Exploring the countryside of the Maremma is not easily accomplished in a weekend. One may be drawn back again and again by Pitigliano, the town teetering on a mountaintop composed entirely of volcanic rock. Montemerano is another village that will lure visitors back with its lush plants and gardens in front of every house. Scansano also holds appeal to visitors, being the home of famous wines and a fantastic medieval festival.