The stunning hilltop town of Cortona is a must for anyone visiting the Val Di Chiana. Enclosed by stone walls and 2,000 feet above sea level, the city has spectacular views of the surrounding valley and Lake Trasimeno. The town centers on the rather charming Piazza della Repubblica, with its imposing, iconic town hall, and it is the perfect setting for sitting with an espresso (for the parents) and a gelato (for the kids), watching the world go by.
Since childhood, I’d wanted to visit the beautiful town of Pisa and its Leaning Tower, the famous 14th-century architectural project that went terribly wrong. So heading there as a foursome was a dream come true. We parked about a mile from the tower and stumbled upon a quaint market en route — an unexpected bonus. The tower itself is impressive, but we hadn’t booked tickets and didn’t fancy a four-hour wait. It was still totally worth the visit.
Historic Lucca fast became our new favorite Tuscan city. We parked outside the city walls and rented bikes. After a magical lunch in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, where the kids were excited to see the remains of the ancient amphitheater, we enjoyed a wander around the top of the city walls, now a pedestrian promenade. The architecture was stunning, and the beauty of Lucca was in its shaded streets. Although full of tourists, it had a more chilled-out vibe than Florence.
Florence is steeped in history, yet reasonably easy to explore on foot — always a bonus for a family. Trey once bought me a necklace from the Ponte Vecchio, so we were excited to return with the kids and admire the padlocks that lovers leave on the bridge to ensure their return. My daughter became obsessed with getting a Pinocchio marionette, who, according to The Adventures of Pinocchio, was carved by Geppetto in a village near Florence. Hence, streets lined with stalls selling puppets.
By Katy Hill