(View from Torre Civica delle Ore, Lucca)
Italy has been on my travel bucket list pretty much since I discovered Italian food. It is definitely my favourite and Italy as a country has so much history that I've been desperate to see with my own eyes. So when a family trip to Tuscany was a possibility, I grabbed it with both hands. Whilst there were a couple of downers (the weather was freakishly awful with horrendous storms; me & my brother had our luggage stolen before our flight home); I really enjoyed my time in the country and I really want to go back.
We stayed in the hills outside of Camaiore, a small town in Tuscany. It's a really lovely town with little clothing shops, cafes and restaurants. A little further afield was Lucca, which is really gorgeous. Notable things to do in the town (aside from eating obviously) include climbing to the top of the Torre Civica delle Ore, which has gorgeous views from the top; walking the wall's which encircle the town and walking through the grounds of Palazzo Pfanner. The composer Puccini was born in the town and you can visit his house, which is definitely something I would like to do should I visit again.
Another day was spent in Florence. Right off the bat I'll say that this is definitely a city that probably needs to have a couple of days to explore as it's pretty massive and there's so much to see. The day we went the weather was pretty bad in the morning so it was a good job we'd booked to go to the Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy's famous galleries which includes the original 'Birth of Venus' painting. Worth a trip if you're into art, but be mindful of massive cruise parties literally taking up entire rooms and taking photos of every. single. piece (bit annoying). Then there's the Duomo, which is huge and gorgeous and beautiful inside. Then there's all the little streets and alleyways to explore packed with cute shops and cafes. We got the train from Lucca and the Italian train system is really A+ (just one ticket for four people rather than having to juggle millions of bits of paper!).
Before me and my brother flew home (my parents stayed an extra week) we stopped in Pisa to visit the famous Leaning Tower. This was definitely one of those surreal moments of seeing something so famously photographed in real life. There isn't that much else to do in Pisa, so you don't really need to spend too long there. Plus don't leave anything on show in your hire car. At all. If you ever want to see your belongings again (still a teeny bit heartbroken about that).
Despite the iffy weather and loss of ££ worth of clothes, I really enjoyed my week in Italy. It was really great to explore a new country, mangle a new language and eat some *truly* delicious food.