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Pisa and Florence… The perfect weekend

Tuscany has been on our ‘go-to’ list for many years now, we’ve even got an old copy of the Lonely Planet book of Tuscany from where we have tried to plan it before. Covid cancelled one trip and we just never got round to that perfect Tuscan getaway, until now.

We make the most of our weekends, where we can we will go abroad and yes, we take the kids. Its good for them to see different countries and cultures. So this trip was no different, long weekend, flights from Heathrow, luxury hotel booked and car hire booked to whisk us to the sights of Pisa and Florence.

The Research...

We did quite a lot of research when it came to this trip, we knew that we’d got a weekend (Early May Bank Holiday) but we also didn’t want to pay silly prices. We priced the holiday up looking at landing in Pisa or Florence, with Jet2, Easyjet Holidays and BA Holidays. Yes, you can. book everything separately but ATOL protection is worth it’s weight in gold and we’ve previously been stung by Ryanair and hotel chains during the pandemic, so now we won’t book anything that isn’t a package.

After pricing everything up, it made sense to drive from Derbyshire down the Heathrow and book through British Airways Holidays, with landing in Pisa and not Florence.


Having looked on the internet, we knew that there wouldn’t be much to do in Pisa so having landed at the local airport and collecting our hire car from Avis, we headed towards the centre.

Parking was really easy and within walking distance of the market and the leaning tower of Pisa. I won’t bore you with the history of the tower and the surrounding buildings but they are all over 300 years old and they do look stunning.

We didn’t partake in the usual photos of trying to keep the tower stable or pinching the top, for starters it was really busy and everyone else was doing it for the grid. The surrounding gardens are beautiful, they had a robotic lawnmower which to be honest, most people were interested in and it produced the most perfect lawn stripes.

You could sit on the grass and people had brought food and small bottles of wine to enjoy in the sunshine surrounded by these historic buildings. You can go up the tower and on the day we went, the queue was not that long at all. But with 2 children, one being in a stroller we decided against it.

Later on we decided to take a walk through the streets of Pisa, with amazing looking cafes, restaurants and shops, we love the souvenirs outlets and we’ve always got to pick up a fridge magnet even though we know they are tacky.

The kids were getting hungry, the adults thirsty. So we headed for a cafe that served Ice Cream and coffees. The boys had their usual vanilla scoops, both my wife and eye had the Cherry sundae which was delicious. Washed down with the finest Italian lattes.

We had a quick walk through the market before heading back to the car for the 1.5 hour drive to Florence.


The drive itself was pretty easy, motorway for the duration, When we hit the outskirts we hit some heavy traffic and this continued until we got to our hotel (The Villa Cora). 

We didn’t hit Florence centre itself until the next day but drove into the centre and parked at the train station. From here we followed the crowds like sheep.

Florence is the capital of Tuscany, Tuscany itself is an Italian region like Derbyshire is to England. It is the centre of Italian Renaissance and is beautiful.

Upon walking towards the centre you realise how may statues there are, without clothes. Our 4 year old certainly picked up on this and that they were mainly male. These were mainly situated in Piazza della Signoria.

The Palazzo Vecchio is an amazing palace from the 13th century and is the town hall of Florence. In the surrounding areas there are retail outlets with luxury brands and I’m sure you can spend the whole day shopping if thats your thing and you have the budget.

Places to see and photograph include the Fountain of Neptune which is situated near the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio which is a medieal stone bridge. The Basicica of Sante Croce is also stunning and is a famour Roman Catholic chuch. Don’t miss the Cathedral of Santa Maria.

Foodwise, we did the normal. We went to Hard Rock Cafe. We had an amazing server here who was pretty new, but you could tell he was passionate about getting everything spot on. There was a few specials on the board, which I went for and my wife went for the Original Legendary burger. Pricewise it cost us around €75 with drinks for 2 adults, 2 children. Which is not too bad for Europe.

Where to stay...

When it comes to hotels, I always let my wife decide. With kids we need to make sure that we’re comfortable, we have space and that we have everything we need around us. In this case we booked the Villa Cora Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel and part of The Leading Hotels of the World.

Driving in with our Ford Kuga hire car and parking net to Jaguar E-Types, Maserait Levantes and Ferrari’s, we did feel a little out of place. At check-in and due to the kids, we were offered water whereas other couples were offered Prosecco, but this is where we felt the overlooked service ended.

We were throughly looked after for the duration of our stay by the staff, especially the room cleaners who just adored our children and left beautiful gifts in their rooms. Talking of rooms, we had the Family Suite which was massive and had two bedrooms, two bathrooms and just the perfect balcony, it was a pleasant stay.

We had breakfast included and again, the children were looked after amongst those who may have looked down their noses a little and wondered why there were young children in the hotel, let alone breakfast room.

Views from the top of the hotel (bar available) were amazing with view of Florence and the hills. 

It really was just perfect and an easy drive into Florence.

Our Spare Day...

As we’d got a spare day and a hire car with unlimited mileage, we thought we’d check out Instagram for some of the other places to visit in Tuscany. These included Volterra and Certaldo for the funicolare railway to the old town. I won’t go into details but I will include some photos in the gallery below.

Additional Information...

Overall, we had a lovely weekend visiting Pisa, Florence and the surrounding Tuscan region, we quite glad thet we hired a car, but people do recommend doing an organised tour or coach trips between the areas, it isn’t so easy with children.

We found all of the areas, including those tourist hotspots to be very well priced. We were paying around €10-14 for main meals, only €2-3 for coffees and parking was pretty good. Everywhere we went took debit/credit cards so our Starling Account came in very handy to save money on transaction fees.

Again, we booked through BA Holidays, we have no affiliation with them, but we are members of their Executive Club so we do gain Avios points for future trips or redemption off future bookings, with the latter being quite new.

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