Florence - A Tuscan Adventure

Florence school trips guide
April 24, 2024

If you are planning on organising a school trip to Florence, take some inspiration from Holly of Adaptable Travel, who recently visited Florence and Pisa on an inspection visit.

Having been to Italy many times and always loved it, when the opportunity to visit Florence came up, I jumped at the chance. I spent three days and two nights exploring Pisa, Florence, and the Chianti region of Tuscany.


While some airlines fly directly into Florence (FLR), there are more budget options that fly into Pisa (PSA) instead. This is the most common route we use for our groups, and in my opinion, it is a brilliant excuse to check out the city of Pisa itself first.

Pisa city view from the river on a school trip to florence
Pisa city view

If using public transport from the airport, you can hop on the Pisa Mover tram, which connects the airport to the main bus and train stations, within 10 minutes. You can access the city centre on foot or by bus from the central train station. We opted for the walk after the busy morning journey and plenty of time sat down already.

It took around 20 minutes to reach the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a must-see and the city's main tourist attraction. As most photographs and publicity are solely of the tower, I was unaware of how much history surrounds it, too.

Leaning Tower of Pisa on a school trip to Florence
Leaning Tower of Pisa

The tower itself is the bell tower of the Pisa Cathedral, despite not being a part of the same construction. The tower is one of three structures within Cathedral Square, alongside the Cathedral and Pisa Baptistry.

The tower began to lean during construction in the 12th century and continued to do so until it was stabilised to prevent collapse. It was fascinating to see, and hard to comprehend how it is still standing when you see just how strong the tilt is in real life.

Surrounding the Cathedral Square, you can find an array of typical tourist stalls, shops, and restaurants. If you want to step away from the crowds, the beautiful Botanical Garden is located along Via Luca Ghini, just a few steps away from the square.

We stopped for a drink and some bruschetta in a nearby café before walking along the winding cobbled streets and over the river Arno back to the central station.

bruschetta in a nearby café to leaning tower of pisa

Overall, it was a brilliant stop-off on the journey to Florence. From Pisa, the remaining journey is a 1-hour train ride or 1.5 hours by coach.


After a 1-hour train ride from Pisa Central to Florence Central train station, we walked approximately 15 minutes to the Hotel Maxim Axial. The hotel is in the heart of Florence's old town, beside the famous Santa Maria del Fiore (translates to Lady of the Flower).

The Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the largest churches in the world, and nestled right in the heart of the city meaning you can only see and appreciate its grandeur up close. The façade is neo-gothic design, quite different from many historical buildings across Europe which was interesting to see.

Santa Maria del Fiore in florence on a sunny day on a school trip
Santa Maria del Fiore

It’s good to note that the Cathedral is closed to visitors on Sundays and religious celebrations due to worship.

Hotel Maxim Axial

Being a central location, all historical sites of Florence are within walking distance from the hotel, making it the perfect base. The hotel consists of 39 rooms set across multiple floors within a beautiful, classic building.

Hotel Maxim Axial florence courtyard
Hotel Maxim Axial

Considering its location, just off the hustle and bustle of Via Dei Calzaiuoli Street, the rooms in the hotel are considerably quiet. Varying from twin to 4 bedded rooms for students, the hotel is the perfect place to re-coup after busy days exploring the city.

There is a good Wi-Fi connection throughout the hotel, and the continental breakfast spread includes an instant pancake machine. It is guaranteed to be a hit with students!

Piazzale Michelangelo Steps

We arrived in Florence in the late afternoon and decided to head to the famous Piazza Michaelangelo Steps for sunset. This is the most famous panoramic view of the city and into the hills of Tuscany beyond. It’s around a 30-minute walk from the centre of Florence, which is a stunning journey. You get the first glimpse of the Arno River and can even cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge to get there. Once you’ve crossed the river, if you look up, you can usually see a huddle of people perched on the steps. If you want to get a seat for sunset, it’s worth heading there very early!

Piazza Michaelangelo Steps
Piazza Michaelangelo Steps

As the name suggests, the steps are named after various works of Michelangelo including the bronze copy of David, which sits within the terrace right at the top.

Piazza Michaelangelo Steps bronze david
Piazza Michaelangelo Steps bronze David statue

Although highly recommended, if you don’t fancy the walk, you can take the local bus: number 12 or 13 from the central train station.

Gucci Museum

We decided to visit the Gucci Museum on Day Two, which is located within a 15th Century palace in the Piazza Della Signoria, a traditional neighbourhood for artisanal craft. It’s located just a 5-minute walk from Hotel Maxim. The palace was once Gucci’s leather goods workshop.

Piazza Della Signoria in florence near the gucci museum
Piazza Della Signoria

From the first Gucci shop opening in Florence in 1921, on Via della Vigna Nuova, the museum takes you through its journey to becoming the world-renowned symbol of Italian craft it is today.

Also housing the ‘Gucci Garden’ shop, the museum contains six different areas showcasing the brands' history. This includes a cinema showcasing short films, ‘Stars’, which exhibits some outfits worn by celebrities at various events; ‘Travel,’ which compares Gucci looks from the past and present-day; ‘Icons,’ which is a stunning display of bags, ‘Horsebit 1953 Loafer,’ displaying the famous shoe across time, and finally ‘Image making,’ showcasing the brands marketing campaigns. There is also a restaurant and café.

The museum is well laid out and represents the premium quality of the brand itself, with impeccably presented exhibits and a security presence throughout.

This is definitely a must-see for fashion students.

Vineyard Tour

In the afternoon we headed out on a Vineyard Tour Excursion, into the Chianti region of Tuscany. About an hour by coach out of the city, we stopped at two different Vineyards for a tour and around a 30-minute wine/cheese tasting in each.

Fattoria Le Caprin near florence
Fattoria Le Caprine winery

The first vineyard was ‘Fattoria Le Caprine’, near Castelfiorentino. The vineyard was set within a stunning Tuscan farmhouse on top of a hill, providing stunning views of the surroundings. This visit was raw and authentic, first saw the goats, in which they used to make goat’s milk and cheese before seeing the cellar and hearing about their wine production. We tasted the cheese, wine’s, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

Goats at Castelfiorentino
Goats at Castelfiorentino

The second vineyard, ‘Tenuta Torciano,’ in Ulignano, was of much higher production, with a restaurant and the potential to host various events. This vineyard was more established, a huge family business operating across 13 generations. It was great to compare the two.

Holly Broadway at Tenuta Torciano in florence
Holly Broadway at Tenuta Torciano

Pitti Palace

On Day 3, we crossed back over the river and headed to Pitti Palace. The Palace was built on Boboli Hill by merchant Luca Pitti, and proposed to be his private residence in the 15th Century, but he died before the building was complete. Despite this and the following history, the palace remains named after him today. Following Pitti’s death, the palace became home to the Medici family as a ceremonial residence when the Boboli Gardens were added. The gardens and palace were then developed together and became home to the Hapsburg-Lorraine family, where the front wings of the palace were added, and the overall size of the palace tripled.

Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace

The site was then passed to the Crown of Italy in 1860, inhabited by Victor Emmanuel II when Florence was the capital city of Italy. The palace, gardens and square were then donated to the Italian State in 1919.

Today, the Palace houses five museums, including the Treasury of the Grand Dukes, the Palatine Gallery and Royal and Imperial Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Costume and Fashion. With so much on offer for history, art, and culture, you could easily spend a day exploring the museums and gardens.

Around a 10-minute walk from the Palace is a beautiful local square, Piazza Santo Spirito which hosts a Sunday market containing local produce, clothes, jewellery, books, and art. It was great to feel the local culture and way of life amongst the tourism in other parts of the city.

Piazza Santo Spirito in flornce
Piazza Santo Spirito

We spent the afternoon of Day 3 enjoying the last bit of Italian sunshine on the banks of the River Arno, in Giardino Antonio Caponnetto. It is the perfect place to relax, rest our feet and take in the view of the river and city beyond. On our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport, we stopped off at Gelateria La Carraia, on the corner of Carraia Bridge, and according to a local (and now myself) – the best Gelato in Florence!

ice cream from Gelateria La Carraia, on the corner of Carraia Bridge in florence

Overall, Florence provides the perfect city break for history, art, fashion, and cross-curricular trips. We comfortably squeezed a lot into our 3-day, 2-night duration but could have easily spent another one or two nights in the city and still have plenty to explore.

To read more about our school trips to Florence, see our dedicated tour pages here.