Travelling under the Tuscan sun
One of my favourite places on Earth is located in a small region in Italy. Tuscany is filled with golden lush hills and countless cypress trees. Tuscany is well known for its wine but what others may not know is that it is also home to beautiful sunflower fields and extraordinary landscapes.
To add reference to this blog, we traveled to Tuscany in the month of September and drove from Rome, Italy to get there.
How to Rent a Car
When you plan to explore Tuscany, a car is a must! With the accessibility of a car you will be able to visit all the hidden gems located along the hilltop roads.
This is how we rented our car; since we started our journey in Rome we decided to pick up our car from Rome and begin our road trip to Florence, Italy. Rome has one of the larger airports in Italy so it can be a more convenient option when planning to travel to Italy. In Rome we used the car rental company Hertz and chose our pick up location at Rome Termini Railway and had our drop off location set up at Florence, Amerigo Vespucci (Florence Airport). We rented our car in advance and for 5 days the cost was $250.00 CAD +$100.00 which needed to be paid at the pick up location.
TIP: Get a car with a GPS included or make sure you have access to GPS on your phone.
When driving around any foreign country it may be difficult to understand road signs and road rules. The highways were actually not so difficult to understand with the help of the GPS. However, within the small towns there were countless roundabouts (traffic circles) that keep traffic moving without traffic lights. Roundabouts were everywhere and at times were intimidating, but here are some tips to get yourself more educated on the road rules in Italy.
Where to Stay
During our stay in the Tuscan Region we decided to make our home base in Florence. Here we got an Airbnb with the best view.
Click HERE for Airbnb link.
We decided to take day trips around the region and used Florence as our home base because it is more accessible to nightlife and other amenities.
What to See/Do
Florence is one of the major tourist cities in Italy. It is the home of warm yellow architecture and anything leather. Here are some things to do and see while in Florence…
Visit Duomo of Florence
This Duomo of Florence is a beautiful attraction and has become a symbol of Florence. There are actually 6 different sights that can be visited at the Duomo. There is the cathedral, dome, museum and bell tower. The cathedral is free entry, however the other sights must have booked tickets.
The Markets of Florence
Mercato del Porcellino- This outdoor Market is a few steps from Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria. At this market you can find a variety of stalls selling authentic leather items and many unique finds. You will also find a fountain of a bronze statue of a boar. There is a popular tradition that coincides with this fountain. It is said to offer workers of the market a continuous supply of water. It is now used by the public as a symbol of luck and most visitors rub the snout of the boar in hope to receive some luck of their own.
Santa Croce Square- Here you will find beautiful surrounding architecture with lovely art vendors that adds beautiful colours and character. This is a wonderful spot to walk around and admire the beautiful art.
Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio- This is the oldest market in Florence where you can find “colours, flavours and fragrances”. This indoor market has traditional vendors of fruit, vegetables & specialty foods since 1873.
Another thing Florence is well known for is their pork sandwiches. At almost every turn you will be able to find pork sandwich vendors. These are a must try!
A few spots that we visited were named All’ Antico Vinaio and Antica Porchetteria Granieri.
This can be a great option if you do not have a car while in Tuscany. You can arrange a wine tour tasting that will pick you up from Florence city centre and bring you to the most famous wine regions of all time, Chianti.
One of my favourite sights is Ponte Vecchio. Here you will be able to get a glimpse of the tuscan warm yellows of Florence and the unique architecture. If you try to go during sun down you will be in awe with the beautiful colours and surreal scene.
Beyond Florence! Exploring the Tuscan Region
There are many places surrounding Florence that each carry their own character and culture. Here are some you can easily do a day visit to…
Siena is a beautiful city south of Florence that holds medieval architecture and ‘Palio di Siena’ (a famous horse race that is held twice each year during the summer months). Siena is definitely the visit in my opinion. Here you will be able to escape city noise and experience a distinctive culture.There are museums in Siena but, I personally enjoyed simply walking around the narrow cobblestone streets.
It was one of my favourite spots in Italy. Val d’Orcia is a place where you can experience the rare beauty of Tuscan landscapes. This area of Tuscany was designed in the Renaissance to represent the idea of beauty, so you can only imagine what that is like to experience this first hand in real time. If you want to live a Tuscan dream, Val d’Orcia is the place to visit. Here are some beautiful sights to visit..
Pienza (The ‘major city’ of Val d’Orcia)
Cappella Di Vitaleta (A Chapel perfectly placed on a hill that is hugged by cypress trees)
Bosco Di Cipressi (Scenic hill top with picturesque cypress trees)
Curve Con i Cipressi (The wavy roads of lined cypress trees)
Agriturismo Baccoleno (The house on the hill featured in the picture above)