Delicious pasta, a calzone to kill for, pizzas everywhere and medieval towns whose names you will never get right — that’s Tuscany for you. It’s also all about gorgeous landscapes, and taking a Tuscany road trip might make you wish you could stay forever!
For your road trip, plan at least 4 to 6 days. After landing, grab yourself a rental car, and let’s get this show on the road. The first place to visit in Tuscany should ideally be your hotel. Unless you want to visit a small town first and roll back the timeline to the 1600s. A place like San Gimignano should be a great visit if it is enroute to your hotel. In fact, a lot of luxury villas in Tuscany are located in and around San Gimignano. Visiting the town is like an appetizer for your vacation. You’ll get a bite but obviously you are far from being full. (Here’s a tip: while selecting a hotel, make sure you have that Tuscany vibe and a great view.)
A stop in Monteriggioni
Travelers list Siena as one major ‘must-see’ destination on a Tuscany road trip. The best part is that you can make little stops along the way in beautiful Italian towns. As you do, don’t miss Monteriggioni, a town surrounded by a medieval wall. While this offers vantage points for some amazing selfies to annoy, ahem, impress your Instagram followers, you can easily guess that this wall protected the town in ancient days. Visiting the Monteriggioni in Arme museum allows you to try on medieval armor and pretend to be a knight in shining armor. Will you be able to save the damsel in distress?! If you happen to be here in July, you can also join in on the Medieval Festival.
What to do in Siena
Now, Siena is not far. The beautiful Piazza del Campo is Siena’s central plaza and is where much of the action is. It is well known for the Palio (a famous horse race). The Torre Del Mangia and the Siena Cathedral are here as well. At Il Bandierino, you can relish the food as well as a rich history, as it is located on the Palio race course. After a couple hours in Siena (or an entire day!), the next must-see city on your Tuscany road trip is Florence.
Before you get to Florence, browse the web and read up on the challenge to find a good parking spot. (Yes, the struggle is real!) Currently, the Nenni-Torregalli station works great with parking spots around it. Once you’re parked, head to the tram stop. This tram journey is a life saver, making the journey in and around central Florence a walk in the park. In 15 minutes, you’ll cross the Arno river and arrive at Alammani Station.
The heart of Tuscany: Florence
Florence, the capital city of Tuscany, boasts a rich cultural heritage. This is the birthplace of the Renaissance. In the 1400’s, the Medici family was hugely responsible for creating a city friendly to the arts and the building of great cathedrals. Because of their influence, Florence has become the foremost destination for studying Renaissance art and stunning architectural feats.
You can easily spend days here visiting the museums, cathedrals, piazzas, architecture and bridges. Enjoy the energetic vibe in Florence, too. Wandering the ancient streets can take you to an antique store, a quaint book shop, a Pinocchio store (not kidding!), or an artisan gelato stop. One of the most popular things to see in Florence is the David statue, exquisitely sculpted by Michelangelo. You’ll find it at the Accademia Gallery. If you want to know the secrets to skipping the lines at the most popular galleries and museums, be sure to check out this article on Finessing Florence.
At the Pizzale Michelangelo, you’ll see a most fantastic view of Florence. Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy some amazing Italian pizza!
And crossing the Arno river on the Ponte Vecchio will provide another Instagram-worthy scene, as well as lots of jewelry on display. After some fabulous window shopping, you can head back to the tram and then to your car.
Watch out for those carbs!
Remember, the longer you are in Italy, the greater number of carbs you are going to consume (sorry for being a spoilsport). You could end up gaining a few pounds, but the way to avoid that is to stay active. And since there is still so much more you could explore in Tuscany, why not head to Pisa for one of those famous shots with the leaning tower? Or go exploring any of the innumerable small towns that draw you in, like Casole D’elsa. The views are so unbelievable, it’s like you’re a part of history almost. And before you know it, you’ll have tracked 10,000 steps or more!
As you relish your Tuscany road trip explorations, I hope you have a memorable trip… Arrividerci!!