What do you think of when someone mentions Tuscany? We can safely assume your mental image includes rolling hills, charming towns and picturesque vineyards. That’s what makes it one of the most ideal places in the world for a scenic drive. So get behind the wheel and spend a day taking it all in using one of these highly recommended routes. Don’t forget your camera – for ideas on the best ones to consider, read our Photographer’s Paradise post.
If you’re starting your travels in Tuscany’s main city, travel writer Lee Marshall suggests this route as a perfect path out of Florence for the day. Head east on the SS70 to the mountain town of Diacceto before heading south while taking in views of Florence to Vallombrosa where there is an abbey that appeared in John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. Then pop into the town of San Pietro di Romena for a look at its charming chapel before continuing onto the market town of Pratovecchio. You will then come to the hilltop town of Poppi followed by the tobacco town Bibbiena. Now, you’re only an hour outside of Florence, so hop the A1 Autostrada and you’ll be back in Florence in time for dinner.
The lovely hilltop town of Siena is a common jumping off point for drives around Tuscany. Marshall suggests departing southwest on the SS73 through surprisingly wild country terrain to San Galgano to see its dramatic, roofless, Gothic abbey. Then get back en route toward Grosseto passing through Roccastrada and the region’s cork plantation. Feel free to take a detour to the Etruscan site Vetulonia or the seaside resort Castiglione della Pescala after which you’ll be right near your destination of Grosseto, known for its towering city walls.
Now you can shoot straight back to Siena, but where’s the fun in that? Take the scenic route to Montalcino through the Orcia valley and stop at the famous Brunello vineyard,then take a peek at the market in Buonconvento on the way home instead.
Exhausted just thinking about those long lists of stops? Dave Hoerlein, senior guide at Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door suggests a more mellow day trip from Siena. Simply head south to the hills known as the Sienese Crests. You’ll take in all the classic Tuscan scenery you normally only see on postcards. Most of the farms along your drive will be growing wheat, beans, red poppies and sunflowers. Hoerlein suggests taking the Laurentina road with a simple route from Siena to Asciano to San Giovanni d’Asso (with an optional final stop in Montalcino) and back. Highly suggested is a leisurely lunch beak in Asciano, where you’ll find few tourists, to get a true taste of Tuscan living.
Drive the Tuscan countryside and stay at the exclusive Hotel Castello di Casole with our Grand Opening Special - an exclusive “Book 4, Stay Free Package, To check availability and book your stay, please contact us at 866.917.2152 or +39.0577.967.557 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservation must be made by August 31, 2012 for travel completed by March 31, 2013.