For anyone who has read the book or has seen the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” each different but equally brilliant, then you can imagine what it’s like to drive through the winding hills of the golden Tuscan countryside. Here – where the sunflowers bloom, where rows upon rows of olive groves and vineyards offer their bountiful harvests, and where Cyprus-lined roads wind around hillsides to enchanting hilltop farmhouses – is where you'll find your Tuscany. If ever a destination exists that delivers upon and exceeds expectations, it's Tuscany! It's everything you would imagine it to be. If Florence, Siena, Montepulciano, or even Cortona are on your Italian itinerary, make sure you set aside an extra day or two, perhaps an entire week, for a drive under the Tuscan sun!
|Montepulciano perched high atop the golden Tuscan hills!|
Know before you go:
If Florence is your base, you'll find conveniently located rental car offices along the Arno River on Borgo Ognissanti, just west of the Duomo. From here, it's quick and easy access to A-1 and SR2. When you book your car, make every attempt to secure an automatic, a hard commodity but well worth it because of the narrow hilly roads and driving in and around the hilltop towns.
As for navigating the roadways, be alert because they are not marked very well, sometimes not at all. During the journey, you must rely on small blue directional signs to find your way. At times, we had no idea what road we were on so we continued and just hoped for the best. Hey, if worse comes to worst, remember, all roads lead to Rome, right? If you're concerned, don't worry, either do most of your driving during daylight hours with a good map or make sure you have GPS. If the latter, you have nothing to worry about except if it doesn't speak English. Only kidding however, it does bring up a very important point – make sure you take along an English-Italian dictionary because the Italians who live in these rural areas, although extremely friendly and eager to help, speak little to no English so stopping for directions, may present a challenge or two, but nothing you can’t overcome.
To ensure you make the most of your adventure through Tuscany, keep OFF the super highways running north and south such as A-1, or you'll miss the sublime Tuscan scenery. Also, driving in Italy is the same as in the U.S. so getting acclimated is quite easy compared to driving in the U.K. However, some Italians enjoy driving a little faster and are familiar with the roads, so stay to right, drive at a reasonable speed, and most importantly, be alert! If driving in a foreign country scares you, no worries. Although I was somewhat fearful of the prospect, my fears melted away as soon as we hit the open road. It was exhilarating to say to the least.
Here are some more spectacular vistas that await on your Tuscan adventure.
|A spectacular scenic view of the Tuscan countryside taken in Pienza.|