Places You Should Stop Off at on a Road Trip Through Tuscany
One of the best ways to really explore somewhere, is to do it by car. Travelling under your own steam and getting lost on little backwater roads on your journey will open up a completely new side of Tuscany.
If you haven’t driven in these parts before, start by heading into Pisa. The roads are fairly simple to navigate and you’ll be greeted by one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Filling the Piazza di Miracoli, this collection of beautiful buildings – leaning tower, cathedral, baptistery and cemetery – has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and rightly so. Don’t forget to pick up an authentic Italian gelato while you take in the first of your awesome surroundings.
Then head into San Gimignano. Not only will you be treated to some of the most spectacular vistas including the view of the town but San Gimignano itself is beautiful. San Gimignano truly lives up to its UNESCO World Heritage inclusion and status of the Town of Fine Towers.
Follow its winding medieval streets up to the Piazza del Duomo for lunch surrounded by puppet shows and music. Climb the Torre Grossa, the town’s tallest tower, to take in the rolling, unspoilt, Tuscan views. Then spend the afternoon visiting the Museum of Torture or meandering through the narrow streets exploring the quaint shops and gelaterias.
Why not pop into Siena? It has to be said that although you can pop in to this iconic town, you’ll best enjoy all it has to offer if you spend a few days soaking it all up. Stroll up through the bustling streets, trying not to buy too much of the local produce, until you reach the Piazza del Campo. This eatery lined square with its terracotta lustre and sloping floor is one of the most famous and romantic in Tuscany’s medieval history.
Once you’ve had a coffee and soaked up the lively atmosphere of the piazza, brace yourself for the 400 step ascent of the Torre del Mangia. The panoramic views of Siena are well worth the trek. You’ll have the best view of the traditional terracotta roofs and cathedral as well as be able to pick out the ancient, original city walls. Head back down to ground level for a late lunch, after all Tuscany is the home of real Italian food, before exploring the cathedral and crypt and the Museo dell’Opera.
No trip through Tuscany would be complete without the obligatory visit through Chianti (with or without fava beans). Once you head south you’ll quickly be engulfed in typical, spectacular Tuscan countryside.
This area is littered with picturesque medieval castles, often tied to wineries where you’ll struggle to tear yourself away from the opportunity to sample. Pop in to see the castle of Montefioralle, the tiny town has been lost in time and was home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (the person not the painting).
Make sure that you visit Greve. This is the heart of Chianti classic country. Visit the wine museum and learn a little more about how it’s made before coming to rest at Panzano. This beautiful hill town is the perfect place to rest your head for a while and really sink yourself into Italian food, wine and culture before heading back to reality….. Until the next trip.