Under the Tuscan Sun – Part I

What comes into your mind when you think about Tuscany? I bet there are the smooth hills bathed in the warm sun, locals living their lives at a slow pace, scenic landscapes and of course, wine. And to be more specific this is the rural Tuscany I’ve been planning to visit for some time now. It didn’t happen to be a planned and documented trip, instead I decided to go spontaneously with Radu and Louise, a seasoned Tuscany traveller.

WizzAir has cheap fares on the route Cluj-Napoca → Bologna and from there, Tuscany is just a scenic road trip away.

Tip #1 : Probably you’ve heard this before but it won’t hurt to ‘hear’ it again: car rental is cheaper if you purchase it online from home. Also, don’t be that skeptical on cheaper car rentals with bad reviews. People don’t usually read the policies and especially in Italy they get expensive one or more speeding fines and then blame the company for over charging.

Here are roughly the hotspots of our trip, including the three campings we’ve stopped over.

tuscany road trip

Tip #2 : Tuscany is known as being quite expensive on accommodation so your best option is to choose from several campings spread all around the region. From North to South our campings were
Camping Boschetto di Piemma : 2 km from San Gimignano, the walk is nice and gives a fotogenic view over the citadel ~ 12 euros
Camping il Treccolo : small camping on our way, in this part of Tuscany there are less accomodation offers ~ 10 euros
Camping Cieloverde : probably the biggest camping I’ve ever seen, great facilities and a summer village vibe, very close to Maremma Natural Park ~ 6 euros

Little Tuscan planet on our way.

Tuscany farm

And the road towards it.

tuscan road

San Gimignano

A very well preserved town with great architecture and distinctive towers. Fun fact that is twinned with the city of Mestia, Georgia. Must be the towers,right?

san gimignano

wine demijon tuscany

tuscany house number

Men, not knowing what women want since 3000 BC.

italians talking

San Gimignano by night.

san gimignano  in the blue hour

And morning nearby.

tuscany hills

tuscan morning hills

Tip #3 : Wake up early. Chances are that you will be just a short walk from great foggy views.

tuscan hills morning

While driving towards the next destination, we ended up pulling the car over,at times, even every 15-20 minutes because there was always something pretty on our way.

Tip #4 : Always leave some buffer time 🙂

tuscan poppies

house tuscany

house tuscany

What will Tuscany be without wine? 🙂

wineyard tuscany

Monteriggioni

Charming walled medieval town proudly rising on a hill. Behind the imposant towers compared by Dante Alighieri with “horrific giants” life is untroubled: cobble streets, boutiques and seldom tourists sipping their wine in the shadow.
Fun fact: Monteriggioni was not surrounded by water, but by coal which would have been lit in case of attack.

monteriggioni tuscanyi

monteriggioni tuscany

Life goals 🙂

monteriggioni magnet
Souvenir magnet with popular cute painting ; couldn’t find the artist name.

Bagno Vignoni

Quiet tiny village (population 30 according to wikipedia) popular for its hot springs and with its main plaza, Piazza delle Sorgenti, actually a huge pool. The transparent metal wire sculptures are magical nymphs that fit discretly in the sight. Supposedly, they look even more mythical when it’s cold outside and steam rises from the hot water.

bagno vignoni

A cosy little library in the center that worths a visit.

bagno vignoni library

Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia

We decided to leave the car behind and walk a very tiny fraction from what Via Francigena means: an ancient road and pilgrim route running from Canterbury to Rome (1900 km, out of which Tuscany covers about 350 km). While not as popular as Camino de Santiago, thousands of tourists walk, bike or even horse ride Tuscan sections of Via Francigena each year, fuelled by unique landscapes and rustic food and drinks.

via francigena in tuscany
https://www.visittuscany.com/shared/visittuscany/immagini/blogs/idea/via-francigena-map-1024x723_wp7_19984.jpg

We left the car in San Quirico, took the bus to Pienza and walk back about 10 km on Via Francigena.

via francigena

Pienza, the birth place of Pope Pius II, was partially modelled to be an ideal renaissance city, with beautiful squares, narrow streets and a benchmark for Renaissance urbanism.

pienza

pienza

Just South of Pienza walls, the landscape changes: so far we have seen mostly forests and vineyards, while here the wheat fields start to become dominant.

siena tuscany

The Terrapille farmhouse and cypress road is one of the locations where the movie Gladiator was filmed.

terrapille gladiator siena

Rolling hills.

val d'orcia via francigena

val d'orcia via francigena

Tip #5 : If you’re more into the landscapes, definitely plan your trip according to the golden hours.

val'dorcia tuscany siena

Solitary trees are a common sight.

val d'orcia via francigena

The Madonna di Vitaleta Chapel is one of the most photographed sights in Tuscany. It impresses with its small dimension, simplicity and harmony with the cypresses and nature surrounding it.

madona di vitaleta val d'orcia

The culminating point of a beautiful day 🙂
vitaleta sunset

skyline vitaleta val d'orcia

Stay tuned for more Tuscany! 🙂

Iulia

In search for balance and a long term way to enjoy the world around us without getting dragged in the society speed. You'll probably find me in my best element hiking mountains, reading a book in a hammock or exploring off the beaten path sides of the world. Of course, with a backpack.

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