Why Choose Tuscany?
A charming region characterised by cypress trees, rolling vineyards, fine wine, cheese and charcuterie — not forgetting Renaissance art and picturesque towns and cities — Italy’s heartland of Tuscany is one very much to see and taste. When travelling during the autumn months of September and October, you’re bound to experience the best of the harvest, and can benefit from a more pleasant temperature to stroll around its striking villages and remarkable cities. By embarking on a self-driving tour, you can not only stay in a collection of unique Italian properties, but you can also enjoy the freedom to stop en route at your leisure and explore at your own pace — tasting and experiencing the very best of Tuscany as you go!
Be Tempted By Tuscany
Blessed with both rustic charm and world-class cultural treasures, Central Italy’s region of Tuscany has an appeal all of its own. Along with its famous cuisine and stunning scenery, the cultural gems of Lucca, Florence and Siena can all be easily incorporated into one captivating driving route. At its heart, the capital, Florence, is home to some of the world’s most recognisable Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo’s "David" statue, Botticelli’s works in the Uffizi Gallery and the unmistakable Duomo basilica. By combining the impressive cultural sites with its varied natural landscape, Tuscany offers travellers a wonderfully diverse self-driving tour. Comprising rugged Apennine Mountains, the pretty island of Elba, with its notable beaches skirting the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Chianti landscape of ancient olive groves and vineyards, Tuscany has a bounty of highlights to discover and tasty treats to taste.
The Perfect Tuscany Tour
Having flown into Pisa, simply collect your hire car and begin your self-drive journey to the scenic northwest of Liguria. Here you can absorb the coastal attractions of Cinque Terre with its fishing villages and pretty harbours. Comprising of five, colourful UNESCO protected villages, namely Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, the Cinque Terre National Park is a string of centuries-old seaside villages clinging to a rugged cliffside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. With harbours filled with fishing boats, you can indulge with delicious freshly-caught seafood and Liguria’s famous pesto sauce. Accompanied by the sweeping sea vistas, dining in traditional trattorias and sipping refreshing local wine is a real pleasure to savour.
Tuscany Highlights — Cinque Terre, Lucca, Florence and San Gimignano
Having enjoyed a boat trip in Cinque Terre and perhaps an evening in picturesque Portovenere, drive on to the Renaissance marvel of Lucca. With its elevated footpaths and 16th century walls. white-marble churches and ancient towers, plus Gothic Lucca Cathedral and signature Guinigi Tower (dating from 1384), there is plenty to explore here. Continue your journey to Florence and admire Brunelleschi’s iconic dome. This stunning city is filled with breathtaking architecture, fine art and world-class cultural attractions. With The Uffizi Gallery’s largest collection of Botticelli, and the Galleria dell’Accademia with its Michelangelo collection, Florence is one of Europe’s most impressive centres for art, museums and historic gems. See Renaissance masterpieces like Michelangelo’s ‘David’, the 13th century Palazzo Vecchio, plus Ponte Vecchio bridge. The fortified town of San Gimignano — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — set on a high hilltop in the Tuscan countryside makes for a great stop en route. See 14 of the original 72 ancient towers and perhaps even climb the 170 feet, 14th century, Torre Grosse which offers spectacular views above the narrow streets. For those wishing to pick up a gift, there are artisan workshops, crafts and hand-made ceramics to buy.
Tuscan Highlights — Volterra, Elba Island, Siena, Montepulciano and Castiglione della Pescaia
Continue your drive to Volterra, one of Italy’s most popular regions. With rolling vineyards, cypress trees and hilltop towns, this is an area renowned for scenic countryside and hearty cuisine. From the renowned pretty vineyards and world-class red wines of the Chianti region, to medieval towns and lesser-known sandy beaches, Tuscany has a few surprises well worth discovering. Striking Elba Island, swathes of pine forests and coastal clear waters — are just a few of the attractions beyond the hearty menu of culinary delights. Another must-visit Tuscan stop is the celebrated city of Siena, situated just over an hour’s drive from Florence. Home to one of Europe’s great squares — the enormous shell-shaped Piazza del Campo — and striking Siena Cathedral, with its dazzling mosaic floor, Siena is a real gem. Another place to discover is the pretty medieval hilltop town of Montepulciano surrounded by fertile vineyards. With its Torre di Pulcinella clock tower, San Biagio Montepulciano church (circa 1500’s), and farmhouse fare, there is plenty to tempt your palate here. Finally, complete your journey with a drive to Castiglione della Pescaia in the Tuscan Hills, for some rest and tasty treats. By staying in a former hunting lodge, guests can indulge in fine food whilst relaxing amongst the charming estate and beautiful natural scenery. Guests can explore the coastal vineyards or spend the day relaxing at a local beach club. Surrounded by a 500-hectare nature park, this is a tranquil spot for your grand Tuscan finale.
Unique Tuscan Places To Stay
Start your journey with a stay at Grand Hotel Portovenere, in Cinque Terre, before driving, via ancient Lucca, to Florence’s grand and elegant Villa Cora. Next, enjoy some rustic Tuscan charm at Borgo Pignano, a working organic farm exuding farmhouse character, farm-to-fork menus and delicious organic produce. Follow your stay with a drive, via San Gimignano, to Siena and admire the UNESCO World Heritage Nature Park, Val d’Orcia. Stay amongst swathes of lavender fields and vines at the prestigious Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco estate, before a enjoying a relaxing grand finale including some relaxing beach time at L’Andana.
Tasty Tuscan Food To Eat
Whilst Italy may be renowned for its pasta and popular pizza, Tuscany is known for its hearty fare and delicious red wines. Be sure to try salumi cured meats and indulge with a tasty rustic platter. Local delicacies include Panzanella (bread salad), Ribollita soup (hearty winter vegetable stew), Cacciucco (fish stew), Bisteca alla Fiorentina (Florentine T-bone steak), Castagnaccio (traditional cake made from chestnut flour), and Pecorino cheese (a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk).
Rich Wine To Sip
The home for Chianti, Brunello di Montelciano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany is the spiritual home of the Sangiovese grape. Try a glass of smooth ‘Super Tuscan’ wine, such as Monteverro Terra di Monteverro Toscana, with its bold, blackberry flavour and long finish it’s bound to leave a lasting impression.
If You’re Tempted By Tuscany…
If you’ve been inspired to find your slice of Tuscan heaven and to digest a regional driving journey to remember, head to Italy’s heartland. Travel through Tuscany’s scenic landscapes, taste the regional fare and be awe-inspired by the Renaissance treasures at every stop. Tuscany boasts a rich bounty of treasures and characterful places to stay, so a driving tour enables you to fully appreciate the best of everything Tuscany has to offer.
To book your driving adventure and to experience a true taste of Tuscany, simply call our expert Travel Consultants today.