Traveling to the Tuscan countryside in Italy? Here are six essential Tuscany travel tips to help ensure a smooth trip:
1. Rent A Car
To really experience Tuscany, Italy, renting a car is a must. Public transportation is essentially nonexistent outside of Florence, and there are many diverse towns, villages and attractions worth exploring. Staying at a historic castle and winery at Castello di Gabbiano near Florence, seeing the beautiful fresco’s at Siena’s Museo Civico, viewing famous masterpiece’s in Florence’s many museums, going wine tasting along the Chianti Classico Road, submerging yourself in natural hot springs in Saturnia, exploring the medieval town of San Gimignano and more.
2. Drive The Chianti Classico Road
Chianti Classico refers to Chianti’s oldest area. It’s divided into seven sub-zones, each touted for its high-quality wine. The Chianti Classico Road — aka Route 222 — takes only about two hours to drive straight through; however, if you take your time and do it as a multi-day road trip you’ll enjoy a variety of agricultural and wine tasting experiences within these seven sub-zones, like barrel tastings, vertical tastings, blind tastings, wine pairing meals, vineyard tours, cooking classes, olive oil pressing, truffle hunting and more.
3. Stay At An Agrotourismo
One main draw to Tuscany is it’s agriculture, as the land is lush with Sangiovese and Merlot vineyards, olive trees, truffle-filled forest, citrus and nuts. Staying at an agrotourism allows you to explore the farm culture of the landscape right onsite through wine tasting, vineyard touring, cooking classes, olive harvesting and pressing and other agricultural experiences. My top recommendations for agrotourismos in Tuscany are Castello di Gabbiano and Castelfalfi.
4. Visit in September and October
This is when restaurants are still open (many close in winter), wine grapes are being harvested and a number of delicious festivals abound like Cacio al Fuso cheese rolling competition, Vino al Vino and Festa dell ‘Uva. Summer is also excellent for those who want to take beautiful landscape photos of the countryside, as this is when it’s most colorful and lush.
5. Take A Cooking Class
Not all Italian cuisine is the same, and Tuscany’s in particularly unique, rooted is peasant-style cooking where nothing is wasted and what’s local, seasonal and available is used. What makes the food so delicious is there’s no need to cover dishes in heavy sauces or artificial flavors, as fresh produce, local herbs and rich olive oil offer flavors that speak for themselves. Some typical must-try Tuscan dishes include Pappa al Pomodor, Peposo di Manzo, Al Mattone, Panzanella and Ribollita.
Tuscany is one of the best destinations in the world for having a disconnected vacation. Leave the electronics at home and for a week replace television, cell phones, internet and emails with rolling hills dotted with olive trees, lush vineyards, historical stone architecture and idyllic nature trails.
Do you have any Tuscany travel tips to add? Please share in the comments below!