Tuscany Tales: Touring Beneath The Tuscan Sun
Romantic Tuscany (Toscana), you've seen the ads....lush rolling hills with sprawling stone farm houses, their driveways dotted with pencil cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see, medieval hilltop towns hiding their own secrets to be discovered, the stunning vistas throughout Val D'Orcia and sunsets that will take your breath away each and every evening. It is a truly beautiful region and don't even get me started on the fill it yourself Chianti vending machines in the supermarkets...check it out in our YouTube video here. (I only wish we were allowed to use our own bottle to save using plastic but we made sure we washed and reused that plastic bottle as much as we could).
Where to stay in Tuscany
If you find yourself looking for your moment under the Tuscan sun, then do it, you wont be disappointed! There are so many different styles of accommodation on offer to suit every style of travel and every budget. Whether you want to be in close to the action in each city or town, prefer a tranquil countryside setting, want to get back to nature or a mix of different experiences, you can find great options here. We spent time just out of Siena at a gorgeous Agriturismo which was a working vineyard and olive farm and hired a car to tour the region at our own pace. This was a fantastic way to experience the magic of the region and get a bit further afield than we could on local transport. Agriturismo's are a wonderfully authentic accommodation choice with most being a family run working farm.
Many offer lavish breakfasts, wine & produce tastings, authentic meals, cooking classes, walking trails stunning views and more. Our choice was Agriturismo Amina, 10km from Siena with stunning views across the valley to the old town and magical sunsets.
Where to go in Tuscany
There are a multitude of jaw dropping, ancient towns dotted around the hilltops and the valleys of this remarkable region. Steeped in their own history and traditions, walking their narrow, cobblestoned streets you begin to peel back the layers of time and immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds you. Wander past giant watchtowers, little alleyways and alcoves, with glimpses of huge frescos visible through discreet openings and stores selling the most amazing array of local produce. Pick a town, any town and you will be rewarded with wonderful views, fabulous Tuscan food and wine.
Sip Chianti, a red wine made with over 80% San Giovese grapes in a beautiful town like Montelpulciano, San Gimingnano or Montalcino. Marvel at the Piazza del Campo in Siena, it defies belief how they hold a raucous annual bareback horse race, the Palio di Siena, in that space. Relive scenes out of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun in Cortona and spot the real Bramasole Villa.
For those that are interested in seeing the real Bramasole, the villa is still the private home of the author, Frances Hayes, but it can be viewed from the road. It is an easy drive to the villa along Località Torreone which can be ,accessed via the Parterre public gardens. The Villa from the movie however is a private holiday rental, Villa Laura is about 3km down the hill from Cortona but you can't really see much from outside of the property.
Looking for inspo on what to do and where to go in Tuscany? Check out these great options here
How to Get to Tuscany
Once you're in Italy, you can reach most areas of Tuscany by train or bus from most major cities such as Milan, Florence and Rome, with romantic Florence being the closest gateway to the Tuscan region. We found that the easiest, quickest way to get close to our destination was by train and, once close we hired a car. We used the Eurail app for trains as we opted for a 1 month Italy Pass but you can easily search train timetables through Trenitalia and Frecciarossa or use any of the search apps like Rome to Rio, Trainline and Omio.
If you're happy navigating the winding roads, the tour di Italia cyclists, the mad drivers on the autostrada and even madder directions by that chick on google maps (I swear I could hear her laughing at us at one point…) then, a great option is to rent a car in one of the smaller towns (to avoid having to drive through major cities which can be a real nightmare!) and give you ultimate freedom and flexibility.
Hot Tip: if you're driving, be aware that many of the old towns have ZTL traffic restrictions (Zona Traffico Limitato or Limited Traffic Zone) to reduce traffic congestion, pollution etc in the town and city centres and fines from 100-350 Euro can be had for entering these zones without permission during active times. This works well to not only reduce traffic but to create a chilled pedestrian vibe through the narrow cobblestoned streets. Thankfully they have large public parking areas just outside these zones where you can park and walk into town (prices when we visited started at 1.5 Euro per hour to a max of 6 Euro for the day but the closer parking lots can be around 2 Euro per hour to a max of 20 Euro. Overnight parking is also available at between 1 - 5 Euro from 8pm - 8am which is a great option if you're staying overnight in the town). If you're not comfortable with driving there are numerous bus routes and day tours that can take you to all the major places of interest (plus it means you can drink more vino with lunch!).
Not sure what to pack? Here's a few of our top picks for exploring Tuscany in style. Check out our full range here
|Sunshine Lani Mini Dress
|Sophia Scarf Les Fleurs
|Linen Flair Shirt Pink
|Lake Dress Les Fleurs
|Kimono White Linen
|Etta Crossbody Bag
|Jude linen Pant White
Saturnia Hot Springs
There are a few natural thermal springs dotted around the Tuscan countryside but perhaps the most famous is the stunning Saturnia Hot Springs. About 2 hours drive south from Siena through the beautiful, famed Val D'Orcia, the free-to-enter natural thermal springs are a constant 37 degrees and look amazing with their milky blue and white pools cascading down the hillside. No wonder it gets crazy busy with tourist and locals alike (plus the steady line of insta influencers) so it is advisable to get there early. There is a carpark about 200m from the entrance and at the springs there are lockers for a 5 Euro deposit (which you get back when you leave), showers and toilets plus a cafe selling light meals and drinks. Hot tip: remove all jewellery before getting in as the natural sulfur in the water will turn them a gorgeous shade of grey). Getting there is half the fun, there is no public transport so you can either go by car or book onto a tour. If driving, search on google maps for Cascate del Mulino or if using GPS input the address Strada Provinciale di Follonata 58014 Manciano Grosetto Italia.
Only have a few days in Tuscany and want to get the most out of your visit? Check out these great day tours that will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful region: