Road trip Italy week 1: Citytrips in Tuscany
Italy, the country of the tastiest food and the most beautiful cities. I can’t believe we weren’t here before! We have been looking forward to this road trip. A road trip that had been planned since last year, but was not yet carried out due to circumstances. Now it was finally here. By car we left for Tuscany in Italy. At a slow pace so that we could stop in several beautiful places along the way. The kind of road trip we love so much.
Tuscany is about 1,000 miles from our hometown. We divided this huge number of kilometres over three days’ drive. The first day we drove about eight hours to Austria. We passed the Netherlands and Germany on our route, but were focused on staying overnight in Lermoos where we also stayed in March this year during our winter break. It’s funny to know that back then we didn’t think we’d come here for the first 10 years. Not that it wasn’t nice there though, on the contrary, but winter holidays don’t really seem to be our thing. Now it was nice to come here “home” and see familiar faces. Fortunately, our hotel also had a wellness where we could relax after a day of driving. Nice!
After a good wellness and good night’s sleep, we continued our road trip. Today we definitely had to get to Verona in Italy. This was about a five-hour drive away. Every day there were just a little less hours of driving on the schedule. That’s a better way to hang on. We crossed the border from Austria to Italy through mountain area and still had energy to drive a little further than Verona.
After about seven hours of driving, we looked for a place to sleep. Soon a hotel on the side of the road that we went out offered solace. A chic four-star hotel, mainly intended for business travellers, was just what we needed. Quiet, clean and with a little extra comfort. When we are on the road we think it is more important to choose good hotels as our night’s sleep is a priority to drive well and focused. Once we get to our destination, it can be cheaper or less comfortable.
On-the-go tip: take several short breaks between driving than a long one, for example. This not only brings peace but also ensures that you enjoy driving more in itself. We always stop at places with a nice view, but almost never at petrol stations (unless we need petrol of course). Petrol stations are fairly busy and stressful and absolutely not a nice place for a break moment. We’d rather take our own lunch and eat it in a quiet spot.
San Vincenzo in Tuscany
After three days of driving full-time, we arrived in San Vincenzo, our final destination. This coastal town in Tuscany was our residence for a week. We did for this one week glamping thanks to Vacansoleil. The same concept as camping but more luxurious. Really our thing! How all this has been done, you can read here soon. In San Vincenzo itself there is little to do, but it is a good base for several city trips in Tuscany. There are not enough days to do them all but we did all our favorites.
The first -and most famous- city trip we did was to Pisa. This city is world famous for its leaning tower called Torre di Pisa. Of course we had to go here, even though we felt like real tourists among the gigantic crowds. Anyone who has been there knows it: This is an admirable place but the Tower of Pisa itself is not the most beautiful thing to see.
The giant cathedral is what really caught our attention. In virgin white it exudes all class and style. Fortunately this cathedral was also there, otherwise this trip would have been a small disappointment. We actually knew in advance, but still wanted to check it out ourselves. The best part about this trip? The countless people who try to take a “unique” photo with the tower. Very amusing to see them busy! We have not been involved in this playful activity.
Exploring Tuscany coast
When travelling, we often have a rest day between all the sights. And since our residence was near the Tyrrhenian Sea, we decided to explore the coastline of Tuscany a bit more. The beach in San Vincenzo was a bit disappointing in our opinion. It wasn’t crowded but quite small and the sea full of seaweed. Not a great place to take a dip. A little further on, however, it is wonderful to stay on the beach near Baratti. Here it is a lot busier but you have a beautiful view over the bay and harbour of Baratti. Afterwards we drove a little further to Populonia, a cozy village with necropolis (cemetery) where you can enjoy a spectacular view. Here we already bought a whole stock of pasta in different flavors and colors.
After a day of rest, it was time for another city trip. This time it was Siena’s turn. This city has been on our bucket list for a long time because it is considered one of the most beautiful Italian cities. On photo it was for years my favorite Italian city, hopefully it was actually so beautiful. Siena is on a mountain so luckily we had planned for that. Usually we are not so well prepared but this time we are. Hundreds of meters of climbing later we arrived at the beautiful Piazza del Campo, the main square of Siena.
Afterwards we passed the impressively detailed Duomo (cathedral) which exuded even more class than that of Pisa. Deeply impressed with the city we walked through narrow streets looking for nice souvenirs. Among other things, we bought postcards with a unique Italian design. And we ate pasta, what else?, on the Piazza del Campo under the warm midday sun. What a lovely city! It has exceeded our expectations and Siena is without a doubt in our top 5 most beautiful city trips.
Tuscany has a lot of photogenic places. Actually, you can’t take bad pictures here because it’s a beautiful area. However, there are a few spots even more photogenic than others. The Saturnia Falls, or Cascate del Mulino, is one of them. And perhaps the most photographed place in all of Tuscany. We understand why because it is a gem. To visit this natural hot spring, you don’t necessarily have to get up early. But to take unique pictures, yes. That was already clear when we heard other bloggers talking about this place. That’s why we got up at four o’clock in the morning(crazy, we know)to leave for Saturnia, about two hours from our campsite. We’d arrive at sunrise.
The drive to it went smoothly. We were the only ones on the track, except for a couple of deer and night owls. Arriving we thought we were the only ones, but what turned out? There were about five people already. It was still dark outside and yet we were not the first. Nevertheless, we managed to take unique photos at sunrise that we are very proud of. This place made our hearts beat faster and we encourage everyone to go there. Especially since it’s completely free. But be prepared for crowds if you go during the day! And be prepared for the sulfur scent you will carry with you once you have immersed yourself in the springs. Showering right away at “coming home” is a must.
If there’s a city in Tuscany you’ve heard of, there’s no doubt it’s Florence. This big city we visited last week but found it, outside the gigantic and beautiful Duomo , not as direct hit as siena. There is a lot to see and do, such as an untold number of museums and historical architecture, but the crowds unfortunately made it a lesser experience for us. On top of that, it was sweltering hot and most Italians here are downright surly. Not exactly the Italy we have been able to discover in the past few days.
Wine route in Tuscany
The real Italy, and especially Tuscany, was now more than ever a priority to discover with us. We wanted to see more of this beautiful region and what better way to discover a region than to follow a wine route that guides you past all the small villages? Again, the convenience of having a (own) car on location came in handy. We drove from village to village and found the most charming places we saw this week.
Think of picturesque villages full of artisan shops where no tourist comes and the inhabitants don’t speak a word of English. So we enjoy this. Bring local produce for home, walk through the hilly narrow streets and enjoy the peace and views. We also passed many vineyards but although we didn’t taste wine, this was one of the nicest getaways we did this week. This is Italy how we imagined it.
Our first week
Our first week in Italy was immediately a special experience. We visited places that had been on our bucket list for a long time and we enjoyed the Italian atmosphere. On top of that, we saw some of the most beautiful places the country has to offer. We are currently continuing our road trip and returning more north. Which destinations we visit next is still a secret for the time being. You’ll find out here next week. Hopefully until then!