Road trip Italy week 1: City trips in Tuscany
Italy, the land of the most delicious food and the most beautiful cities. Unbelievable that we were not here before! So we have been looking forward to this road trip very much. A road trip that had been planned since last year, but due to circumstances had not yet been implemented. Now it was finally here. By car we left for Tuscany in Italy. At a slow pace so we could also stop at various scenic spots along the way. The kind of road trip we love so much.
Tuscany is about 1,500 kilometers away from our hometown. We spread this huge number of kilometers over three days of driving. The first day we drove about eight hours up to Austria. We passed through Holland and Germany on our route, but were focused on staying overnight in Lermoos where we also stayed during our winter vacation in March this year. It’s funny to know that at the time we thought we wouldn’t come here again for the first ten years. Not that it wasn’t nice, on the contrary, but winter vacations don’t really seem to be our thing. Now it was nice to come “home” here and see familiar faces. Fortunately, our hotel also had a spa where we could relax after a day of driving. Nice touch!
After a virtuous spa 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. Each day there were just slightly fewer hours of driving on the schedule. That’s how you keep it up better. We crossed the border of Austria with Italy through mountainous terrain 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 along the side of the road we were exiting offered solace. An upscale four-star hotel, designed primarily for business travelers, was just what we needed. Quiet, clean and with a little extra comfort. When we are on the road we find it more important to choose good hotels since our sleep is a priority in order to ride well and focused. Once we reach our destination, things can get cheaper or less comfortable.
Tip for the road: prefer to take several short breaks between driving rather than one long one, for example. This not only brings peace of mind but also makes you enjoy riding more in itself. We always stop at places with great views, but almost never at gas stations (unless we need gas, of course). Gas stations are fairly busy and stressful and definitely not a nice place for a break moment. We prefer to bring our own lunch and eat it in a quiet place.
San Vincenzo in Tuscany
After three days of full-time driving, we arrived in San Vincenzo, our final destination. This town on the coast in Tuscany was our place of residence for a week. We did glamping for this one week thanks to Vacansoleil. Same concept as camping but more luxurious. Really our thing! How that all turned out, you’ll read here soon. There is little to do in San Vincenzo itself, but it is a good base for various city trips in Tuscany. There are too few days to do them all but we did do 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 too, although we felt like real tourists among the gigantic crowd. Those who have been there already know: 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 pristine 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 it in advance, but still wanted to check it out for ourselves. The best part about this excursion? The countless people trying to take a “unique” photo with the tower. Very amusing to see them busy! We did not get carried away with this playful activity.
Explore the coast of Tuscany
When traveling, we often keep a rest day between all the sightseeing. 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. The place was not crowded but quite small and the sea full of seaweed. Not exactly a nice place to take a dip. A little further on, however, it is great to relax on the beach near Baratti. Here it is a lot busier but you have a beautiful view of the bay and port 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 supply 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 had been on our bucket list for some time as it is considered one of the most beautiful Italian cities. In photo it had been my favorite Italian city for years, hopefully it was as beautiful in reality. Siena is on a mountain so fortunately we had prepared for that. Usually we are not so well prepared but this time we were. Hundreds of meters of climbing later we arrived at the beautiful Piazza del Campo, the central square of Siena.
Afterwards, we passed the impressively detailed Duomo (cathedral) which was even more classy than that of Pisa. Deeply impressed with the city, we walked through narrow streets in search of fun souvenirs. Among other things, we bought postcards with a unique Italian design. And we ate pasta, what else, in the Piazza del Campo under the warm afternoon sun. What a wonderful city! It exceeded our expectations and Siena will without a doubt be in our top 5 most beautiful city trips.
Tuscany has many photogenic spots. Actually, you can’t take bad photos here because it’s a beautiful area. Yet there are a few spots even more photogenic than others. The Saturnia Falls or Cascate del Mulino is one of them. And perhaps also the most photographed spot in all of Tuscany. We understand well 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 photos it does. This was already obvious when we heard other bloggers talking about this place. So we got up at four in the morning (crazy, we know) to leave for Saturnia, about two hours from our campsite. Then we would arrive there at sunrise.
The drive there was flawless. We were the only ones on the course except for a few deer and night owls. When we arrived, we thought we were the only ones, but what did we find out? There were already about five people. It was still dark outside and yet we were not the first. Nevertheless, we managed to take unique sunrise photos of which we are particularly proud. This place made our hearts beat faster and we recommend 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 smell you’ll carry once you’ve immersed yourself in the springs. Showering immediately upon “coming home” is a must.
If there’s one city in Tuscany you’ve already heard of, it’s undoubtedly Florence. We also visited this large city last week but, apart from the gigantic and beautiful Duomo, didn’t find it as much of a hit as, say, Siena. There is a lot to see and do, including untold numbers of museums and historic 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 quite the Italy we had already had the opportunity to discover over 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 takes you past all the little villages? Again, the convenience of having a (private) car on location came in handy. We drove from village to village and found the most charming places we saw already this week.
Think of picturesque villages full of artisan stores where no tourist comes and the residents don’t speak a word of English. So this is what we are enjoying. Bringing local products for home, walking through the hilly narrow streets and enjoying the tranquility and views. We also passed many vineyards but although we did not taste any wine, this was one of the most beautiful excursions we did already 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 some time and 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 towards the north. Which destinations we visit next is a secret for now. You’ll find out here next week. Hope to see you then!