How to Plan Your Perfect Tuscan Road Trip | Quality Villas

how to plan your perfect tuscan road trip

Tuscany has some of the best scenery you can find in Italy, with its rolling hills, vineyards, sunflower fields and picturesque towns, and one of the best ways to explore its gorgeous landscape is on a road trip. While driving in Italian cities can be chaotic and a little overwhelming – especially when it’s the other side of the road to the UK – Tuscan countryside makes for easy and relaxing driving. 
Our holiday villas in Tuscany provide the perfect base for heading out on day trips to explore the countryside, and the variety of locations around the region for you to choose from means you can tick everything off your Tuscany bucket list. Use our top tips to plan for the perfect Tuscan road trip this summer and see what highlights we recommend checking out! There are many trips to choose; from the tiny towns around Siena or the coastline of Maremma – it’s up to you! 
Getting Petrol 
We’ll start with the basic part of driving – the fuel! Look out for benzinai or petrol station and opt for self-service to avoid paying the service fee. There is usually a machine to insert bank notes or your card and the pump number. Occasionally you have to pay inside, similar to the UK. Prices vary, but if you go for a smaller car, you will save money. 
Get a Map
Google Maps and SatNavs are all well and good, but not when the GPS signal or battery goes, or you get lost when it directs you to drive into a dead-end; having a physical map as a back up is a no-brainer. When you hire the car, pick up the latest edition of a regional map and leave it in the car for when you head out and about. 
Read Up on Road Signs and Limits
Thankfully, much of Europe’s road signs have been standardised, so they will be familiar to you wherever you go, even when in a different language. However, if this is your first time driving abroad, you may want to check the common road signs you will come across when driving in the countryside. You should also be aware of the speed limits, as these can lead to a bad fine. On the autostrada, it is 130kmph, in towns 50kmp, open roads 90kmph and divided highways 110kmph. 
Parking Can be Tricky
One of the worst parts of driving is trying to find good parking, that is relatively cheap, and Italy is no less difficult. Keep an eye out for the blue sign with a P, and be prepared for a range of prices. Avoid parking on streets with yellow (handicapped) or white (residents) spots, but you can park anywhere painted blue. Just remember to pre-pay for a ticket to display otherwise you could get a fine. In cities like Florence and Siena, they are very efficient when it comes to checking the parking, and you don’t want to return home with parking fines. 
There are a few roads in Tuscany that have tolls, usually on the autostrada, including the A1 going from Bologna to Northern Tuscany. You have to take a ticket when entering the autostrada, and pay when you leave. It is best to pay with cash, as cards will not always be accepted. 
Avoid Travelling on Popular Holidays
Look up what popular holidays may be happening in the region when you are holidaying in Tuscany, and avoid travelling on these days. Mid-week is usually best for a road trip, as it means you can avoid sitting in traffic, which could turn a three-hour trip into nine hours. 
Be Aware of Limited Traffic Zones
Italy is an old country, and the hilltop towns in Tuscany pride themselves on their heritage. One way to help preserve old buildings and roads is to stop modern cars ruining them. As such, most towns have a limited traffic zone (ZTL) in place, meaning parts of the town are protected, where only people with special permits can park. If you drive into these zones, you risk huge fines. 
Highlights for Your Road Trip
Drive along colourful roads to Certaldo, around 60km south of Florence. Located in the Elsa Valley, it is known for its production of crystal glassware, and the town has roots in the Roman-Etruscan age. The charming town has narrow streets, little squares and a well-preserved medieval structure, with the exhibition of the 15th century Palazzo Pretorio. There you can find some modern art exhibitions. The onion is Certaldo’s official symbol so expect some onion-based dishes to try when you stop!
San Gimignano
A little further south than Certaldo is the historic town of San Gimignano, known for its towers. In the 14th century, every wealthy family in the area built a tower to show its economic power, with 72 in total. They were added to, turning them into amazing residences. Only 13 remain today and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit them to admire the mixture of architect and influences from the region.
Head to the walled town of Monteriggioni to explore what Italy was like in the Middle Ages. Part of the Val D’Orcia area, the town is dominated by the amazing Castle of Monteriggioni. The castle has a fortified wall and 14 towers for defence. The wall follows the rise and fall of the hill it is built upon, which looks spectacular from a distance. Because of its picturesque setting, the town has been used for filming a variety of movies such as Gladiator and The English Patient. 
South of Siena is the medieval village of Montalcino, famous for its local wine, the Brunello di Montalcino. The winemaking can be dated to the 14th century, yet it was the 19th century when a local farmer found a way to age the wine for a long period, so the wine could reach its current peak quality. Be sure to pick up a bottle or two to have back at your villa! 
Are you planning a mini road trip when on your holiday to Tuscany this year? Let us know via our social media, and don’t hesitate to ask for any tips on what to do near your villa when booking with us!
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