I live in Croatia, so I cannot say that I expected me to fall so much for Italy as I did. It was always the neighbourhood country, quite similar to Croatia, and everyone has been to Trieste. So everyone has been to Italy.
Rome has always been a must see destination for me. It is one of the prettiest cities in Europe, if not the most pretty one, but i have a thing for the Mediterranean. Really cheap flights, appeared lately. Easy jet, Vueling even Croatia airlines sometimes had affordable tickets from Croatia to Rome. Rome is not a city you’d like to visit during summer because of really high temperatures. Spring would be the perfect time. We went in June, of course. For Tuscany, tough, June is perfect. The nature is blooming and the fragrances of Tuscany are extraordinary! Since it is not so far away from Rome, we decided to spend some days there.
DO NOT RENT A CAR LASTMINUTE IN ROME! Or do not leave your passports behind in Tuscany.
Renting a car is quite a hustle, but still, really worth it if you visit Tuscany. We chose Europcar and for a 3 day rental we payed around 150 euros. A weekly rental would not be a lot more expensive, a day rental is much more unprofitable. This we learned renting a car in Rome for only one night, last minute on the last night of our stay in Italy, in Rome of course. I repeat, do not leave your passports behind. We had to get our forgotten passports from our tuscan agriturismo. All the cars in Rome were, of course, already rented, and just waiting to be picked up. There was only one left. Pricy.
WHY NOT TRY AN AGRITURISMO?
From Rome Fiumicino we reached our destination in a few hours. Tuscany is one of the most amazing places I have been to- Sleeping in an agroturism is a jack pot option. The search for the right agroturism is a journey of its own throughout vast options and it is really not that hard to find a nice looking agroturism for a budget, since there
are so many. We decided to book villa Sant’ Alberto in Monteroni d’Arbia. Jack pot. The nature there is amazing, the villa was fascinating, but the best thing of all were the people that rented the place. I have never been so amazed with a landlord. Upon arrival we were seated beneath a huge tree and served with Tuscany vine! Since the villa was situated on a hilltop in Val d’ Orcia you can imagine how lovely the view was. The landlord showed us around on his map, where to go and what to see. He gave us some Tuscany leaflets and later he showed us to our villa which was amazing.
BUT DO RENT A CAR! Or bring your own…
The best way to see Tuscany is in a car. You just have to drive trough, no other way. Be smart, skip the tourist bus. Depending on what you search for, you can visit the cities of Tuscany, small towns, try wine tasting, do some cooking classes or maybe visit one of Tuscany’s therms. There is so much to do, a week is not enough! Having visited Florence and Pisa once before, we decided to do a more rural check up of Tuscany. Tuscany is really huge and if you want to see the nature you see on photographs that appear when you google it, you need to visit Val d’Orcia. It took me some time to figure that out. This is a rural part of central Italy south of Sienna listed in the UNESCO’s world heritage list. I really loved both, Florence and Pisa, but the visit to Val d’Orcia was out of this world. We first stopped in Sienna. Since we did not have a lot of time we did it in the evening of our arrival. There was a festival when we arrived so many people were in town, there were a lot of young people and so much was going on. If you go there during the day there is a Torre del Mangia which you can climb up and have an amazing view of the town. Unfortunately, we did not have the time. On the next day we drove trough Tuscany and on our way to Pienza and Montepulciano we also unplanningly stopped at San Quirico d’Orcia – this is why it is so great to have your own car – which in the end, i loved the most. A lovely town up on a hill with huge stone houses and walls, many cypresses, a lovely garden. This is where we bought some truffles, cream, cheese and pasta for dinner for I price we could never get back home. The small towns really make you feel Tuscany and the drive trough is an experience not to be missed. Montepulciano is really steep and i thing i died a little there. I should note that I am not the most athletic person. I am really more up for relaxing and having a bite or drinking some wine. But, i had to walk. There was no other way (elevator). When we reached t
he piazza Grande we took a break. I heard about Italian gelato, and i really like sweets, so i decided to buy some ice cream. Jack pot once again. The place was called Caffetteria dell Duomo, and I tried to rate it on tripadvisor but could not find it. Buy some ice cream there!!!
THEN TASTE THE WINE
The next day was reserved for Montalcino and a wine tasting. I highly recommend visiting all of those cities and definitely, do the wine tasting. If you have time, do it several times. We visited Podere il Cocco. It was a lovely visit with lunch, for a great price. Giacomo was more than approachable and he really tried to teach us how the wine is made and how to taste wine. We found him via tripadvisor. I cannot always say that I agree with this page, but for our Tuscany visit it was more than helpful. The most famous vine in that area is Brunello di Montalcino. I never informed myself, but learned Brunello was red wine upon arrival. Too late. No white wine for me that day. I cannot really say that i loved the wine, but it was quite nice for red wine. If you visit Montalcino, do visit the Fortezza di Montalcino, it offers such a lovely Tuscany view. In the Fortezza you can also taste and buy wine and this is where we found really really good white wine!
THE BAGNI OF TUSCANY – why does no one mention the smell?
The last day of Tuscany was reserved for a visit to Bagni San Filippo, thermal water and a lovely drive trough Tuscany. It was a Therme di Saturnia replacement, so very acclaimed everywhere online. Also, I had a first hand recommendation for those, assuring me it was healing hot water and one should just lay in it open a bottle of wine and enjoy the utility of nature, all for free. It had to be great. On our way we went to see La Foce. But, we didn’t. Do the web check up for open hours! The view was still magnificent. Anyhow, we ended up in Bagni San Filippo. While we were approaching the place, something started to smell funny. As we went closer, the smell got really intense. It smelled like sulphur, i guess. Heads up, the Bagni are really nice, the water is really warm, but it is real thermal water and the smell is real. We did not bathe in those waters. A lot of other people did. Still, I would say it was worth the visit. Still, eventually I was so glad i did not book near Terme di Saturnia!
Next stop, Rome…