Sustainable roadtrip Tuscany

Lizet Wesselman - 19/03/2024

Sustainable roadtrip Tuscany

Lizet Wesselman - 19/03/2024

Tuscany is a beloved region in Italy and therefore one of the most visited regions. The rolling hills that make up the Tuscan landscape are unique to the country, and you won’t find them like this in the rest of Europe either. If you have been to Tuscany before, you will recognize the pictures out of thousands. But Tuscany has more to offer than the beautiful landscapes. Tuscane ranks incredibly high in livability, and Italians take pride in the region’s relaxed atmosphere. Most Italians in Tuscany live off their farms and vineyards and enjoy delicious meals in the evening and a glass of wine at sunset. That wonderful outdoor life that has put Italy on the map is probably more likely to be found in Tuscany than in any other region.

How to travel around Tuscany?

Tuscany unfortunately isn’t the best region for public transport. In the larger cities like Pisa, Siena and, of course, Florence, you’ll find train stations. Around those, there are still some small stations you can get to, but the further south you go, the more difficult it becomes. There are some buses, but they are far from regular. You can get to most places with those, but a day trip is often difficult because the times there and back just don’t line up nicely. An alternative is to book organized day trips, where you go with a group on a rented bus. But that obviously limits flexibility. But it’s nice if you want to visit a vineyard or a specific village, because there are plenty of tours that offer this.

I myself took a train to Chiusi (direct train from Florence) and caught a bus there to the cute little town of Montepulciano. From there I looked at bus options into Tuscany, for example to the famous Cyprus road and Val d’Orcia in general. That turned out to be hardly feasible, as the buses didn’t go on a daily basis. So I rented an electric bike and started cycling around Tuscany instead. So that’s actually a better option than buses. Still want to visit Tuscany by public transport? Here’s how far you can get by train and bus.

Another option is to rent your own scooter (preferably a nice Italian Vespa), car or camper. Preferably electric, of course, to make it a sustainable trip. In this article you can read everything you need to know about a road trip in Tuscany and how to make it as sustainable as possible.

Roadtrip Tuscany, our route

I don’t have a driver’s license myself, so whenever I go somewhere by car, it’s always a trip with friends or family. My Tuscany road trip was with my best friend and for both of us the first time we rented a car abroad. It went very well! We opted to pick up the car at the Florence airport (after spending a few days exploring Florence by foot). The airport is outside the city, so then you don’t have to drive through the chaos of the city and you can easily get to the airport by train. We also dropped the car off at the airport in Rome, so we didn’t have to go into the city there either. The highways and small roads are all doable, not very busy and clear.

We did a route from Florence to Rome (which is technically no longer Tuscany) in 12 days, making several stops in between. The route from Florence to Rome is basically only 4 hours if you take the highway, but of course we opted for the back roads, because of course a road trip through Tuscany is not done via the highway.

We stopped at endless places and I must admit I didn’t save everything. The nice thing about a Tuscany road trip is precisely that you can spontaneously decide to have coffee in a cute village or pull the car over when you see a beautiful view.

But the places we at least visited, and that I can recommend, are:
– Montepulciano
– Cyprus road (and Val D’Orcia in general)
– Siena
– San Gimignano
– Cascata del Diborrato (waterfall)
– Volterra
– Viterbo (technically already no longer Tuscany)
– Saturnia thermal baths

For Saturnia, by the way, I have since found several alternatives that are a bit less “insta famous” and perhaps quieter. I just haven’t tested them out yet. But also check out Parco dei Milini and Bagni San Filippo.

Tips for a sustainable roadtrip

Driving a car is not particularly sustainable. But as I said, public transportation just doesn’t get you very far in this region. A first alternative, of course, is to opt for an electric car or motorhome. Electric driving in Italy is on the rise so the supply of charging stations is also growing. I do think that in small villages it might be a challenge to find (free) charging stations, but I cannot say for sure. My road trip through Tuscany was before electric cars were really on the rise, so I didn’t test it out. But the apps available for charging stations can certainly help you check in advance to see if there are many present.

But, in addition to sustainable transportation, there’s a lot more you can do in terms of sustainable travel. Best of all, these tips will only make your trip more fun, too.

Sustainable accommodations in Tuscany
Tuscany is the birthplace of the now wildly popular agritourism. This is accommodation on a farm or vineyard. This started in the last century as a way to generate extra income when crop yields were disappointing. Today, there are entrepreneurs who no longer have a farm at all, but live solely from the agritourism. Still, they are sustainable accommodations because you stay with a local family. Usually, you eat with them and so you also learn something of the local culture and possibly get a cooking lesson. If you stay on a vineyard, you can often get a peek into the kitchen and learn the intricacies of winemaking.

Read more about agritourisms and why this is just an incredibly fun way to make your trip more sustainable.

Sustainable vineyards in Tuscany
Tuscany is one of the famous wine regions in Italy, so it offers endless choices for wine tastings. From the big cities you can do lots of daytrips to those vineyards, but during your own Tuscany road trip you can of course check out some of them as well. Then you can also choose smaller vineyards that normally don’t get as many visitors or specifically choose those that make organic wine.

Local experiences in Tuscany
Traveling around by car or scooter gives you all the freedom to go wherever you want. The big cities get plenty of income from tourists, but in small villages they are often much more grateful for your visit. So a road trip through Tuscany is the ideal opportunity to visit small villages, find local restaurants and sit down in different places for a cup of coffee, pie, breakfast or a glass of local wine (if you don’t have to drive, of course). Find a traditional “trattoria” for your meal, these are usually family-run establishments that cook with local ingredients and according to the most delicious family recipes.

Best length for a roadtrip Tuscany

I recommend that you take at least a week for a road trip through Tuscany. But you could really spend months there, especially if you also include Umbria (around Perugia, towards the mountains) and Lazio (around Rome). It also depends a bit on whether you want to spend time in Rome and/or Florence, as both cities deserve at least 3 days by themselves.

Best travel time Tuscany

Our Tuscan road trip was in September and my bike ride was in March. Tuscany is actually always a good idea, but for the best views I would skip winter. In spring, everything is beautifully green and you will find beautiful flowers everywhere and temperatures are pleasant. In summer it gets quite hot in Tuscany. In a convertible or an air-conditioned car it is not too bad, but many Italians flee the region in the summer and especially in August. I often follow the advice of locals and would not really recommend summer.

The heat dries out the grass quickly, turning the beautiful green hills into a dry, yellow landscape. This certainly has its charm as well, although I personally like the green hills better. Autumn is wine season, though. The vineyards turn into beautiful color palettes and it is harvest season. This means fresh wines and wine festivals. If you stay at a vineyard, you’ll see how it all works. So for a unique local experience, I would recommend September or October. Just keep in mind that September can also be quite hot with temperatures above 30 degrees.