Tuscany is one of Italy’s most popular destinations for tourists and expats from all over the world. There’s many ways that you can explore Tuscany which include joining a guided tour, catching the train from place to place or, if you’ve got a more adventurous spirit, you can take a road trip around the magical province!
If you really want to experience a plethora of Tuscan towns and places then a 7 day road trip that starts and finishes in Florence is a good way to plan your itinerary. It’s easy to get to Florence from elsewhere in Italy, as well as from overseas, and you can hire a car from the airport or within the center of the city.
It’s worth arriving the day before you begin your road trip itinerary of Tuscany so you can relax, take a leisurely stroll along the River Arno and have dinner at a traditional restaurant before your real adventure gets started. This will mean you feel refreshed and ready to make the most of everything that awaits you on the road trip.
Ideal Time To Go On A Road Trip In Tuscany.
Tuscany is beautiful all year round but the spring and autumn are especially good for a road trip because the temperatures are more pleasant and there are far less tourists at the main attractions than during the summer high season. That means the ideal time to road trip around Tuscany is between April and May or September and October.
Temperatures during the summer months can easily exceed 30 Degrees Celsius, there are more crowds of tourists and the cost of accommodation also goes up. However, it’s still a great time to explore Italy and if you’re traveling by car you can still enjoy a fantastic road trip through the province.
If you’re traveling around during the hot summer months you just need to keep your air-conditioning on in the car and remember to park it in the shade when you stop to visit a town or attraction. Temperatures in the hills are much cooler and if you can include regular dips in the pool into your itinerary you’ll have a great time even during the hottest summer months!
Is It Easy To Navigate In Tuscany?
It’s generally quite easy to get from city to city in Tuscany but it’s still worth having a SatNav in the car with you. You can also use Google Maps on your phone to find your way around the cities, both in your car and while you’re on foot.
Detailed Itinerary For the 7 Day Tuscan Road Trip
The following is the detailed itinerary for the 7 day Tuscan road trip:
Day 1 – Florence.
Every great Tuscan adventure should start in the provincial capital, Florence, which is a magical city with a huge amount of wonderful cultural, artistic and culinary experiences to discover.
Once you’ve found your feet and had some breakfasts you can set out to see Duomo di Firenze, the city’s most prominent landmark which is located right in the center.
After having a look around the cathedral you can head over to the Mercato Centrale to have your lunch in one of the eateries that surround the bustling market. At the Mercato Centrale you can have a delicious meal made from locally sourced ingredients and a glass of Tuscan wine for a very reasonable price.
Once you’ve had your lunch you can make your way to the Uffizi Gallery which exhibits some of the city’s finest paintings and sculptures, including the Birth of Venus by Botticelli and Michelangelo’s statue of David, amongst other masterpieces of the Renaissance period.
While you’re in the area of the Uffizi Gallery you can also soak in the tranquil beauty of the Boboli Gardens where you can appreciate the quaint grottos, sculptures, fountains and carefully manicured beds of flowers.
To finish off your first full day in Florence you can head into the historic city center to find a lovely bowl of pasta or pizza in a gorgeous little restaurant!
Day 2 – Florence To San Gimignano.
Following a quick breakfast on your second day in Tuscany’s capital you can set off to visit the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels, both of which are top Florentine attractions.
The basilica actually dates right back to the 4th Century while the Medici Chapels, where the famous Medici family was buried, actually includes sculptures created by Michaelangelo. While you’re at the basilica you can also explore the Museum of St Laurence and the site of the artist Donatello’s burial.
After a morning soaking up Florentine history you can have lunch before heading back to your hotel and picking up your car to start your drive to San Gimignano. The drive to San Gimignano is only around 1 hour which will give you time to have a look around the medieval town in the afternoon.
If you’d like to stay in a rural Tuscan hamlet then Fattoria San Donato, just a few kilometers outside of San Gimignano, offers a wonderful collection of rooms and apartments as well as homegrown wine, an outdoor swimming pool to cool down in and a lovely restaurant to have dinner in. Fattoria San Donato also provides you with free parking which is a handy bonus for your road trip!
Day 3 – San Gimignano To Siena.
After a relaxed evening in Fattoria San Donato, you can spend the next morning exploring San Gimignano. This small medieval hilltop town has a lot to see around its ancient historic center. The town is famous for its towers although today only 14 remain; the highest of which is the Torre Grossa which you climb to get some superb valley views from its 54 meter peak.
Once you’ve taken in the local scenery you can make your way to Duomo di San Gimignano and the beautiful Palazzo del Popolo where you can see artwork by some of the region’s top artists. Lastly, before lunch, you should ensure that you stop by the fortress ruins of Montestaffoli, spend a little time wandering around the charming cobblestone alleyways and then have a quick lunch in a local restaurant.
Once you’ve digested your lunch it’s time to hit the road again and travel to Siena. The drive from San Gimignano to Siena is only 45 minutes through some of the most beautiful Tuscan countryside that’s just bursting with photo opportunities.
After you’ve checked into your hotel you can spend a charming evening taking a stroll through the streets of Siena before having dinner in the historic center. It’s a good idea to get an early night on the 3rd full day of your road trip because there’s plenty to see in Siena the next day!
If you want to stay in the lap of luxury while you’re in Siena then the Grand Hotel Continental 5 Star Hotel is only a stone’s throw from the city’s top landmarks, including the famous Piazza del Campo and the Duomo di Siena. This stunningly elegant hotel has 51 rooms and exclusive suites with a Tuscan gourmet restaurant and staff on hand 24 hours a day.
Day 4 – Siena.
Siena is one of the top tourist destinations in Tuscany and although there’s a lot to see you can fit in the main attractions in a single day. To start your day you should visit the Piazza del Campo which is one of Italy’s most famous squares and hosts the biannual Palio horse races each year. Next you can head over to the Torre del Mangia, the tallest tower in the city, and then visit the Civic Museum and impressive Fonte Gaia fountain. You can fit all these attractions into your morning explorations before lunch.
After lunch you can spend your afternoon discovering the spectacular Duomo Santa Maria Assunta, the Museo dell’Opera and the Baptistery of San Giovanni. Alternatively, you can join a 2 hour private walking tour with an expert local guide who will tell you all about the history of this fascinating town.
If you want to taste some local wine in a truly unique way then you can join a wine tasting experience in a medieval aqueduct beneath the city of Siena! Starting at 6pm, you can taste a carefully chosen selection of wines from Siena and nearby Chianti in the brick vaults of an ancient aqueduct. The wine tasting also includes local cheeses and bruschetta and is the perfect way to finish your day in Siena.
Day 5 – Siena To Volterra Via Monteriggioni.
This is an action packed day on your road trip so try to get an early start, have a quick breakfast and get ready to depart for Monteriggioni en route to Volterra. Monteriggioni is between 20 to 30 minutes drive from Siena and although it’s a tiny town it’s recently become a popular stop over for tourists on their way to Volterra.
There’s a large car park outside the walls of Monteriggioni and after a short walk up the steps you can have a look around this interesting fortified town. Monteriggioni was originally built in the 13th Century in a strategic defensive position for Siena to protect itself against Florentine attacks.
Later, during the 14th Century, Monteriggioni became the official headquarters of the feared Italian Brotherhood of Assassins and the tiny fortified town even makes an appearance in the blockbuster game, ‘Assassin’s Creed’!
There are several small restaurants in the town where you can have a coffee after seeing the Piazza Roma and the Romanesque church of Santa Maria Assunta before carrying on to Volterra.
The drive from Monteriggioni takes around 45 minutes to get you to the larger fortified city of Volterra (which is my home in Italy). After checking into your accommodation you can take a walk into the center where you can find plenty of quintessential Tuscan styled restaurants to have lunch after your morning’s drive.
After lunch you should visit the 15th Century Pinacoteca and Civil Museum which houses some of the region’s finest artwork that demonstrates the important Florentine influence on the culture of Volterra. You can see magnificent paintings, medieval ceramics, statues and even a rare collection of Medici coins.
As the sun begins to set you can walk through the streets until you find a restaurant that catches your eye for dinner.
Day 6 – Volterra.
On the 6th day of your Tuscan road trip you can relax and enjoy exploring the fortified city of Volterra. After a good breakfast you can head out to the city walls to visit the ancient ruins of the Teatro Romano; a Roman amphitheater that was built in the 1st Century AD.
To see more of the region’s ancient history you can also visit the Etruscan remains at Parco Archeologico Enrico Fiume. These 2nd Century BC ruins are some of the oldest in the region and offer a fascinating insight into the pre-Roman history of Volterra.
When it’s time for lunch you can head back into the center to the Palazzo dei Priori, where there’s a great choice of restaurants and cafes. After your lunch you can visit the 13th Century Palazzo Pretorio before visiting the Duomo Santa Maria Assunta and the Palazzo del Popolo.
Once you’ve soaked up the cultural highlights of Volterra you should put aside some time to visit the Arco Etrusco, which were the original gates in the city walls and, if you have time left over, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art is worth exploring.
Day 7 – Volterra To Pisa.
The drive to Pisa from Volterra takes just over 1 hour. If you set off early in the morning you’ll have plenty of time to drop off your car at the hotel before heading out to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa before lunch. As the most famous landmark in Pisa, and possibly even in the whole of Tuscany, the Leaning Tower is unmissable! NOTE: If you have been to Pisa before an option is to visit Lucca. Both Lucca and Pisa are equidistance from Volterra.
The Leaning Tower is actually the bell tower of the impressive Pisa Cathedral which is housed in a beautiful square known as the Piazza dei Miracoli, which literally means the ‘square of miracles’. Originally constructed in the 11th Century, the Pisa Cathedral is one of Italy’s best examples of Romanesque architecture and the spectacular gold leafed ceiling and the rare encaustic paintings by Orazio and Girolamo Riminaldi make it a truly unique place to visit.
You can also climb to the top of the Leaning Tower for a small admission fee and you certainly shouldn’t forget to take some fun pictures of you holding up the tower! After spending the morning seeing the tower and the cathedral you can head over to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo where you can see some incredible ancient art, tombs, sculptures and embroideries.
During the afternoon you can hire a bicycle for a couple of hours to further explore the city. You can pick up a bike for a 3 hour self guided tour on Via Pietro Mascagni and use a smartphone app to show you around the city. It’s a great fun way to see the city and you’ll cover much more ground than if you were on foot.
After you’ve returned your bike you can either find somewhere nice to eat in town or head back to your hotel for dinner. As the last day of your Tuscany road trip you might just want to relax and savor your memories of the past week while looking over your photos!
Day 8 – Return To Florence.
The drive from Pisa to Florence takes just under 1 hour 30 minutes. This means that you can have a leisurely breakfast in Pisa before you set off for Florence. You’ll be back in Florence shortly after mid-morning.
Create Magical Memories.
There’s no better way to explore Tuscany than by taking a road trip through some of the province’s best loved towns and cities. Many of the locations’ historic centers are small enough to see on foot within a single day while still leaving you plenty of time for lunch in between!
Of course, there’s so much to potentially see and do that you’ll have to be quite selective to fit it all into a 7 day road trip; but don’t forget if there’s somewhere you really love you can always return in the future to spend a full week or two in a specific location!