Most flights from abroad land to Roma Fiumicino International airport, as those coming from the USA and Canada. At the beginning or at the end of your trip you’re going to spend some time visiting the wonderful city of Rome, so full of incredible sights! Needless to say, Rome is a must visit for anyone!
On the route from Rome to Tuscany…
Supposing you’re renting a car directly in Rome and had planned to visit Tuscany, the Cinque Terre or other fantastic destinations of Italy, here is my travel advice as what to visit on your way from Rome to Tuscany and back. The route is literally full of wonderful sights and unexpected gems…not just in Tuscany, but also in Lazio and Umbria regions.
An itinerary from Rome to Siena, Florence and Cortona in Tuscany
What I’m going to suggest here is a route on your way to Siena and/or Florence in Tuscany; there are a lot of stops along the way, so I suggest to pass some nights here and there in the hill towns before reaching main art cities.
On leaving Rome and its traffic, go north running on the Autostrada A1/E35 in the direction of Siena.Your first stop may be the beautiful Etruscan hill town of Orte, still in Lazio, that is rich in natural springs. Particularly suggestive is the visit to the subterraneans of Orte, a tour through the tunnels of the ancient pre-Roman aqueduct, with fountains, cisterns and wells drilled into the tuff rock.
From Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio to the magical countryside south of Siena
Once you’ve left Orte, drive on the A1 to get to Orvieto; we are in the wonderful Umbria region. Orvieto rises on a very hill-top of tuff rock and is simply spectacular! The view you enjoy from Orvieto is stunning as is its Duomo, one of the most beautiful of all Italy. You may consider having lunch in Orvieto, where food and (white) wine are excellent!
Leave Orvieto and the Autostrada to reach the amazing Civita di Bagnoregio, in my opinion one of the most beautiful and suggestive villages of Italy! Suspended in the air and inevitably destined to fall down as time goes by, Civita di Bagnoregio is actually unique in itself! 20 minutes west Civita you may want to visit the beautiful Lake of Bolsena, that offers a lot to any visitor…any kind of sports and activities, great food, great sights and breathtaking views.
This time I suggest you don’t run on the highway to reach Siena, but ride through the ancient historic Via Cassia (SR2), that is curvy, panoramic and incredibly beautiful! It runs across the typical Tuscan landscape, enchanting especially in the south of Siena, passing through the wonderful villages of the Crete Senesi, like Monteroni d’Arbia and Buonconvento, and the ones of the fabulous Val d’Orcia, like San Quirico d’Orcia and Radicofani.
You may first stop to visit Radicofani and its imposing fortress, enjoying a neverending panorama, continue to reach San Quirico d’Orcia and then head west to visit Montalcino, so famous for its precious red Brunello wine and finally get to Pienza, incredibly beautiful and known for its tasty cheese called pecorino.
All this area in the very heart of the Val d’Orcia park is a world to explore, and the food here is fantastic! You may want to sleep in one of the charming villages of the Val d’Orcia, like indeed Pienza or the near Bagno Vignoni, simply enchanting!
Pienza, one of the most charming hill towns of Italy, stands up on a hill offering breathtaking views all over the valley! simply wonderful! In its small town center there are many characteristic restaurants (Osteria Baccus for instance) serving exceptional Tuscan dishes made with pecorino. While there, also visit Montepulciano, a real beauty! That’s also one of the most renowned areas of Tuscany for its fine wines!
From the Val d’Orcia and the Crete Senesi to Siena…
Leaving the Val d’Orcia towards Siena, you may decide to spend a full day visiting the Crete Senesi, a peculiar and suggestive area of Tuscany different from any other. You finally get to Siena, what a beauty! a fabulous medieval art town with a unique atmosphere. The famous Palio horse race is just one of its many treasures, so I suggest to pass at least an overnight here; find my suggestions for chic hotels and apartments in Siena’s center.
From Siena to Florence passing through Chianti…
It’s then time to head in direction of the amazing city of Florence driving through the scenic Via Chiantigiana (SR 222), that crosses the famous and idyllic Chianti area, renowned not just for its wines but also for its lush landscape, medieval castles, and enchanting hill villages, like Castellina in Chianti. You may want to spend a night or two in the heart of Chianti in a fairytale castle or a charming hotel.
Once in Chianti I suggest a visit to the famous medieval village of San Gimignano and its stunning slender towers. You may visit San Gimignano and possibly also Monteriggioni also before joining Chianti on the Chiantigiana road.
Finally you get to Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and the greatest art town in the world! Florence is simply beautiful, its treasures are countless, a surprising open air museum, not to mention its wonderful shops. You’ll find Florence is very different from Siena, Florence is more chaotic and tends to be overcrowded, while Siena is more peaceful, while both towns are amazing!
From Florence to Cortona and Rome passing through Perugia and Todi in Umbria
From Florence start your way back to Rome but passing through Cortona, where again you may spend one night in some chic hotel, while visiting the wonderful Trasimeno Lake and its lovely villages facing the lake on the following day.
You may end your trip running along a different path to reach Rome from Cortona, you may drive though the Umbria region passing through Perugia and Todi, both incredibly beautiful! You can have lunch in Todi before continuing on your way to Rome and then back home 🙂