Moving across Tuscany by Car
The best way to explore Tuscany and moving around from one place to the other is definitely by car. That’s true and recommended especially if you plan to visit Tuscany’s scenic countryside and visit the countless charming medieval towns located atop hill, in the middle of tortuous country roads. Actually the car is the best way to travel the countryside.
Driving in Tuscany is also a pleasure and a great travel experience by itself, its panoramic winding roads going up and down across undulating hills is simply wonderful. You should note, however, that the smaller secondary roads are certainly very pleasing but also quite slow, it can take away a lot of time.
As in the rest of continental Europe, vehicles travel on the right and overtake on the left. Italian Autostrade, motorways, indicated with the letter “A” on a green background, are subjected to tolls. Major motorways are toll roads, that means that you take a tickets as you enter, and pay as you exit. Renting a car in Italy is can be quite expensive, It’s recommended to book your car online in advance.
A good alternative to motorways, you’ll find some four-lane highways that are toll-free. The SS1 (Via Aurelia) running along the coast is a four-lane for almost the entire journey from Livorno south to the border with Lazio. The SGC (indicated as Fi-Pi-Li) joins Florence, Pisa and Livorno. Another important highway is the SS2 Florence – Siena.
Moving across Tuscany by Train
In case you have more limited time and are going to tour Tuscany’s major art towns, like Florence, Pisa, Siena, and Lucca, then using public transport and particularly trains is the best option.
You should note that cities like Florence and Pisa have their train station in the town’s center, while other important towns like Siena, Volterra and Cortona do not, as of their locations atop hills. In this case you can take advantage of the local bus service you’ll find at any station and reach the town’s center.
The train service is offered by Trenitalia, Italian State Railways, also called Ferrovie dello Stato. On the website of Trenitalia you can check all train routes and timetables, having also the possibility to buy your train tickets online.
The fastest trains operate on the networks between the major cities while the regional local trains are rather slow. Fast trains are called Eurostar Italia trains, and are faster and more efficient than Intercity trains. You need to book these fast trains in advance.
Moving across Tuscany by Bus
There are really a lot of different bus companies in Tuscany, both public and private. Using a bus is recommended to reach Tuscan towns and areas that are inaccessible by train. In larger towns like Florence and Pisa, the bus terminal is next the train station so it’s very convenient, in smaller villages, most buses stop at the main square.
To go from Florence to Siena and vice versa SITA buses are a good alternative to train, as they are faster and more practical. SITA buses leave directly from Florence’s central SMN station and stop in almost all nice villages of Chianti that are a must visit in Tuscany, you can check here for Sita Buses Timetables, though only in Italian. Lazzi is another bus company providing regular service between Tuscany and many other Italian regions.
Hi Elena. I really enjoy reading all the information you have on your website. I wonder if you can help, we would like to do some small tours to a winery for lunch from Florence as well as a tour around Tuscany hillsides & to Siena on separate days. We don’t want to do too much in one day. We are happy to join a small group. We were in florence last year and we did a tour to Pisa & we were a bit disappointed as we only ended up with a couple of hours to look around and most of that was taken up by taking some photos and having lunch, so we are wondering whether to do small tours or do it on our own by bus and having to do the trips by public transport. I have checked bus/train timetables and it seems you cannot get to Siena by bus directly. There is a need to change buses. Is this correct. I would love to go to cinque terra and had a quote by a private company for 650euros. Any information or suggestions would be so helpful. This time round I would like to make the most of our stay.
Dear Margaret, Thanks a lot for contacting me! I’m happy to give some advice for your trip to Italy:-)
Staying in Florence and using it as your home base is the best option when exploring Tuscany using public transportation.
Florence is well served by public transport; as you known, the train station of Florence, as well as the bus station, are right in the city center, so you can make your day trips very conveniently from there.
I speak about the best day trips you can make from Florence here, and you will also find my tips on the best way to move in and out of Florence using public transports.
As for a winery for lunch from Florence, you may reach the wonderful Chianti area on your own by bus, but you should consider that there may be delays and you should pay attention to the schedule as not all buses reach all villages. SITA buses leave from Florence’s station, here are bus timetables from Florence to Chianti.
Considering that most wineries are spread on the hills amid the countryside, the best option would be to consider a good tour company, like this. You can take advantage of a small group tour from Florence to Cinque Terre by the same agency.
You can instead reach Siena by bus and visit it on your own, a direct bus of the SITA company will take you in Siena in about 1 hour and 10 minutes, check bus timetables here. Siena is simply beautiful and cannot miss from any itinerary in Italy. Siena offers a lot to its visitor, have a look at this guide of Siena’s main attractions.
As for the wonderful art town of Florence, here is my mini-guide to Florence’s top sights. Do contact me again for any other advice needed 🙂 Ciao from Florence, elena
Thank you elena for all that helpful information. I have looked at Viator already and may use them when we are there. Thank you for the bus timetable as I have not manage to find that in my researching. I will let you know how I go once we return.
Margaret you’re welcome! Another reliable and local agency based in Florence is the Art Viva Tours that offers interesting wine tours. Please do let me know about your trip when you return! You are welcome to tell your travel experience and see it published on the blog’s section dedicated to our Travel Stories from Tuscany and Italy 🙂
Tuscany is amazing place! I have a friend who moved there last year and I am going to visit him this summer. I can’t wait to go there. He showed me amazing pictures and I think that I am i love with this place.
You will surely fall in love with Tuscany and its many treasures 🙂
Please get back to tell me how your Tuscan stay is going and about the places you’re going to visit!
Enjoy your summer,
We recently visited Tuscany on our honeymoon. In order to get around the area we rented a car with Hertz. We relied on GPS to get around and enjoyed our time in the area. Then we returned home and the bills started arriving. Hertz sent one bill about a month following the end of our rental for a fee that was in italian and was very unclear. Then, almost 6 months after our vacation, we received a notice that we had a traffic violation. Hertz charged an administrative fee just for the police to track the vehicle. The problem is, we did not receive a ticket while in Italy. They say they have a camera shot of our car in a restricted area. The photo is our vehicle but could have been taken anywhere, including as we pulled out of the Hertz rental area. Now that we are back in the US it is impossible to dispute the violation. We have been told the charge will be almost $200. After doing some research, this seems to be a normal thing in Italy. Traffic violations being served long after the rental and rental agencies providing not only contact information but also credit card information. Seems like a scam to me! BEWARE!
Many thanks for your contribution regarding the car rental, I’m sure that will be helpful for all other drivers coming to Italy.
I’m very sorry for what happened. Traffic violations always arrive late here in Italy.
All the best,