Whether it’s a romantic road trip, a family break or an adventure with friends, there’s plenty to explore in this part of Italy.
The Tuscan Triangle
No trip to Tuscany would be complete without a visit to at least one of its most celebrated cities: Florence, Siena or Pisa. With the freedom of a car, you can easily score yourself a travel hat trick, taking in the trio of cultural hubs in just one day.
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Of course, with so much art, history, and delicious dishes to discover in each city, you’ll want to put aside more time to enjoy their delights as well as the scenic routes that connect them.
Spring is a great time to take advantage of the shorter queues to top tourist attractions before the peak season crowds set in. Marvel at the leaning Tower of Pisa, grab an ice cream at Florence’s gelato festival while exploring the exquisite sculptures that adorn its streets, or soak up the atmosphere in Siena’s slanted Piazza del Campo.
An eight kilometre drive into the hills above Florence will lead you to the idyllic town of Fiesole. Escape the city and surround yourself with grand renaissance style villas and beautiful gardens. Discover historic monuments dating back to the 8th century BC, when an Etruscan stronghold stood here, as well as Roman ruins and an amphitheatre.
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If you want to get closer to nature, remember to load your car with hiking gear or mountain bikes. Via Degli Dei, or ‘Way of the Gods’, is an ancient Apennine trail connecting Fiesole to both Florence and Bologna, offering trekkers and cyclists heavenly countryside views.
Take a detour on your way to Siena, to the charming medieval town of Val D’Elsa with its picturesque hilltop setting.
Featuring on Avis Untrending’s list of recommended destinations, its winding streets are lined with restaurants, boutiques, and crystal glassware workshops. For a taste of traditional Tuscany, visit on market day and sample the local delicacies.
While you’re there, stop off at nearby Montereggioni, nestled in the valley below. This perfectly preserved medieval town dates back to the 13th century, and features a castle encircled by huge walls and 14 watchtowers.
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If you’re taking a road trip around Tuscany, why not visit the equally enchanting area of Liguria too?
Pack a pair of hiking boots and drive past mountainous marble mines towards Cinque Terre. This series of five fishing villages snuggled in the cliffs is connected by the Blue Route hiking trail and boasts spectacular sea views. From the beaches of Monterosso to Riomaggiore’s charming cafés, there are plenty of opportunities to sit back and enjoy the spring sunshine.
If you’re travelling with a van, you have the added bonus of being able to bring along kayaks or SUP boards too, so that you can admire the stunning scenery from the water.
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If art and culture are high on your agenda, follow the roads along the lovely Ligurian coastline to the lively port city of Genoa. You’ll be greeted by medieval churches decorated with frescos, marble palaces and an historic harbour. Don’t miss the Cathedral of San Lorenzo which holds a bowl thought to be the Holy Grail in its treasury.
Then, hop in your car and head to Camogli, just a 30-minute drive along the coast, to end the day dining by a colourful harbour in this quaint Riviera town.
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As you can see, spring marks the perfect time to embark on a road trip through Tuscany and Liguria. Reduced, pre-summer crowds and a pleasant climate mean that whatever route you take through this part of Italy, it’ll be a trip to remember. There’s so much to enjoy on the drive itself, like the rolling hills between Florence and Fiesole or the detour via Val D’Elsa. Equally, every stop-off is a chance to capture and embrace a portion of Italy’s most exquisite destinations.