ROADTRIP THROUGH TUSCANY
GUIDE TO TUSCANY'S FLOWER FIELDS, WINERIES & MORE!
DAY ONE CASCATE DEL MULINO
Probably Italy's best kept secret is Cascate del Mulino (in Saturnia), these beautiful cascade of natural geothermal pools nestled in the Tuscan countryside. I knew I wanted to visit this gem the minute we decided to vacation in Italy, so I planned quietly to keep this somewhat a surprise for everyone else (especially the HUBS who is obsessed with local only spots). Its super relaxing and serene. For anyone looking to rent a car, this is a must see.
Since this spot is tucked away, we decided to stay in Catabbio, the closest lodging we could find on AirBnB. Saturnia is technically free and not associated with any hotel so people can go at any time. We wanted to get there first thing in the morning before it got too packed. According to the reviews on TripAdvisor, most people get there around 8:30/9AM and the pools tend to be most packed during the warmer seasons (May - September). Since we were visiting at the beginning of high season we planned on getting to the pools by 6:00 AM. Thankfully we were only staying about 15 minutes away.
- RATING: 5/5
- PROS: natural (not man made) geothermal spa, serene, stunning, not too many tourists because no train access or tour groups
- CONS: can get packed with locals, rocks can get slippery so be careful, no lockers or bathrooms - plan accordingly, smells like sulfur
Out of all the places we stayed during our 10 road trip through Italy, this was by far the absolute best. We fell so in love with this place that we really wanted to stay for another day but weren't able to change our other bookings. Everything about this Airbnb was perfect for us. This is essentially a property with multiple homes that you can rent. Our home had a charming view of the endless rolling hills in Tuscany, a beautiful porch to watch sunsets, two bathrooms, two bedrooms (one with a set of twin beds, another with bunks and a full bed), a kitchenette, a dining table, a fireplace (so amazing!) and parking right outside the home. Seriously can not say enough amazing things about this home!
- RATING: 5/5
- PROS: delicious breakfast with a rooftop patio (in another building), super kind & gracious host Luca, beautiful home with great views, very comfortable & spacious, good parking
- CONS: seriously none. Seriously if you are visiting Tuscany book this place (click name for link)
After spending the morning at Cascate del Mulino in Saturnia, we decided to visit the Roccapesta winery which our host recommended. Tuscany is abundant with wineries including several notables. Although, we had never heard of Roccapesta we were excited to try a local recommendation. The owner, Alberto, actually gave us our tour. He was so incredibly knowledgable, kind and answered our many questions (the HUBS asked easily 100+ questions). Apparently Alberto purchased the winery in late 2000's. If I remember correctly, Alberto was formerly an engineer before buying the winery. Every grape is hand-picked before being hand-sorted for processing. Many of the wines have earned the illustrious DOCG certification, included their most popular Roccapesta Reserve. Our personal favorites would have to be the Calastia. Alberto was so generous and even let us try some of his older reserves from his personal collection!
- RATING: 5/5
- PROS: local pick, boutique vineyard, not touristy, very charming, great service and very friendly staff, very affordable wines
- CONS: not accessible by train
- NOTES: make a reservation well in advance.
Amongst Tuscany's notable attractions are its famed flower fields. Apparently every May & July the entire region is hand-painted with fresh wildflowers, particularly poppies (end of may) and sunflowers (beginning of July). We all know I am obsessed with flowers so naturally I was super stoked to witness these beauties firsthand. Y'all, words cannot describe how fun it was to literally play in a field of flowers. You know that scene in the Lizze McGuire movie where she sings "This is What Dreams Are Made of"...yea that was me! Pure glee. We happened upon one of these fields en route to Roccapesta and decided to stop to take some pictures in one such field of vibrant poppies.
DAY TWO WINERIES & ABBEY DI SAN GALGANO
You can't visit Tuscany without visiting a winery...well actually several. We wanted to get a good variety of wineries so we chose a large and boutique vineyard to visit.
- RATING: 5/5
- PROS: great service, we did the tasting menu (vegetarian friendly) at the restaurant which comes with 3 wine pairs and 1 aperitif prior to the meal. The Banfi campus is HUGE and gorgeous. You can also stay here. This one of the biggest wine manufacturers & exporter in Italy and a majority of their wines are exported to the US.
- CONS: pricey, a little less personal,
- NOTES: reservations are required
- RATING: 4/5
- PROS: quaint, beautiful campus, wine tasting is pretty thorough
- CONS: wine tasting does not include a tour, personally was not that fond of the wines.
- NOTES: requires a reservation.
This was somewhat of a random stop. I literally saw some photography of this abbey on instagram and knew I had to visit it. It just looked so beautiful and raw. Turns out the abbey was en route to pisa so we decided to stop by and check it out. It was absolutely gorgeous and a great spot for drone footage. A 800+ year old monastery, the Abbey was once roofed but in 1786 its bell tower fell after years of decay and with it went the roof. Today several efforts have been made to restore what remains. People can still get married here however and the inside looks beautiful (we couldn't go in because it was already closed by the time we arrived).
- RATING: 5/5
- PROS: beautiful, quaint, quiet (no tourists), serene
- CONS: not accessible by train, closes early.