In our lives, we have few experiences that both captivate us and relax us at the same time. Driving through Tuscany’s countryside, with its dazzling charm and rustic appeal, does just that. We’ve planned the ideal road trip, which dips into all aspects of the Tuscan spirit, from renaissance cities to heritage vineyards, iconic countryside to national parks, thermal baths to sandy beaches and empty coves. It could take 6 days but can also be worked around how much time you have in this part of Italy.
Festivals, events and historical tournaments happen in Tuscany all throughout the year, from the Palio (Siena’s passionate horse race), to the Carnevale in Viareggio, Florence and San Gimignano, and the barrel-rolling of Montepulciano. So, there’s guaranteed to be a hair-raising cultural display during your visit!
We start with some tips about when to visit Tuscany and where to pitch up along your route. Then we get to the fun bit - the Tuscany road trip map and itinerary - but keep reading on for some important and useful information that you’ll want to know before you set off!
When to visit Tuscany
Italian summers can be scorching hot, and winters can be utterly freezing. Tuscany lies in Italy’s temperate zone, and July and August are definitely the hottest months there. They’re also the most crowded months, so we’d recommend going on your Tuscany road trip in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn. Spring is sure to bless you with perfect weather!
Camping in Italy
Good news, wild campers! It’s generally very possible to pitch up wherever in Italy, even with a motorhome. However, there are a few rules to note:
- not within 1km of an urban area
- only with permission of the landowner
- not within 50m of national routes
- not within 100m of historic or artistic buildings.
- not within 150m of where drinking water is extracted.
Try to avoid just pulling up on roadside verges and laybys when driving Tuscany, as this is a security risk!
Park4night is a great place to find ideal wild camping spots in Italy, as well as motorhome aires (called aree di sosta in Italy) which you may have to pay for. You’ll usually be able to find a sosta near all the best places to visit in Tuscany by car, but use the website to see when the reviews of these spots were last written and go for ones which have been recently used. They can disappear over the years!
Motorhome pitches can be expensive at Italian campsites, so the ACSI discount card is a good idea if you want to stick to sites with facilities.
If you want an authentic experience of the region, In Camper Con Gusto and Agricamper Italia are both websites that offer access to ideally-located campervan stops run by the producers who make this soulful foodie region what it is. For In Camper Con Gusto, you can get an access card, and Agricamper Italia is an annual membership which gives unlimited access to over 170 stops, plus an app and membership area online.
Check out our favourite campsites in Italy in case one is on your way!
Here is the Tuscany road trip map we’ve plotted for the ultimate experience of this special region.
Day 1 Lucca and Florence
The gorgeous medieval town marks the first stop on the Tuscany road trip map. One, because it is so easy to reach if you’ve driven across the borders of northern Italy. Two, because a day visiting Lucca will throw you headlong into Tuscan history and architecture. Whilst it can be a bit touristy, with fresh eyes you’ll enjoy strolling down cobbled alleys and grabbing the first bites of authentic pizza of your trip, stocking up on some focaccia and other essentials for the road!
Florence deserves a spot at the top of your Tuscany road trip itinerary. It is the irresistible cradle of the Renaissance and you can feast all your senses here; on art, architecture, music and cuisine. Highlights include the Galleria degli Uffizi, the Duomo, trying bites from the Mercato Centrale and dipping into Florence’s cafe culture in the back streets of artisanal Oltrarno.
Day 2 San Gimignano
Just a short drive from Lucca is the lovely San Giminano. It’s a hilly, charming medieval town, who’s high towers, seen from a distance, earn it’s label of ‘medieval Manhattan’ and UNESCO World Heritage status. Walking around it’s historic cobbled streets with a traditional ice cream is the best way to get to know it! The towers represented symbols of power for feuding noble families, and are still owned privately but you can choose to go up many of them. This is a great way to have a look at the undulating, bucolic landscape with it’s well-loved hills, agricultural land with cultivated olives and vineyards, and old farm houses surrounded by tall cypress trees.
On your way from San Gimignano to Siena, stop at the Castello di Fonterutoli for a guided tour around this stunning vineyard and winery. If you can stop gawping at the views long enough to take in the history, you’ll quickly learn that it was once a whole village owned by a single family and has been passed through 14 generations. The winery itself has recently undergone a multi-million-euro regeneration under the guidance of one of the daughters, who is an architect. They offer tours, meals and of course, wine tastings which are sure to show you true Tuscan character.
Day 3 Siena and Montelpuciano
Although probably busier than other parts of Tuscany, it is worth strolling around Siena even if the race isn’t on. Narrow alleys lead to sun-drenched plazas and iconic church facades, like the beautiful main Duomo.
The small town of Montelpuciano is a drive south from Siena, situated on a reclaimed narrow ridge of volcanic rock overlooking the vast panoramas of Val d'Orcia and Val Di Chiana. It's a little gem which is worth exploring on your way south, full of elegant Renaissance buildings, ancient churches, charming courtyards, and cobbled streets.
Here, they make some of the best wine in Italy, a theory you can test at a recommended restaurant called Cafe Poliziano on the main Il Corso street. If you’re lucky, you might get a table overlooking the Val d’Orzia. Taste some local wine alongside the delicious food and enjoy the friendly service, then walk off lunch along the main street to the highest point at the Piazza Grande. This is where summer festivals and concerts take place and, fun fact, part of the Twilight vampire series was filmed!
Views from Montelpuciano
Day 4 Val d’Orzia to Terme di Saturnia
On day 4, drive south from Montelpuciano through the Val d’Orzia. Finally, you’ll get to experience the stunning valley you’ve overlooked. The light falls enigmatically over hilltop towns and rolling vineyards with lines of cypress trees pointing up into the big blue sky. You’ll reach the Terme di Saturnia, which are a group of springs located in the municipality of Manciano in Italy, a few kilometers from the village of Saturnia. According to the Etruscans and Romans, the formations were formed by lightning bolts, thrown by Jupiter during a violent quarrel between the two mythological deities. The bolts thrown towards Saturn had missed, causing sulphurous, warm spring water to emerge from sparkling white rocks. You can dip into these cascading pools at Cascate di Mulino for free and park up for free, or even treat yourself to a spa day.
Day 5 Capalbio and Monte Argentario
These areas are some of the best coastal places to visit in Tuscany by car. The medieval town of Capalbio is under an hour’s drive from the thermal springs. It’s beautiful, with ancient crenelated walls, leafy gardens, and Renaissance frescoes. Best of all, its sandy stretch of coast—over 8 miles long, all the way to the Lazio border— features pretty, popular and accessible beaches. Chiarone, Ultima Spiaggia, and La Torba are all just off the Aurelia and SS1 highways. They boast calm, crystal-clear waters and silvery sands. The more adventurous can find plenty of deserted beaches and small, secluded coves by following the winding coastline along the SS1; you’re bound to spot something magical!
To the east, Monte Argentario lies as a promontory connected to Tuscany by three sandy straits. It is heavily wooded, offering something different to the mainland, and its best-known beaches, La Feniglia and Giannella, are favored by locals for their warm, shallow turquoise waters and pristine sand. On the westernmost coast of Monte Argentario are even more secluded beaches, like Cala Piccola and Cala del Gesso. You’ll have to ditch the motorhome; these are only accessible by narrow cliffside paths and great for snorkeling. You can also catch a ferry from Porto Santo Stefano to Giglio Island for the day, and enjoy what might be the most gorgeous beaches in L’Argentario: Cannelle, Arenella, and Caldane.
Cala del Gesso, Monte Argentario
Day 6 Geothermal Natural Park Biancane and Livorno
As you loop back up to the north, stop at the Biancane Natural Park in Monterotondo Marittimo, where geothermics from deep within the earth have set the landscape steaming. A walk beginning in Lagoni will show you this unique phenomena, including vapour emitted from stone cracks, solidified rocky material of various colours, boiling water flowing from the ground, and ground that turns from colours of deep red to yellow ochre and bright, intense white.
Our last stop on the Tuscany road trip is the port city of Livorno, famous for its seafood. The central Terrazza Mascagni is an iconic and unusual waterside promenade with checkerboard paving. There are also stunning bastions of the 16th-century Fortezza Vecchia, which face the harbor and open onto Livorno's canal-laced Venezia Nuova quarter. You’ll be spoilt for choice if you want to taste the bounty of the Mediterranean from fantastic seafood restaurants, or if you’d rather admire another way, the Natural History Museum of the Mediterranean has a Hall of the Sea dedicated to its creatures, past and present.
What to bring to Italy
There are a few bits of safety equipment you’ll need to make sure you have in your motorhome before driving to Tuscany. These are:
- A warning triangle.
- A reflective jacket (you can be fined for not wearing one if you’re on the hard shoulder in an emergency).
- A spare wheel and the tools to change a wheel, or a tyre repair kit.
- Snow chains or winter tyres between 15 October and 15 April, or when conditions dictate.
- If your motorhome has an overhanging load at the rear such as a cycle carrier, you need to display a fully-reflectorized square panel measuring 50cm x 50cm with red and white diagonal stripes.
- Headlight beam converters (unless you can adjust your’s automatically).
- A GB sticker on the rear, even if your number-plate is EU-style.
Other, not compulsory safety equipment you might want to bring:
- A first aid kit.
- Spare bulbs and fuses.
- A fire extinguisher.
You’ll also need the following documents with you:
- A passport with at least six months remaining.
- You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle. Update August 2021 – you no longer require a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance cover when travelling in Europe.
- A UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit.
- Your vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address).
- An Animal Health Certificate if you’re travelling with a pet.
Know before you go
Diesel fuel in Italy is similar to that of France, and a bit cheaper than in the UK. However, at lots of Italian garages, fuel prices are different depending on whether you’re served by a forecourt attendant or do self-service. Save money by looking out for signs when you enter; servizio for service and self for self-service.
In many historical centres and major towns, traffic is restricted from entering areas known as ‘Zone a Traffico Limitato’ (ZTL’s). Expect to receive a fine by post if you drive your motorhome into a signed ZTL! Only residents are permitted to use these town roads.
There are speed cameras, just as anywhere else in the EU, and persecution for non-payment of fines hasn’t changed since Brexit as the information sharing agreement with the DVLA continues. Limits for motorhomes under 3.5 tonnes are slightly different to those over 3.5 tonnes. For those under, the limit outside urban areas is 90km/h. On main roads it’s 110km/h (90 in poor weather) and on motorways and autovias it’s 130km/h (110 in poor weather). For those over, it’s 80km/h outside urban areas, 80km/h on main roads and 100km/h on the faster roads. Check out more driving rules in Italy.
Driving to Tuscany on toll roads will avoid some very hilly and winding roads, costing you not too much and saving your sanity!
Last but not least, find a motorhome to rent that suits your needs and that you’re happy to drive on a variety of Italian roads. You can either arrange your motorhome hire in Italy or take a campervan abroad!