After some confusion getting out of Rome we finally head in the proper direction towards Siena in Tuscany. Our plan is to avoid toll roads so we drive towards Perugia in Umbria and along the gorgeous Italian countryside. Then the rain hits and its on and off rain for the whole drive. It had rained so much that the B&B could not serve breakfast as the kitchen had flooded, not too disappointed as most Italian breakfast consist of a pastry and coffee.
Since we have a car we stay outside the cities as parking is at a premium and so is the price. Fist stop Siena….and it’s just as I imagine it. Large medieval fortress, a maze of cobblestone, piazzas, towers, duomo….its Tuscany! Most of our time is spent walking the streets, but it’s cold and wet. After 2 months in Latin America with sun and heat, it’s a bit of shock to the system. It’s low season in Italy so as you travel to different towns you notice that many places are closed or have limited hours of operation but I think it’s the best time to visit.
Along the way we visit San Gimignano, a beautiful city set high in the hills….some of the best views of Tuscany! We hike in the wine region (no grapes, as not the season) but wonderful views….quintessential Italy!
Florence, although we didn’t spend much time there, it’s filled with art, culture and fashion. From a visit to Santa Maria Novella, coffee beside one of the greatest fashion houses (Roberto Cavalli), pictures at the Duomo and a tour of the Uffazi Gallery.
Moving along we make our way to Lucca. We decide to stay a few days and visit Pisa and it’s leaning tower ( yup, it leans), do more hiking and doing laundry 🙁 weather has gotten better and we get some sun. Lucca as it turns out quickly becomes one of my favourites. It’s a calm town with a great medieval wall that allows for car free walking, biking, running…since we have a car travelling in Tuscany allows us to get to places otherwise too difficult. We head into the mountains, I managed to find what looks like a great hike the region of Garfagnana and the Alpi Alpuane ridges so we head up narrow, winding roads but quickly run into snow. Bust! So we head to tourist office and find a closer hike between the town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Sassi.
We don’t have another night booked in Lucca, last minute we find a place outside of Pisa in the middle of countryside and decide to check out Parco Regionale Migliarino along the coast. It was disappointing to say the least, part of it is a reserve so not allowed to visit without a guide but the public beach was full of garbage and although clean up for the season had not started it wasn’t nice.