Guidance on Drivng Excursions in Tuscany?

07/17/2009 - 11:41

Despite much advice not to, we've decided to rent a car in Firenze for four nights. The main reason for this is that we need to get up to Futa Pass to visit a WWII cemetary and we thought that with a car we wouldn't have to rely on bus. From the cemetary we'd like to head up to Verona, then back down to somewhere near Lucca. Back to Firenze for a few days...and then another two night excursion towards the SW of Firenze, over to Isola d'Elba. Will try and book B&Bs near Verona, Lucca, Volterra, and Elba.Any tips, advice? Too ambitious?I've successfuly planned several trips to other parts of Europe but for some reason this visit to Tuscany is causing me more anxiety than those trips :)On a good note, my Italian lessons are going well....i'll at least be able to request una caraffa di rosso.  Smiles,Monica



I've driven around Tuscany quite a lot; and always in an underpowered rental Fiat. (Oh, actually no, once they gave me an MPV, which I accidentally took down tiny winding lanes in Florence centro storico. Got stuck. Had to reverse out.)I don't think you have anything to worry about. Traffic levels are generally quite low, even in high tourist season. Italian driving is usually assertive and definite. I prefer that to dithering or faffing about. For some reason, all the worst driving I've seen in Italy has been from German- or Austrian-registered cars, so keep an eye out for those.

HelloIt sounds like you'll be doing an awful lot of driving, although you don't say how long you'll be in Italy on this trip. The part about a two night excursion from Florence to Elba looks ambitious. It will take you the better part of a day to get from Florence to Elba, so I'd stay in Elba a few days to make your drive worthwhile. You'll need a car to explore Elba. I tried that a few years ago with public transport and our movements got quite restricted since buses were too few.Otherwise, you may want to decide what your priorities are for this trip and take one or two places off your list. For example, Florence, Verona, Lucca and Volterra would make a great holiday with good variety of scenery, art and lots of good, robust Tuscan wines.Buon viaggio and keep up with your Italian. Bravo!Margaret 

Hello to a fellow Vancouverite! Aren't you loving the warm days we're having!Thanks for the comments. We'll be in Italy for two weeks. We're rethinking the Elba you say, it's probably best to take a couple place off our list. We're using Florence as our based, have rented an apartment there. Our initial plan was to take bus and rail into Tuscany and just let our eyes, ears, and nose guide us. Then the driving seemed to take over. I think the two day trip up through Futa Pass and up to Verona and back might just be it.Will surely pester you again for tips and advice since you've been to Italy so often :)Best,Monica 

 A bit ambitious and hectic, but you can still make it. Lucca is really worth a full day. You have to park outside the walls. There is a handy parking lot to the right of the train station and you will find the Porta San Pietro, which is excellent to access the city, about 200 yards away.Enjoy your trip!

Where exactly are you planning on picking up car in Florence and am I reading you correctly in that you will subsequently return to Firenze with the car?  Does your hotel have free parking (few do) otherwise it'll cost you in the region of Euros 30+/night.  Also, it is possible to make it out of the city from the main hire car places on Borgo Ognissanti without hitting the restricted traffic streets (ZTL) but depending upon your driving skills it may require nerves of steel and a good map reader in the passenger seat.  If you're staying outside the city centre, your worries will be fewer.  Unless you know where you're going, it really isn't a good idea to drive in to the city centre as the fines for being caught in a ZTL are punishing.For driving distances check-out something like   Personally (I live in southern Tuscany), I'm not so sure I would trek all the way over to Elba from Florence.  Why not head south out through the beautiful Chiantigiana (222) that cuts right through the Chianti and go down to the Val d'Orcia.  Driving in this area is terrific as the roads are quiet and the scenery simply sensational.  This is where all the tourist bumph photos are taken centred around beautiful towns and villages such as Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano.