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Tuscany

Tuscany

Without a doubt, one of my favorite things we did during our entire two weeks in Italy was spend a few nights in Siena, rent a car, and take a few days to drive through some of Tuscany’s most scenic landscapes.

Tuscany

It was something I’ve always wanted it do, and it was even more stunning than I could’ve ever imagined. If seeing Cinque Terre was number one on my Bucket List, this was definitely number two!

Tuscany

On Friday afternoon, we rented a car from Europcar in Siena. If you’re staying in Siena and looking to rent a car, I highly recommend these guys. It would probably also be a good idea to call (or have your hotel call) a few days in advance to make sure they can reserve the type of car you want — which is probably a small car with automatic transmission if you just want to drive around a site-see. We just showed up that Friday looking to rent a car and it worked out fine, we just had to get a medium-sized car instead of a small one, which was just a little more expensive. If we’d called ahead, we could’ve reserved a small car and saved a little bit. So there! I’m passing on our learning experience to you. :)

Tuscany

We stopped for lunch here in Asciano, then continued south to Montepulciano.

Tuscany

I wasn’t sophisticated enough to get the GPS coordinates for all of these photos, but I’ve got a map below that shows you our driving routes through Tuscany, plus a few other routes that were suggested as the “Most Scenic Drives in Tuscany.” As I’m going through these photos, I’ll tell you where we are, and if you like, you can follow along on the map to get an idea of where we were.

Tuscany

The photos are in the order in which I took them, so for instance, the first four photos in this series were taken along the Red route from Siena to Asciano, and this beautiful blooming poppy field was found on the Pink route from Asicano to Montepulciano.

Tuscany

The Red route was absolutely fabulous — probably my favorite — and we ended up driving it three times on our way to and from Siena. The Pink route wasn’t my favorite, but it was the only place we ever saw poppies, so I’m definitely glad we came this way.

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

This was taken after we arrived in the incredibly charming hilltown of Montepulciano.

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

We stayed here exploring and shopping and grabbed dinner at the top of the hill. Oh! There’s also this amazing little pastry cafe, you have to stop here for some delicious Nutella-stuffed sweets. I’ve marked it on the map for you. :)

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

On the way up there is this perfect overlook.

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

It’s near a church, and there’s a break in the buildings, and the view just opens up to this gorgeous panoramic view of the Tuscan countryside.

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

Sun flare in Tuscany.

TuscanySee GPS Location on Map

It’s also the best spot to watch the sunset.

Tuscany

If you continue up the hill a bit, and cross to the other side of town, you’ll see the moon view in the opposite direction.

 


View Tuscany in a larger map

Here’s a map of some of the routes we drove along during our two-day itinerary in Tuscany. On Day 1, we got a late start around lunchtime in Siena, and took the Red Route to Asciano. We grabbed lunch in Asciano (be sure to get there before 2 pm, or everything will be closed!) then took the Pink route to Montepulciano.

Next up I’ve got our Day 2 itinerary. We took the Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue routes. Can’t wait to show you those photos!

Thanks so much for looking! :)

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57 Responses
  1. Laura

    These photos are INCREDIBLE! Thank you so much for sharing! I am planning on going to Italy for my honeymoon next spring (also my first trip to Europe ever) so I am extremely excited. I would love to hear your itinerary and how you traveled to each place. Driving through Tuscany is an absolute on my list, right after Cinque Terre!

  2. Melany

    I completely love this post gonna travel on march and think ill rent a car but im still scared about renting one thought people havbe told me the weather is awful in that time of the year but its the only month i can travel on anyways thanks for all the info was very helpful :)

  3. Dana

    Hi Amanda,

    Your trip looks amazing. I am planning a short tuscany trip at the end of July and will definitely use this as a guide. It will just be me and another girlfriend, and I was wondering how easy/difficult you felt it was to drive yourself? Any tips, things I should look out for?

    Thanks!

    1. Amanda

      Thank you Dana!

      We thought driving in Tuscany was fairly comparable to driving anywhere else. They drive on the left side of the road, just like in North America, so you don’t have to worry about driving on the opposite side of the road. Tuscany is in the countryside, so you’re not dealing with fast, heavy traffic. The road is narrow in some places so watch for cars coming from the other direction, especially around curves. If you are uncomfortable driving a stick shift, make sure you make a reservation for an automatic car in advance, because they run out of those first. We prefer Europcar when renting. Factor in the cost of a traffic violation ticket that will come in the mail after you get home for something that you probably didn’t do. I can’t remember exactly how much ours was, but I am 99.99% sure we didn’t break any traffic laws, but everyone warned us before we went to Italy that if we rented a car, we’d get a ticket in the mail after getting home. Must just be their thing to get more money from tourists, lol! Good luck and have fun! :)

  4. Baho

    Hey, amazing photos.. Will be going to tuscany for a road trip myself, i wonder what lens did you use taking these photos? Wanna travel light:) thanks

  5. Odilia de Sousa Costa

    Hi
    just popped in to compliment you on your photos of my wonderful region. You not only managed to capture its beauty but also its soul. Thanks sharing them.

    Hope to see you back in Tuscany soon
    Odilia

  6. Callie

    The trip in Toscany was the best of my life. We have travelled a lot with my husband but this one was far the best! The pics were great… and Montepulciano was my love! Great trip!!! We stayed for two weeks and I want to go back again… soon!!! Callie

  7. Laura

    Amanda thank you so much for the beautiful pictures and especially all the information you give to accompany them!! My husband and I are going for the first time this fall and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve referred to your sites. We are flying in to Venice and driving to Barga where we’ll take day trips to Seina and Cinque Terra and Florence and then we drive to Rome for 5 days with day trips to Pompaii and Naples. We are virgin travelers overseas so excited but a little anxious as well. Oh… We are from Portland Oregon originally a nd our favorite place EVER… YACHATS!!! We’ve been going there for 30 years. Anyway thanks again for your great information! We will put it to good use!!!!!

  8. Cate @ Chez CateyLou

    I am so glad that I stumbled upon your blog! We are heading to Tuscany in two weeks, and your information is so helpful! Your pictures are stunning! I can’t wait to go!!

  9. Tulan

    Hello! great Pics

    We are going to Italy tomm and we are staying in Tuscany for 6 days and we are planning to do you Tuscany route since it looks great and we heard a lot about it too. The only question is how did u get the GPS to give directions since i assume you had to put some kind of address in it to get you from Point A to B for example form Arciano to Montepulciano… can you please help with the address part and we are renting the GPS from the car rental company in italy which is National so we will have GPS with us. thank you and wonderful pics once again

  10. Dave W

    Amanda, love the blog and the photos are gorgeous. As a photographer myself, I really appreciate a great image and all of your are spectacular.
    I am curious, what time of the year were you in Tuscany? Spring of 2012?

    We are going to be traveling out of Siena the first full week of September and we are going to do the same type of thing you all did.

    Anything you’d add or change?

  11. Robin

    My heart actually stopped when I looked at your photos…they are exquisite! I love the tree shadows, it’s like they’re making a statement!

  12. Shanna-Kaye Fancher

    WOW! I am amazed at the beauty God has created….and now I definitely want to go to Italy ;) I am blown away by your photos-thank-you for sharing!! The clouds are to die for. Wish we had those in Texas!

  13. Jennifer

    I absolutely agree with all the other comments that the photos are gorgeous! I am still hoping you will comment on what camera/lens/settings you used? Also, I am wanting to purchase a new GPS-type memory card, is that how you are able to “map” the exact spot where the photos were taken?

  14. Darla | Bakingdom

    Your photos are simply stunning. I don’t know how you were able to narrow them down. Even with two posts full of photos, I could look at them all day!

  15. Kay

    Oh my goodness! I would LOVE a hi-res version of the 2nd picture in this post to have printed and framed! Beautiful, beautiful pictures!

  16. Valerie at The Year of Living Healthfully

    What incredible photos of the whole trip, but these are particularly spectacular.

  17. Cherry

    I love all your photos! I’m always in awe whenever I read your posts. may I just know the camera and lense you used on these photos and the setting? Thanks a lot :)

  18. Kristine Dannheim

    Beautiful Pictures! What type of camera where they all taken with? Italy is on my bucket list too..My No. 2. I did my No. one last fall-Ireland. It was beautiful, but wish I had a better camera. My pics didn’t turn out as awesome as yours!
    Kristine

  19. JTwisdom

    Beautiful pictures of Italy. I haven’t visited Italy yet but would love to go one day. Thank you for sharing.

  20. Erika

    Beautifully breathtaking…if you could capture this in photos…it must have been stunning in person! I would love to visit Italy! ONE DAY! :) Until then I will live through your pictures! :)

  21. Sara

    I just heard about the massive earthquakes in Italy. I’m so glad you guysarehome safe and sound!
    The pictures are fantabulous! It makes me want to go there even more! I wish my photos were as sharp and stunning! Did you do them all in manual mode?

  22. Latifah T

    I am absolutely IN LOVE with your blog, you seem like such a fantastic person leading a happy life. I wish you all the best, from the bottom of my heart.
    Don’t change! xo

  23. Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure

    Ack clearly I need to refresh my page before commenting – oh well. Thanks for answering it above even if I am a do-do.

  24. Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure

    So darn pretty! I, like Alexandra, am curious what post processing you may be using.

  25. Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana

    We did this same drive from Siena to Montepulciano, and picked up some wine there! It’s just such a beautiful countryside, we were in awe :)

  26. Erin @ Texanerin Baking

    They’re here! We have pictures from a lot of the same exact spots, but yours look way better. :) I can’t wait for the second set of Tuscany pictures! And wow, you covered a lot of territory in two days. Impressive!

  27. Mary Anne Tomlinson

    Gorgeous, gorgeous landscape shots. Thanks for sharing. Really breathtaking views! Tuscany is just beautiful countryside, for sure.

  28. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    I am floored. The first few pics don’t even look real. Now that I know this exists, I must put it on my bucket list. This post is getting bookmarked for sure!

  29. Alexandra

    Hi Amanda! How do you get the colors in your pictures to be so vibrant? I was told post-processing is a big factor in some photographer’s lives, do you agree? All my pictures come out dull but yours really pop! How do you do it? :)

    Alex

    1. Amanda

      Hi Alex!

      I love post processing and playing around with photos :) Here’s what I did to these photos: If you look at the Peacock photo in my Lightroom tutorial, that’s pretty much exactly what I did here too, since my lighting was kinda uneven here as well (bright sky, darker landscapes) I adjusted for:

      Recovery
      Fill Light
      Vibrance
      Saturation

      In that order. Not all photos needed Recovery/Fill Light, and the ones that did, I went easy on it because you kind of want that difference in the sun/shade as it dances across the landscapes like in the first two photos. But almost all photos get a little Vibrance and Saturation boost! :)

      Finally I opened them in Photoshop and used the Batch Editing process to add my favorite action before resizing and saving for web.

      Hope this helps! :)

  30. Kathleen D

    So was it nerve wracking driving in Italy? I wanted to rent car when I was there in 2010 but I was too chicken. So I missed driving in Tuscany and now I really regret that.

    1. Amanda

      Hey girl! From Siena, there was hardly any traffic at all, and in Italy they drive on the right side of the road, so fortunately we did not have those two things to worry about! :) In Tuscany there was hardly any other cars on the road and the roads were good — wide, paved, no blind spots, and plenty of spots to pull off for photos. I would totally recommend it, even to someone who may not be as experienced driving big cities / heavy traffic. It was very easy! There were, however, about a billion round-abouts in the cities, which are always a pain, lol! But we brought our Garmin GPS with us and we had downloaded Italian maps onto it — it was a lifesaver. Navigating was a cinch with that thing. So, I would totally recommend doing it — with a GPS! :)

  31. elizabeth

    i am enjoying your pics! the scenery is beautiful! I have always wanted to travel to italy. but I don’t know if I will ever make it over.
    on another note, 2 was ago, I adopted a beautiful, darling Boston!! he is definitely a character. his antics remind me of your Howie!! never a dull moment with him!!

  32. Dunia

    I’m so in love with your photos!!!! I’m going to Rome and Tuscany next month and this post makes me want to go today!

  33. Kathy Martin

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these amazing photos! I’ve been following your vacation along….what a dream! I haven’t had the oportunity to travel much, yet, and look forward to seeing places like this one day. We have an 11 year old son with autism that we cannot leave and before he came along we couldn’t afford such trips. We’ve been saving our pennies for years now. When Christopher is old enough, we will go see the world! :)

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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