Synonymous with happiness, a trip through Tuscany to hunt for these joy-giving girasoli is time well spent. Sunflower season normally begins in June but they only fully emerge in all their yellow glory in July, remaining until the beginning of August. Tuscany is one of the few areas of Italy in which they are cultivated and a trip in pursuit of these beauties is well worth it.
One sure spot to find them is Mugello where buildings are often completely surrounded. A short distance away, the lake of Bilancino and the Villa Medici at Cafaggiolo are other places not to miss. Better known for tobacco and grains, the area of Casentino also presents several sunflower fields visible from the main road. Heading towards the coast, Vada in Livorno has more of these glories.
Siena is one of the most visited areas by those in search of medieval towns. What a visitor may not be expecting, is to be greeted by waves of sunflowers scattered around the region. As a rotation crop, the location of these fields varies from year to year but travelling down the small roads like in Val d’Orcia you’ll come across a glorious sight well worth the drive. Head towards San Gimignano, a medieval town famous for its towers, and be astounded by the carpet of gold that greets you near Taverna di Bibbiano as well as fragrant fields of lavender. Pienza and Montepulciano are as rich in sunflowers as they are in art and beauty.
Travel along via Cassia, between Siena and Montalcino for some more golden fields. With a number of impressive villas dotting the area, there are plenty of options for a photo shoot. One not to miss is just after the roundabout at Monteroni d’Arbia where a castle, vineyards and sunflowers create a spectacular image. Cortona in Arezzo will be worth the stop also as is the San Galgano Abbey with it typically Tuscan cypresses, old ruins and a sweeping carpet of yellow; a spot not to miss for incredible photographs.
Be sure to check out Massa Marittima, an area in which sunflowers have been growing for years. Take a trip starting from Colle Val D’Elsa as far as the coast and be dazzled by the roads lined by Mediterranean pines and the flowers in bloom. Via Suveretana leading to Suvereto on the Etruscan Coast has an expanse of sunflowers among verdant vineyards on the way to the pretty town. The parco Uccellina in Alberese, Grosseto is another place to get lost in a sea of yellow.
To maximise a view of these beauties, book some days at a Tuscan villa or at an Agriturismo near Pisa and explore Vettola, Sanpiero a Grado and on your way take the exit from SCG FI-PI-LI road to Lavoria and Vicarello to make the most of these yellow beauties against the blue sky.
As you head out in pursuit of these wonderful flowers, you may like to keep in mind the myth of Clizia and the fascinating legend about the sunflower. A young nymph who was in love with Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, followed him all day as he drove his chariot through the sky. After he rejected her, Clizia refused to move from her place and was fed only with dew and tears. Apollo decided to transform her into a gold flower, the sunflower, which changes inclination during the day just as the sun moves in the sky.