Would you like to engage in some unforgettable on-the-road experiences in Tuscany in less than three days? This time-based tour kicks off from Florence (say on a Friday afternoon) and heads southwards, with stops in San Gimignano, Buonconvento and Bagni di Petriolo, to reach the Etruscan Coast.
Rest assured that along the way you will enjoy stunning landscapes, visit many old and suggestive towns and hamlets, but also relax and chill out while immersed in the beauty of some of the best thermal baths around the region.
If you do not have a car, you can book one (online it's cheaper) or just jump into one of the many car rentals located in Florence. You could check out the ones located in the Borgo Ognissanti area, but you could easily take one at the airport in Florence as well as in the Santa Maria Novella train Station.
The perfect start would be leaving Florence in the early afternoon so to reach San Gimignano in time for a few hours walk and then enjoy the sunset from one of the panoramic spots you'll certainly run into. If you're visiting the so called Manhattan of the Middle Ages for the first time, you'll love it, and in case you have already been there, you'll fall in love again, just like it happened the first time!
Apart from strolling around, you should take some time to discover the must-sees in town. For starters, you could climb the Torre Grossa, which is San Gimignano's tallest tower, and enjoy the spectacular view. If you are a contemporary art lover, don't miss the Galleria Continua, a gallery that always hosts temporary exhibitions of both famous and emerging artists, such as Anish Kapoor, Kader Attia and Antony Gormley.
Last but not least, if you would like to know more about the food & wine traditions of the area (and if you're up for a "pre-aperitivo"), pay a visit to the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Experience, a one of a kind museum that mixes up an immersive and innovative experience and high quality wine tastings.
After the tour of San Gimignano, we suggest that you have an aperitivo and enjoy a glass of the local white Vernaccia wine, followed by a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants in the town's historical center.
Last but not least, choose one of the accomodation facilities in San Gimignano as your headquarters for the night.
After a hearty breakfast and a last peek at the beauty of San Gimignano, pack your things, hop in your car and head further south towords Buonconvento. Throughout the day, you'll fill up your eyes with the astonishing and colourful landscapes of the Siena area, the picturesque Buonconvento, and then relax at the Bagni di Petriolo... that's right: hot springs calling!
Once you reach the tiny and cozy Buonconvento, you will feel like you just traveled back in time. The hamlet is still surrounded by defensive medieval walls and boasts beautiful cobblestoned streets and old stone buildings.
What is not to be missed in town? Make sure you get in through the massive Porta Senese, one of the historical entrances to the town center, and then walk along via Soccini. After roughly 100 metres, you'll run into the Palazzo Podestarile and its high clock tower dating to the 14th century. The façade is embellished with two Gothic arches and a number of coat of arms. Fun fact, in via Soccini you will be walking along the Tuscan section of the Via Francigena, which passes through the oldest part of Buonconvento. Other must-sees are the Museo della Mezzadria and the Museum of Sacred Art.
When your stomach starts rumbling, we suggest that you try the specialties of the area, such as cold cuts and truffles.
After lunch (and maybe a power nap), it's time to drive towards Petriolo hot springs, set only 3o kilometres away from Buonconvento. Aren't you already feeling a sense of relaxation throughout your body? The thermal waters of Bagni di Petriolo flow at a temperature of 43°C along a stretch of the Farma river. Just so you know, you can choose between free open air hot springs and the Terme di Petriolo spa.
After a nice and relaxing bath, head to Monticiano for dinner and overnight stay.
Well well, we got to the third and last day of our tour of Tuscany on the road, but don't worry, we have many other fantastic discoveries ahead of us! Our goal of the day is reaching Baratti and Populonia in the Etruscan coast, but first there's a little something you might want to see a few kilometres far from Monticiano...
Have you ever heard of the San Galgano Abbey? The magical medieval abbey with no roof that sits in the countryside between Chiusdino and Monticiano definitely deserves at least a quick visit while you're on your way to the coast.
Let us give you some friendly advice, spend at least a few hours in San Galgano and then drive west to the town of Baratti, which is only one hour drive away.
In case you're following this time-based tour during the summer, a perfect end would be spending a relaxing day at the beach of Baratti. On the other hand, if you're undertaking this tour in a different period of the year, or you just would like to add a little extra to your day at the beach, you could pay a visit to the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park. We're talking about an real open air museum stretching over a vast area between the northern end of the Piombino promontory and the Gulf of Baratti. The Park is totally immersed in the green and includes what remains of Populonia, a unique Etruscan settlement that was built directly on the sea, and its necropolises.
That said, the history of Populonia hasn't stopped at the time of the Etruscan communities. Nowadays, the modern part of town presents itself as a lovely hamlet with a massive fortress dating back to the Middle Ages, medieval walls and charming streets. And that's a wrap, the visit to Populonia represents the end of our tour... or maybe not!
It's up to you to decide whether to spend some more time in the area or head back to Florence. If you want to keep on exploring, consider that from Baratti and Populonia you can easily reach either the Val di Cecina area to the north, or the Tuscan Maremma to the south.