Pienza, Montalcino & Siena
Now, back on our topic, “Tuscany Road Trip For Couples”. Like I said if at all possible, avoid renting a car until the day you plan to leave Rome. We picked a rental car location at the northernmost point of Rome. It was very close to the freeway so we could get out of town without having to drive through any part of the downtown area. We are dividing our week-long accommodations between 2 regions of Tuscany, to maximize the number of towns we can visit during our stay.
Driving Through Pienza, Montalcino, Siena
Our first stop after leaving Rome was Pienza, although we stopped many times along the road because of the spectacular photo opportunities. Make sure you allow plenty of time for the drive to your Airbnb or hotel because you may not get a chance to drive back to these towns after you reach your final destination for the day. It was during this drive when I had my first feeling that we may not have allowed ourselves enough time to experience the initial trip to our first accommodation. It seemed as if each village we drove through had a story to tell, and we wanted to stay longer. There was the feeling of so much to see, yet so little time.
Pienza is a darling town with 15th-century medieval buildings and long narrow stone pathways. We walked through the main square, which leads to Piazza Pio II, and Duomo while enjoying the beautiful views of the countryside through the narrow streets. It’s a beautiful place to stop along the way for a bite to eat and a beer in the square. Many of the local shops have fresh cheese and local Italian wine for sale and to taste.
Our next stop was Montalcino, a 15th-century beautiful village located on a hilltop just south of Siena. While walking around the town, we had the sense of being in a medieval castle within a stone fortress. Montalcino is famous for its wine and primarily known for its Brunello. We stopped at Enoteca di Piazza to sample the Brunello red wine. The town is within the Val d’Orcia National Park which offers picturesque scenery of rolling hills, olive groves, manicured vineyards, and ancient oak trees. The calmness and serenity in this town were palatable from the moment we arrived.
What To Expect When Staying In Gambassi Terme
Our final destination for the day was our Airbnb destination city, Gambassi Terme. We choose this town as the first of our two accommodation locations in Tuscany because of its proximity to many sights in the southern to mid-Tuscany region. I have to say this town took us by surprise. We loved the small-town, quaint vibe of this town. In the evenings, many of the locals and tourists would gather outside in the main square for drinks, chatter, antipasti, and Cicchetti (Italian tapas). It seems like such a friendly town where everyone knew everyone — such a different feeling for us.
Our Airbnb was in an ancient, yet renovated building on the second floor and although we loved it and our host was quite nice. Oh, we had a few issues at this one. We wanted to love it; the inside was nicely decorated, it had a functional kitchen, spacious living room a good-sized bedroom, even a washing machine and like I said we loved the town.
Unfortunately, the internet didn’t work at all, which is a huge inconvenience for us considering travel writing and video is our fulltime job, so that was a huge negative. The second issue was the water pressure was next to nil, to the point that you couldn’t even wash your hair. Oh, and did I mention there was no hot water or what little we had only lasted 30 seconds. Needless to say, I was unable to wash my hair during the time that we stayed at this location (luckily only 3 nights). I want to recommend it, and if it weren’t for those two issues, which are significant, I would recommend this place to stay. BTW he had great reviews, and he confirmed with me a week before that he had an excellent internet connection. He told us when we arrived, the internet was down and would be down for our entire stay. UGGG
*** Note – When Staying In Airbnb’s
At times, we have found it’s riskier choosing Airbnb’s over hotels. When using a hotel, they can typically move you to another room or transfer you to a different hotel. This situation can be a bit more complicated when staying in an Airbnb with problems. When something goes wrong at your Airbnb, you have a third party that you have to go through to try to rectify the situation, but it can take longer, and you never know which side the Airbnb company will side with. It’s not like a hotel relationship as in “the customer is always right” mentality. In regards to the Airbnb’s position, both the renter and host are their customer’s.
Sometimes finding a new Airbnb in your desired location may not always be possible. So if your host is unable to fix the problem while you’re there and Airbnb can’t find you comparable accommodations you might be out of luck. Luckily this was not one of our week or month long stays, and we could deal with three nights of no hot water and no internet. However, if you only had a week in Italy, it would be awful to have this happen and it would most likely ruin your vacation. If you are interested in checking out Airbnb prices. Click here. You will receive a $40 travel credit after your first booking.
Are you interested in checking Hotel, Bed & Breakfast, or Villa accommodations prices in Tuscany? Click here for our booking.com direct link.
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Things Not To Miss In Volterra
Volterra is a walled medieval town which is approximately 40 minutes southwest at Gambassi Terme. It’s known for its expansive views, medieval frescoes, and of course because of their Etruscan origins due to the numerous remains found in the area. In the 4th Century, BC the Romans built 7,300 meter long stone walls to protect the town from invaders. It was impressive to see and walk through the town. There are many Roman remains from which to visit that date back to the 1st Century, such as The Roman Theater.
The day we visited Volterra, “The Volterra Mistery, and Fantasy” event was in full swing. This year’s theme was the Gothic World and The Vampires. Many young people from the nearby towns dressed up and performed for the event. It was great fun to watch and get pictures and videos of the day. Their costumes were really impressive, and we had a great time sitting at one of the cafe patios while watching the portrayal of the Gothic World fantasy.
A few things not to miss in Volterra are:
1. Visit the Roman Theater
The Roman theater built in the first century AD, is located just outside the city walls. Its hours of operation are from March through November. If you are visiting during the winter, you can see it from the terrace within the walled city.
2. Visit Piazza Dei Priori
Piazza Dei Priori built in the 13th century, and it’s the oldest Tower in Tuscany.
3. Visit the Duomo (Cathedral of Volterra)
The Duomo dates back to 1120, and the ceiling is spectacular and well worth a visit.
4. Visit Museo Etrusco Guarnacci
If you have an interest in history and enjoy tombs, this is an excellent museum for you to visit. There are many Etruscan artifacts on display, some of which include tombs, vases, coins, and ceramics with many dating back to the 4th century BC.
San Gimignano & Wine Tour &Tasting
Our first stop of the day was San Gimignano, a hilltop town approximately 30 minutes southeast of Gambassi Terme. It’s a small medieval town encircled by 13th-century walls. It’s known as the “Town of Fine Towers” or “The City Of Beautiful Towers,” and it’s famous for its magnificent skyline and medieval architecture. The historic center of San Gimignano is considered a “UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
San Gimignano was the first place we tried Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine, which is made from the variety of Vernaccia grapes grown on the hillsides in this area. It was great fun walking down these long narrow streets peeking in the boutiques and shops. We highly recommend stopping in this town even if just for a few hours.
A not-to-be-missed site in San Gimignano:
1. Duomo di San Gimignano
Duomo di San Gimignano is a 12th-century church in the historical city center of town, and it’s known for its frescoes which were completed by some of Tuscany’s most famous artists. As you walk through, you can’t help but be impressed and marvel at the beautiful architecture and displays of ancient art.
As with many of these attractions, be sure and check the hours before going because many have limited hours or may be closed during the winter months. All in all, San Gimignano is a busier town than some of the other Tuscan towns we have visited, there’re lots of shops, and there’s plenty of parking on the outskirts of town.
More Wine Tours & Tastings
1. Azienda Agricola San Quirico
Azienda Agricola San Quirico is a 10-minute drive northwest of San Gimignano. We didn’t have a reservation; however, they were kind enough to include us in an upcoming tour for us to collaborate with them by sharing our experience at their winery with our readers.
We went on a fantastic tour of their facilities, explaining every aspect of the winemaking process. Following the tour, we were able to taste their wines, and we have to say not only was the tour fantastic, but the wines were excellent too. The video in this post shows the tour, along with others during our time in the Tuscany region.
2. Villa Pillo
Villa Pillo is 10 minutes north of Gambassi Terme. Villa Pillo is a traditional Tuscan farm winery founded in medieval times. It’s located in the heart of the Chianti area not far from Pisa, Florence, and Siena. One of the reasons we love this winery was the time Megan, the employee spent with us. She spent a great deal of time explaining the region, the winery and even took us down to the wine cellar from the mid-1700s.
Valvirginio Is a short 2-minute drive north of Villa Pillo. It’s a cooperative Tuscan Winery with its production center in the valley by the river Virgininio in the municipality of Montespertoli. Today after 40 years, more than 850 companies mainly located in the areas of production of Chianti DOCG, Chianti Classico, Tuscany IGT, Tuscany IGP oil, give their crops to the production sites of the co-operative. This winery is not your typical winery, as they weren’t prepared for tastings; however, we were about to taste a few, and they were quite good.
4. Agricola Tamburini
Agricola Tamburini wines go back to the 19th century. Today the farm covers 50 hectares of land between the historic Chianti region in the prestigious Montalcino production area, where they make a small selection of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. In addition to the vines, the farm also has around 1,000 olive trees which produce organic extra virgin olive oil. Tamburini wines and olive oil products are sold in Italy and abroad.
This winery in a gorgeous area of Tuscany with beautiful views of the countryside from every direction you look. It would be a perfect place for a party or get-together as the outside has many tables and areas from which to sit, relax, and drink wine overlooking the vineyard. One Chianti we especially liked is called “The Boss,” which is named after the family matriarch and owner. It is a 10-minute drive southeast of Valvirginio.
When you first arrived at Corbucci, you may feel as if you’ve arrived at someone’s home. It has the appearance of a typical house until you go to the rear of the property, where you will find unbelievable expansive views of their vineyard and the beautiful countryside. They are located in the heart of Tuscany, and they produce different types of wine such as the famous Chianti DOCG, the San Gimignano DOCG white, and Francesco Paolo Corbucci, along with other exclusive wines. We enjoyed all of our tastings, and we would highly recommend this winery, for both the fantastic views, the excellent attention paid by the staff, and of course the wine.
6. Soc. Agr. Santa Lucia Vini
Santa Lucia is located in Gambassi Terme on the Valdelsa hills. It is important to note that this winery should be visited by appointment only. They were kind enough to show us around although an appointment is highly recommended. They are well-known for their red wine called Domino. It’s an elegant and full-bodied wine which is aged in small oak barrels.
I hope you found our article “Tuscany Road Trip For Couples” to be useful and you are excited to visit the Tuscany area. If you have any questions feel free to contact us through our website we would be happy to help or hear about your trip through Tuscany.
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