Sunday, December 12, 2010

Touring: Toscana

As a confirmed "Italo-phile" I carry a heavy responsibility to ensure many more people appreciate everything they can about Italy, Italians, Italian cars, food, wine and culture. There can be no better place to soak up "Italian-ness" than Tuscany. Okay, maybe that's stating the bleedin' obvious, but for an introduction to the best of Italy, a tour of Toscana can't be beat.

Here's my quick recipe for a grand tour. Step off the plane at Rome airport, pick up the rental car and take off north along the A12 following the coast, to just north of the seaport of Civitavecchia. Go NE on the S1/S7 to the beautiful walled city of Orvieto. Have lunch, and soak up the Tuscan scenery.

Then head to Siena and stay a couple of days. Then, with a quick visit to San Gimignano, go to Florence, and stay a few days there. To get back to Rome, take the long way around.

Follow the S69 south and east to Arezzo, then the S71 to Perugia. After a day or so in Perugia, follow the S3/S448 via Todi (stop for lunch), and join the A1 autostrada back into Rome. After all that you'll have to stay in Rome to get your breath back, and that should cap off a great Italian experience.

A couple of years ago, I did this trip in the great little Fiat Ritmo (Bravo in Italy). An extremely frugal 1.8L diesel meant not having to make too many fuel stops, and there was plenty of trunk space, plus typical Italian-car peformance and handling. It's also stylish!

It is a great car to rent for this Tuscan Tour, because the trunk is large enough to store everything you're carrying. That way, your stuff is not on show to would-be thieves, when you leave your car to go sightseeing.

Touring Toscana in a Fiat! What could be more appropriate?

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