Driving in Tuscany – A Quest for Sunflowers

Posted By Jeremy in Europe | 5 comments


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Our Smart Car on the Way to Sunflower Fields in TuscanyDuring our stay in Florence we decided we wanted to get out of town to explore the world famous region of Tuscany.  From the many wine regions to the nearby medieval cities, there is definitely a lot to take in that is not normally accessible by public transportation.  We opted against doing private day tours in this city because we wanted the opportunity to go wherever we pleased on the quest for adventure.So we did what any logical person who has never driven in Europe would doWe rented a car.   A smart car no less.

But our particular quest was not just to see the above sights that makes Tuscany famous.  We had another goal.  A goal to see the summer bloom of sunflowers.

Getting There is Half the Battle

We found a sunflower field in Tuscany!

Driving a car in Florence is difficult.  Incredibly difficult.  The city and surrounding regions are one of the most ticket happy and restrictive places to drive in all of Europe.   Drive in the wrong part of town?  Ticket.  Drive too fast at any speed checkpoint?  Ticket.  Park in the wrong spot or stay too long?  Ticket.   The worst part about it is that most of this is all done with machines, which means they have no sympathy and it may take up to a year before you ever see that ticket (and by then it will probably go up because you’ll be late in paying it).

There is so much to say about this one particular topic that we’ll be publishing a second post just on it. In knowing that, we were pretty terrified and decided to set off to explore Tuscany anyway.  After all, we had a car, five days, and a quest on our plate.

We had to go see the sunflowers.

At The Right Time, They’re Everywhere

Sunflowers bloom in Tuscany in the height of summer.  Anywhere from June to August.  On a bad year they may wilt up early due to the extreme heat that the region gets, but for the most part they’ll last quite a while once bloomed before being harvested.

Our arrival in Tuscany at the end of July was a particularly frightful time for us as many stories from the previous year said that they were drying up and not as beautiful by this time of the month.

Luckily for us, they weren’t.

Our first glimpse of the sunflowers came from the highway was we drove from Florence to Siena.  Although the views from the main motorway are limited by trees, off in the distance you can easily see acres upon acres of the yellow sunflowers.  Even at a distance you know they are vibrant when they are these particular shades of yellow.

The quest continued.

Get Up Close and Personal

So many sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy

Of course, a highway view is not what we wanted.  We wanted to get so close to them that we could see the bees buzzing and smell them. We wanted to touch the flowers.

To do that we had to go on the back roads; which if you have a car and are visiting Tuscany is something you should be planning on doing anyway.

Our find came on Highway 2 while traveling from Siena to San Gimignano.  After driving on a main road for about 20 minutes from Siena we began to descend into a valley.  A valley that was full of yellow.  As we inched closer and closer, Angie could only bounce up and down while babbling incoherent words over and over (she is particularly obsessed with this type of flower).  The sunflowers were right in front of us.

Then we got so close that the only thing separating the road from the field was a small incline of about 3 feet.   Naturally we, as well as every single car driving on that particular road, stopped to get out and take photos.

Since we took dozens of the fields, we have to filter the best for you.  The following are a few of our favorites:

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Endless Sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy
Endless Sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy
Endless Sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy
Endless Sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy

Of course, to truly appreciate the glory of the sunflower fields in Tuscany on your own you need to try it out for yourself.  Although driving a car here is an incredibly odd experience, one we’ll find out months from now how well we did due to the horrifying ticketing policies, finally reaching the goal of the beautiful sunflower fields is worth every headache.

Until we meet again sunflowers.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

We’d like to thank our friends at CarRentals.co.uk for the awesome car during our week in Florence!  The quest for sunflowers is just one of the many adventures we’ve gotten into with our car in Tuscany.  Medieval villages, vineyards, and more?  Tuscany is truly an awesome place!9

Heading to Tuscany on your next trip? Check out Booking.com to reserve your hotel room today!

Looking for more driving in Italy tips? Check out our articles about driving in Tuscany for Chianti!

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Thinking of picking up a car in Italy? Grab a rental from Auto Europe, Holiday Autos, Sixt, or Hertz today!

Looking for a good camera to use in your travels? Check out our Sony a6000 review and find our why this mirrorless camera is one of the best we’ve ever owned! And, while you’re at it, be sure to pick up some wide angle prime lenses or other camera accessories to take the best photos on your next trip!

Jeremy

Jeremy founded Living the Dream in 2008 to chronicle his long-term trip around Asia. Since then he has been on two long-term trips, visited 68 countries, and is just getting started. He is now on a Lifestyle Design quest to build businesses to pursue a life of travel.

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5 Comments

  1. Jeremy, great stuff. We really want to see the sunflowers. Is there any chance that you bookmarked the exact location of the photos above on a GPS or on your camera? If so, would you be willing to share it? Thank you.

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  2. Jeremy, you have no idea how much I have enjoy your article. My family and I are planning to visit Italy in June. I cannot wait to go find a field of sunflowers. Thank you for the info. I am in love with sunflowers, really enjoyed your posted photos. I am using one as as my desktop background. Thank you. 🙂

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  3. @Shanna – A reader on another post of ours mentioned that they never had issues driving in France either. I’m beginning to think we picked the wrong place to get our car ;). We did a day trip last month to see Lavender in Avignon, it was stunning!

    @Lisa – Thanks so much! Glad you like the photos of the sunflowers! I’m curious on how the other countries of your drive were compared to Italy?

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  4. These are gorgeous, and you got great shots. I too just returned from Italy and a driving trip to and from Italy from Hungary. I think it’s safe to say I can be happy to never drive in Italy again.

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  5. Great feedback about driving in Italy…for such a laid back culture, they have awfully restrictive driving laws! I am so happy that we didn’t have a similar experience driving in France when we also went there to see blooming flowers (lavender, not sunflowers, but equally spectacular!)

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