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 do. We 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
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.
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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
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:
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
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