A couple of months ago we were thinking that we have no chances for a summer trip this year. Our trips to Istanbul and California were canceled and we were almost ready to spend a summer vacation in our garden. However, Germany and Italy opened the borders and we decided to go on a road trip to Tuscany.
Vacation in Italy in times of Coronavirus: what was different?
The Italian road trip turns out to be one of our best decisions during this strange pandemic time. Beautiful Tuscan villages and towns were almost empty. We had a great privilege to see and enjoy them without crowds of tourists. Last year I wrote this post about overtourism in Rome – at that time I just couldn’t imagine that it will be so different in a couple of months! And that we will face other, much more important problems.
Tourists from many countries are still not allowed to visit Italy – the borders are opened only for the European Union. However, it feels that even those who are allowed to go don’t use this opportunity much. I guess than many have fear of coronavirus and prefer to spend their vacation in their home country. That’s why everything in Tuscany was so empty. This emptiness especially hits us in Florence. Empty restaurants and hotels, quiet streets and squares, almost no line for the Uffizi Gallery, and absolutely unique opportunity to adore the greatest art, such as “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli, without any crowd.
It was obligatory to wear masks at the shops, museums, common places in hotels and at the restaurants if you go inside – the same as in Germany. There were also sanitizers everywhere. And, as I already mentioned, there were in general not so many people around. But apart from that, we haven’t noticed any differences from our Italian trips in the previous years.
Our Tuscany Road Trip Itinerary
Florence was the only “big” city that we visited during our trip. Most of the time we stayed in small or very small villages. Tuscany is a dream come true, a quintessence of Italy for me. It is a perfect place to enjoy nature, history, and art. Very relaxing, stunningly beautiful. I wanted to go there for many years (like everyone who watched “Under the Tuscan Sun”) and wasn’t disappointed at all.
Our Italian road trip this summer:
- Lake Garda
- Agriturismo in Tuscany
- San Gimignano
Our road trip to Tuscany started at Lake Garda. It was a very convenient stop for us since we went by car from Germany. I just love everything about Lake Garda and am always happy to go there. It is a very clean, calm and huge lake, surrounded by the Italian Alps. This time we stayed in the house on a hill that offers wonderful views of the lake in a small fishing village of Porto, Brenzone sul Garda.
After staying at Lake Garda, we went to Florence (around 2-hour drive) to walk the old streets, admire the Duomo (I didn’t expect it to be so huge and impressive – it basically takes the whole square!) and visit the Uffizi Gallery. I’m very thankful to have this opportunity to see Florence almost without tourists. It was a great experience for us!
However, it was very sad to see how empty the hotels and restaurants are. We spoke to one of the waiters and he told us that they have less than 20% of the usual amount of tourists this summer.
Agriturismo in Tuscany
After Florence, we went to the very small Tuscan village of Mensanello, where we stayed at the beautiful villa and visited several agriturismos around. I was immediately in love with the concept of agriturismo: it is a farm with a hotel, swimming pool, and restaurant, where food is prepared from the local ingredients.
Usually, these small restaurants offer a fixed dinner menu that contains antipasti, first course (pasta), second course (meat/fish/vegetable dish), and a dessert along with tasty local wine and grappa or limoncello at the end. We enjoyed the food a lot! Tuscany is the true mecca of Italian food and wine. Everything there is very tasty; simple and sophisticated at the same time.
Definitely, we had not only a road trip but also a culinary one. We even visited a cooking class at the agriturismo and learned how to make “pici” – a typical Tuscan pasta.
The most beautiful Tuscan towns
We took several day trips to the most beautiful Tuscan towns such as San Gimignano, Volterra, Siena, Montepulciano (a wine capital!), and Monteriggioni. I can definitely recommend all of them for a visit! And there is so much more – Tuscany is just like a treasure box. The medieval towns and villages are very well preserved. We were just blown away, walking these old narrow streets after tasting famous Chianti wine that is produced in this region.
A road trip is the best way to explore Tuscany because the roads offer magical breathtaking views of the green hills, old villas, surrounded by charming Cypress trees, olive oil gardens, and yellow fields of sunflowers. The place to be!
Our Tuscan road trip continued to the seaside in Liguria, where we spent a couple of days in Tellaro, a small town near La Spezia and Cinque Terre. We didn’t go to Cinque Terre this time because we’re already been there before. If you want to visit Cinque Terre, I could recommend staying in Tellaro, which is less touristy but also very beautiful and authentic. The restaurants in Tellaro offer wonderful and inexpensive fish and seafood dinner along with the great views of the sea.
On this trip, we saw the world that went almost back to normal and started to believe that traveling soon will be possible for everyone – like before. I very much appreciate an opportunity to visit Italy this summer despite the coronavirus pandemic. It was not dangerous and very special!