We spent a week in Italy last week of July and i absolutely flipping loved it. Last year we joined friends of ours from the Netherlands on a Spain trip and ended up having so much fun, we decided to kind of make it a tradition and do our annual holidays together. Tuscany it was and we went about making our bookings beginning of the year.
We are not the big city, touristy traveller but since it was cheaper to travel into Rome, hire a car from there and then drive on to Tuscany, I convinced the husband that it was a MUST to spend 2 days in Rome and then drive on. He wasnt too enthusiastic, but still agreed to it. Booked an AirBnb right off Piazza Navona which was a brilliant location with restaurants, bars, and all major attractions close by and we started our 2 days in sweltering 36 degree Rome.
I'd read reviews saying everything was 20 minutes walk from the Piazza Navona area we decided to hire a bicycle and bike around Rome, which i think was one of the best decisions we took. I was a bit worried about riding on main roads, but Rome is like India, no one really obeys traffic rules and people are used to honking and the like. We managed to cover all the main attractions on day one and with a small hiccup (bad planning Ro would insist), I booked The Vatican city tour and The Colosseum tour on the same day. They make a fuss on the website with a given time, but we took our chances and went ahead of time thinking we could try our luck only to realise no one really checks the time or anything on the ticket, you just have to stand in long queues (even after opting for the skip the line queues).
Colosseum was a let down for me, and Vatican a let down for Ro. Well he actually didnt want to do the Vatican tour at all but I insisted and we agreed to do it. Not ones for museums, we skipped almost all the rooms at the Vatican Museum and went straight to The Sistine Chapel which i must say was simply amazing. Spent a good 15 minutes taking in all the art and listening to what each of it meant (We did an audio tour). Just that room made my visit to the Vatican worth it. Hung around St Peters Square for a while (it is truly magnificent) and headed back home to get ready for an Italian Opera performance, which was our first, and i ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
Off we drove to spend the remaining 5 days in Tuscany, a part of the trip we were both absolutely looking forward to. Radicofani is a small picturesque (well, every little town in the Tuscan region was simply gorgeous) town about 2 1/2 hrs from Rome and we stayed in an Agritourismo called La Selvella run by the exuberant Marina.
The stay there was lovely and most of the evenings were spent at the farm enjoying the amazing view, some house wine and Pecorino cheese (which Pienza is know for). Dinner on 2 days was at La Selvella, where we got to enjoy some amazing Tuscan food, all sourced from the farm and organic of course. We also checked out some local restaurants and i had the most tastiest lasagna in a small restaurant called La Grotto in Radicofani.
Pienza was a day trip i loved. Small little cobbled streets all pretty with plants and flowers and coloured doors. I went a bit crazy with pictures here and also shopped for some Tuscan favourites like Truffle honey, Truffle salk and Italian seasoning (have been using this for almost every dish i make now).
The highlight of Tuscany was the discovery of the hot springs in Tuscany. Ended up spending two lazy days in the warm springs of Bagni San Filippo, a 10 minute drive from La Selvella. Go in the afternoon if you want the best spots, as the crowd seem to thin out by then. If you get a place in the shade its the best. Use good footwear as you need to trek down a bit to the pools.