Sundown at Monticchiello
We watched the sun going down at the meadow behind the fence. Pienza in front of it. It was great and the perfect finish of our Tuscany trip! I hope you enjoyed my Travel Box! Happy traveling!
Cooking with our landlady Maria
Maria offers cooking classes with her. You have to pay for that and as we couldn't talk very well with each other, we decided to invite her on a meal cooked by us. We all helped together and had a nice evening at the terrace with great food and white wine!
Shopping - food presents
On our last day we drove to Chianciano to get some food for dinner but also some presents to bring home. People love olive oil, wine or Pecorino as presents! Andi and I also got a 1-year supply on Barilla noodles and San Pellegrino Arranciatta! ;)
8 May 2013
Trattoria Papei - a good restaurant at the marketplace of siena
The trattoria was a insider from a local. It offers a lot of traditional tuscan food. There are a lot of locals. If the place is crowded or is about to close the waiters may be not that friendly, but you'll still get good and cheap Italian dishes. We ate spaghetti and an insalata mista and had two glasses of the house wine.
Dumo di Siena - the beautiful Cathedral of Siena
The cathedral of Siena is one of the most impressive churches on earth. You can stand in front of the main entry the west façade for hours and discover the details. It is also worth to take a walk inside to see the interior, mosaic floor and all the other works of art. The floor is only uncovered from August 18th to October 27th. Admission is EUR 3 during the covered period and EUR 7 during the uncovered period. But it takes quite long to enter it, as there are thousands of visitors each day.
Famous Piazza del Campo
The heart of Siena is the Piazza del Campo. It is said to be one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe. It is a half circle sloping down from its edges like a funnel. In the middle is the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall) and its Torre del Mangia, which is 102m high. Admission is EUR 8.
Having a drink at one of the cáfes at the Piazza is really nice but also expensive. Be prepared to pay EUR 6 for a coke.
Twice a year in July 2nd and August 16th the famous hours raise, the "Palio" takes place at the Piazza. From the centre of the square you can watch the race for free. Three days before each Palio the trial races take place.
Very old shop for typical food
"Dolci Tipici" you will find at Nannini. It's a fantastic coffee and pastries shop with good atmosphere and lots of locals. You will be offered an array of pastries, savories and ice creams. Unfortunately it was closed on Sunday.
Another good reason to park at Fortezza Medicea is the fantastic view you will have over the whole city of Sienna. The viewpoint is at Viale Vittorio Veneto corner Via Bruno Bonci. On the left-hand side there is a small cáfe and souvenir shop. You can't miss it when you are heading towards the city and the great Basilica of San Domenico.
Free parking in Siena on Sunday
Enter the city coming from west and drive to Fortezza Medicea. The free parking area starts with the street Viale Armando Diaz and all around the Fortezza till the Stadio Comunale. Don't get confused by the parking ticket machines, you only need them from Monday to Saturday.
7 May 2013
Fosso Bianco - The big white.
There are several shallow pools. The hottest one is when you walk up the white giant - the spring is about 50° degrees hot and so is the pool up there. The pools further down are more cool because they are mixed with colder water from the river. Try everything out but don't stay to long in the water - your skin will get dry and white ;) I speak from experience!
Parking in San Filippo
When you are close to San Filippo you will smell it! It smells like addled eggs - which is ugly - but the natural springs which are free to visit are just amazing! I haven't been to Pamukkale in Turkey, but San Filippo is also just great!
There are free parking lots at the right side when we drive down Strada Provincale 61. Don't drive to far - it is a one way road and here are the best places. Then you walk down the street till you reach the sign "Fosso Bianco" and turn right for a walk through the woods till you reach the small river. Cross it and turn left!
stunning Villa la Foce
If you drive by on a Saturday like we did, it is a pitty because beautiful Villa La Foce has closed! It just open its doors on every Wednesday afternoon and every first weekend of the month from April to November. Antonio and Iris Origo bought this estate and care for its beauty. "The house is surrounded by a formal Italian garden, which is divided into geometrical ‘rooms’ by box hedges with lemon trees in terracotta pots. Travertine stairs lead to the rose garden and a winding wisteria-covered pergola bordered by lavender hedge." they say on there website. I just saw a documentation in TV and was sad that we couldn't visit.
the famous Tuscany road
When we drove on from Montepulciano we stoped a well known spot:
Strada Provinciale 40 is one of the most photographed roads from Tuscany.
Restaurant - cheap and tasty - right at the main piazza
We had great Tortellini and Pizza at the Restaurant right at the square! It was the perfect lunch. Nice service, quick, tasty and cheap! The also serve different kind of sandwiches.
Tower of Palazzo Comunale - Amazing View!
The admission fee was 4-5€ per person. The cash desk is at the second floor. You have to climb up a staircase of claustrophobic proportions till you reach the top. There are two great bells and of course a fantastic view over the square and city! It is worth it!
Piazza Grande in Montepulciano
I really liked Montepulciano - it is a lovely town! When we reached the main square (which is unfortunately at the very top of the city - but we always went in the shadows of the houses) it was quite hot: Sit down and relax at the stone benches and watch the "Piazza life". There is a Medici well at the square, the Palazzo Comunale (town hall) and the Montepulciano church. The church has no facade because there was no money left and the town hall has a fake facade - have a look at the side and you will see what I mean. That is typical for Italy: great facades to show wealth but in fact kind of camouflage! :D
Parking in Montepulciano
Need a free parking space in Montepulciano? We found one - very close to the city center. Drive down Via delle Lettere but take the first right and there is a small but free parking lot!
6 May 2013
Trattoria - La Buca Delle fate
For dinner we decided to go back to Pienza, as it is near by our apartment in Monticchiello. We decided to try the Trattoria La Buca Delle fate. They offer typical Tuscan dishes. The place is a bit rustic, but the waiters are nice and the food was okay. We had bruschetta and carpaccio as starters and gnocchi and spaghetti with wine for the main course. All together we paid about EUR 40.
A bath at Bagno Vignoni
It is time to swim! :)
The water is coming from above and floating into the long natural pool. It is not that hot like in San Filippo (which you will see the next day) and not that crowded. It was great! One of my favorite moments in Italy! It's even possible to swim, but the pool is only about a half meter deep. The ground is mostly muddy but the mud is good for the skin.
Bagno Vignoni - an old bath
The place was already used by the Romans. On the south-west end of the town you will see old remains of the first buildings at Bagno Vignoni. Later it was used by the Medici. They built the first bath. The old bath is a great pool with wonderful buildings. But it is not open to swim. There are some coffee shops and it was a nice atmosphere!
Free parking in Bagno Vignoni
If you want to have a bath in the natural pool you do not park at the official thermal bath up the hills at Via del Goretto. Instead you turn left into a gravel road that will bring you right to the natural pool. Then you can walk up to the town on a small path.
Quick stop at Rocca D'orcia
Parking in Rocca D'orcia is free. We just climbed up the lower platform which is free, but you can also climb up the rock! Castiglione D'orcia is not really worth a visit but if you have energy left you can visit the small and old town of Rocca D'orcia just beneath the viewing platform!
Località Sant'Antimo - a quick stop
Sant' Antimo is a great photospot. It was the biggest monastery long times ago and owned a lot of land around. If you drive down the road till you reach the monastery you have to pay for the parking space. I just jumped out the car and made some pictures but if you want you can visit the great building.
Café since 1888 - Fiaschetteria Italiana
This café is the most traditional one in Italy, you will find tourists but also some of the old-established locals. You can relax on Thonet chairs and watch people crossing the square. We ordered the cheaper version of the expensive "Brunello di Montalcino" which is called "Rosso di Montalcino". Expect to pay around 4€ per an eighth. It was good but I'm no oenophile so let your taste decide! ;)
Montalcino - the city of the expensive wine!
Montalcino is like all the other small towns we've visited. It is old, beautiful AND this one is also famouse for its incredible expensive "Brunello di Montalcino" wine made from the sangiovese grosso grapes which are growing all around the town. The Enotheka in the old fortress is worth a visit. They have locked glass shelves presenting the original Bondi Santi which sometimes cost around 3000€. The wine must be aged five years prior to release!
Parking in Montalcino
Parking in Montalcino is not free but also not expensive. The biggest and closest one is marked in the map. From there, you just have to climb up a staircase and you will reach the first church in this town! Go down again and turn right to reach the fortress. I have a map in the pictures for your orientation!
Visit San Quirico D'Orcia
San Quirico D'Orcia is a beautiful small town, not that touristic and not that special. You will see a lot of locals. The highlight is definitely the romantic park "Il giardino formale di dous". On hot summer days you can have a rest in the green park. On top of the garden there is a small stage where summer events take place.
Free Parking in San Quirico D'orcia
Coming the SS146 from Pienza you will come to a crossroad. Don't go left to the center and where it says parking. Instead turn right to directions Rom, Siena, Montalcino. After going about 100m you will see a parking lot on the right side.
Via dell' Amore and a great view
Pienza is surrounded by high protective walls. At some points there are walkways on the wall. At the one that we entered at corner Via dell' Amore you have a great view over Val d'Orcia. Don't forget to take a picture with your beloved one and the street name ;)
Coffee Break in Pienza
This bar is just a few steps away from to the main piazza and a perfect place for taking a rest. We had a San Pellegrino limonata.
Pienza - Piazza Pio II
The town is named after Pope Pius II who was born in Pienza which was called Corsignano. Pope Pius II had the entire village rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town and furthermore encouraged his cardinals to build palazzi to complete the city. The most important piazza in town is Piazza Pio II. This is where the cathedral is located, surrounded by the Palazzo Piccolomini, the Palazzo Vescovile also known as Palazzo Borgia and the Palazzo Comunale (the town hall).
Free Parking in Pienza
Right after the cypress alley at the left side you find free parking lots- It is the perfect place to park and the only one that is free in Pienza. Simply enter the town through the gate in front of the church.
5 May 2013
La Cantina - Exquisite food!
Stop here - obligatory!!! The best food we had on our whole trip! It was pricey, but totally worth the money! Normally you have to reserve a table, we were lucky, though, and they opened their second room for us. The service is fantastic! We had Prosecco as an aperitif and red house wine for the other courses. Then we tried the famous "Pappa al Pomodoro", a tomato soup and mixed bruschetta as starter. Our main course was guinea fowl with potatoes which was just incredible. For "Dolci" we decided to order Panna Cotta and Tiramisú, both also famous for Italy!
Stroll through Monticchiello
Monticchiello is an old and dozy village. It is beautiful for an evening walk and very small - so you can easily explore the whole medieval town. We walked around and also up the hill till we reached a park and the town walls where we saw the private owned towers. Monticchiello is known for its "Teatro Povero" - the public "Poor Theatre" exists for forty years.
In the second half of July the inhabitants are the actors in their own productions. It is presented for about 3 weeks (except Mondays) at 21:30! Also Maria is an actor at Teatro Povero!
Airbnb Bed and Breakfast in Montichiello
It was a pleasure to meet Maria and her son! They have a really great house with a private yard and parking spaces. We chose the apartment in the garden which is a private little house. It was fantastic! Maria only speaks Italian, but we managed to understand each other with my little Italian skills! The old town portal of Montichiello is just a few meters away. As it is a BnB you also get Breakfast from Maria: Fresh coffee, Dolci like self baked marble cake, Yoghurt and jam.
Need new shoes - Pittarello
As it was raining and as I also needed shoes - we stopped at Pittarello! They have cheap shoes and a wide range to pick from.
We just made a quick stop in Arezzo, because it started raining when we arrived. We had a close parking space (see picture 4) and after a 10-minute walk we arrived in the city center. The piazza is great with many coat of arms hanging at the buildings. The coffee shops under the arcade are the perfect place to sit down and watch people taking photos at the square. Hopefully you'll have better weather!
4 May 2013
Animals at Casa al Bosco
There a many animals at Casa al bosco - just in case you are a fan! ;)
We even saw a stag beetle flying over our heads and landing on a tree in the garden! There are two chickens and a dog, sometimes also another dog and a fat cat. They are all cute and harmless!
If you drive down/up the dusty road you even have the chance to see wild rabbits, deer and maybe even a wolf!
Italian "fast food"
We bought some food at Coop. Try the packaged octopus salad with fresh parsley, lemon and ciabatta as starter.
As main course I recommend Ravioli or Tortellini from RANA! Don't forget Panna as sauce!
Winetasting at Fattoria Torre A Cona
Very close to our Airbnb accommodation is the estate "Torre a Cona" with vineyards and olive groves. The villa dates back to the eighteenth-century! They offer typical farmhouse rentals around, because the beautiful villa is still private. Andi and I wanted to have a look at the estate, because maybe we will pick it as location for our wedding. But anyway, it is definitely a place to visit in Tuscany!!! Try their selfmade wine in the cellar or just take some photos! Winetasting outside the Chianti is highly recommended, because in small estates with quality wine and nice people, you will never feel just like a number!!
3 May 2013
Radda In Chianti
At our drive back to Donnini we stopped in Radda for a walk through town and for dinner. The town itself is small and not very vivd, however we found a good restaurant! There we had Bruschetta as starter, Lasagne and Ravioli as main course with two glasses of white wine! The food was delicious, but not a hell of a lot! So better don't be too hungry! We paid about EUR 35.
We had one of "The World Famous Home-made Gelati" at Gelateria Dondoli. Sergio, the master gelato maker offers some famouse creations: Crema di Santa Fina® (cream with saffron and pine nuts), Champelmo® (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Dolceamaro® (cream with aromatic herbs) and Vernaccia Sorbet. However, if you belong to the group of simple-chocolate-lovers, it is also a stunner!
Climb up the highest tower!
We paid 5€/person to climb up the stairs at the highest tower in San Gimignano and let me tell you: up there, the view is so stunning that I would totally go there a second time!
Get a great Tower Picture at the old fort
After getting something to drink at the piazza, climb up the old fort. There is a great viewpoint where you can get a nice picture of the towers and look over the city! Also the park is very nice for a walk!
San Gimignano is the Manhattan of medieval times! The rich families battled against each other who builds the highest tower in town! There are "only" 12 preserved towers left from 72! The "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is really stunnig! There are many tourists,however, if you go there later (around three o'clock) it is much better and all the buses are already gone. Stroll through the whole city, it is not big! At the heart of the town are four squares: the Piazza Duomo, on which stands the Collegiate Church; the Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza Pecori and the Piazza delle Erbe.
Antcient Butcher "Antica Macelleria Falorni"
We discovered this butcher, because Andrea told us to watch out for it! It is a historical butcher and a paradise for regional products! You can buy wilde boar salami - which is typical for Tuscany, fresh sausages, big tuscan prosciutto and other typical products. Enjoy this really nice shop!
Coffee time with Wifi
We had two coffee at the piazza for around 6€ at the Café Lepanto: The atmosphere was nice and we had free Wifi to send some pictures and greetings to our friends and family!
Greve in Chianti
Greve is a beautiful little town which is absolutely worth a visit! We found a free parking space at the near parking lot in "Via della Pace".
Then we walked down the road, crossed the bridge and entered the Triangular Main Piazza where every house has a terrace at the first floor. All together the setting is simply gorgeous!
2 May 2013
Cooking time - Spaghetti con Frutti di Mare
It is time to cook and have a nice evening at Casa al Bosco. Buy these things to get an easy, but delicious meal: 1 package Barilla Number 3 - 1 lemon - 2 bottles white wine of Andrea - parsley - 1 500g package Frutti di Mare - 2 package Panna - 1 white onion - bread and olive oil. Take a pan - heat some olive oil with the chopped onion. Add the frozen seafood. After approx. 5 min, put everything on a plate. Pour a glass of white wine on the rest of the liquid and add the panna, the chopped parsley and the liquid of half a lemon. Cook for 3 minutes. (Cook the spaghetti al dente.) Put the seafood back in the pan, cook for another 5min. Serve!
Abbazia di Vallombrosa
"Abbazia di Vallombrosa" is a Benedictine abbey. It exists since 1038 and the fishing ponds in front of the abbey followed in the 18th century. There is a nice courtyard, a pretty church, and a plaque that commemorates a visit from Dante. Andrea told us, that thanks to the monks of the monastery, the woods are still there. They were the main reason for a reforestation in and around the area.
View from Saltino
We stopped at Saltino to enjoy the view. The air is fresh up there and also the drive itself was already an experience!
Drive through the Valombrosa
After our visit at The Mall, we decided to drive up the hills to enjoy some fresh air and have a walk in Vallombrosa! It is a nice area surrounded by forests of beech and firs! The Vallombrosa is like a climatic spa.
There is a big meadow close to the monastery where you can have a picnic. Or you have a walk in the surrounding woods!
The Mall - Luxury Outlet
If you've always wanted to buy something from Gucci, Prada, Armani or other big big big brands, you have a chance to get things for less here. But don't expect to find cheap prices; as an example: instead of 1000€ for a dress you pay 600€. For us it was way to expensive, however funny to watch happy Japanese people proudly showing their bags around or touching the luxurious garments of beautiful dresses.
1 May 2013
Ristorante Pizzeria Mastrociliegia
It is quite tough to find an open restaurant between 2pm - 7'30 pm! Lucky you- We found the cheap, but also very good "Ristorante Pizzeria Mastrociliegia" which is situated on a quiet piazza near our parking lot. The waiter was very kind and really happy that we ordered in bad Italian! We had: an insalat mista (mixed salad), bruschetta (backed bread with tomatoes), un pizza calzone e spaghetti. To drink we typically had: mezzo litri di vino rosso (half a litre of red wine) ed una bottiglia di aqua minerale (and a bottle of water with gas). It was delicious!
Cross Ponte alle Grazie to take a photo of Ponte Vecchio
If you cross the bridge Ponte alle Grazie, you have the perfect view to get a picture of Ponte Vecchio! ;)
Gardino Bardini and an amazing view!
The Gardino Bardini is easy to reach, if you exit the Gardino di Boboli at the upper exit close to the Kaffeehaus. Then stroll down to Parco Bardini. Enter trough the villa and enjoy the beautiful view from the terrace! Stroll down the shadowy garden and exit at the bottom to walk towards Ponte alle Grazie.
"Kaffeehaus" at Gardino di Boboli
If you go left on the top of the main allée you pass the fort with its big walls. Then you see the old "Kaffeehaus" which is closed, but the building and the view are very nice to take pictures! The "Kaffeehaus" (german word for coffeeshop) was build approx. 1744 because of the european trend to have sepperate buildings to drink coffee and hot chocolate! It was inspired by Viennese baroque.
Gardino di Boboli at Palazzo Pitti
The Boboli Garden is the park of Palazzo Pitti. We paid 7€ and 3,5€ for the reduced ticket to visit the Gardino Boboli. It is a Combi ticket with the Gardino Bardini, which is very close! The park is very huge and first we didn't know where to go first, but: it is best to start walking up the main allée where you can get beautiful portraits with the city in the back!
You pass an egypt obelisk: try to find the small turtles! On the top take a rest under the trees at the pont and enjoy the view. Then go right to see the big cypress alley (or if you search for the restrooms).
The Ponte Vecchio - "Old Bridge" is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River. There are still many shops built along it, as was once common. Back then many butchers used to work on this bridge, nowadays, however, you can find many jewelers. And those of you, who have read Dan Browns Inferno will know that the Vasari corridor – a secret passage linking Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti runs on top of the buildings.
(Later I write about where to get the best picture of Ponte Vecchio!)
Piazzale degli Uffizi - Art!!!
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world. It was built for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates - that is why the name is Uffizi "offices". In the high season it is quite hard to get into the building - sometimes there are waiting times up to 5 hours, but if you are smart and reserve a ticket in advance - waiting times are much shorter! They show geniuses like Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio and others!
Salone dei Cinquecento
If you buy tickets for Palazzo Vecchio (12€ per person) you should visit the room of the 500. The hall was enlarged by Giorgio Vasari for Grand Duke Cosimo I., because he wanted to hold his court in this chamber. The ceiling is amazing and was constructed and painted by Vasari and his assistants. It shows 39 panels representing great episodes from the life of Cosimo I.
Some details in Palazzo Vecchio like a ceiling with fleur-de-lys or the room of geographical maps are stunning. In the center of the room is the large globe "mappa mundi" but unfortunately it was ruined by excessive restorations.
The Palazzo Vecchio - town hall of Florence
Palazzo Vecchio, litterally the "Old Palace", still fulfills its original role as Florence's town hall. It was completed in 1302 and has an impressive medieval appearance! After Duke Cosimo I. de' Medici moved from this palace to the Palazzo Pitti the name was officially changed from "Palazzo della Signoria" to "Palazzo Vecchio". The first courtyard is open to the public and shows scenes of the Austrian Habsburg estates. It was painted by 1565 by Giorgio Vasari as a present for Cosimos first son who married Johanna of Austria. In the middle you find the "Putto with Dolphin"; the water is brought here by pipes from the Boboli Gardens.
Piazza della Signoria
The Piazza is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. There you can see all the famouse postcard motives of Florence: The Fountain of Neptune (also called the "big white" because it was made of a big Apuan marble - the area where Carrara marble is made), the Palazzo Vecchio, the Loggia dei Lanzi with its sculptures and the famouse David in front of Palazzo Vecchio. Michelangelo's David used to stand there till 1873 and is now located in the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze.
Piazza del Duomo
The cathedral of Florence is one of Italians largest churches and its dome with 114,5m is an architectural master piece. Admission is EUR 8.
It's impossible to get the whole building on one picture, but the best ones you can make on the left side of the Baptistery and entering the piazza from Via dei Calzaiuoli. I think this building is so famous I don't have to tell you much except that it is nearly impossible to enter it in July!
Via dei Calzaiuoli - a shopping street
If you stroll down "Via dei Calzaiuoli", you find lots of shops and boutiques. Very close to Piazza del Duomo on the left side you find Intimissimi - my beloved and italian underwear brand! In July you are just lucky because it is sale ;)
The Disney Store Italia
If you love Disney like me, or if you want to bring a present for a kid in your family - visit the Disney store ;) It's worth it!
Sunday - Parkinglot in Florence
Finding a parking space in Florence is not easy, but we got a tip of Andrea: Sundays you are allowed to park for free.
Drive down the road Lugarno del Tempio - turn right to Viale Giovanni Amendola. Take the second left and drive back at Viale Giovine Italia - take the second right which is "Via dell'Agnolo". In this road, start to search for a parking space! We got one at the Piazza Gaetano Salvemini!
Dinner with Andrea and Ricardo (the owners) and friends!
We were so lucky - the first evening Andrea and Ricardo had some friends over. They also invited us to join them for dinner outside under their arbor. There they prepared a super delicious buffet! The evening was just great: we had funny conversations and drank a lot of wine. They all speak very good english, which is not really common for Italians. It was great!
Beautiful Airbnb Rental "Casa al Bosco Donnini"
This place is an oasis apart from all the touristic regions in Tuscany. When you wake up and have breakfast on the terrace you can breath in the fresh air coming from the woods and enjoy the wonderful view along the wineyards of Casa al Bosco. It's just amazing what Andrea and Ricardo have created there. The two brothers and their whole family and friends were so charming and helpful. We really felt like home. It was by far the best Airbnb experience we've ever had. The kitchen was fully equipped and we really felt like home. The home-made wine of Andrea and Ricardo is just great! You will love this place - trust me! Costs: 63€ per night
Coop in Rignano sull'Arno
On our way to Donnini we stopped at the local Coop in Rignano sull'Arno. It is a supermarket chain - very famous in Italy. They have a large range of vegetables, fruits, fresh fish, meat etc. - everything you need, will be there. Buy some Mortadella, Prosciutto and Bread. Don't forget a bottle Aranciata from San Pellegrino - the best in the world - forget Fanta!
Opening hours in Italy
If you are not from a southern European country be aware of the opening hours of restaurants, bars, shops, museums, churches and so on - they are quite different of what you probably know.
Sundays: Most shops are closed, as are many restaurants (though some will open for lunch and then close again).
Mondays: Are even worse. You're usually fine on churches and shops, but most museums and many restaurants are closed entirely.
Restaurant offer lunch from 12am to 2'30pm, dinner from 7'30pm to 11'00pm. Shops are usually open from 9'00 o'clock - 7'00/9'00pm
A lot of locations are likely to be shut for an hour or two in the middle of the day.
Take your own car or rent one!
We drove to Italy from Vienna, with an overnight stay in beautiful Carinthia. If you don't have the possibility to drive with your own car: Fly to Florence or another city an rent a car for about 50€/day. In Florence there is a Sixt Car Rental right at the Airport and they offer the typical Fiat 500! We drove around with a Mini Cabrio.