While Italy has some amazing coastlines, it also has a beautiful interior. Some of the most iconic landscapes associated with Italy are the rolling hills of Tuscany (or Toscana in Italian). When visiting Tuscany, you can either spend your time in larger cities such as Florence and Siena, or head out into the countryside to the numerous small villages situated on the tops of the hills. I chose to do both, but this post will detail some of my adventures in the countryside. I feel the best way to travel the Tuscan countryside is definitely by car. Many of the small towns are inaccessible by train, and the public buses, while present, only run a few times a day. However, because I was traveling alone (and cheaply), I chose to travel by bus from Siena to Montalcino and Pienza. While this was doable, some of the bus times were very inconvenient and the routes weren’t always direct (changeovers in obscure locations). For the budget traveler looking to explore the countryside, I suggest staying in the hostel in Siena and taking day trips out to the small towns (many buses leave from the main train station), as a room will be very expensive in the villages.
These are the fields outside of Pienza, Italy, a small town in Tuscany about an hour away from Siena. I spent most of my time walking around the countryside outside the city walls, through the olive tree groves and wheat fields. I was drawn to this place because of the film Gladiator (apparently this is the location where Maximus’s house and road was set). Definitely one of my favorite movies of all time and the image of the field has stuck with me ever since it came out over 10 years ago. I actually watched the entire movie on my iPad while sitting in the fields. It was a bucket list thing.
Not a perfect match, but I was definitely in the right area.
Again the fields. I love the wheat and the way it looks when a breeze blows through the entire field.
Just can’t get enough of it. Walking through the countryside was definitely the highlight of Tuscany for me.
Grove of olive trees (I think) outside of Pienza
This was a roadway in another small Tuscan town named Montalcino. The town was situated on top of a large hill (almost a mountain) and offered some pretty amazing views of the countryside. I really enjoyed the buildings of Montalcino, as they were noticeably aging, but in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Again the streets of Montalcino. You can start to get the impression that this town is on top of a pretty large hill. A very small and very quiet village.
On the edge of Montalcino. A lot of houses had beautiful terraces overlooking the countryside.
Road to Pienza, outside the city walls.
More Tuscan landscape.
Another shot of one of the roads I walked on with Pienza off in the distance.
After watching Gladiator in the fields, I had planned to sleep outside as well, but the mosquitos made it near impossible. However, I did get to see this beautiful sunset.