This is my the summer itinerary for my series of slow travel in Tuscany. In this article you will find my personal itinerary of how you can enjoy 5 perfect summer days of taking it easy in Tuscany. From food to wine, artisanal delicacies to beautiful animals, with the team from Km Zero Tours by your side, this is the only guide you’ll need. For the other articles on slow travel in Tuscany see the links at the end of this post.
Tuscany is Italy’s most romantic and beautiful region and always included in the perfect itinerary of Italy. Widely known and famous thanks to countless movies and love stories, this undulating province south of Florence is a food and wine paradise. After spending a few days in the area here is my perfect five summer days of Slow Travel in Tuscany enjoying the concept that changed the way I see travel now.
Day 1: From Florence to Tuscany
If you can, I would suggest combining Tuscany with Rome, where you can stay at a luxurious and romantic hotel while you explore the city’s amazing sights and fill your senses with the best food. When you arrive in Tuscany, you will probably be looking forward to a quieter more rural life and that is exactly what these 5 days in Tuscany will be about.
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Florence and taken to your lovely B&B or summer house in Tuscany. After checking in, the first experience should be with Giorgio, a modern day Geppetto. Giorgio is a local artisan who set up shop in the Chianti region to custom make his unique creations using local olive wood and other raw wood. Bowls, boards, small objects, and everything and anything that Giorgio can imagine will be brought to life through his skilful demonstration. It was truly inspiring to see his mastery of various machines and materials. Giorgio says that he builds what the wood tells him, that it speaks to him. Incredibly, within five minutes, Giorgio made us a pretty and personalised honey dip, souvenir that I took home.
After Giorgio, continue to one of the most historic wineries in the Chianti Classico area, Villa del Cigliano, a stone’s throw away from Giorgio’s house. Take a private tour of this stunning Estate with the owner and host, Anna, one of the descendants of famous Italian wine surname Antinori credited with the creation of the now famous “Super-Tuscan” wines and considered one of the world’s 10 oldest businesses. Anna will take you around the Renaissance country house with the beautiful wall paintings, the fountain and the reflective pool. A treat!
But if that wasn’t special enough, you get to also tour the cellar, still making wines the traditional Chianti Classico way and housed inside the villa. End the day, of course, with a home made dinner by Anna, in their garden, with lovely Italian seasonal food and their fantastic wines. If you are lucky, her son, Niccolo, might also join.
Day 2: Cashmere goats and organic wines
One of the most special and nicest things I did in Tuscany was spending time with Nora and her crazy, fun and sweet Cashmere goats. Nora has been living in Tuscany since the 70s when she decided to come all the way from New York and started breeding cashmere goats sustainably. Did you ever wonder why cashmere is so expensive? She will show you why and also give you a chance to comb the goats if you come in the earlier part of the summer when the hair needs to be collected. With Nora, you will learn everything about the the goat’s habits, their names, the way she raises them and also how she ended up trying to help post-war Afghanistan goat herders raise genetically better goats. Fascinating stories.
She will also serve you a homemade lunch, straight from her garden, under the shaded trees. What a lovely way to hear more of her captivating stories.
After a leisurely day in the countryside among goats and lovely Tuscan views, the afternoon has another Slow Food stop at Marco’s biodynamic winery, a tiny 1 hectare vineyard the young oenologist planted, harvests and produces himself with his bare hands. The wines were so great that we actually ordered a case from Singapore to ship over. His wine making techniques are quite interesting with some of the wines made from grapes that were left to soak in the skins for up to six months. Marco practices biodynamic techniques and has been trying to revive old practices using terracotta amphoras to age the wines. Interesting and tiny winery with a real heart.
In the evening, true to the philosophy of Slow Travel in Tuscany, relax and take it easy. The point of slow travel is to take it all in, to have time to admire the landscapes, to smell the flowers so the best way to enjoy it is by simply wandering around the small towns and eating at a local trattoria. Just get into any place that tickles your fancy, you’re in Italy, you can’t go wrong.
Day 3: A Tuscan feast
Your third day should be the one where you get in touch with the way things were when people were self-sufficient and used to make everything they needed or bought it from the neighbour. Terracotta and olive oil are two great examples and they are traditional Tuscan products too.
The day starts with a visit to a fascinating furnace/terracotta workshop in Impruneta, a very small village near Florence with awesome hill views of the city. Impruneta is known world wide for the beautiful terracotta jars and pots. The word Terracotta is made of Terra, meaning clay, and Cotta, meaning baked, so it is basically something made of cooked clay. The making of these jars is an ancient tradition that started in Impruneta in the Middle Ages.
Impruneta is also the location where the most beautiful couple we met, Janet and Stefano, lives and where they produce the most incredible olive oil, and that comes from someone who grew up with home made olive oil from my father’s grove!
Saggitario is an olive farm ran by Janet & Stefano, a wonderful American-Italian couple who has always been committed to producing and sharing the olive oil culture with guests from all over the world. You will be taken on an interesting visit of the farm with Janet, who moved here in the 70s and has never returned to native California, and then head to their home up in the hills above Florence, for the most amazing meal you have ever had, I promise.
Janet started selling her premium extra virgin olive oil in the States as Christmas Corporate gifts and this gave her the chance to also export the tradition of enjoying fresh seasonal oil every year as the bottles would reach American families right in time for Christmas and right after the olives had been pressed.
Lunch, served in the couple’s living room and kitchen in their traditional Tuscan farm house, will be memorable. Stefano is an incredible cook and he sources every single ingredient for his Roman style feasts from each of his well known hyper local producers. The magical onions, something you would never expect from the humble vegetable, his amazing anchovies, the world renowned Florentine steak, cooked in Stefano’s wood fired brick oven in the back garden, or his amazing almond cakes can only be made better by the wines he will bring out to taste. This will be the climax of the trip. Exchange ideas, learn how to use their flavourful olive oil to finish dishes and savour a meal to remember. Janet and Stefano have countless legends, tales and anecdotes to fill the afternoon. He might even tell you how to reproduce some of these recipes home. You may only regret, when you are back, that his ingredients are not available at your local supermarket.
Return back, with a full stomach and a happy smile, and relax again at your lovely B&B or house, play cards, have a local dinner, maybe cook.
Day 4: Put your honey dip to good use
Where there is nature and there are flowers there are usually bees. Head out to an organic honey producer, where you will discover the world of Tuscan bees and their sweet product. First, you will be guided through the farm to see how each little bee keeps busy and understand the inner workings of an organic bee’s life and of their hives.
Brimming with knowledge, follow to the terrace to indulge in a delicious and healthy lunch focusing on the best honey and food pairings. Who would have thought that honey could so successfully be used with food? And I am not talking about drizzling it on tea or cakes.
In the afternoon best to go back and chill by the pool, enjoy some sun, read a book about Tuscany or about food! Or if you are heading somewhere else, you could also leave that evening, but why not stay another night and take it easy?
Things to do in Tuscany – How to make it happen
All the visits in this itinerary around Tuscany have to be organised with Km Zero Tours, the antithesis of a tour company. The producers I visited are not businesses that have opening hours and pre-set visits, they don’t live from or for tourism, they have their businesses and their lives and they only welcome visitors with Arianna and Alessio, the sweet Tuscan couple behind Km Zero Tours. Because they are passionate about the land and their traditions and would like to share them with a few select, and lucky, guests, they have managed to forge and nurture relationships with some of the best local producers in Tuscany and can take you with them to their homes.
You can reach out to Arianna via her email email@example.com and she can help put together this itinerary or another one that is to your liking. She can include more food, more wineries or even cooking lessons. She also works with a goat cheese farm, and can organise pasta making workshops. If you want to spend time outdoors, Arianna can organise yoga lessons on the beautiful garden, treks and walks across the incredible landscapes of Tuscany or bike rides. If you are keen to learn about old arts and culture you can learn about ceramic or jewelry making. You should spend the afternoons wandering around the towns in Tuscany like UNESCO listed Siena or even Florence. See below for some more ideas on places to see in Tuscany. A car is recommendable to be independent in the evenings if you wish to drive around the area.
What else to see and do in Tuscany
The best way to round up the trip is by staying in Km Zero’s incredibly beautiful Tuscan farm house on Montrogoli, on top of the hills, with the most breathtaking and picture perfect views of the famous Tuscan landscapes. Arianna and Alessio also live in the farm house, in a separated area so they will only be a stone’s throw away.
If you stay with them, your evenings will be spent in the garden, by their lovely pool, swinging on the hammock under the shaded cherry trees, or seeing the sun set behind the hills. You can wander among the garden or lay on the grass. You can even read a book on the stone terrace and share stories with Arianna about growing up in Tuscany and wanting to make all her dreams come true. And for dinner, join them on a pizza night, by the stone wood fired oven, in the garden, where you can make your own recipe. Alessio can also whip out a polenta evening when he will prepare and show you how to make polenta. It really is the best way to complement the trip.
The house is perfect for families or groups of friends but too large for just a couple, a great excuse to gather some friends over for the trip!
If you don’t stay with them or if you want to explore the area leisurely after the activities, Tuscany has a long list of little villages and towns where to get lost. You will need a car for that but distances are short and the landscapes divine.
Siena, the best known of them all and also a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the must-see. Volpaia and Monteriggioni are both Medieval walled cities of strong historical importance. Monteriggioni is even mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy and is a beautiful vestige of the wars between Siena and Florence in the Middle Ages. For other quaint little Tuscan Medieval towns, head to Montefioralle and Certaldo and wander their brick walled streets.
Where to stay in Tuscany
The best is obviously to stay with Arianna but their house is so beautiful that it is usually booked out during the summer months. Fret not. Even if you cannot stay with them, they can still show you around and set you up at a nice house elsewhere. The good thing about that is that even if your budget is modest, they can book you at one of the more affordable guest houses in some of the more quaint villages. Here are some of the recommendations on where to stay in Tuscany.
Know moreAlso part of this series on Slow Travel in Tuscany