Last updated on January 23, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Tuscany

Is driving in Tuscany difficult?

Is driving in Tuscany difficult? It may be challenging in a few parts but it is certainly not difficult.

Renting a car in Tuscany is actually one of the best ideas you can take if you want to experience the beautiful countryside, the amazing medieval towns and castles and, of course, the many wineries spread in the region.

So, where is the challenging part? Road conditions, traffic, parking and another important aspect that I have explained below.

In this post, I have also included 3 real-life cases that I have experienced first-hand.

Is driving in Tuscany difficult? A General Overview

Renting a car in Tuscany and driving it through the regional roads is often considered one of the best ways to explore one of the most beautiful Italian regions.

However, like any place, the area has its specific conditions and nuances that can influence your driving experience.

Tuscany - A drone view of the typical white road in Maremma
Tuscany – A drone view of the typical white road in Maremma

Road Conditions

Tuscan roads are generally well-maintained, especially the main highways like the Autostrada.

However, the region is of course famous for its rolling hills. This means you will drive on winding roads, especially in the countryside.

Some of the smaller roads, such as those leading to remote wineries or hill towns, can be narrow, steep, and sometimes unpaved.

Despite this, they are still passable with care and offer breathtaking panoramic views.

And honestly, this is the most stunning part of Tuscany, a must-visit.

Traffic and Congestion

Traffic in Tuscany can vary greatly depending on where you are.

In cities like Florence and Pisa, traffic can be heavy, especially during peak hours.

However, once you leave the cities, you’ll find the traffic significantly decreases.

Rural areas and smaller towns have far less traffic, almost no cars actually, which can make for a peaceful and enjoyable drive.

If you are used to London, for example, even Florence is a peaceful place, but believe me, try to avoid the biggest Tuscan city between 4:30 pm and 7 pm

Parking Situations

Parking in Tuscan cities and larger towns can be challenging.

Many city centres are restricted zones (ZTLs) where only residents can drive. If you do find parking, it often involves a fee.

Therefore, planning ahead is crucial. You should check this guide to parking in Siena if this lovely city is on your bucket list.

In contrast, parking in rural areas and smaller towns are generally easier and cheaper, with most offering free parking areas.

Beautiful drive at sunset time in Tuscany
Beautiful drive at sunset time in Tuscany

Navigating Rural vs Urban Areas

Driving in rural and urban areas in Tuscany requires different considerations.

In cities, you’ll need to be aware of ZTLs, heavy traffic, and limited parking. It’s often easier to park outside the city centre and use public transportation or walk.

On the other hand, rural driving can be quite a pleasure. You can enjoy the picturesque landscapes and stop at will to take photos or visit small towns.

However, do be prepared for winding, narrow roads that might require more attention.

While driving here might present some challenges, the freedom and flexibility it offers often outweigh the difficulties.

Driving to a local winery in Tuscany
Driving to a local winery in Tuscany

I usually rent my cars on the DiscoverCars website, a rental aggregator that compares the prices of local and global operators providing the best deal around, with the possibility to add full insurance for just 7 Euros/day, such a great peace of mind.

Three Real-Life case studies

The Day Trip to Chianti

If you are looking for where to stay in Tuscany for wineries then Chianti has to be.

However, driving through the Chianti region can be a challenging yet rewarding experience.

The winding roads are narrow, often without guardrails, and the fog may limit visibility.

However, the ability to stop at vineyards, take in the scenic views, and explore small towns at your own pace can make the drive worth it.

It must be said also that the fog has been less of a problem in the last 10 years or so.

ChallengeDifficulty LevelTips
Winding roadsModerate to HighDrive slowly, stay alert
Limited Visibility due to fogHighUse fog lights, keep a safe distance from other vehicles
Narrow roadsModerateBe mindful of oncoming traffic, especially around bends
The Day Trip to Chianti

Exploring the Tuscan Coast

Driving along the Tuscan coast can be tricky due to traffic, especially during the summer months.

However, the coastal roads provide stunning sea views, and having a car allows you to explore hidden beaches and coastal towns.

I love this part of Tuscany, I still remember my time there camping, however, July and August are famous to be crowded, especially on weekends.

ChallengeDifficulty LevelTips
Traffic congestionHighAvoid peak hours, use GPS for alternative routes
Finding parkingModerate to HighLook for designated parking areas, be prepared to walk
Exploring the Tuscan Coast
Walking in the main square of Cortona
Walking in the main square of Cortona

Visiting Hill Towns in Tuscany

Hill towns in Tuscany are often perched on steep hills, making the drive up to them challenging.

Streets can be extremely narrow and steep, with sharp turns.

However, these towns offer unique cultural experiences and panoramic views that can be worth the challenging drive. Any Tuscany itinerary should include at least a day to these remote areas

I actually have a small unit in a medieval village on top of a hill and I can assure you that any challenge you may face on the road up, will be totally worth it.

ChallengeDifficulty LevelTips
Steep roadsHighUse a lower gear, keep a steady speed
Narrow and sharp turnsHighDrive slowly, use mirrors effectively, honk before blind turns
Visiting Hill Towns in Tuscany

In each of these case studies, the level of difficulty varies depending on specific challenges.

However, with careful driving and the right preparations, it’s certainly manageable to drive in Tuscany.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

1 thought on “Is driving in Tuscany difficult?”

  1. We are a family of 7 and we’re planning to get a 9 passenger van to leave from Rome up coast Maremma towns, across to sienna and other towns, then to La Spezia and train to CT. We have bedpan advised this size ( automatic) van would not be recommended for the itinerary we planned. Your thoughts?

    Reply

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