Italian Road Trip on the Tuscan Seaside

Aug 1, 2023

Back in July of 2020, my husband and I celebrated our four year wedding anniversary by driving the ‘97 MINI Rover we’d bought six months before the pandemic, to the Tuscan seaside.

Our ’97 Mini Rover

Although MINA has driven like a dream from day one, we’d never gone anywhere further than half an hour with her (yes, her – in Italian cars are a feminine noun). We took this as an opportunity to add a couple of nights in the medieval town of Volterra to our itinerary. 

Volterra is just over an hour southwest of Florence and is known for its etruscan roots; the drive is lined with typical Tuscan countryside views. Rolling green hills, long, cypress-lined driveways leading to vineyards and villas, and plenty of curvy back roads for us to test out MINA’s handling

The road to Volterra

We stopped for a little photoshoot at one of the famous sculptures by renowned Volterrean artist, Mauro Staccioli. The huge red circle known as the Anello di San Martino (Hwy S68),  provides a stunning life-size frame from which to admire the seemingly infinite horizon.

The landmark is only a short drive from the town center, so once we parked and dropped off our bags, we hit the town oohing and ahhing at all the history lying before us. 

That night we did a little grocery run for the next few days and decided to have dinner at the apartment we’d rented. We’d booked a table for the next night at a restaurant that had been included in a Michelin guide. Ristorante Enoteca del Duca also happened to be a vineyard, so our dinner quickly turned into a paired tasting al fresco.

One of the beautiful sculptures we saw

We vowed to one day return – and we will! If you’re looking for places to stay, I found this gorgeous little apartment with a garden on an agriturismo on Airbnb. Or if you prefer the Villa vibe, here is this one – equipped with pool, onsite parking, and so much nature you won’t know what to do with yourself!

After two nights resting, recuperating and working remotely in Volterra, we made our way down to our final lodging destination for this trip. We had rented a lovely little cottage in the Maremma countryside for a few nights.

The location was quite strategic as it was just a 20 min drive to the posh coastal town of Castiglione della Pescaia and a mere 30 min drive to Punta Ala, still part of Castiglione, but a particularly popular beach destination for locals and visitors alike.

Enjoying the Italian countryside

As we pulled up to our cottage, we couldn’t help but marvel at what felt like miles and miles of sunflowers fields! And as soon as those fields ended the scenery turned to farmland with bales of hay scattered about like something out of a painting!

I had never known the actual name of those giant rolls of hay – I grew up in a metropolitan city! But I sure loved learning that word! And of course, having a photoshoot with them!

Although the apartment was in the countryside, we had ensured the internet connection was strong enough to get work done. So we dedicated time to finalizing work projects that first night we were there. We spent the morning lounging on the beach in Castiglione della Pescaia (eating our humble tuna salad for lunch) before hitting the town’s historic center for an unforgettable dinner later that evening. 

Posto Pubblico in Castiglione della Pescaia. 

I don’t know HOW we got so lucky, but we got a reservation at a tiny place located in a “suggestive vicolo” of the medieval fortress on Via dell’Amore. Stoppp! You can’t make this stuff up!! The ambiance was simply perfection and the owners were both well-traveled chefs that also happened to be brothers. They managed to combine their worldly experiences in quite an exquisite way. We will 100% return there, too!

The next day, we headed a bit north to the stunning blue water beaches of Punta Ala. Now, this was all one big adventure for us. Having never been to either place, we failed to realize that for these beaches you either bring ALL your own stuff to a spiaggia libera or you pay through the nose to lay in one of the lounge chairs on one of the several private beach clubs that dot the coast.

The great part was that we found this really cute campsite that offered bungalows and even airstreamers for rent! So you didn’t actually have to camp to stay there and enjoy direct access to the perfect beach. Next time we might check out that one or one of the many other interesting beach clubs we stumbled upon on our way back to the car that day. Here is a place I found on Airbnb that is right on the beach.

A beautiful Tuscan sunflower field

Driving back to Florence along the curvy countryside roads, we felt incredibly thankful that we had the opportunity to take a trip like that mere months after Covid-19 hit. The balmy July air played with our hair as we sang along to our music with the windows rolled all the way down (no AC in a classic MINI!). 

Patricia Esmeralda Estrada is a Salvadorian American polyglot (en, sp, it, brpt). Born in New York and raised in LA, she met her Florence-based Calabrese husband while working in Brazil. She shares her daily life via Instagram Stories @EsmeraldasRoad where she shares her #firstgenjoy through healing intergenerational trauma. She’s called Florence home since 2015 and has no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. 

Hey friend, It's Marina!

Hey friend, It's Marina!

I’m an Egyptian-born personal brand coach, strategist, speaker, certified yogi, and avid traveler.

Obsessed with living a freedom-filled life, on my terms of course, I’ve been traveling the world solo for over 10 years. I’ve experienced the wildest and most incredible things that lead me to start this platform—Livin Vivaciously.

I’m also a proud corporate fashion design dropout (yup, that life is not for me) passionate about helping freedom-obsessed women and digital entrepreneurs build their true-to-self personal brand to live with more freedom and joy.

Happy to have you in my vivacious community!

Stay Vivacious,


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