When visiting Florence, it would be almost criminal to miss out on exploring nearby Chianti, a region famous for its fragrant red wines, delicious traditional cuisine, and breath-taking countryside. Indeed, the Chianti landscape is widely considered one of the most beautiful in all of Italy, attracting tourists from across the globe in every season.
But making your way from Florence to Chianti isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine. Many of the most beautiful must-see vineyards and little towns are hidden away high up on isolated hilltops, and Italian country roads are notoriously poorly signposted. It’s therefore vital that you plan your journey in advance to ensure that you make the absolute most of your visit.
You have a few options to consider, some of which will make your life a little easier than others.
Travelling by Bus
Taking a bus from Florence to Chianti is probably the cheapest option available – although it’s probably wise to remember you get what you pay for. There’s a bus which will take you from Florence to San Gimignano, a beautiful town that is well used to tourists who don’t speak Italian, and the view from the bus window is pretty spectacular itself. Bus tickets can be bought from local tobacco shops, called ‘tabacchi’, or on the buses themselves for a small extra fee (and the risk that the bus driver won’t have the right change!).
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can also try to take one of the local bus services to some of the other small towns. Be warned, however, that unless you speak pretty good Italian it can be pretty tricky to work out where each bus is taking you and how much you need to pay. It might be worth asking your hotel to help you put together your itinerary if you want to avoid getting lost!
The main downside to travelling by local public bus is that you can end up spending quite a lot of your day just waiting around. The buses aren’t especially reliable, weekday and weekend timetables vary widely, and they generally don’t run after 7pm.
Private Rental Car
The advantage of renting a car over taking the local bus in order to get from Florence to Chianti is the freedom and flexibility you’re able to enjoy. Of course, renting a car is considerably more expensive than buying a bus ticket, but when you’re behind the wheel you can explore whichever towns and vineyards catch your eye, and there are a number of extremely attractive spots around Chianti that you just can’t reach in any other way.
However, if you are going to drive yourself around and you don’t know the area well, you need to be prepared for the fact that you’re overwhelmingly likely to get lost and need to ask for directions. As the locals will tell you, the roads around Chianti are especially winding and confusing even for native Italians! This doesn’t bother everybody, but if you know you find stopping and asking strangers for help makes you uncomfortable, or you’re nervous driving on unfamiliar roads (and on the other side) then you might want to consider another option.
Small Group Escorted Tour
By far the most hassle-free and best value option is to book yourself onto an escorted tour such as Walkabout Florence’s Chianti Wine and Food Safari. The tour will take you from Florence to Chianti without you having to think about any of the logistics yourself, and you’ll be able to spend the whole time relaxed and confident in the knowledge that your expert guides will be taking you to the best destinations the region has to offer.
In fact, you’ll be travelling from Florence to Chianti in an off-road, four-wheel-drive safari vehicle, through idyllic unmarked backroads with views that you just wouldn’t have had the chance to see otherwise. Moreover, these vehicles have been customised for Walkabout Florence to have extra suspension, air conditioning, comfortable seats and a sound system so that you can hear your guide without having to strain your ears. A prototype of the vehicle was even used for scaling the sides of volcanoes, so you know you’re in safe hands when climbing up those steep Tuscan hills!
Over the course of the day, you’ll visit two classic wineries where you’ll have the chance to try some award-winning wines, cheeses, and olive oils. For lunch, you’ll stop at a typical Tuscan restaurant with stunning views and a truly wonderful ambience. Later, in the picturesque town of Greve, you’ll be able to buy a selection of traditional salumi (cured meats) from Italy’s most famous butchers, which you’ll then enjoy that evening as the sun begins to set over a beautiful hillside vineyard. This is an absolutely unforgettable experience for food, wine, and nature lovers.
When travelling from Florence to Chianti you have a number of options. If you’re on a tight budget, you could think about travelling by bus, although this means that your opportunities to explore the region are quite limited. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous and confident to drive, then renting a car can be a good idea if you’re happy enough getting lost and chatting with friendly locals. But if you really want to make sure you get the most out of your visit and experience everything this amazing region has to offer, then booking yourself onto an escorted tour is the way to go. Chianti is such an incredible place that no doubt you’ll be back again soon!
We Are Walkabout Florence
Here at Walkabout Florence we’re renowned as one of the most trusted independent tour operators in the industry. If you’d like to find out more about our fantastic day trips and experiences don’t hesitate to get in touch. From cooking classes and vineyard tours, to Vespa and Fiat 500 tours, we’ll help you uncover the authentic delights of Tuscany.
Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour from Florence https://walkaboutflorence.com/tours/best-tuscany-tour. Experience the very best of Tuscany on this fun-filled day trip to immerse in the food, wine, culture and history of this iconic region. It’s a day to remember!