Tuscany has long been one of the most popular places to visit in Italy, and you’ll certainly find plenty of other people there no matter when you go. Still, there are a few relatively quiet corners in the region, areas that have remained quiet largely because they’re more difficult to reach via Italy’s public transportation network. Getting around in Tuscany isn’t difficult, it just depends where you’re going what method of travel is best suited to your journey. And, as mentioned, if you really want to get “off the beaten path,” you’ve got to be a bit more intrepid.
The easiest way to get around most of Tuscany (and most of Italy) is taking the train. The Italian rail network is extensive, connecting big cities and small towns throughout the country. Florence is Tuscany’s capital and a major rail hub – Italy’s high-speed trains don’t go everywhere in Italy yet, but they do serve Florence. The faster the trains, the more expensive the tickets tend to be, so if you’ve got a little more time you can choose a slower (and cheaper) train to get between towns in Tuscany. Also note that while most of Tuscany is served by the Italian state-run trains, there are parts of western Tuscany on a private line called LFI.
Not every town in Tuscany has a train station, so if you want to visit any of those (and you don’t want to rent a car) you’ll need to investigate the bus schedules. Buses serve nearly every city and town in Tuscany – particularly those without train service – although figuring out the networks can be confusing. There are several bus companies in Tuscany, so it’s helpful to go to the local bus station or tourist information office and inquire about schedules to the places you want to visit rather than trying to sort it all out online beforehand (since it’s not all on one website). Don’t count on bus drivers to speak English – be aware of what you’re looking for at your bus stop, and learn some simple phrases to indicate where you want to go and whether this is, indeed, that stop.
To really get away from the crowds in Tuscany and be on your own schedule, you’ll need to rent a car. Having your own car means you can get to even the tiny communities that don’t have regular bus service, as well as area vineyards and any agriturismos you’ve booked for your trip. Off the highways, Italian roads can be confusing to navigate, with road signs sometimes seeming to indicate that both a left turn and a right turn will get you to the same place, so having a really detailed driving map (and a GPS unit if you can get one in your rental car) is a must.
If you’re game, try a Vespa Small Group Day Trip to the Chianti Wine Region!