The trip you’re about to embark upon will catapult you into untouched nature in which food and wine are the stars. Take your dog on this journey around Tuscany, from the Maremma to the province of Pisa, among hilltop villages, natural springs and never-ending vineyards, while remembering to relax and explore the region’s rich history.
Saturnia hot springs are the first port of call on our journey. Situated in the province of Grosseto, an hour’s drive from the city, these natural springs will win you over with their beauty. Here you can relax with your family (pets included) because your four-legged friend can actually bathe in the hot water with you: the water flows into lots of little cascades. The best place to bathe with your pup, without having to worry about the current and rocks, is the lower part. Cross the river on your left and walk along its banks towards the falls. That way, your hound, if he’s a scaredy-cat like our dog Pesca, can ease him- or herself into the water. Dawn is undoubtedly the best time to enjoy this magical place. The golden light begins to illuminate the hills and the lack of people means you get the water all to yourselves. It’s quite spectacular, especially for photographers.
Our tour continues towards Montalcino, in the province of Siena, the land of Brunello, cheese and cured meats. This picturesque town boasts views over the Val d’Orcia, where you can stand in adoration of the rows of cypress trees and expanses of vineyards between Siena and the Maremma. After a winery visit, explore the narrow streets that feel like you’ve stepped back in time. If you happen to be here in July, don’t miss the Jazz&Wine festival: sip a glass of fine local wine while listening to the music reverberate among the walls. Check out one of the many superb wine bars along viale della Liberà, where you can savour your favourite tipple with your dog by your side. If you’re looking for a wine estate in the hills, Montalcino vaunts lots of pet-friendly places. Even though most websites don’t specifically state that they welcome pets, our advice is to give the winery a quick call, so that you can plan accordingly. Taverna del Grappolo Blu is highly recommended: a pet-friendly restaurant in the town centre with extraordinary views over the valley.
After a coffee and maybe a few cookies with some dessert wine, carry on your travels to discover the cypress trees around San Quirico d’Orcia.
Take the road to Cipressi di San Quirico and when Google Maps tells you that you’ve arrived, park your vehicle by the side of the road and continue on foot over the hill in front of you. You’ll be greeted by a moving sight among the rolling hills, where your dog can run through the hills. If you’re into photography or just love scenery, you can find out all the most photogenic spots in the Val d’Orcia by using Mappando.
The road trip continues around the stunning Crete Senesi.
The clay distinguishes the area and shapes the surrounding hills into creeks and gullies that impress with their beauty. Along the way, scenic roads dotted with towns, old haylofts and monasteries blend to create a unique picture-postcard atmosphere. Now that our eyes have been gladdened, it-s time to think about our stomaches. Pecorino cheese, in all its variations, is a regional delicacy: the version with white truffle is typical of this area.
Carry on to medieval Monteriggioni. Built in the 1200s as a defensive post against the enemy of Florence, it proved fundamental in protecting Siena and ensuring its safety. What you see today remains very similar to how the town was in the past with its towers still intact. A walk around the walls and a break in the main square means you get to savour Monteriggioni’s majesty and delights.
Returning to our tour, San Gimignano lies 30 minutes away. It’s home to saffron and Vernaccia, a world-famous white wine. Midway between Florence and Siena, this lovely UNESCO World Heritage site continues to uphold the essence of bygone times. You should know that, in addition to the municipal tower, which is the tallest of them all, another 70 towers were erected, one per wealthy family. It was a battle between the families to build the highest tower, which can be seen as only 14 towers still remain standing.
Our tour ends in Volterra, in the province of Pisa. It’s a special place brimming with history, whose origins date to Etruscan times. At the end of August (third and fourth Sunday of the month), the entire town sports an array of colours for a medieval festival, in which Tuscan flagbearers delight the crowds in the main square. Stroll around the town and explore the alleyways while savouring the local atmosphere.