Monthly Archives: July 2016

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

Hotel Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d’Orcia

April 2016

Our hotel for the 1st night of our day trip is ‘Il Garibaldi‘ at San Quirico d’Orcia. It is located just off the SR2 and adjoining a Tamoil petrol station. Although just by SR2, the little traffic and properly sealed window kept outside noise away. We did get a good night’s sleep even though our room is facing the SR2. It’s a small hotel with 6 rooms facing the SR2 and another 6 facing the country side. The hotel also has its own restaurant albeit during our stay it’s almost empty.

Il Garibaldi does not have a lift and you do need to climb more than 20 flights of stairs. Something tough for the elderly with laggage.The rooms are adequate in size but fixtures are a little dated. Although highly rated in Tripadvisor, I find this hotel basic and satisfactory. However, their wi-fi is superbly strong and stable. No lagging on downloads or on facetime half way across the world. Free parking available within the hotel compound.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

Hotel Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d’Orcia.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

Hallway to the rooms.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

One Queen and a non requested single bed.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

Closet in the room.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

A non working CTV in the room.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

Bathroom.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

The hotel adjoining to the petrol station.

Il Garibaldi, San Quirico d'Orcia

How close are the pumps? Picture taken from the window of our room. The SR2 regional road in-front.

Tuscany Road Trip

Tuscany Road Trip – Day 1

April 2016

Straight out of the parking lot of the rent a car at Florence airport, we drove with the assistance of HERE Maps mobile app to our final destination for the day, hotel ‘Il Garibaldi’ at San Quirico d’Orcia. It is a 130km drive, through the E35 highway, SR222 & SR2. The E35 highway runs from Amsterdam to Rome and SR refers to Strada Regionale or regional road. The usage of E35 will incur toll while the SR222 & SR2 has no toll. Both the E & SR are left hand drive, the E being a dual carriageway whilst the SR is single carriageway (at some point a little narrow). Sad to say, the SR has few spots you can park to enjoy the beautiful and breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside as it basically has no road shoulder. That being said, you just have to register the views to your memory instead of your SD card.

Malaysian drivers would require an International Driving Permit to drive in Italy. The IDP cost RM150 valid for 1 year that covers many other countries as well. You can apply for an IDP at your JPJ office by filling a simple form. You need to produce your driving licence (valid for another 1 year), ID & 2 copies of passport size photo. The IDP is issued on the spot and is a 5 minutes process but waiting for your queue number to be called, is entirely a different matter.

We have no specific itineraries for our road trip, but just to drive and take in the Tuscan views as what we have seen in TV, magazines and internet. Naturally visiting the Tuscan region at different time of the year, you will see different vegetation but by mid April the Tuscan is already green.

So, is Tuscany a town? Italy is composed of 20 regions, Tuscany is one of them. Tuscany is made up of ten provinces i.e. Florence, Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. It is in central Italy with a land area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.8 million. In Italian, Tuscany is Toscana and its capital is Florence. Though Tuscany is referred as a region in Italy, it is equivalent to a state elsewhere.

Tuscany is famous for its picturesque landscapes, medieval villages, historical towns, castles, churches and abbeys. It is famous for its wine and the wine growing region of Chianti is in Tuscany. Whilst we took numerous pictures, some of it we are not sure of its location. So, excuse us if the pictures has no caption.

Tuscany Road Trip

Definitely on SR222 as stated on the board.

Tuscany Road Trip

Another section of SR222. Narrow road with little opportunity to park by the road shoulder.

Tuscany Road Trip

Day 1 of our Tuscany Road trip from Florence to San Quirico d’Orcia. Click to enlarge.

Tuscany Road Trip

Hillside view. Location : La Presura.

Tuscany Road Trip

Farmhouse in vineyard. Location : Chiocchio

Tuscany Road Trip

Entrane to Castello Vicchiomaggio at Le Bolle. An upscale hotel with infinity pool.

Tuscany Road Trip

Location : La Bolle.

Tuscany Road Trip

Location : La Bolle.

Tuscany Road Trip

Fattoria Montagliari is a small family owned and run farm producing wine. Location : Greve in Chianti.

Tuscany Road Trip

On the hilltop by SR222 overlooking Montagliari.

Tuscany Road Trip

Same spot above, different area.

Tuscany Road Trip

Vineyard by the roadside. Location : Panzano.

Tuscany Road Trip

Unknown location.

Tuscany Road Trip

This most photographed cypress trees is just off the SR2 after a bridge on your right. About 9km heading into San Quirico d’Orcia town.

Tuscany Road Trip

San Quirico d’Orcia seen from behind our hotel.

We started our drive from Florence airport at 10:30 and reached our hotel ‘II Garibaldi’ in San Quirico d’Orcia at 16:40. Once checked-in, we did an evening drive as indicated in the map below. We back tracked onto SR2 and then onto SP137 (Strada Provinciale abbreviated as SP meaning provincial road) until we reached the village of Torrenieri 7.5kms away. Along the route, you will be rewarded with beautiful country side views. If you are not intending to venture further than San Quirico, this route itself is worth the drive. This route do not incur tolls.

From the village, we then drove onto SP14 which leads us back onto SR2 which earlier we were on it coming from Florence. On this SR2, 4km before reaching San Quirico, on your right after crossing a bridge, you will see the famed spot of Cypress trees (photo above & below) is located. There is space after the bridge on the road shoulder for 4-5 cars to park.

Tuscany Road Trip

Our route map around San Quirico d’Orcia. That famed spot for cypress trees is marked. Click to enlarge map.

Tuscany Road Trip

That cypress trees again.

Tuscany Road Trip

The bridge as seen from the spot of the cypress trees.

Tuscany Road Trip

Farmhouse on a hill slope.

Tuscany Road Trip

Lone tree by the SP137

Tuscany Road Trip

It’s green in Tuscany in mid April.

Tuscany Road Trip

Another farmhouse on a hill slope.

Tuscany Road Trip

Hill slope bathe in the evening sunlight.

Tuscany Road Trip

Village by the SP137.

Tuscany Road Trip

A small vineyard along the route.

Volainbus Florence

volainbus Airport Shuttle, Florence

April 2016

Having spent 2 nights in Florence and a whole day on a day trip to Rome from Florence, we embark on our road trip of the Tuscan region. We will be picking up our rental car at Florence airport as opposed to Florence town as the rental rate for returning to a different location is much higher. The savings of picking up and returning to the same location outweigh the convenience of picking up in town. At the end of our road trip, we will be flying out from Florence airport.

To get to Florence airport we will be taking the airport shuttle bus called, ‘volainbus‘ at the Autostazione just beside SM Novella train station. It is a couple of minutes walk from Hotel Montreal and the one way ticket cost €6. During the day, the shuttle runs every 30 minutes. Refer this site for more information. For the first time, we experienced a delay in Italian public transportation as the bus arrived 25 minutes late due to the morning traffic congestion. So do take this into consideration to avoid missing your flight.

Volainbus Florence

volainbus – shuttle bus from Florence to airport, vice-versa                         Credit: twitter.com/hashtag/volainbus

Volainbus Airport Shuttle, Florence

Pick-up is at the Autostazione besides SM Novella train station.

Volainbus Airport Shuttle, Florence

Just a 110m, 3 minutes walk from Hotel Montreal.

Volainbus Airport Shuttle, Florence

Volainbus shuttle tickets. €6 one way.

The Mall shuttle bus, florence

Pick-up point for the shuttle bus to ‘The Mall’ at the Autostazione. The shuttle bus to Barberino outlet is also black in color but pick-up point is in-front of SM Novella train station (Zoppini Store). Don’t get confused.

Volainbus Airport Shuttle, Florence

Florence airport.

As of April 2016, there are NO longer car rental counters at Florence airport. All car rental companies are based off-site about a kilometer away. You get there by a complimentary mini bus shuttle provided at the airport. The pick-up point is just outside of the arrival terminal. Look out for the sign below. There is a make shift shelter for you to wait but no seats. The mini bus is … well mini and cannot accommodate many passengers with luggage. You may have to wait for it to return.

Once we are at the car rental site office, the first counter to the right belongs to Europcar where we’ve made advanced booking through Economy Car Rentals. Paperwork was fast and in no time, we were driving out our VW with the assistance of HERE Maps offline navigation app. For peace of mind, we had purchased additional insurance to cover any excess at Halo Insurance Services Limited.

Bear in mind renting of vehicle in Italy during winter period (up to 15th April), usage of snow chain is mandatory by law and an extra charge is imposed and usually in fine print.

Rent a car Airport Shuttle, Florence

Florence airport rent a car shuttle pick-up point. All rent a car offices are off-site from the airport more than 1km away.

Florence car rental site

Florence rent a car site office map. It’s a longer distance from the site office to the airport as the shuttle makes a u-turn at the far right round-about.

Europcar rental, Florence

VW ‘UP’ rented from Eoropcar.