> SlowTrav > Stories > Pauline's Pages > 2001, Italy

Tuscany Travel Notes

Some of my notes about Tuscany.

The Autogrill

They make the best coffee. The caffe machiato is perfect - just the right dash of milk. Steve thinks they decided to make coffee the same at all Autogrills all over Italy and that they chose the Naples standard for coffee - short and strong. I love looking at the selections of chocolate bars - occasionally I buy one. I love looking at the whole store - the food items, the books, the maps, the newspapers. I love that we are all on the Autostrada, racing somewhere, but we have to stop for breakfast. Sometimes we buy water, or cough drops, or even the International Herald Tribune (only some of them carry it). The Autogrills in Tuscany sell the Corsini pastries from that great store in Castel del Piano.

Small Towns north of Pienza

My notes of the small towns near where we stayed on this trip.


A nice caffe and restaurant, small Coop alimentari, butcher. Thanks to Helga for leaving a note to say there is more to Castelmuzio than what you see on the main road. We parked in the parking lot and walked into the small town. Very pretty and full of lovely restored houses.


A good looking restaurant, a couple of caffes, a small Despar alimentari. The main street of the town is off the main driving street, but you can easily drive on it and park in a lot. We then walked up into the historic part of town - no stores, just nice renovated houses. We got lost and actually walked in a circle three times. It was much smaller up there than we thought!

San Giovanni d'Asso

Very small town with not much of anything. We parked and walked around the castle area, then down the main street which you can easily drive down. Only an enotecca, an alimentari, a caffe (closed today), and a butcher.


The main town of this area. A hardware store, a modern looking caffe full of kids (we didn't stop), a few other stores. Didn't look too interesting.


Very small town. We drove through the modern area - no stores or caffes.

Do NOT drive into these small towns

When I first wrote all the content for Slow Travel, I put up a driving rule - never drive into the small towns. Park outside and walk in. We learned this from experience. But, the topic was debated on the message board and one of our regulars, Steve F., said we were wrong on this.

When driving around Petroio, we decided to go with the Steve F philosophy (just drive on in!) and we drove up into the old part of town. A nightmare!! Drove up a narrow road thinking we would see a parking area or could just drive by to check out the stores and caffes. Came to an branch in the road with a big arrow pointing to the narrow, steep road up into town. Steve took it saying we must have to go this way. It got more narrow and more steep. We had to stop and could barely get going again, it was so steep.

Up past a few parked cars and people watching us closely. A couple of sharp turns then the road is so narrow it is not possible to continue. An old guy explains that we cannot go this way. We have to turn around. We turn around, almost having to go into someone's house to do it. Back down a narrow lane to let a van pass. He got to continue up this road! The old guy is having a great time directing us. My heart is pumping (I am not driving). Steve is calm beyond belief. If it was me, I would have stopped the car and had the old guy drive it out. But we continued on another narrow street, downhill at last, and managed to get out of town. I think I saw a shop or two in this drive.

Next time we will go with the Slow Travelers rule - NEVER DRIVE IN THROUGH THE TOWN WALLS. Park and walk. After this, we had to drive to Castelmuzio, park, walk in and have a drink!!

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