If I am asked to choose one expression to describe August in Florence, it would be “Chiudo Per Ferie” (Closed for Holidays).
Once August arrives, I immediately found Florence more spacious. Most of the Florentines are off, leaving the city to the tourists. Don’t be surprised to find a closing door to your favorite shops or restaurants while visiting. Italians are all about enjoying life. For this reason, be prepared with information of what is available is important. A list of restaurants that will be open in August can be found in one of my favorite blog Girl In Florence.
Summer holiday is about seaside. If you are heading to the coast, you may find all the Italians there. But what if we want to stay out of the crowd? What about that signature Tuscany countryside tranquility? Can we still have it in the summer heat?
My recent favorite way to explore new area is taking road trip. I did it in Provence in June, and last week did it again driving around Casentino, the valley in East Tuscany with the tract of the Arno river. I have to say it is one of the best way to visit Tuscany in summer: stay in the car without getting burned; pull over and take pictures any time we want; be spontaneous to visit different towns, without planning strictly everything.
Heading to Casentino, you do NOT take the high-way. And that is the beauty of it. On the way we passed through many small villages. With the car windows open, the smell of the sunshine flew in, and my arm was brushed by the countryside air. The first interesting stop is the town of Consuma. It is fine to keep driving, however you may want to pull over and buy their famous Schiacciata before too late. It is a flat bread and one of the most common and popular bakeries in Tuscany. The Schiacciata from Consuma is slightly hard, which matches great with cold cut put in the middle.
Starting from Consuma, the temperature dropped a little as we are climbing the mountain and basically in the forest. From 31C in Florence to 26C in Consuma, we closed the windows and watched the trees passing by.
After 1 hour and half driving, we arrived in Poppi, where the Castello dei Conti Guidi locates. First thing first, we parked our car and found a restaurant for lunch! In Italy you never need to worry about food. Even in a small town like Poppi, you still can find restaurant that made into the Michelin Guide. We found L’Antica Cantina Ristorante right after entering the gate of Poppi town. It is an antique stone house turned restaurant, serving authentic Italian dish.
We walked around Poppi after a great lunch. With our two-year old in stroller, we didn’t climb to the famous Castle, however the peaceful environment of Poppi already satisfied us enough.
Next stop was Romena, a very romantic place with much open view. It was the best part of this road trip. The road cut through Romena, dividing it into two parts: the one that has the church and a garden planted with lavenders, sunflowers, and lawn; and the other part held the shops and gardens.
I was impressed by this scenery of Romena. It actually reminded me Provence: the lavender field, the gray color stone church… For a second I thought we were still in south of France, and my husband told me the same feeling!
The bookstore was another high-light of Romena. It combined religious and rustic styles in the interior, which calmed whoever walked inside. Besides books on religious topics, the shop also had household items, such as tableware, carpets, etc.
Another place worth visiting was Porciano. We passed by without getting off the car, but we saw many other cars parked outside the town, so it must be a place interesting stop as well.
By the time we started to head back home, it was already 4pm. It was a very spontaneous trip, as we just decided to do this at 9am the same day. But I must say Tuscany is Tuscany, it hardly let you down.