As travel bloggers we’re used to all sorts of different rental cars and had our fair share of adventures in those 😉 But nothing comes more welcome than a partnership with a trustworthy and upscale car brand like Mercedes-Benz. After working together on our #femaletravelbloggers road trip in 2020 I’m happy to announce that this is the kick-off for a long-term partnership with Mercedes-Benz Austria.
She’s Mercedes Ambassador for Austria
But there’s more to it than just a car partnership! As of June 2021 I’m the She’s Mercedes ambassador for Austria and am incredibly honoured to represent the brand within my sphere of travel and photography. The photography world (as well as the automative industry) is still heavily male dominated and therefore I believe it’s important to show a female perspective and am very grateful that I get to do this in my role as travel photographer for Mercedes-Benz Austria.
First road trip: Tuscany
To kick off the partnership we decided to take a first road trip all the way down to Tuscany. After the borders to Italy had just opened and travel restrictions were eased it felt like an invitation to finally smell the salt water again, bite into a sun-riped flavour-filled tomato and watch the sunset in a field of olive trees.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz E 300 de 4MATIC T-Modell brought us to Tuscany in it’s trusted fashion – reliably, comfortably and safe – the most important elements of a road trip. Well and of course a high-end sound system deluxe by Burmester to surround us in our Tuscany playlist (filled with Paolo Conte and Marino Marini).
Tuscany of course lends itself to road trips with it’s slow paced travel style and driving on the endless cypress-lined alleyways and winding roads.
Our road trip itinerary
When taking a road trip through Tuscany there are a few must sees and must dos, which we quickly ticked off the list and decided to move on in equally fast tempo. The famous Abbey of San Galgano or the iconic Cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia – as well as the most well-known winding alley in all of Tuscany (which by the way is closed for traffic!). All of those can be done within a day, but aren’t really the highlights you might be looking for.
During our last visit of Tuscany we already visited the famous cities of Volterra with it’s alabaster workshops and some hidden gems like Pomarance and San Dalmazio. We also had been to Florence and Siena before, so this time we focused on some less famous spots – and were not disappointed!
The Abbey of San Galgano and the famous Cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia were stops along the way, but not our favourites.
Our favourite road trip stops in Tuscany were the following:
- Cala Civette: A special beach
- Bagni di San Filippo: Thermal baths
- Castiglione d’Orcia: Olive groves and sunset views
- Casole d‘Elsa: An artistic village
1. Cala Civette
A secluded secret bay with a sandy beach, that is hidden in-between famous Punta Ala and even more overcrowded Cala Violina. Parking is free (Use this Google plus code to find the location: RQWQ+FR Scarlino, Province of Grosseto) and after a 30 minute hike (with incredible views) you’ll get to this hidden gem.
2. Bagni di San Filippo
The natural thermal baths are located in the woods of San Filippo and just the most soothing retreat – even on a rainy day. It’s recommended to stay 30 minutes in the mineral rich water, but not longer. So we recommend this for a short stop along the way (or you bring picnic and stay there for a relaxed afternoon), but please know that it’s quite a famous spot among Italians and therefore can get crowded. Parking is also free, but only at this location (WPG2+G4 Castiglione d’Orcia, Province of Siena).
3. Castiglione d’Orcia
This little town in the Val d’Orcia region is located on a rocky outcrop, that overlooks the hills of Tuscany and is a perfect sunset spot. We only arrived here late in the evening, so didn’t have time to stroll around the village, but it looked like it would be worth a stop as well! But even if you just drive up to watch the sunset, make sure to find a nice spot among the olive groves and just enjoy the views.
4. Casole d‘Elsa
Another hidden gem in Tuscany! Here you can stroll through the small alleys and visit the gallery and studio of artist Linda Leupold (Via Alessandro Casolani, 30, 53031 Casole d’Elsa SI), who also teaches painting classes in Tuscany! The town itself is small, but has a unique creative scene and Linda will happily share her personal tips.
A truly Italian experience
If we’re talking about slow traveling, we always love to also take half a day or a day for a special experience, that lets us stop and dive deep by using our senses – be it the pottery class we did in Portugal or in this case the Tuscan watercolour class we enjoyed in Castello di Casole. Sitting in the Tuscan landscape, soaking in all the inspiration around us and then bringing it to paper might be one of the best things we did while in Tuscany!
The most beautiful road in Tuscany
Of course when we’re talking about road trips it’s worth mentioning where you can find some of the most beautiful roads in Tuscany. As mentioned before the iconic postcard worthy “Baccoleno-winding road” (Location: 6H2Q+9W Asciano, Province of Siena) is closed for traffic and therefore can only be viewed from a hilltop – so you have to find some alternatives to just enjoy the Tuscan landscape rolling by while Paolo Conte sings “Via via…”!
We stayed at Belmond Castello di Casole and the luxury hotel is located on an estate that spans over 1,500 hectares with it’s own set of beautiful private roads. Of course these are only open to guests, but staying here is a recommendation anyhow (and we will soon tell you a bit more about this place).
Another famous road is the small alley that leads up to “Farmhouse Poggio Covili” (Via Cassia, Snc, 53023 Castiglione D’orcia SI), but since it’s located right next to the well-known SR2 road the owners closed the road with a steel chain. We got lucky when we arrived there that it was open and we could take a few photos, but what’s not in the picture is the line of people waiting behind us to snap their Instagram shots.
Driving through the Val d’Orcia and Crete Senesi is an experience in and by itself and on the last day we discovered the most beautiful road by chance – it’s the SP34 road and especially the part surrounding Castelnuovo Tancredi (Localita’ Castelnuovo Tancredi, 93, 53022 Buonconvento SI). This is where driving with open windows or rooftops while listening to the wind and soaking up the soft Italian light comes true!
Tuscany will see us again
When we returned home after 5 slow-paced and memorable days in Tuscany we knew, that we will return – over and over again. There’s always more to see and more hidden paths to discover. Well and more Pizza and Pasta to eat! And of course it will be a Mercedes-Benz that brings us there… (to be continued).