The vineyard-dotted mountainous region of Provence, France, and the rugged central Italian region of Tuscany, Italy, are two of Europe's most visited places and they're only 348 miles (560 kilometers) apart. Both are known for their art and world-renowned cuisine. Neither is known for having mega-cities; rather, the main attractions tend to be rural, so you might want to rent a car to and make a road trip of it. Otherwise, you can take a bus or train.
|Bus||10 hours||from $30||Minding a budget|
|Train||9 hours, 30 minutes||from $48||Exploring the local area without driving|
|Car||6 hours, 30 minutes||348 miles (560 kilometers)||Arriving on a time crunch or sightseeing|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Provence to Tuscany?
Although it's less exhilarating than driving and much slower than taking a train, you can save a bit of money by taking the bus. How long it'll take depends on your exact departure and arrival points. It could be over 14 hours, but the journey from either region's capitals—Marseille and Florence—takes just over 10 hours and starts at $30 altogether. You can take the public bus—routes N482 or N719—or the BlaBlaBus from Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles to Genova, Italy, which takes about six hours, then transfer to a FlixBus or Baltour bus that will take you another four and a half hours to Florence.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Provence to Tuscany?
The fastest and arguably most enjoyable way to get from Provence to Tuscany is to drive. Again, the exact duration of travel depends on your starting and ending points—and your route, because there are a few—but, in general, driving these 348 miles (560 kilometers) should take between six and a half and seven hours, not including all the stops you'll want to make along the Mediterranean coast. Renting a car to drive from France to Italy can be pricey (starting around $36 per day) and then you should be prepared to pay an additional $100 for fuel and tolls. Many will say that the spectacular drive is worth it.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
The train ride from Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles in Provence to the Firenze Rifredi railway station in Florence takes about nine and a half hours, including an hour-long transfer at the Genova Piazza Principe railway station. There are multiple routes you can take and different cities in which to transfer, so use the Rail Europe website to help plan your trip. Tickets will altogether cost $48 and up.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Tuscany?
Summer in Tuscany is hot and crowded. You're better off going during spring (April or May) or fall (September or October) after the summer school holidays are over and the temperatures cool off. The highs for April and May are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit while the highs for September and October are between 72 and 81 degrees. What's more, September and October are when Tuscany's vineyards begin harvesting their grapes, beckoning harvest festivals throughout the region.
What’s the Most Scenic Route to Tuscany?
The further west you begin your journey, the more of the Côte d'Azur you're going to see. Fortunately, the most scenic driving route to Tuscany is also the fastest, but it certainly won't be if you make all the stops you'll want to make. Start in Avignon, ideally, a charming city along the Rhone known for its Palace of the Popes. Then, wind through the art towns of Arles and St. Remy. Nature lovers will want to head down to the Camargue (perhaps even for a day or two) before continuing along the Mediterranean coast.
On this famous stretch, you'll find towns like Roquebrune-Cap-Martin with its namesake château, or Menton, a place full of artists and citrus whose sun shines all year long. When you cross the border into Italy, head down the coast on the Autostrada dei Fiori, the motorway of flowers (watch for the greenhouses, or visit Hanbury Gardens while you're at it). You'll pass Genova on your way to Pisa (where you can stop for a self-guided walking tour or to see the famous leaning tower). Pisa is where the A11 Autostrada leads you inland toward Florence.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Tuscany?
You can visit Italy for up to 90 days without a visa. Make sure that your passport is valid for six months upon arrival.
What Is There to Do in Tuscany?
Tuscany is most well known for its landscapes, so get out and enjoy the rolling hills, the rugged Apennine Mountains, the beaches, the olive groves, and the vineyards while you're in the region. There are no huge cities in Tuscany, but you can stay in Florence (its capital), Siena, Lucca, Pisa, or countless others. Each has its own history and cultural flair.
In the Renaissance art city of Florence, you should explore the historic squares of Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, then stop by a museum or two, such as the Galleria degli Uffizi—housing sculptures by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci—or the Bargello for more sculptures. When you get hungry, there is plenty of pizza, panzanella (bread salad), and pappa al pomodoro (tomato basil soup) to eat. Beware of driving into the center because the Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) prohibits cars that don't have authorization. You can, however, get a permit that allows you to temporarily drive into the center to drop off luggage.