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Hunting for Sunflowers in Tuscany

Though the dazzling yellow image of a sunflower is timeless, their locations are not! Sunflowers are a rotation crop that change fields every year thus creating the zigs and zags on the map of someone intent on capturing these enormous blossoms on film.

The first green growth begins to show in the beginning of June, which is really the only indication we have of where these (elusive) fields will be sprouting up. But the fields only start to turn yellow towards July, and if the weather is in your favor will last till the beginning of August.  

During the course of my travels this spring, I tried to make note of new fields, double checked some fields from last year and have tapped into my sources to find a few surprises.

I am about to share with you some of my finds...keep in mind that 2016 has had a slow start with lots of rain so the fields are not as advanced as they normally are and the fields in the south will certainly be blooming a bit faster than the north. I wish you well on your treasure hunt, and hope you share some photos of the fields you find (complete with an address or area!)

Val d’Orcia

This area, besides being known for its unique and evocative landscape of naked hills, which depending on the season range from bright greens to golden harvest to a purple gray dirt, is also well known for a plethora of sunflower fields.  Personally, I don't know what captures my eye more - the sunflowers or the round bales of hay that start to pop up in mid- June.

Valdichiana

If you are going to be traveling the Autostrada del Sole coming up from Rome then you will find a field on your right hand side mid way between the exit for Chiusi / Chianciano Terme and Sinalunga. If instead you are heading south, on the left, right after the exit for Sinalunga. Unfortunately both these fields are what I would call “stragglers” - meaning they were full fields last year, and what is coming up this year are the seeds that were plowed in and growing on their own. But no matter how sparse they may seem, they will always add a bit of color to your photos.

Pisa

Heading over to the coast? Then catch the SCG FI-PI-LI (the main non-toll road that connects Florence, Pisa and Livorno) where I noted that between the exit Lavoria and Vicarello they have planted several fields of sunflowers.

Chianti

If you are off to see the tower town of San Gimignano you can combine a stop to see the sunflowers near Taverna di Bibbiano where you will find a great little restaurant and a surprising splash of coloro with the fragrant purple fields of lavendar.

Mugello

This area is truly my secret find...last year as I visited several accommodations in the area, I found that Mugello not only has great truffles, chestnuts and a potato filled tortelli pasta but it also has a secret stash of sunflower fields.  Places like Fattoria i Ricci and La Topaia are completely surrounded sunflowers. 

Only a short distance past Lago Bilancino, in direction Florence and the Villa Medici at Cafaggiolo, you will find a field of sunflowers.

Casentino

This area is actually more well known for its tobacco and grain harvest, with several summer sagras to savor the local flavors and activities that pull out the old tractors and antique farming tools...so you can watch how it "used" to be done. But this year, centering around the town Bibbiena and Poppi you will find several sunflower fields visible right off the main road.


Author: Donna Scharnagl

It has been over 24 years since I took my first steps in Italy and I still haven’t found a good reason to leave.  Between the food, the culture, the history, the art, the landscapes … did I mention the food? I have become a lifelong student. And I soon learned that Italians all have stories that long to be told; stories that paint a picture of how hard work produces character, how life is made of ups and downs and how good it feels to laugh.



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