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/mid 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 (2017), 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 2017 has had a dry start with little 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!)
NEW 2017 -> Massa Marittima
This area has surely been flaunting sunflowers since way before my time, but a quick weekend to the coast and Follonica, following the following the SP73bis and the SR439 had my heading spinning with fields of flowers already in full bloom in between fields of grain and driveways lined with the picturesque Mediterranean pines. You can start the trip out at Colle Val D'Elsa, following theStrada Provinciale 541 "Traversa Maremmana"/SP541 and end up on the lovely beaches of Punta Ala.
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.
Not confirmed as of yet (June 2017): 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.
Not Confirmed as of yet (June 2017): 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.
Confirmed (June 2017): 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.
Confirmed (June 2017): This area is truly my secret find — 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.
Confirmed (June 2017): 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 of Subbiano and in the area of Poppi you will find several sunflower fields visible right off the main road.