Though the dazzling yellow image of a sunflower is timeless, their locations are not! Sunflowers are a rotation crop that changes 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 late spring (2019), 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, this season has started with quite a bit of rain and though we are almost into July we are still hitting some record lows at night, which slows down the blooming process. 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 2019 ->
Via Cassia between Montalcino and Siena
Coming back towards Florence at the end of June, I noticed that the via Cassia, connecting Montalcino and Siena, was lined with fields waiting to bloom. A particularly enticing photo would be heading south just after the roundabout at Monteroni d'Arbia, where can capture a castle, a vineyard, and the sunflowers all in one photo!
This area has surely been flaunting sunflowers since way before my time, but a quick weekend to the coast and Follonica, 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 the Strada 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 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.
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 midway between the exit for Chiusi / Chianciano Terme and Sinalunga. If instead, you are heading south, on the left, right after the exit for Sinalunga. You will also find some fresh fields between Monte Sansavino and Lucignano.
Heading over to the coast? Then catch the SCG FI-PI-LI (the main non-toll road that connects Florence, Pisa, and Livorno) between the exit Lavoria and Vicarello last year they planted several fields of sunflowers but this year it is pretty bare, though you might enjoy some stragglers popping along the edges of the fields.
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 color with the fragrant purple fields of lavender.
This area is truly my secret find — I found that Mugello not only has great truffles, chestnuts and potato filled tortelli pasta but it also has a secret stash of sunflower fields. Extra special find, a vacation apartment rental or a Tuscany villa rental completely surrounded by the fields.
Only a short distance past Lago Bilancino, in direction Florence and the Villa Medici at Cafaggiolo, you will find a field of sunflowers.
The area of Casentino 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 many small towns you will find several sunflower fields visible right off the main road.