We have seen it in dozens of films. Its sunlight over the hills, vineyards and cypress groves and its characteristic medieval villages make Tuscany a unique setting. But people can go from fiction to reality for less than the price of two cinema tickets and drive through this stunning landscape in a car fuelled with compressed natural gas (CNG). 360 kilometres from the Renaissance city of Florence to the natural paradise of the Lagoon of Orbetello and only 15 euros on fuel for an unforgettable trip.
A room with a view: This classic British film gave us an open window look at the stunning city of Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and World Heritage Site which is a treasure trove of art and architecture at every turn in its historic city centre, from the Piazza del Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio, one of the most beautiful medieval bridges in the world. We head towards the outskirts of the city toward the Piazzale Michelangelo onboard a SEAT Arona TGI to enjoy one of the best panoramic views of the city, and from there we set off for the south west.
Under the Tuscan sun: 60 kilometres away we find ourselves in San Gimignano, also known as the Medieval Manhattan for its particular skyline made up of 13 thirteenth century towers. This is another World Heritage Site that still preserves its feudal atmosphere. The SEAT Arona TGI has a range of up to 360 kilometres in gas mode and one stop for refuelling is enough. Italy is the European country with the highest implementation of CNG, with more than 1,300 refuelling stations and plans to increase this number in the next few years.
A gladiator's paradise: Our journey takes us to the Orcia Valley, where vineyards, cypress and chestnut groves fill a landscape that seduced Ridley Scott himself. This is where he filVAmed the scenes in Gladiator where Maximus dreams of returning home. 70 kilometres down the road we reach Asciano, the heart of Le Crete Senesi, whose peculiar geological formations of grey clay have a moon-like quality. This is a place for driving on secondary roads that seem more designed for driving pleasure than actually reaching a specific destination. And the design of SEAT's smallest SUV in the range is ideal for this, for the stability and composure transmitted by its rear wheels, especially in tight bends such as those found in this valley, as well as its agility. Furthermore, driving a CNG vehicle is identical to one fuelled with petrol.
A midsummer night's dream: And in honour of this film, based on the play by William Shakespeare, we spend the night in Montepulciano where it was filmed. We set off again the next morning after storing all our luggage quickly and easily in the 282 litre boot of the SEAT Arona TGI beginning from our hilltop perch, which long ago was occupied by Etruscans and Romans and later attracted humanists and powerful noblemen in the 16th century who commissioned architectural gems such as the Piazza Grande or the Palazzo Comunale.
Life is beautiful: Just over 20 kilometres away, San Quirico d’Orcia is a walled village and its most spectacular entry points are the Porta dei Capuccini and the Porta Nuova. It also features a delightful garden, the Horti Leonini. We are now in the heart of the valley, which is more breathtaking than any idealised mage people may have of Tuscany. With a CNG vehicle, CO2 emissions are reduced by 25% compared to petrol, so it is a much more environmentally friendly way to drive around this World Heritage Site and visit Arezzo, for example, which is where this masterpiece by Roberto Benigni was filmed.
A sunset in Tuscany: Now we reach Orbetello after driving the final 114 kilometres of our journey. Its lagoon is one of the most pristine places in all of Italy. Located on a significant migratory route, it is the resting place of more than 200 species of birds that add a colourful tinge to the coastline. Taking an evening stroll in the Tuscan paradise is the perfect way to end an extraordinary holiday after driving 360 kilometres and spending only 14.96 euros on fuel, which is 50% less than if we had driven a petrol car.
The fuel required by the SEAT Arona TGI…
Up to 360 km range
13.8 kg of gas
50% savings compared to petrol
25% fewer CO2 emissions
…and to keep tourists going
Bistecca alla fiorentina: made with the famous Chianina beef, one of the largest and oldest cattle breeds in the world.
Pappardelle al cinghiali: noodles with wild boar sauce, which the front seat passenger can wash down with a glass of Vernaccia, a white wine mentioned in the Divine Comedy. And for dessert, ice cream, as this is where the world's finest is made.
Tagliolini al tartufo: because we mustn't forget we're in the land of truffles. If no further driving is required you can enjoy a bottle of red Nobile wine from the vineyards surrounding the city.
Bottarga de Orbetello: fish roe served as an appetiser or a seasoning for pasta.
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