Finding an unlikely remedy for car sickness: a journey to Siena

The familio now satiated on wine and boar meat were eager to get on the road, while writer SJL was even more eager to get off the road. Read on as they negotiate all the twists and turns synonymous with Tuscan country roads,  as they made their way from Montepulciano to Siena, Tuscany. 

Car sickness is one thing most abhor but unrepentant car sickness is something no one should have to endure. And when you’re cruising through the Tuscan countryside, negotiating all the twists and turns, the last thing you want to do is pull over and heave into it. Especially when you’re being accompanied by your girlfriend and her family; and all you want to do is impress them with your knowledge of Italian folklore; and not show them what you had for breakfast. However, and with massive amounts of courage – while sitting sandwiched between mom and dad upfront – my composure questionable, I was soon to make an acquaintance with a very unusual remedy to aid me in my nauseating experience.

This was during the drive but in an effort to bring you up to speed with our travel plans I will keep it brief. Montepulciano was by now a fond memory easily retrievable but nonetheless already collecting a thin film of dust. And Siena our next stop was just waiting to be cracked open and explored. But before that could happen we still had to snake our way through the Tuscan countryside and of course make a couple of stops along the way. (For sightseeing and not just so I could take a breather).

The first of which was Pienza also known as the ‘ideal city’. Not because it’s ‘perfect’ but because Pope Pius II during his reign established it as a template, to which all medieval cities and towns not just in Italy but in Europe, adopted. And with its location nestled atop a hill overlooking the Val d’Orcia, a picturesque vista, it unashamedly solidified its attractiveness to renaissance builders in other urban centres. And finally clarified my question as to why every town centre in ‘medieval Europe’ looked so similar.

Incidentally Pienza was also where I had my first encounter with my most unusual remedy. When upon exiting the van and sucking in a great breath of air I noticed or rather smelt the distinctive aroma of the Italian herb: rosemary. It is everywhere, with hedgerow upon hedgerow of the stuff growing all along the country roads. And like wildfire it continued on unabated across the landscape and did for what it’s worth manage to lift my spirits. The effect instantaneously left me with a feeling of well being and hunger. But, it had also left me wondering whether there could there be a connection between my waning nausea and the rosemary? I didn’t know and neither did anyone in the van. So breaking off a sprig for the rest of the drive, I clutched it close to hopefully put it to the test at a later stage.

San Quirico d’Orcia a tiny commune population 2500 residents was our next stop and if I had popped my head out of the window to relieve myself I probably would have missed it. But irrespective it was a great spot complete with one of my favourite features; a castle. Where, in the 16th century the town’s folk plotted against the invading Spanish as they menaced the countryside. And in much the same vain as I explored the castle I was plotting my next move. Eventually I made my exit through one of the portals leading out onto the Palazzo degli Amerighi only to bump into a stand manned by a local woman. When, on closer inspection seemed to be flogging off all sorts of herbal remedies that might help me with my dilemma. It was then wherein she proceeded to break off the leaves of rosemary I had produced from my pocket. She then instructed me to rub the leaves between my hands and then ingest them. Now I’m no expert and maybe I wanted to believe her but it worked. I had never felt better and remained that way for the rest of our trip. Now I can’t be sure if she had possibly laced the leaves with something else, but when I do feel car sick again I will most definitely give it another try.

In conclusion and having satiated our lust for quaint medieval Tuscan villages the time had come for us to make the final leg of our journey to Siena. I did however ponder for a minute if Pope Pius II love of the surrounding countryside and his ambitious drive to beautify an already exquisite place was not possibly due to the magic that can be found between rosemary and Italian herb lore.

through the keyhole


  • Pienza is the birthplace of the Italian renaissance humanist, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who eventually became Pope Pius II. And his namesake, the Palazzo Piccolomini, built by his admission along with numerous other urban designs successfully rejuvenated the once rural village into a summer retreat from Rome. Pity though that his didn’t extend to the winding roads connecting the town centres of Tuscany.
  • Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia like so many other villages boasted an expansive history along with many impressive buildings and collections of art and general aesthetics. All plonked atop a hill offering incredible vista’s of Tuscany, namely the picturesque Val d’Orcia. A landscape dotted with rolling hills and vineyards, with Monte Amiata as its backdrop and of course numerous rows of rosemary.
  • The Palazzo degli Amerighi, was where I found my rosemary miracle worker, and is also where the townsfolk in the 16 century plotted against the Spanish It’s a rebuilt square bordered by the castle, a topless tower and a Romanesque church.
  • The Giardino All’italiana San Quirico D’Orcia or Horti Leonini is a must visit and a stunning example of Italian Gardens circa 1561. It is another feature of the village that set a trend in Italian horticulture that was adopted all throughout medieval and renaissance Europe.
  • Travel tip: It’s always a treat and great idea to take the time out to hike up to the walled city (or grab a funicolare) and perch yourself atop the city’s wall or find the highest bell tower, and take in the view. And if you’re someone like me it’s an experience you’ll never get tired of doing, trust me when I say I tried to do it in just about every town and village.

Montepulciano to Pienza: 14.8km

Pienza to San Quirico d’Orcia: 9.8 km

San Quirico d’Orcia to Siena: 44.9km

Total Km’s travelled: 69.5 Km

Want to more about the the benefits of Rosemary?

Next Post:

The family adventure continues with a stay over in beautiful Siena.

This part of our trip took place from the 20th/ 21st  of December 2013

For research purpose use the links above and Pienza and San Quirico d’Orcia.

By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)

Photography: Nomadic Bug © 

Nomadic Existence 2015 ©

 Explore. Conserve. Discover.



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