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Six Days in Tuscany, Based Near Florence?

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DH and I are going to Italy in early April. Since we’re using airline miles and hotel points for most of the trip, I got busy with planning the Rome portion and the Naples/Sorrento portion as soon as I managed to find a flight (for the minimum mileage!) a few months ago and booked rooms for the first 11 nights and the last night (at the Rome airport). Since then we’ve been busy with other trips, the holidays, and some “homework” on the kitchen, etc. I suddenly realized it’s just a bit over 2 mo. before we leave and I’d better get busy with another kind of “homework” – planning the last 7 nights in Tuscany. Much longer and we may be sleeping nights in a rental car or a hotel way more expensive than we’d like.

On Mon., 4/15 we will take the train from Sorrento/Naples to Florence, which I figure will pretty much wipe out the day. I have already booked Mon. & Tues. nights at the AC Hotel in Florence on points. Then we have 5 more nights before we return to Rome for our flight home. I’ve been reading posts to this forum as well as travel books and other than thinking we should spend a day in Sienna and another in San Gimignano, I can’t make up my mind what to do. Virtually every town I read about looks good but we obviously can’t do it all.

We’re about 70, in moderate shape (not as good as we’d like to be), not much interested in wine (but like good food). We enjoy art museums and churches, historical ruins, local markets, and great scenery. Some of our favorite times in the last few years have been spent just wandering around with no specific itinerary. When we have a car, we generally haven’t minded moving around, changing hotels, but we’re getting to like moving hotels less and less.

Last night I checked the Hilton site and it appears that the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport is still available for rewards stays (and a good Diamond status discount for 4 or more nights); it has good reviews and is near a convenient bus into town. I had been thinking more and more about locating in one place the last 5 nights and either taking SITA buses or getting a rental car or both for day trips. We could pick up a car at the airport and avoid having to drive in Florence. Alternatively, we could leave most of our luggage in Florence on Wed. and take the bus to Sienna, spend Wed. night, and return to Florence on Thurs., then spend the next 4 nights at the HGI. Either way, we’d have some unscheduled days that we can decide how to spend later or even for serendipity after we arrive. And the free room nights would leave us extra money for taxis, etc., if we feel so inclined.

Have any of you Fodorites “done” some of Tuscany from Florence? Or do any of you who are more familiar with driving times, bus schedules and routes from Florence have any opinions?

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