10-day Rome-Tuscany itinerary advice

May 23rd, 2019, 06:03 PM
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10-day Rome-Tuscany itinerary advice

Planning a 10-night trip to Italy in early October for our 30th anniversary and would welcome advice on pacing trip. Flying in and out of Rome with a deal on Alitalia. Husband is a huge history buff. He has never been to Florence/Rome and has read scores of history books about the region. Both of us are art and food lovers. I tend to be the trip planner and am prone to packing in too much. DH would rather make fewer hotel moves. He is willing to drive in countryside, but not in Rome & Florence. I've visited both Florence & Rome in my youth and am worried about how touristy they've become and would love to get beyond the big cities to add some rural or hill-town Tuscany to our trip. We're trying to find the right balance...

Any advice on the following itinerary?

Arrive in Rome, 3 or 4 nights there
Train to Florence, 2 or 3 nights
Rent car, 2-3 nights in a Tuscan hill town (Sienna, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, other recommendation??)
Train back to Rome for 1 final night before morning flight home

Or do we reverse the order and head straight to Florence, then Tuscany hill side and end with Rome to minimize moves?

I'm also torn between staying in Sienna which has so much history, but is still a larger city vs staying a smaller, quieter hill town and driving to Sienna and other hill towns. Or do we try to do both? 2 nights in Sienna, 2 nights in smaller town and cut Florence to 2 nights?

Or do we consider staying in a less touristed, but very historical town such as Arezzo (after Rome/Florence)? For comparison, on a trip to Northern Italy 2 years ago we stayed 3 nights in Venice, 3 nights in untouristy Padua, 1 night in Milan. (This was husband's first trip to Italy and he chose the cities). We loved this trip.

As you can see, I'm a bit torn here! Interests are history, art, food, plus something a bit off the beaten path (if possible). We thought about an agroturismo, but would like to be able to walk to dinner at least one night in Tuscany. Thanks!

Last edited by Dusty_roads; May 23rd, 2019 at 06:16 PM.
Dusty_roads is offline  
May 23rd, 2019, 07:26 PM
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I would definitely go directly to Florence on arrival and save Rome for the end to eliminate a hotel change. I stayed in Siena for two nights and Pienza for three. You can do day trips from either if desired. I preferred Pienza. Lots of people give Pienza a two-hour stop, but there is more to see there than you might think. Not to mention the pecorino cheese you can get there to bring home.😁 Either way, you could probably get around by bus if you prefer not to drive.
SusanP is offline  
May 23rd, 2019, 07:42 PM
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Based on your proposed itinerary, I infer you don't mind multiple short stays. But think about it. Four hotel stays in 11 nights (or perhaps less?). For me anyway, that's "packing in too much."

I would train immediately to Florence on arrival at FCO. Put all your Rome nights together at the end. That eliminates one hotel change.

I hate to tell you, but Rome and Florence are not going to be as you remember them. They have both changed a lot, mostly in the enormous numbers of tourists and level of vehicle traffic. You need to make reservations to see lots of things in both cities, so you should identify your sightseeing priorities and do some research on that. Florence is difficult to see in a short visit if your days fall on Sunday/Monday when lots of the main sights are not open.

The options for where to go in between Florence and Rome are countless. If you really want to experience a small town, forget Siena and Arezzo as great as they are. Think in terms of a small area where you can stay in one town and visit others nearby. Chianti is good for that. So is the ever-popular Val d'Orcia. I also like Umbria. Learn about ZTLs which are limited traffic zones established in almost every Italian town of any size. These zones make visiting larger towns like Siena and Arezzo by car a little more complicated than arriving by train. Either/both would really need a full day to explore.

Remember that when you consider staying 2 nights somewhere, you really only have one full day not impacted by transfers.

It would also be possible to stay longer in Florence and make day trips using public transportation. Fiesole, Pisa, Lucca, Montecatini Terme, Siena, San Gimignano, Certaldo, Arezzo, Bologna are all close enough.
Jean is online now  
May 23rd, 2019, 08:40 PM
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10 nights sound like a lot, but it really isnt. With the level of crowds that you get at that time of the year, it seems everything takes longer. I agree that you should head out to Florence upon arrival. If you want to experience a Tuscan hill town, I'm very partial to Montepulciano. Plenty of restaurants, wineries/ cantinas, gorgeous views, and my favorite church in the world, San Biagio. Unless you're planning to do day trips from there, you dont need a car, as a matter of fact it would be a hindrance. There're trains from Florence to Chiusi -Chinciano station, which is about 20-30 mins taxi ride to Montepulciano. Then you could go to Rome from there, just 1.5 hrs. So, with that in mind, I would do 4 nights Florence, 2 nights Montepulciano, 4 nights Rome. I recommend that you make reservation ahead of time for any Museum you would like to visit. As Jean above said, the options to where to go between Rome and Florence are countless, but you want to have time to "stop and smell the roses". Wishing you a great trip!
cruiseluv is online now  
May 24th, 2019, 06:13 AM
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Thanks so much for the advice to go first to Florence. Looks like everyone's in agreement on that! And good to know about Pienza!
Dusty_roads is offline  
May 24th, 2019, 06:35 AM
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I must admit, I'm definitely worried about how crowded Florence and Rome have become in the past 30-35 years. I was amazed at how crowded Venice was in March two years ago. We did splurge on an absolutely fantastic little hotel (Ca Maria Adele) in the Dorsoduro area that was a less crowded part of town yet still convenient. That made all the difference, so our time there was quite magical.

Am wondering - do you or anyone else have a recommendation of a relatively quiet and convenient neighborhood to stay in Florence or Rome? We'll likely be looking for an Airbnb this time as budget is a bit tighter.

For Florence - we would arrive on a Friday, so that means 4 nights there includes a Sunday-Monday. So good to know about challenges there. Sounds like we would need to book our Uffizi visit for Saturday.
Dusty_roads is offline  
May 24th, 2019, 06:39 AM
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Very good to hear your praise of Montepulciano. That was my very first thought for a Tuscan hill town, but the more I've been reading, the more confusing it gets with so many amazing options of places to visit. And it sounds like we could even get along without a car.
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May 24th, 2019, 07:31 AM
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I have stayed in Val D'Orcia for two week periods twice and stayed in a villa near Pienza. If I were staying 2or 3 nights I would stay in Pienza or San Quirico, both smaller towns where you really get the feel of the area. You can drive to Montelpulciano very easily from there. I would definitely rent a car so you can drive around the area. You can see beautiful towns like Bagno Vignoni, Montelcino, Radicofani, Montichiello etc. All the hill towns around there are beautiful and you get a much better sense of the countryside without the crowds of the big cities. Sienna is beautiful but very much full of tourists too. Florence has become extremely crowded.
Sberg is offline  
May 24th, 2019, 07:51 AM
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If your plan is to see a few towns in Tuscany and you only have a few days for this part of the trip, you really need a car. If you'd be happy just hanging out in one town for a couple of days, you can get to most places and travel to nearby towns with a combo of taxis and buses but it will take longer and perhaps cost more in the end. The bus timetables are geared more to locals who use public transport to get to jobs or school, so the frequency and direction usually aren't very convenient for sightseeing tourists.

FWIW, I love Montepulciano. You haven't mentioned a lodging budget, but we've stayed at Locanda San Francesco twice in October. Great owners. Only 4 rooms, so it books up fast.


You'll find quieter areas in Florence if you just move away from the historical center. Florence is pretty small, but you'd have to be able/willing to walk several minutes between your lodging and the main sights. This website might help narrow your thoughts:

Jean is online now  
May 24th, 2019, 03:18 PM
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Your time is very limited for what you want to do. We just returned from our Italy trip and this is what we did:

3 nights Rome
3 nights Florence (took train from Rome)
1 night San Gimignano (rented car in Florence)
7 nights at an agriturismo near Pienza.

Although I loved the whole trip, I could have stayed forever in Pienza. It's small like its neighbor, San Quirico, but it's so easy to get to the nearby towns. A car is a must and driving was not difficult at all. The scenery is out of this world beautiful.

We stayed overnight in San Gimignano in order to experience the village in the evening without the tourists. I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

In Florence, we stayed on the other side of the river in the San Nicolo district. It was just a 10 minute walk to the city center but so nice to be away from the crowds in the evening. There were plenty of restaurants just around the corner from our hotel (Hotel Silla). We picked up our car in town instead of the airport and had no problems navigating out.

Rome and Florence were both very crowded but I couldn't go to Italy and not see them. I'm really glad we did, even if the time was short.

From Pienza we drove to the airport in Rome to return our car and flew out the next (very early!) morning. No problems whatsoever navigating to the airport.
AustinTraveler is offline  
May 24th, 2019, 04:52 PM
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We are also leaving USA for Rome on October 30. From Rome we will train to Florence for 6 nights then train to Rome for 6 nights and fly home from there. It’s so easy to take day train trips from both cities. We don’t like changing hotels. Eats up too much time.
We like Hotel Casci in Florence. Central, reasonably priced, great location, nice breakfast included and they picked up our museum tickets ahead for us. Helped with tours and local info. Loved them.
AMYWISS is offline  
May 25th, 2019, 05:36 AM
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Hi DustyRoads,

We have travelled to that region of Italy a few times over the last few years and here are my thoughts:

Rome Is a great city but cannot be truly appreciated in just a few days. While it is filled with more tourists than in years past, October should be relatively quiet compared to summer months. I would stay near the Pantheon and walk the city, in the day and in the evening, and stop at those sites/museums that are of interest to you. This way your husband can get a true sense of Rome even without seeing all of its historical wonders.

Florence is also wonderful and, although there is much to see, you can visit many of the sites in a few days and also get a real feeling for the city.

Montepulciano is a beautiful medieval hill town. Amazing and wonderful. As well, we have never stayed overnight in Siena, but have taken two full day trips there (driven there in the morning, left after dinner) and found that to be sufficient (if you decide to stay in Montepulciano, it is only a 65km drive to Siena).

My recommendation would be to fly into Rome, leave immediately for Florence, stay 3 nights, drive to Montepulciano for 3 nights, enjoying the gorgeous landscape and even stopping in Monteriggioni along the way, then drive to Rome for 4 nights.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by AirBalloon; May 25th, 2019 at 05:48 AM.
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May 26th, 2019, 01:04 AM
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Rome, Sermoneta Medieval town and Sabaudia beach

If you want to visit Rome, the countryside, villages and beaches, I suggest you to visit Sermoneta (60 km far from Rome) a little medieval village with a beautiful castle. Near Sermoneta there is a stunning garden "Giardini di Ninfa" (the most romantic garden in the world according to NYT). To enjoy sea, visit Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo (check out Circe witch legend)or Ponza Island. Food is just wonderful in this area. Try real mozzarella.

Last edited by Fla333; May 26th, 2019 at 01:11 AM.
Fla333 is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 05:02 PM
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Thanks so much to all the posters! Very helpful insights. I do very much enjoy hearing how other people have approached this type of trip. My husband and I had a good chance to chat tonight about our plans and interests. I spent much of the day reading guidebooks, blogs, etc. We're centering in on an itinerary of 3 nights in Florence, day trip to Siena, on to Montepulciano or environs for 3 nights, and 4 nights in Rome. He said Uffizi wasn't necessary for him, and I've already been there. He's more interested in the political history of Florence and wants to see the exterior of the Dome. We'll rent a car for driving in Tuscany. We've driven in France, Germany, Spain, UK, Switzerland, Netherlands, but not yet in Italy. Am hopeful that as long as we stay outside of the big cities and keep an eye out for the limited zones, we should be okay. We do want to see a bit of the countryside. We'll also definitely head straight to Florence by train upon arrival. Thanks so much, everyone, for that advice!
Dusty_roads is offline  
May 27th, 2019, 08:10 AM
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"He's more interested in the political history of Florence..."

Try to take a guided tour of the Palazzo Vecchio. Context has an outstanding tour, but it's very pricey. There are less expensive options.



Jean is online now  
May 30th, 2019, 08:20 AM
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Fla333, you really should try to answer the questions being asked, and not try to work some tourist promotion into the topic.

Sermoneta is one of the prettiest towns in Italy. However, the question was about Tuscany, not Lazio.

Besides, the gardens of Ninfa, very near Sermoneta, are truly marvellous, but they are not open many days a year. Generally, they're open two or three days each month, usually on a weekend or holiday. In October, they're open only on one weekend. In April and May, they're open a bit more often, but still only around six days a month.

Finally, this trip is planned for October, so I don't think a beach holiday is being considered.

Last edited by bvlenci; May 30th, 2019 at 08:24 AM.
bvlenci is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 11:34 AM
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Hi Dusty. We too are planning an early October trip. We also stayed at Ca’ Maria Adele on our anniversary trip 6 years back . It truly is lovely and quieter. This time we have older teenage kids in tow. We have the same amount of time about ten days and will hit Rome ,my husband’s favorite, Florence, my favorite and Venice. I I want them to see Venice at least this one time. I am forever in awe of the miracle of engineering that is Venice and I worry about rising sea levels, cruise ships and sinking cities.
On our last trip we had a day tour with Hills and Roads that stopped in Pienza, Bagno Vinoni(sp?), and a couple of others. It’s all a blur now, but at the time, I remember thinking that I would love to come back and stay in Pienza. It moved me. Maybe it was just a high point of a wonderful day that included a delicious vegetarian farm to table meal (We are not vegetarians) , gorgeous views and great company. I also support the idea of little day trips and less hotel hopping.
This time around we are staying just outside of Florence’s center at a place called Art Hotel Agape.
They offer a shuttle into town. I hope it works out ok. We too have to be more budget conscious as we have four and not two this trip. We booked an apartment near Palazzo Barberini in Rome which I hope is close enough to everything. It appears so on the map and was much more budget friendly and spacious than hotel rooms. Happy anniversary. Enjoy your trip. Let us know how it all works out.
Cjar is offline  
Jun 6th, 2019, 01:00 AM
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Near Palazzo Barberini should be a great location. There's a metro stop there and lots of buses pass near. Be sure to visit the Galleria di Arte Antica at Palazzo Barberini, one Rome's finest art museums. There are two monumental staircases in the palazzo, made by two of Baroque Rome's most famous architects, Bernini and Borromeo, who were also rivals and enemies. Inside is one of the world's greatest collections of Italian painting, from late medieval to early modern times, with an especial focus on Renaissance and Mannerist art.
bvlenci is offline  
Jun 6th, 2019, 02:57 PM
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A note on your comment about driving

You mentioned your DH is willing to drive in the countryside but not in Rome or Florence. Thatís not a problem, having a car in either city is a hindrance. Pick up the car on the outskirts of Florence on your way out of the city and return it at FCO. Take a car service, train or taxi to your accommodations in Rome and back to FCO for your departure.

I second the recommendation for Hotel Casci in Florence. We stayed there several times, although not during the past five years. Itís not in a residential area, but itís close to the Duomo and Accedemia yet far enough away to get relief from the crowds. Itís a small, family owned no-frills hotel. The price was quite reasonable last time we were there. Everyone is quite friendly and helpful.

Remember to get reservations for major museums and places like the colosseum at least a few weeks in advance.

HappyTrails2 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2019, 02:36 AM
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Coming from the north, I wouldn't want to return the car at Fiumicino airport. I would either return it at Chiusi, if their limited hours don't make that difficult, and take the train to Rome from there. Or on the northern outskirts of the city, maybe at the lot under the Villa Borghese.
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