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3-4 nights in Umbria. Need a base

Old Feb 9th, 2013, 04:01 PM
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3-4 nights in Umbria. Need a base

Hi everyone,

I have learned so much reading these boards. I need a little help with the middle part of our itinerary. My husband and I will being seeing our daughter and my sister home from Pisa airport in late April and we will continue on. We will have already visited Orvieto, Montepulciano, San Gim, Volterra, Siena and Florence. All of our prior travel will be by public transportation. We would like to rent a car and see Lucca and more of Umbria particularly Assisi and a few other towns.

Here are my questions.

Should we rent a car in Florence the morning sis and DD leave, drop them at the Pisa airport, and head to Lucca for 1 night? Or should we do bus/train to Pisa then onto Lucca and get a car there. I think it may be less stressful getting to the airport in our own car. And maybe we would get a chance to peak at the leaning tower.

We would like to stay in an agriturismo and I think Assisi/Spello may be a central area. The only must do is visit Assisi. I would like to just relax for a few days and go where the wind takes us. We very much enjoy the outdoors and hiking etc. Any towns we shouldn't miss and do you think this would be a nice location?

On May 2 we will relocate to Sorrento. Since we have a car, should we drive or should we return car to nearest train station and train to Sorrento? I originally thought we would take the train but it might be less stressful to drive and drop the car in Sorrento.

Thanks in advance for all of your ideas. I really appreciate it.
Laurie
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 04:13 PM
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I would keep the car. May is still early for Amalfi and you may want to keep the car there to facilitate sightseeing. All you have to do is make sure your hotel has parking or can arrange it for you.

We have done that twice by car and found it very convenient to stay in Sorrento with the car and use if for Naples, Pompeii and up and down the coast and the hills behind - without waiting for a bus. And, IMHO driving the coast road is fun as long as you're not there in the middle of the summer.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:28 PM
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April 25 is a holiday in Italy, and while it is not a huge holiday, you need to double check that car rental offices will be open and sights you want to see. You are also likely to experience a few more traffic jams, but don't let it deter you from renting a car.

Personally, I would just take the train or the car transfer with the family members who are leaving from Pisa airport, see them off and rent the car in the Pisa airport. I don't think it will be less stressful driving them to the airport. I think it will be more stressful having everybody drag their luggage to the car rental office, deal with its bureaucracies, find a way out of the city that doesn't get you caught in ZTLs, etc -- all this with the clock ticking about catching a flight. Just take the train there.

Once you've rented the car at the airport, you can drive to the leaning Tower area -- but go to the Slow Travel website and get some help with directions on finding the best parking lot.

Then proceed on to Lucca, and ultimately Assisi. There are plenty of agriturismi around Assisi.

Only you can make up your made about whether going to Umbria is more about"anywhere the wind takes us" or being nervous that you should be out seeing what message board posters tell you are the DON'T MISS and MUST SEE sights. I suggest you read a guide book for Umbria (or look at the Bella Umbria webstie). If you enjoy museums of Italian painting, Perugia has one of Italy's very finest, certainly for Renaissance art. Many of the towns have delightful and fascinating art and historic sights. Worth packing an excellent guidebook so that even if you go where the wind blows, once you get there you know what you are looking at.

I would drop the car in Sorrento. I certainly would NOT drive the car in Naples. You haven't mentioned Pompei, but if you want to see it, that's easily done by train from Sorrento.

I have noticed many times on Fodor's that people recommending driving tours are actually not the driver when they travel, or they like to pretend on the internet they are zippy sophisticates who think it is a blast to drive the Amalfi coast. Whoever is the driver on the Amalfi coast isn't seeing the Amafli coast. It is a cliff road that requires one full attention.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:29 PM
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Re: car from Umbria to Sorrento.

It all depends on how much time you intend to take going from your location in Umbria and Sorrento. If by car, it gives you the opportunity to see Spoleto and Tivoli with the d'Este Villa and garden and the ruins of Hadrian's villa.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:33 PM
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Where (and when) you pick up the car at the front end depends on a few issues. What time of day and day of the week is the departing flight out of Pisa? I think some rental car offices in Florence open at 8:00/8:30a (Mon-Fri), but we've found the process/paperwork can take more time than we predicted if there is a line of customers, only one person working the desk, etc. Also, you need to spend time inspecting the car before you drive away. The drive to the airport is at least an hour, and you need to exit Florence carefully so as to miss driving into the ZTL.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:38 PM
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Here's one more idea:

Consider taking the whole family to Lucca for the final night, and have a nice dinner together there. You can enjoy the main features of Lucca in a few hours, so no big regrets about not spending more time there.

The next day, it is quite easy to hire a driver to take those who need to fly to the Pisa airport. You can go with them if you like, pick up a car, and take it back to Lucca. Or you can spend another night in Lucca and pick up a car the next day, but in that case I might take the train in the direction of Umbria and pick it up closer to Umbria.

The other members of the family might enjoy the added treat of having dinner in the pretty town, a change of pace from Florence.
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Pisa has a ZTL too, so if you decide to drive in Pisa (to see the Leaning Tower, Piazza del Miracoli, etc.), make sure you know the routes to take.

In Umbria, besides Assisi we particularly enjoyed Gubbio, Bevagna and Todi. We've stayed in both Spoleto and Perugia, and they're interesting destinations too but require a little more time to park and walk to the centers and the approaches by car can be a little confusing. The payoff is more things to see. If you get to Bevagna, go to the T.I. office and inquire about tours of the excavated Roman baths (not usually open). The guide also took us inside the town's tiny opera house (also not usually open). In Gubbio, there is a cage-like lift to the top of the mountain above the town. Great views from the top, and you can walk down if you like. You can walk up too, if you want some real exercise. Three miles each way, I think.

http://www.funiviagubbio.it/home.asp
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Old Feb 9th, 2013, 06:45 PM
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Thanks everyone,

I think the points about getting the rental car and navigating our way out of Florence being more stressful than public transport is probably very accurate. I will definitely scrap that idea.

Pizzocchieri, my initial plan was to leave Florence the night before our family's departure and stay in either Pisa or Lucca. After discussion we decided we would really enjoy 2 full days in Florence. I will certainly check the Bella Umbria site as well. I like to draw from other travelers experiences and combine that with the numerous guide books available. I think it will be very easy to just enjoy being in the lovely countryside.

Michael, we will use the entire day, May 2, to travel to Sorrento. Keeping the car and sightseeing at least part of the way might be great.

Thanks again
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