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50th birthday with girlfriends in Italy

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Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:34 PM
  #1
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50th birthday with girlfriends in Italy

I need some advice! My girlfriends and I are traveling to Italy for a little over a week. We are thinking of flying into Pisa and maybe staying in Tuscany overnight to go to a winery that day or the next day. We'd like to rent a car from the airport. How easy is that?
My girlfriend wants to go to the winery that started the super Tuscan (sounds good to me). Suggestions on a nice place to stay?.
Then-we thought we would travel on to Umbria. We would love a place that's not in a city, but more in the countryside. Worried that it will be too much like a b&b though. We all like the feeling of anonymity (somewhat) that a hotel affords one. However the country is very attractive. Suggestions on where to stay?
Two more things- we want a cooking class that is one or two days or two separate days. Suggestions?
Lastly, how crazy will it be to go to the Amalfi coast in August ???
Any advice is greatly appreciated!! Also -its my 50th birthday so I don't mind spending a bit more and we're all very active!
Thanks a bunch!!
Leaving and flying back to USA out of Rome
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 06:47 PM
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Are you talking about this August? A week is not enough time to cover all you want to see and do, and the Amalfi coast will be crazy in August.

Have you looked at a map, or a guidebook, or booked flights? That's where I would start.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 07:07 PM
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In that short time pick 2 destinations and have fun. Forget the AC in August--wall to wall and expensive.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Thank you. I had a feeling that was the case. Yes this August.
How is flying into Pisa and out of Rome sound? Also car rentals in Pisa ??
Where do you suggest staying in Umbria ??
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 07:56 PM
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I have looked online, but not at a guidebook . Am working on booking flights.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 08:31 PM
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Where are you flying from? If the US, there are no direct flights to Pisa. So for me, that's out. You only have a week, and each flight connection presents potential problems. I myself don't like to risk it. How many flights and what are the connections to Pisa?

That said, renting a car there will be easy enough. Many of us here use AutoEurope.com.

What is the winery that began the Super Tuscans? If we knew the winery and its location, we could better suggest a town or an area for your stay.

If you are spending time in Tuscany and then Umbria, flying out of Rome would be fine. With luck you could drive straight to FCO from your Umbrian base. But you really need to check flight times. You may have to spend the night in Rome or at the airport.

What do you actually want to do in Umbria? It sounds like a cooking school might be good but I'm a little unclear. If you're after art, or the countryside, or a cooking school, that could change what people may recommend. Do you want to be in a town in the evenings?
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 08:47 PM
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I am thinking that we will need to spend a night either in Rome or outside of Rome. I happen to love Rome but some of my companions have not been. In Umbria we would like to take a cooking class or two and bike thru a vineyard, in addition to touring wineries, olive groves, etc. and maybe getting lucky enough to get to a spa! I happen to love medieval walled towns, and I think my friends would I dulce me in that, in addition to seeing lots of historical stuff and artwork. We' d like to drive to a town in the evenings but beagle to relax in country later on.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 08:49 PM
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Anyone know of good cooking experiences in Umbria that are only a day or rwo? Love to do more but constrained by time.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 08:50 PM
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Also - what about biking thru a vineyard??
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 09:01 PM
  #10
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Actually from. JFK there are direct flights to Pisa just an FYI
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 11:04 PM
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Exactly how many days is this adventure, excluding travel days? This is still all over the map as I read it.
And Google is your friend. Try searching for cooking classes in Umbria, as well as bike touring in wineries. There are probably some touring agencies which would, for a fee, make these arrangements for you.

Yes, you can fly into Pisa, but you will need to connect somewhere in Europe. And you may have a very early flight out of Rome, so plan on possible spending that last night in Rome or closer to the airport.

Good luck, and happy birthday.
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Jun 22nd, 2013, 11:24 PM
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You need to focus. You have two weeks worth of ideas that you want to cram into a week.

As far as a cooking school and county inn in Umbria, I can recommend Alla Madonna del Piatto in the hills outside of Assisi. Letizia is a wonderful hostess and a great cook and teacher.
http://incampagna.com/
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 02:11 AM
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Hi Stisha,

You have 2 threads going. If you click on your screen name, you can always find any thread you started. Here is what I wrote in your other thread


The Amalfi coast will be crazy in August, and with only a week in Italy, it is hard to see how you could make that work.

It is easy to rent a car in Pisa and head to Bolgheri. It is not a long drive. But after that, I think driving all the way to Umbria for a countryside experience of Italy really isn't necessary. Since you are flying out of Rome, it would be simpler to stay in Tuscany.

You don't say how many of you are traveling, but if you rent an apartment (or more than one apartment) on an Italian agriturismo (farm), you will have your own space, including your own outdoor space, plus a pool. Without knowing your budget it is hard to make recommendations but if you do Google searches for "short stay agriturismo Tuscany" or "short stay agriturismo Umbria" , you should get plenty of hits. You will see that many agriturismi also offer cooking classes, or it won't be hard to find one in a town or farm nearby.

Since you are flying out of Rome, you might focus on the Maremma area of Tuscany for your agriturismo, or the area around Orvieto in Umbria. The val d'Orcia area is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Tuscan scenery, so you might want to go there.

You will most likely need to spend your last night in Rome or near the Rome airport.

You have a fairly busy complicated wish list and you are travelign at the peak tourist season, so you need to reserve things fairly quickly.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 06:25 AM
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Have you thought about flying into and out of Rome and spending a few days in southern Tuscany where you will find lots of super Tuscan wineries and cooking classes? Or take the train from Rome to Orvieto, rent a car and spend a few days in Umbria. I am not especially familiar with Umbrian vineyards but someone on the board should be able to help. Plenty of places to bike in Tuscany and Umbria.

I still don't know exactly how much time you have to spend but, at the height of tourist season and hot summer, simpler is better. I'd avoid the AC like the plague in August.

Enjoy.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:43 AM
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We have 8 days. Simpler might indeed be better.
With car rentals, is it necessary to get the zero excess? I guess that's the full insurance?
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 10:17 AM
  #16
 
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Get the full insurance.

People differ as to what they find simple, but here is the comparison:

Fly into the relatively small airport of Pisa, pick up the car, drive one hour to Bolgheri.

Spend the night, in the morning tour the winery, have lunch, get into car and drive to agriturismo in the Tuscan countryside.

Drive 2.5 hours to a hotel near Rome airport for your final night, have a great fish dinner, drive yourselves to the airport the next morning to drop off the car and fly home.

OR

Fly into Rome, pick up a car, drive 2.5 hours to southern Tuscany for the entire time. Drive 2.5 hours back to Rome airport, for dinner and dropping off car the next morning for flight home.

OR

fly into Rome, take train to city, take taxi to hotel. Stay a few nights. Take another taxi to the train station, take the train to Orvieto, pick up car, drive one hour an Umbrian agriturismo (best Umbrian red wine is Sagrantino in Montefalco). Drive 2 hours to airport near Rome airport night before flight home.

Up to you, but I don't think one is any more complicated than the other -- although I have to say that dragging my luggage through train stations in August is something I like to avoid.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 11:59 AM
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If you get an 11:00 am or later departure from FCO on your departure day, you can drive to FCO the morning of departure from locales is Tuscany and Umbria. It is an early start, but it has worked well for us. We call it the mad dash. We've done this twice from Umbria (Assisi/Spello) area. We got to FCO with plenty of time to spare for our 11:40 departures to Chicago. It goes counter to the expert advice given above, but it is worth considering given the short amount of time you have in Italy.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 12:12 PM
  #18
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Thank you so much for the itinerary suggestions! Very helpful! I have to check flights but I don't mind the idea of the "mad dash" either!
Recommendations on where to stay in Bolgheri?
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 12:25 PM
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In August, I think I would like to be by the sea, so you might check out what's available for your dates in Marina di Bibbona or near there:

http://www.booking.com/city/it/marin...ibbona.en.html

You can also search for agriturismi around Bolgheri, or a "relais" if you would like something plush and you will probably get a pool. Make sure anything you book has air con.

I also recommend, if you haven't done this already, to actually fax or CALL the target winery and be sure you can visit the day you want to visit!!! You might need to make an appointment or go with a group. If you send a fax, you can ask for a response by e-mail. You can also try sending an e-mail, but not all wineries check their inboxes very often.

For me, making a mad dash in August to the airport would not work for me, especially in August. The Rome airport is near the sea, and simply thousands of Italians are heading in that direction at all hours during the vacation days of August. You can find nice hotels in the sleepy pleasant town of Fiumicino and very nice seafood restaurants.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 12:36 PM
  #20
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Just a FYI: Delta does have nonstops JFK-Pisa two or three times a week in the summer months. Would make this trip much easier!
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