A month in Italy - if not Siena, where?

Old Jul 18th, 2022, 07:01 AM
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A month in Italy - if not Siena, where?

Hello,
My wife and I spent a month in Siena in both 2019 and May this year. We're planning next year's trip and, while the draw of Siena is very strong, want to look at other options. My wife is very keen on art history, I'm into wine, and we both enjoy our food. The appeal of Siena is its size, its cultural charm, it's not overrun with tourists (like Florence), and it has a fabulous hinterland for exploring other places. Any tips would be very welcome. Thanks
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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Lecce, the wine, for example Salice Salentino and Primativo di Manduria is exceptional.
The architecture in the old town is fantastic
The Roman remains are out of this world
Foreign tourism is still a new thing
May is perfect
Hinterland, the Murge, the Masseria, Taranto, Brindisi, Ostuni, Matera, Otranto
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Old Jul 18th, 2022, 01:52 PM
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We have spent a heap of time in Venice, about a year in total. Click on my user name and you will see trip reports, and understand why Venice grabs us.
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 05:41 AM
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Pisa and Montalcino come to mind.

https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/in-defense-of-pisa-1702701/

https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/perugia-and-rome-by-train-and-bus-769131/

If these don't come up, just click on my name and scroll to In Defense of Pisa and Perugia and Rome by Train and Bus.

Last edited by TDudette; Jul 19th, 2022 at 05:47 AM.
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 07:02 AM
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How about Bologna? Close enough to Venice and Ravenna and other places for day trips. https://www.travlinmad.com/blog/19-e...s-from-bologna. It has a great food scene. We, too, love Siena but found Bologna to be very charming and not as overrun with tourists.
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 07:30 AM
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Another vote for Montalcino. I'll also add Piacenza, Mantova, Ferrara, Parma, Arezzo. I assume you'll have a car.... If not, I'd include Perugia to the list.

If Venice sounds too big and crowded, look at Treviso.

If you want to be close to the Med and Pisa sounds too big, Pietrasanta.
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Old Jul 19th, 2022, 06:05 PM
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Ravenna!
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 03:21 AM
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Thanks so much. We hadn't considered going that far south but, given what you say, this sounds well worth more research. We'll have a look.
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 03:24 AM
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Thanks to all of you for your responses. Bologna is a definite option on our current list. Many of the others we've not considered mainly because they would be great for a 2-3 day stay but not as a place to settle for a month. It's really tricky but I'm sure we'll get there! Thanks again everyone
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 05:30 AM
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If I had a whole month, I would go to Sicily.
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 05:36 AM
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Of the proposed, I'd recommend Sicily, Puglia or Bologna (as part of the Po valley delta). Tuscany will always be there for when you are bored of the rest ;-)
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 08:18 AM
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I would choose Bologna as a hub. It is known for its food and has good connections to Ferrara, Ravenna, Faenza. I would not do Venice as a day trip. But I would consider Florence as a day trip.

https://flic.kr/p/a3YRZi

Last edited by Michael; Jul 20th, 2022 at 08:35 AM.
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 08:26 AM
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I don't find Perugia to be a good substitute for Siena. Though I don't know what is.

Siena is a unique place as you have found. I know exactly why you've been able to spend a lot of time there. It's worth it. FYI, I would say that Cordoba, Spain is comparable. And Krakow as well. I will be very interested to hear about other options in Italy, which one you'll eventually choose, and of course a report back!

Last edited by shelemm; Jul 20th, 2022 at 08:37 AM.
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post
I don't find Perugia to be a good substitute for Siena. Though I don't know what is.
Though Umbria as a whole is a nice kissing-cousin substitute - - though if you have a car, basing somewhere small and central like Montefalco is a great location and gives you more freedom than Perugia, with daytrip options in all directions.
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Old Jul 20th, 2022, 08:57 AM
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I think you need to decide what area/region you want to experience and how you want to travel. Smaller towns might seem too small for a month (although all of the mentioned towns wouldn't be "too small" for me), but they're much easier to use as bases for exploring by car. Do you want the tranquility of a smaller town in the evening, or do you like what a larger city offers beyond dinner?

Some people like Bologna a lot. Me, not as much, and I can't imagine spending an entire month there. It has a lot to offer... wonderful dining, some interesting museums, good public transportation to other towns. But for me, it's a little too rough around the edges and not "charming," esp. if compared to your previous long-stay in Siena. I would find the "grit" tiring after a week. Bologna is very convenient if you want to make lots of day trips by train. If you want to explore the region by car, you'd have to deal with the heavy traffic surrounding the city every time you left and returned.

Sicily is huge. If you wanted to explore the entire island, you'd have to stay in multiple towns for several days each. A month would be heaven if that's the sort of trip you want.

I don't think you mentioned what time of year in 2023.... If mid-summer, there are places I would immediately eliminate because of weather. I'm a heat and humidity wimp.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 08:41 PM
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I propose basing in Bevagna, then daytrips from there. As good a selection as anywhere i.e. D4's above suggested Montefalco.
Good luck.
I am done. The end.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2022, 09:21 PM
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Jean said, regarding Bologna:
[/QUOTE] If you want to explore the region by car, you'd have to deal with the heavy traffic surrounding the city every time you left and returned.
[QUOTE]

Not to mention the parking and the ZTLs. Bologna is a great hub for train travel, though.

You mentioned liking the size of Siena, but I'm not sure if you want to avoid cities that are much larger or those that are much smaller.

It seems to me that Parma might suit you. Other possibilities would be Verona, Vicenza, Arezzo, Ferrara, Urbino, and Ravenna.

Some of these cities would not be good transportation hubs unless you had a car, but neither is Siena.



On the large side, I like Milan.

Last edited by bvlenci; Jul 22nd, 2022 at 09:35 PM.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 03:34 AM
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We spent a month in Bologna and fell in love with the place. It is a great base for getting around by train. We did several day trips and a couple of weekends way. Places like Florence, Dozza, Saluzo, Ravenna and many more are within easy reach. We only rented a car for one day to get somewhere that wasn't serviced by rail.

We were there at graduation time so the place was buzzing with students celebrating and it had a great vibe. The food was incredible. Having an apartment enabled us to shop for superlative produce and cook at home or just eat out at any one of hundreds of great restaurants.

A fun experience was the open air cinema in the main plaza every Wednesday day. Amazing to be able to watch my favourite film Goodfellas surround by Italians. I would return in a heartbeat.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2022, 05:37 AM
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We also based in Bologna for a few days. Our hotel was (not now though) a Sofitel and directly across from the train station so very convenient for day trips. We loved the atmosphere of Ravenna more....without all the porticos, it was brighter.

Here's the TR for ideas...you'll need to scroll down a bit:

Turin, Spoleto, Bologna and Bellagio TR
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Old Jul 27th, 2022, 03:36 AM
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Again, thanks so much for your thoughts everyone. This is really tricky. Bologna gets a lot of coverage but we have been there and don't really feel that a month there would work. A few of you mentioned Sicily, obviously not as a substitute for Siena, but as a good option for a month if we're prepared to travel around. So I might take a look at that, though I'm not keen on heat so we'd need to be careful of timings. One option we're considering now is Rome......... definitely not in our thinking at first but, if we can find a suitable area to settle in for a month (away from the crowds if at all possible, with a community of its own, and easy access into the city) it might be a viable option. Sorry to throw a spanner in the works but that might be something to consider. Any initial thoughts anyone? Thanks
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