Advice Needed on Tuscany itinerary

Old Feb 1st, 2006, 08:57 PM
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Advice Needed on Tuscany itinerary

We need advice on completing our itinerary for an 11 day trip to Italy in April. We plan on using Orvieto as our base for 4 days while we explore the Tuscan region by car. We are then spending 2 nights in Spoletto. The following 2 nights are "Open for suggestion." We need to return our car to Orvieto and then take the train to Florence for our final 3 days/nights. Our preference is a town that is interesting to explore on foot, while still being close enough to visit neighboring towns by car. Thoughts on Perugia, Arezzo, Assisi, or ???? I appreciate your input-you've helped us plan 2 previous Italian vacations and you're always right! Thanks.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 05:27 AM
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Why not spend 4 nights in Spoleto instead of just 2?

One day should be devoted to scenic Piano Grande region (Castelluccia) to the east of Spoleto (use the tunnel and also stop to see Scheggino). Another day to see Assisi, Spello and environs (less than an hour away). And you could even shoot up to Gubbio. Of course, one day should be spent in the Montefalco, Bevagna, Trevi area. Todi too.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:00 AM
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Maybe I'm missing something here. Why are you using Orvieto as a home base to explore Tuscany? It would seem to me that some other town in Tuscany (Florence, San G.?) would make more sense. I DEFINITELY agree that one should spend time in Orvieto and Umbria (including Perugia, Assisi, and others), and you do need a car for that (or at least a car makes it easier to my way of thinking).

Just wondering.

KC
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 06:06 AM
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I agree with the above poster. There may be better areas to use as a home base. It seems to me that Perugia, Arezzo and Assisi are a bit out of the traditional "Tuscany loop", so to speak. BUT, to each his own.
Having said that, why not try Siena? You could have a great time there, with access to the Chianti region, Pisa, the thermal baths in the Siena region (for something a bit different), San Gimignano (fanstastic for walking around it!), and Assisi/Perugia etc. are easily accessible by car (although by train might be easier...)
Happy holidays!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Yes ! Why Orvieto for Tuscany ?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:43 AM
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The best areas of Tuscany are at least 1 hour away from Orvieto - and you will have to do some freeway driving to get there. Why not plop yourself in the middle of the "best area" (IMO) - the Pienza region. The Val d'Orcia (Pienza) is stunning in April. You won't believe how scenic the countryside is that time of year.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 08:49 AM
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I would pick one base in Tuscany (Val d'Orcia, for example) and one base in Umbria (take your pick). It would be pretty easy to see Orvieto en route between the two.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Where do you plan to park your car while in Orvieto? (The town is on a mesa-like geologic extrusion.) If you park it on top, you'll have to work your way up and down for every excursion. If you park at the bottom, you have to get yourself down the funicular and to your car. So, interesting as Orvieto is and in spite of ajoining the Autostrade del Sole, it's not the best place to use as a base for car trips.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 02:48 PM
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Just a note on Orvieto parking. At the opposite end (from the train stations & funicular) there is a multi-level parking structure. From there, you take an interesting series of underground escalators up to town. Easy!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:55 PM
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I think you are not considering the distance that you will be driving. Try The San Gimignano area and I suggest Fattoria Poggio Alloro a beautiful farm Bed and Breakfast! Check it out at www.fattoriapoggioalloro.com

Buon viaggio!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 10:14 PM
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Thanks for all the input. We have previously visited San Gigmianano, Siena,Rome, and Florence, which is why we are exploring elsewhere. Arriving by train and then renting a car seems pretty simple in Orvieto. However, we certainly don't have to stay 4 nights. Stu, do you have suggestions for a reasonably priced hotel in the Pienze area? I have read many postings on this region, but most of the hotels I researched are pretty pricey. I hate to pay too much when we'll be out and about most of the time. Having said that, we do like the idea of returning to our hotel in the late afternoon and walking around to find an interesting dinner spot. I'm very open for all of your recommendations. I appreciate your help.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Hi again In Need,

I stayed 3 nights at Hotel Giglio in Montalcino. Very good value for the money. My double room in Sept was just 85# per night, breakfast not included. Hotel is very nice, owners are extremely helpful, breakfast good. Free parking, not too hard to find.

Montalcino is heavenly, especially if you are a wine lover!

Buon viaggio!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:38 AM
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Why stay in hotels when there are so many places to stay like farms and villas (agroturismo) in the area?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:11 AM
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We've booked Villa I Bossi near Arezzo for mid-July.

Although we haven't yet stayed there, the trip adviser comments as well as the web site itself are and look very positive.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 01:43 PM
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A really worthwhile daytrip from Arezzo would be La Verna, the mountaintop retreat where St. Francis of Assisi reportedly received his stigmata. It's an amazing and powerful place...probably about an hour or so North of Arezzo if I remember right. Let me know if you'd like more info on it.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 05:59 PM
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I would love information on the drive that Carmen listed. We will be staying in Arezzo for 2 weeks in early June and I am working on our intinerary now. Thanks!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 07:06 PM
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Oh Carmen, me too! We are planning a drive to la Verna during the first week of March (soon, thank goodness). We will be coming from outside of Florence but this is a must on my list. I love St Francis, and can't wait to go there. Any food, nearby town or village information, what to actually see at La Verna, would all be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:22 PM
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Okay, guys, I promise to pull out my La Verna notes first thing in the morning, along with the map, and post all the pertinent info, directions, etc. (I never quite got that far along in my trip report...shame on me.)
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 12:27 PM
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The Sanctuary of La Verna is perched on a rocky, remote mountaintop, which was given to St. Francis by the Count Orlando Cattani of Chiusi in 1213. According to legend, this rocky outcropping (the ”crude” rock that Dante mentioned in his Paradiso) was split by an earthquake when Christ died on the cross. And in 1224, it's where St. Francis received his stigmata. You don't have to be particularly religious to be completely blown away by La Verna--spiritually, geologically, scenically. It's definitely a power place. Lots to see, but here are some highlights:

* The Precipice, steps and a walkway around the outside of the cliff.

* The Sasso Spicata (Projecting Rock)

* St. Francis's bed, tucked behind huge slabs of rock in a fern-covered grotto. You step through a door off the bright "corridor of the stigmata," and it's like you could walk to the center of the mountain. Beautiful and also a little unsettling.

* Della Robbia sculptures and frescoes of the life of St. Francis.

How to get there: from Arezzo, head north on S71 to Bibbiena (30 minutes or so). At Bibbiena, you'll take the windy road to La Verna (about 45 minutes). There are points along the way with great views and photo opps of the rocky outcropping. Note: I'm pretty sure there is a bus you can take from Bibbiena if you don't want to drive. There's also a road from Rassina that looks less curvy, but it's not marked on the regular map, so I'd be very cautious about taking that route, unless you have first hand assurances that it's okay (paved, maintained, etc...).

There are a couple of cafes in the little village of Chiusi della Verna before you get to the monastery itself. (They do not keep "tourist hours," however, so don't wait until 2:30 to eat lunch like we did, or you'll be stuck with a can of Pringles.) I think there may be a cafe at La Verna itself too, but we didn't actually see it.

Another option would be to take a picnic for lunch, and then drive on to Poppi to see the castle. Depending on your timing, you could then have an early dinner there. (It looked like there were some nice restaurants there.)

That's all I can think of, but feel free to ask questions and I'll try to answer them. Also, here's a link to a site with some more background:

http://www.anghiari.it/english/s2/d2Abis1.htm
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Old Feb 16th, 2006, 11:08 AM
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TTT for tuscanlifeedit in case you missed it...your trip is coming up soon! Buon viaggio!!
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