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Any questions? Just returned from Tuscany.

Any questions? Just returned from Tuscany.

Old May 12th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Any questions? Just returned from Tuscany.

We rented a house in Tuscany for one week and then spent 4 days in Florence. I might be able to answer questions and offer suggestions.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:26 AM
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We'd rather have a trip report.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 01:43 PM
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Any recommendations on a winery with tour, tasting, & restaurant in the Pienza or Montalcino area?
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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How do you spend you 7 days in Tuscany ? Where you based in one town? What was your favorite town? How long to it take to get to your various destinations.

I will be in Tuscany area - Siena based for one week in June with two samll children. Any suggestions?
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:45 PM
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To J62 - We have just returned from a self-guided bicycle tour in Tuscany and stayed at a lovely family run B&B in Montalcino. The family also runs a wonderful restaurant with a huge wine selection, and the owner has a passion for wine. He is a wealth of information regarding wine selection, and can give you great suggestions. The food is wonderful too! Try looking up Hotel Il Giglio or call 39-0578757262. Happy tasting!
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Old May 15th, 2007, 10:15 PM
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CAROL- My fiance and I will take a train from Lake Como to Rome. We want to stop in Tuscany. We'd like a B&B to stay in. Suggestions? Especially in Siena. Should we rent a car?
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Old May 16th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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J62 -

We didn't visit Castello Banfi when in Italy last fall. They meet your criteria of having a restaurant at site however, I don't know how they organize your tours. We had a lovely private tour of the Argiano estate with a very informed young lady. We paid 20 euros each however, based on the length of time we talked and the generous tasting after the tour we felt that this cost was insignificant.

Biondi-Santi would probably be another good option however, I'm not familiar with the estate.

In the past, we typically contact the vintners directly and set up our own tours. We've also set some up or got recommendations from our local wine market that specializes in Italian wines. They would be a good resource if you have any questions. Have a great trip!
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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What would you consider a "must see/do" in Tuscany? I have plans to visit a few vineyards and take a cooking class, but is there something else I should consider? For example, is it really something special to see the towers of San Gimignano or the walled city of Lucca? Are the thermal baths something I should check out?
Thanks!
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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for the tips re wineries tlc and hana. I don't think Carol is around - no replies so far.

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Old May 16th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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What were your favorite towns or things to see in Tuscany?
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Old May 16th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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My daughter and I will be in florence for just a few days in June, after the Uffizi and Accadamia, what is a must see? i would like to visit the church where Michaleangelo is buried, don't remember the name right now, and what were fave eateries? Where's the best gelato, molto importante! Thanks, Leslie
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Old May 18th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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I'm so sorry to have "dropped off the face of the earth"...it's amazing what all can go wrong with family and friends while you're away for a month!
We had no problem spending 7 days in Tuscany - there is tons to do. We stayed in a little farmhouse in the middle of a vineyard and olive trees with a view out the windows that took in a postcard perfect view of Montepulciano and the San Biagio church. It was glorious. The farmhouse was named Le Capanne di Sopra and is located in Montefollonico. There is a website and i'll look it up and post it later. Each day we drove a different route and the Tuscan hill towns are so close together that you have no problems seeing a lot of places. Siena was a disappointment to my husband and myself as we visited there about 10 years ago when our family shared the piazza Il Campo with only about 2 dozen other individuals and when visiting the Duomo we had it all to ourselves. This trip it was literally packed with tourists and the Duomo was shrouded in scaffolding with cranes as backdrops. But the Duomo is still one of my most favorites in Europe. San Gimignano was also a disappointment...my second visit, my husbands first. It was market day (and not a very good one I might add) and it completely covered the sweet piazza with the cistern. Again...tons of tourtists. We wish we had left out these two cities, but that's just our opinion. Highlights were: (1) simply driving through Tuscany (2) Cortona (3) Montepulciano and San Biagio (4) San Antimo (church) and if you can, plan where you are there while the French monks chant,,,it's indescribable. (4) Pienza, (5)Montalcino (6) Florence...never even think about leaving Florence out because it never disappoints.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 04:22 PM
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Florence: the most favorite city I've ever visited!! Santa Croce is where Michelangelo's tomb is located and it indeed is a must see church, along with the Pazzi Chapel right next to it. If you have time...walk up to San Miniato (about a 30 minute walk from Ponte Vecchio and visit the church and cemetery along with the breathtaking views over the city of Florence. I especially love the Medici Chapel and San Lorenzo Church. The Chapel houses Michelangelo sculptures that are incredible. The real highlight of this visit to Florence was visiting the Duomo Museum. (located right behind the Dome) I've been to Florence 4 times and this is the first time I ventured into this absolute gem of a museum...I don't know why it's not recommended as often as other sights. It's excellent. Pitti Palace has a wonderful collection of art inside gorgeously appointed rooms. Eat your heart out with the best gelato ever. My favorite is "melone" which is cantaloupe and my husband always gets one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of coconut (like eating a mounds bar). We ate 3 times at a restaurant called "Baldovino". Eat there once and you'll be hooked. Try one of the foccacia breads and their pizza is some of the best. This place is located right along the north side of the Santa Croce church. I also recommend ZaZa's which is near the Medici Chapel and the Central Market. Eat there early either for lunch or dinner and if you can't, then make reservations. Their "ribollita" is delish. A tip...the outside seating arrangement is confusing. ZaZa has outside tables directly in front of it...then butted up against their section is seating for the restaurant next door...then on the other side of the "other" restaurant's is more ZaZa's seating.
Rick Steves recommends Ristorante Paoli and I ate there on an earlier trip and it was wonderful. This time I wanted to take my husband and the "Paoli's" we ended up inside just didn't look right to me and I thought I was losing my mind. I'm still wondering what the deal is because the one Rick recommends says it's on Via de Tavolini and I could swear that the Paoli's we ate at this time was on Via de Tavolini as well. SO! I highly recommend the one Rick speaks of with "richly frescoed Gothic vault"...wherever it may be!
The Corona Bar is a great place on the main street for an early morning cappucino and pastry as well as for an anytime gelato. We also got wonderful fresh pastries at a "bar" located in Piazza Republica in the northwest corner...I can't remember it's name.
I was amazed on this trip just how much English was spoken by the Italians in restaurants, shops, museums, etc. I tried so often to use what little Italian I knew, only to be answered in impeccable English! I also was amazed at how many Americans are visiting Italy - unbelieveable!
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Old May 18th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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Sorry but I thought of another enjoyable part of our visit to Florence. There is a little church on Via del Corso just south of the Duomo and almost nightly they have a concert. The night we attended it was an organ, oboe and contra alto performing Handel, Vivaldi, et al. The church seats about 125 people and it was packed. They post schedules all around the city and sell tickets out front of the church during the day. It was exceptional. The wood pew seats get a little uncomfortable after the first 30 minutes but it was well worth it.
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Old May 18th, 2007, 04:46 PM
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Regarding car rental. If you can possibly rent a car to explore Tuscany do so, I can't believe that there is a better way. It's very easy. However, do NOT try to drive into Florence or Rome and I think it's dicey even driving into Siena. We usually turn in our car after having explored the Tuscan hilltowns at the Florence airport. We have parked in a car park on the outskirts of Rome and taxied in to our hotel. Most of the hill towns are very easy to figure out...there are signs indicating car parks and it's usually a very short walk into the centro storico. Don't always stop at the first parking lot because there is usually a much closer one up nearer the part you are going to want to explore. Sometimes it appears that you shouldn't be driving through some of the streets because they are so narrow and "pedestrian" looking but if it doesn't show the pedestrian only zone sign...give it a shot...you can always make your way back out and down to one of the earlier car parks you've passed up.
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