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Base Village for exploring Tuscany (1 week)

Base Village for exploring Tuscany (1 week)

Old Jul 11th, 2005, 12:53 AM
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Base Village for exploring Tuscany (1 week)


After reading many of these posts, we have decided to spend a week of our vacation in a villa rental in Tuscany. We are having a hard time deciding on an appropriate base. A nice village where we can stay for a week while we explore the area.

Any suggestions?
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 01:59 AM
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I would suggest you do a bit of research on what it is exactly that you want to see, where you want to go. It is pointless choosing a lovely village if it is nowhere near where you need to go. Once you have got a clearer picture - maybe hightlight the "sights" on a map then look for somewhere central. Do a search and then find a villa that meets as many of your requirements as possible. When are going? In summer it is very hot and a villa with a pool would be a great idea, particularly if you have children. You want to keep driving back and forward to a minimum so as above, research activities first and then villa. That's the way I do it anyway. Greve was a very pretty town, with a lovely central square,it was between Sienna and Florence. We stayed in Rignana, which was a bit out of the way, lovely countryside but not a lot too close by. Have fun.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 03:44 AM
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In "many of these posts", surely you've come across the expert opinions of bobthenavigator and StuDudley, both of whom recommend basing south of Siena in the lovely area known as Val d'Orcia.

The "nice village" there could be Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, etc.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Pienza, Montepulciano, and Montalcino are very definitely not "villages." They are actually small cities, though hey feel more like large towns.

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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 09:29 AM
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Although my favorite area in Tuscany is the Pienza/Montepulciano/Montalcino area, objectively the most central place in Tuscany is the Siena area. You are no more than an hour from almost everywhere in Tuscany, except for the coastal area. For specific suggestions as to which village, or which agritourismo or apartment, there are 1000's. Do a search here on Fodors, as well as checking out slowtrav.
As for a personal recommendation, we'll be staying in a country apartment near Montepulciano for a week in October. It is called Sant' Antonio, and here is the URL:
http://www.santantonio.it/
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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CMT,not sure if you are implying that these towns have a "citylike' feel or if you're trying to describe their size.
I suppose since there's no universal definition of "village", "town",etc. it's okay to say these towns aren't villages.
But Pienza barely has more than 2,000 people and can easily be walked in very little time. IMHO, Montalcino "seems" like a small town and Montepulciano slightly bigger.
Woyzech, please don't get the impression that you'll be in a town that reminds you of Ackron,San Jose or even Santa Cruz.
Schnauzer has some great advice. The time of year, your personal wants, mode of transportation all are important.
We love both the north and the south, so we generally split 4 days at each. This year ,I think we'll be in Lucca area for 4 night, Chianti for 4 nights and then the same in southern Tuscany until we finish for a week in Rome.
Follow Schnauzer's advice and enjoy planning!

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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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In May of 2001, we (my wife and I) stayed in an apartment just outside Panzano (which is on the wine route between Greve and Castellina). We really loved Panzano and that particular area of Tuscany. Florence and Sienna are both about 45 minutes from Panzano and we spent a day in each as well as day-tripping to many hill towns in the Chianti area.

We stayed in Southern Tuscany in September 2002 for a week and I know it is personal preference but we prefer the Chianti area. Maybe it was the time of year but the area around Pienza, Montalcino and Montepulciano seemed rather dull with all the fields being plowed into dirt furrows.

I agree with many of the replies posted here. Decide on what you want to see then pick a place relatively close to that area. There are tons of fantastic villas to choose from and if you read the descriptions carefully you will find one that will work for you.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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I second the Sant Antonio. We stayed there in April and had a great apartment (large) in an absolutely beautiful setting. LOVED Montepulciano and the surrounding areas. Nico, the owner of the resort, is great. I would definitely return there. We took day trips from there each day into Siena, San Gimi, Pienza (our favorite), Orvieto, etc.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 02:59 PM
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The best advice you have received is to read all you can--slowtrav.com is a good start---and decide what you want to see most. Get a good map and put pins in the map at those locations. Then start to look for places to stay.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 03:06 PM
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Tuscany is a large area and the different areas are not all the same. The area north of Siena is Chianti, the area south of Siena is the Crete. Both are very different. There are other posts by myself and others on the differences.

We stayed near Greve in Chianti and found it perfect for day trips. One included a trip to Pienza, Montepulciano area which was just as beautiful - but different landscapes.

The good news is that it is a "curse of rich blessings" - hard to go wrong. Doing the research is half the fun so I would read more posts here and get a good guidebook to start you on your research. Figure out what you like and what you want to see and there are tons of suggestions on this website that will help.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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In response to Jabez: In Italy each of those is referred to as a city (citt&agrave. To me they feel like towns, but I was not labeling them based on my subjective impressions. A village (villaggio) is a small inhabited area. It isn't a "comune," which is a political subdivision, with its own municipal government. I think a villaggio is generally (maybe always?) part of a comune. True, that there are no universal definitions, but since these places are in Italy, it seems like a good idea to try to call them what they'd be called in Italy. Speaking very loosely, I might refer to many small cities and some villages as "towns," but that wouldn't really be accurate.
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 10:50 PM
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We stayed in Monteriggioni, which is very centrally located to explore all sides of Tuscany.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 04:39 AM
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CMT
The point I'm trying to make to a new visitor is that their definition is not all that bad.
In reality tiny Radicondoli is even called a city just as Siena is.
Montalcino,Pienza,etc. are called cities, towns and communes depending on the source. While these towns (I'll stick to what I believe is the most correct)may not be technical villages, no one who has not been to Italy should be given the impression that they are urban areas.
No big deal, but I think that was the initial impression your first response gave. Have a great day!
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 04:09 PM
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You may enjoy reading my recent post. We just returned from staying 3 weeks in Italy ~ in a villa. Good luck!

My wife and I just returned from 3 weeks in Tuscany ~ wanted to try something different ~ single location with day trips. In preparation, I read website after website, Fodors’ post after Fodors’ post, the Parker “Encyclopedia”, etc. We like restaurants, hotels, etc. that are unique to locale (no Holiday Inns in Tuscany clothing). I would say that most of the places we stay are equivalent of four stars. Having said all of that, let me tell you about Tenuta di Lupinari.

This is definitely a commercial but it was not solicited nor were we paid. Lupinari is in Chianti about 40 miles south of Florence west of the A1. They are just outside of Bucine. It is about an hour drive (off peak hours) from the Florence airport. Their website is www.lupinari.com and email is [email protected]. This is a beautiful place. It sits high on the side of a hill overlooking a valley with mountains on the horizon. You are surrounded by 2,200 olive trees and acres of wine grapes. We brought home several bottles of their own Chianti. The owner’s castle and adjacent remodeled units were originally build hundreds of years ago. They were turned into apartments about 7 years ago. We stayed in the Il Poggio (The Knoll) unit. It has 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, separate kitchen, living dining combination. We also had a private balcony. The place has a huge swimming pooling and impeccable landscaping.

The owner/managers could not have been more helpful. They arranged for us to have a private cook come in a couple of times and prepare typical Tuscan fare. They took our son to the train station (no taxis in Bucine), answered all our questions, recommended restaurants, modes of transportation (took train to Florence after driving the first time ~ parking is miserable), etc. We enjoyed playing with their dogs and Claudia, their baby daughter. We shared the loss of their dog, Theo, that had been Marco’s pet for 14 years. Marco, Marianna and Antonella all speak English very well.

We made easy day trips to Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Volterra, Radda, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Arezzo, Assisi, Cortona, Florence, Arezzo, etc. We had an excellent list of restaurants before we left and added L’Antica Portale (near Bucine for patio pizza), Enoteca Osteria Osticcio in Montalcino (if you are wine lover) and Olio & Convivium (in Florence). The best food (and most expensive) was Osteria le Logge in Siena (about €125 for luxury lunch). The best experience was Cane e Gatto also in Siena (less expensive than anticipated). The best restaurant views was a tossup between Caffe Poliziano in Montepulciano and Enoteca Osteria Osticcio in Montalcino. The overall best setting is a Ferragamo restaurant called the Osteria del Boggo in Il Borro, San Giustino Valdarno. The nice thing about Tuscany, you have to hunt for bad food.

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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 05:12 PM
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Jabez, you said: <<CMT
The point I'm trying to make to a new visitor is that their definition is not all that bad.>>

I really don't understand your "point," since the "new visitor" never gave a definition of village or twon or city. ??? He merely said he was interested in a "nice village." Since he was looking for a villa rental, it's quite possible that he really DID mean a village. I think it was some other (not new) poster--don't remember who and that doesn't seem important--who then listed three small CITIES as examples of "nice villages."

I do not think calling these places what they are called in the Italian administrative scheme, i.e. cities, gives the impression that this is some built up congested area. It is just intended as a reminder that these are places with deep cultural and political traditions and long history that grew slowly and organically, and they really are cities, though they are nothing like the huge, sprawling, fast-growing cities that we may know in other countries. When foreigners like us refer to such places as "villages," because they look sweet and pretty and and quaint and we can easily walk from one end to the other without even getting tired, it sometimes comes across as disrespectful (even though we may love small places), giving the impression that the visitor sees only some cutesie-poo tourist locale that looks great in snapshots, but has no real appreciation or respect for the city/town/place's histoircal and cultural roots and contributions.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 06:12 PM
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We spent a week in Montepulciano and to my way of thinking, one of the best things about it was that it was not as much of a tourist town as other we visited. While it was lively during the day, it quieted down at night and we really got the feeling that we were living there for our week rather than visiting. It was an easy day trip to Montalcino, Pienza, Orvieto and Sienna. If you search Montepulciano on this site, apartment and restaurant information will come up.
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Old Jul 12th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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We are heading for Tuscany next week (7/20) and would love to get the list of restaurants mentioned by Philip in his post - any chance you could email it to us at [email protected]?? It would greatly appreciated. We will be mainly in San Gimignano area but will be driving around to explore and love to get restaurant tips. thanks.
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