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Can't decide where to stay for Florence/Tuscany visit - need help :)

Can't decide where to stay for Florence/Tuscany visit - need help :)

Old Sep 19th, 2002, 01:46 PM
  #1  
Cathy
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Can't decide where to stay for Florence/Tuscany visit - need help :)

My husband and I will be traveling to Italy next year and spending time in Rome, Florence and Tuscany. I have done quite a bit of research and still have not pinned down where to stay in Tuscany or Florence.

What we like:

- We love spending time with the locals and walking around town.

- We will be renting a car when leaving Rome.

- We want to have wonderful dinners with lots of local wines and NOT have to drive afterwards (a fair amount of walking is fine).

- We love vineyards and wineries.

- Although we want to see the 'biggies' in Florence, we're not tremendously big museum goers (suffered major 'ruins' burnout in Greece). Two day trips in Florence with 1/2 of each day visiting museums and the other 1/2 exploring the city would be OK. Are we missing anything by not staying in Florence at night?

- I've been to Rome, Florence, and Siena (only for a day trip). This is my husband's first trip.

- Driving through the countryside is a big kick for us.

- Have checked out Villa Vignamaggio but concerned that they don't offer dinner every night.

- Would love to stay in a winery/vineyard.

- Cost is not a deciding factor (although I would probably shudder at anything over $500 - I've done it before, but that just cuts into my wine purchases).

- It sounds like spending at least one night in Siena might be a must(?).

Hopefully someone will read this and automatically think 'Oh - they should definitely stay at ??????' As always, all recommendations are appreciated.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 01:58 PM
  #2  
Vita
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Hi, Cathy. I stayed in Rome, Tuscany, and Florence last year but without a car. I really like the urban settings so I spent a lot of time in both Rome and Florence and spent 4 nights in Siena. I loved Florence, but given your interests, I think your plan to stay in Tuscany with day trips to Florence is a good one. Other people would be better able to advise you on where to stay in Tuscany. I stayed in Siena so I could tour the area by bus. If you have a car and can leave whenever you like, I don't know that it's necessary to spend the night in Siena but you might want to stay for dinner and an evening stroll.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 01:59 PM
  #3  
Marilyn
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Either Siena or Montalcino. Either will give you lots of day trip options to Florence and towns like San Gimignano, Volterra, Pienza, Bagnovignoni, etc.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 01:59 PM
  #4  
Beth
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Many, many decisions ...huh?

You need to provide a little more of guideline for us to help. Tuscany is huge!

OK, here are my two suggestions. Both are pretty pricey, but both are worth it.

I love, love, love, La Chiusa. It's got one of the 10 best resterants in Italy and it's a beautiful inn. I think two nights there would be worth it. It has been talked about in great detail on this board, so search. It's about an hour South East of Sienna.

Here is a link to them, but you should call them directly to make a reservation. (the web page is from a reservation service that charges more).

http://www.jpmoser.com/lachiusa.html

Another place where we have stayed that I thought was great is Castello di Spaltenna in Gaiole in Chianti. It's not the best location in Tuscany, but not the worst either. It's a charming place to stay.

http://www.spaltenna.com/_uk/saluti.htm
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 02:32 PM
  #5  
Cathy
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To Beth's point about the size of Tuscany - we're looking at Chianti - somewhere between Florence and Siena.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 02:42 PM
  #6  
x
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I don't say this to be rude, but I always have to wonder when people say they want to "spend time with the locals." The locals are regular people like you and I, going about their day. They're not extras in your travel movie scene. If you happen to meet someone personally, fine. But don't count on it. And even moreso, don't get overly excited if you do meet a "local." They're just regular people.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 03:11 PM
  #7  
z
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Relax, x. It's just another fodorite favorite. Goes hand in hand with "soak up the atmosphere".
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 05:04 PM
  #8  
Terry
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You wouldn't be able to make day trips to Florence from here but you will certainly feel like you're "spending time with the locals" when you hear the chickens clucking outside your window and the bells ringing across the valley as you wake up! My suggestion: Il Falconiere in Cortona. My husband and I spent 4 nights here in the summer and we loved it. We took the train to Chiusi and rented a car from Avis which is right across the street from the train station. The drive to Cortona was 30-40 minutes, and we stopped off in Montepulciano on the way. The Relais is really well cared for with beautiful rooms. the restaurant serves a delicious breakfast buffet and dinner was amazing!It is also a vineyard/olive grove and the owners serve their wine in the restaurant. We also stayed at Villa Vignamaggio which would allow for a drive into Florence (not a quick hop though due to hilly roads). It was not as beautiful,as well cared for or as enjoyable as Il Falconiere.You don't receive the service in Villa Vignamaggio and the grounds aren't as well cared for, but it is a beautiful place also with the surrounding hillsides and vineyards. If you go to Vignamaggio be sure to make the drive to Lamole. There's a great restaurant in a tiny little hamlet. Best for lunch though if you're planning on drinking wine especially! The drive is VERY windy and hilly.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 07:49 PM
  #9  
beth
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Oh,

If that is your area, get this book
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1556509006/qid=1032490177/sr=8-3/ref=sr_8_3/102-6435905-2027320?v=glance&s=books

Look though it and look for nice places to stay. There is also www.tuscany.net that is worth checking out.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 08:57 PM
  #10  
RC
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I would spend the nights in Siena and day trip into Florence. Siena is wonderful at night, especially around Piazza Il Campo.
 
Old Sep 19th, 2002, 09:14 PM
  #11  
beth
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Oh,

If that is your area, get this book
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1556509006/qid=1032490177/sr=8-3/ref=sr_8_3/102-6435905-2027320?v=glance&s=books

Look though it and look for nice places to stay. There is also www.tuscany.net that is worth checking out.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 01:23 AM
  #12  
Cristina
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I too agree with staying in Siena or on the outside of the city. Either that or rent an apartment in an agriturismo near a larger town in the Chianti like Greve, Radda or even Panzano or Vagliagli. You could stay at the Dievole winery in Vagliagli. They have a restaurant onsite as well as walking distance to 2 others in the center of the town of Vagliagli (very small) Panzano is another little town that has farm stays/agriturismi near the town so you could walk in for dinner easily.

BTW, just a pet peeve of mine. Florence a town in Tuscany so listing them as two seperate places gets confusing.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 03:40 AM
  #13  
bob
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Where you stay and what you see, are really based on your own interests. What worked for us was about a two week stay, first, using Siena as a base and driving to the surrounding mountain towns that interested us, every other day. Siena has much more than a one day stay--but again that was our taste. If you've been to Europe/Italy, you know that a car is a liability in a city of any size. Florence especially. During the second week,we then found a base in Prado, near Florence, taking the train in on the days we wanted to visit, and touring the area west to Lucca, Pisa, Via Reggio, and the Cinque Terre (sp?) by car. I must agree with another writer that "real locals" are not particularly interested in tourists, but chance meetings, especially if you speak a bit of Italian, can happen casually as they can anywhere. We were sort of adopted by the family who own a small travellers hotel in Prado, which made the second half of the trip even more enjoyable, but we kept bumping into other tourists who brightened a number of dinners or chance encounters at museums etc. etc. Relax, have fun. PS It's difficult to find a bad meal in Tuscany, just use the guide books and your budget as a framework and fill in your with your own finds. Often while on foot, we chanced on some very lovely places to eat. Sometimes just picking up some bread, cheese fruit etc. etc. and munching in the open air on a scenic hillside is a wonderful change of pace.
Good luck.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 06:58 AM
  #14  
Kristen
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I found a great website at www.tuscanyby.com that lists a number of places to stay in the Tuscany region. We booked a room in a castle through the website - 108 euros per night and only about 15 km from Siena.
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 07:47 AM
  #15  
alexis
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If money is no issue, i suggest looking into Casali di Bibbiano. My brother visited there last summer and has too many great things to say about it. It is between Siena and Montalcino and the room includes a variety of different wines and dinner and breakfast. It is on a vineyard and the dinner is supposed to be out of this world- 5 courses on the terrace overlooking vineyards and the fortress of Montalcino. www.albertowinery.com
 
Old Sep 20th, 2002, 08:07 AM
  #16  
Jess
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On Open Winery day this May, I stumbled across the most lovely little agritourismo place, high up in the hills in Chianti Ruffino land. I'm at work right now, but I can send you some info when I get home.

The owners had the most lovely garden, and invited us to tour it while they had dinner. The house is a little removed from the winery and farm, overlooking it and the rolling hills surrounding. I took some photos with my digital camera, if you would like to see them. The drive up the hill tokk a bit of time as it was winding, but it was total maybe 90 mins outside of Florence. There were several small towns within driving distance.

I would consider splitting time between a rural place for a couple of days and a larger city, like Florence or Lucca(several friends have stayed there recently and loved it). Never spending an evening in Florence, you do miss the city after the daytrippers have left, and you lose the opportunity to stroll around, grab a late night gelato, and check out the architecture and statues by night.
 
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 07:02 AM
  #17  
Jill
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I simple loved our trip this summer to CHianti. We stayed at a quaint farmhouse near Gaiole, right off the chiantigiana, that is also a working vineyard and olive grove. We dubbed our honeymoon, the death by cork and fork tour. Tons of fab wineries, all selling direct.

If you do not want to go the agriturismo route (you will have to drive after dinner but not far, 5 mins. max if you stay opt for the agriturismo) I second the Castello di Spaltenna suggestion, it has been granted the hightest prize from the michelin guide! The view is spectacular, although we dined their just one night, one could easily make it a nightly event. However, you can also walk into town from the castello and dine at Lo Sfizio - the most hospitable owner in all of Italy - she is full of spunk and the family run establishment is top notch. There is also 4 other good restaurants to select from.

We found our base outside of Gaiole to be perfect, we day tripped to Radda, Castellina about 15 mins. Also to Florence about 45 minutes, Siena about 40 minutes, Montalcino 1 1/2 hrs.youc an lump cortona and Montepulciano into that trip but it will be exhausting. We spent a morning on our way to Greve at villa vignamaggio, getting lost on our way to lamole. It was bliss!

When are you travelling? If summer, I strongly recommend the agriturismo route as you can look for accomodations with a pool - a must after a day in the heat touring the countryside!
 
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 08:09 AM
  #18  
Janice
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I can also recommend Il Falconiere near
Cortona. Next month we return to Tuscany for a stay at the agriturismo
Collelungo near Castellina. If you are
interested in my opinion, e-mail me in
early November. Collelungo has a website and their wines have been receiving great reviews of late.
 
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 08:18 AM
  #19  
Bill
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leaving for Firenze the end of this month to visit our daughter, who nows lives there, with her Italian husband, born in Firenze.
We'll let you know what we find...
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? We go there first
 
Old Sep 21st, 2002, 08:38 AM
  #20  
debbie
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Jill -
What was the name of the place you stayed in Gaiole and how did you find it?
 

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