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Choosing between Cortona or San Gimignano!

Choosing between Cortona or San Gimignano!

Apr 21st, 2000, 12:35 PM
  #1  
Jp
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Choosing between Cortona or San Gimignano!

Forum members guided me to a good site for villa rentals, but now I'm stuck between a place in Cortona and one in San Gimignano. I've been to the latter, which is lovely and right in the heart of things but touristy. But what is the area around San Gimignano like? As compared to Cortona and the area? I'll be traveling with a baby, so wine isn't such a big deal for us, just want to be somewhere beautiful and near enough to some towns.
 
Apr 21st, 2000, 06:25 PM
  #2  
Mary
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Sam Gimignano is a tourist trap!!! I did not go to Cortona - but would imagine it is better than San Gimignano even with the the book (Under the Tuscan Sun) success.

Depends on what you are looking for. Real Italy is not overpriced San Gimignano! I am not sure that either is really close to big towns. You may want to go to something more centrally located, like Sienna. That was a great city (much bigger but not obese) compared with the two you listed. Great sites, good day trips - one of our favorite spots!

 
Apr 25th, 2000, 06:16 PM
  #3  
Margo
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I've been to San Gimignano three times over the past 6 years. I loved it at first, but each time I visited, it seemed to lose more of its charm. It is now an overpriced village and some of the merchants are tourist-weary, even to the point of being rude. I'm renting a villa in Cortona this fall. My friends who have visted Cortona loved it.
 
Apr 25th, 2000, 06:29 PM
  #4  
Patrick
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To Mary and to Margo: How many nights did you spend in San Gimignano each trip? I assume you are speaking from the experience of staying there and not just as another day tripper. What was it about SG at night that you didn't like??
 
Apr 25th, 2000, 07:59 PM
  #5  
Louise
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Patrick, if you keep telling people how great SG is, there won't be room for the likes of us when we return. You are right - you can't really appreciate SG if you visit only by day (but don't tell anyone about the charms of SG after the tourists leave). A year ago I found it to be friendly, and no more "expensive" than anywhere else.

On the other hand, I visited Cortona only during the day, and didn't think it was all that great. Next time perhaps I'll try staying there for a couple of days to better compare the two towns.
 
Apr 25th, 2000, 08:40 PM
  #6  
santachiara
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Cortona is a wonderful, charming hill town with enough sites of its own and without the overhype of San Gimignano, which I will never understand why it is the cat's meow. Cortona,in addition to a wonderful Etruscan museum, features outside of town St. Francis of Assisi's celle, a wonderful monastary type structure set in the side of a hill. In fall, its umber-colored bricks set against the fall foliage gives it an Oriental look of tranquility and simplicity. You will be near Perugia, a great town, and Arezzo, an underrated jewel with a great antiques market every first weekend of the month. My "own little town," Castiglion Fiorentino," is only a few kilometers away, and although short on tourist attractions is long on local insight into what a real Italian hilltown is like, not all strumpeted up Disney-does-Tuscany. And if you love art and Piero della Francesca, you are on trail to Sansepolcro and Monterchi. Read Francis Mayles' second book, Bella Tuscany, in which she comes down a little off her high horse and is not quite as lawdy-dawdy as she was in the lamentable Under the Tuscan Sun. In the second book, she devotes a whole chapter to all the little towns around Lake Trasimeno, which sound fascinating.
 
May 3rd, 2000, 11:12 AM
  #7  
Mary
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Santachiara, you seem to know the area around Cortona rather well & I liked the idea of getting local insight into what an Italian hilltown is really like. Are you able to recommend a B&B/small agriturismo (not big apartments)/independent cottage in the area around Cortona/Castiglion Fiorentino ? Sorry to impose like this, but often places recommended by someone who knows the area are far better than a travel agent's recommendation.

Thanks in advance.

 
May 3rd, 2000, 03:28 PM
  #8  
graziella
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Hi JP , if you still have any doubts after Santachiaria ' s great advise, ...I simply wish to second her.
Cortona is lovely, Les Celles unique, and as she says to follow Piero della Francesca
route is a delight, Sansepulcro, Arezzo, Urbino ...leave aside all those places everybody goes to, ....the gain is tremendous, in all aspects...including for instance better for less money...
I haven t ever been in Castiglion Fiorentino but I am making a mental note for my next trip and I thank her for sharing her little charming spot in wonderful Italy...
Good luck.
 
May 3rd, 2000, 07:49 PM
  #9  
santachiara
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Okay. If I tell ya'll this place, you can't tell anyone else. I usually stay in private quarters in Castiglion Fiorentino, but I had friends coming in mid-December, so five of us rented an apartment at an agriturismo about a kilomter out of town. Its name is La Pievuccia, and its web site is www.lapievuccia.it.

It has a main house as well as detached quarters, which we were in. Three adults were in one part, which has a kitchen (with brick-lined, arched fireplace), bedroom, bath and living area with fold-down couch. You go outside and around the corner for the other bedroom and bath, where two more adults were. Off this bedroom is a covered patio with an outdoor kitchen (stove, oven, refrigerator). Since we were there in December, we of course didn't use this. It also has a swimming pool. If you don't want to cook, you can also eat in the main villa.

I don't remember the total cost, but it worked out to about 50 or 60,000 lire a per person per day. (About $30, each.)

As an agriturismo, it is a working farm with vineyards and olive groves, and chickens, ducks and dogs.

We drove up at night, with a full moon, highlighting the 15th-century castle across the valley. The castle was given to the English condottiere (mercenary), John Hawkwood, in honor of his service to the Medici. His portrait (fresco) by Uccello is in the duomo in Florence. Anyway, the sight was so awesome, that my 6'4," heavyset Texas friend jumped up and down in the cold night air, clapping his hands.

Again, this area is not for everyone. The only guidebook I have ever seen the town described is in Cadogan Guides' Tuscany and Umbria (highly recommended). It is a pokey, local little hilltown, so don't blame me if you don't like spectacular hiking, lazy late afternoons at an oudoor bar in the high street, and informal meals at a local trattoria, where you are the only non-resident.
 

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