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Do we want Orvieto or Montepulciano for my October trip?

Do we want Orvieto or Montepulciano for my October trip?

Jul 1st, 2008, 06:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,369
Do we want Orvieto or Montepulciano for my October trip?

Please help me make up my mind.

Been to Italy before and have done Venice, Rome, and Tuscany between Florence and Siena (including those towns).

This time, my FF miles are taking me (and DH) into Milan in mid-October. We plan on 2 or 3 nights in Bologna, and then we will rent a car and head south for a week in Southern Tuscany or Umbria, with only one town as a base.

On my definite to do list for day trips:
Other Umbrian towns?

I would like to make it to one market day, check out churches, wander through shops and eat some meals out. I want to stay in town, too.

I have a very nice apartment reserved in Orvieto (no cancellation penalty),but I am wondering if Montepulciano would be a better base.

There is much more information out there on Montepulciano than Orvieto, so perhaps this is what is swaying me. I read a trip report on Slow Travel (#998) and thought "that's what I am looking for this vacation!" And, of course, it was based in Montepulciano.

But Orvieto seems to have a lot to offer too.

Any help?
mama_mia is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 07:10 PM
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I've visited/stayed in all of the above over 2 different trips.

I love Orvieto and we stayed 3 nts doing daytrips to Todi, Deruta, Civita di Bagnoreggio. Much to see and do and to me a real Italian hilltown. A wonderful mix of the ancient, historical, modern, hip. Great art and restaurants, great views. When I was there, it was very untouristed. Only time you really saw tourists were mid-day visitors to the duomo area.

Also stayed in Montalcino 3 nts (different trip) and visited the other nearby towns and abbeys mentioned. Loved it! Very small town.

Montepulciano is much larger. More restaurants, etc. to choose from. For the places you want to see, I think Montepulciano is more centrally located.

1 day you could visit Pienza and Monte Olivetto.
1 day visit Montalcino and Sant'Antimo, plus some winetasting
1 day to Assisi
1 day to Orvieto, maybe add Civita?

I also stayed in Spello 2 nts and absolutely loved it. Very tiny, untouristed town near Assisi.

Hope this helps!
Dayle is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 07:33 PM
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mama mia,
Depending on timing consider http://www.montalcino-tuscany.it/sagra_del_tordo.htm

Henry is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 02:50 AM
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We spent just two nights in Montepulciano, making day trips that included Orvieto. Montepulciano was truly lovely, and Orvieto is a city we hope to visit more fully in the future.

The one thing I'd say about a choice between the two for an entire week's stay is that Montepulciano is extremely steep - there's almost nowhere you'll walk that's not alpine in grade. Orvieto appears to be set mostly on a plane at the top of the grade with some museums and a bit more opportunity for lazy evening rambles.

Looks like a wonderful trip you have planned.
blueridge is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 03:44 AM
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A day trip to Norcia is a must; where the famous Norcinos originate,(Italys best butchers, sausage artisans, Chingali, (wild boar) Prosciutto. Nearby is the home of the treasured lentils, Lenticchie de Castelluccio. An unmatched Italian food lover's day trip.
longboatkey is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 05:19 AM
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Orvieto was a great surprise for us. We picked it as a place to stay a night before going into Rome the next day.

We were surprised that it sits on cliffs rather than a hill and has a large Cathedral marking the Corpus Christi miracle, underground tunnels dating back to the Etruscans, great restaurants and reasonably affordable accomodations.
bdjtbenson is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 05:21 AM
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Montepulciano is nearer several of the places you're interested in than Orvieto (though even if you're addicted to both plainsong and the Romanesque you can't spend more than 1.5 hours at Sant'Antimo, unless you're planning some serious walking. If you are, its bookshop is practically the only place in Central Italy with any proper walkers' maps).

But to my mind, Orvieto feels like a real town, whereas Montepulciano is one of those (sadly far too common) Italian towns with a few local retirees, a huge gang of tourists and an economy that's mostly dependent on the latter.

If you've hired a car, just be clear what the parking arrangements are: without a resident's permit, it's €1 an hour 8-8, seven days a week in Orvieto.

Civitello del Lago and Montecchio are a pair of almost unvisited hill towns close to Orvieto, with no must-sees (yipee!!!) but an extraordinary collection of well-preserved (and, for Italy, astonishingly well-documented) attractive buildings abnd great views. You can wander round stunning courtyards for hours without seeing a single multilingual menu, postcard shop, or twee craft retailer.

Lugnana in Teverina has one of the most stunning churches in Italy. In my (highly biased) view, it's worth a day's detour - though it's less than an hour away - even if much of the information on the placard outside is fanciful nonsense.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 06:09 AM
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Consider Pienza or San Quirico d'Orcia for your base instead of Orvieto or Montepulciano.

From Orvieto, being up on a mesa, you have to get down and back up for every daytrip. Montepulciano is a hilltown, which similarly requires getting up and down. This gets annoying day after day.

Pienza is flat on one side close to the road. And San Quirico is easy to get in and out.

For this trip, I'd consider 2 bases, one in Umbria and one in south Tuscany. Where to base in Umbria depends on those other Umbrian towns. Bevagna is nice and easy to get in and out of.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 06:15 AM
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I agree with Mimar---pick Pienza or San Quirico. Orvieto is not a good location for you, and your Umbrian destinations would be better accessed from around Spello or Bevagna. Why one base? I would pick two base locations.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 06:30 AM
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I have no help to offer, but just want to say that yours is a lovely dilemma. Have a wonderful time!
socialworker is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Thank you for the input. It is a silly dilemma--since they both sound wonderful and both have their advocates. I was hoping to stay in one place because I hate picking up and moving, especially since we will have moved once (Bologna) and then will have another stop near Milan before our flight out. I will look into Pienza accommodation recommendations here and on Slow Travel. Unless anyone wants to suggest?
mama_mia is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 10:31 AM
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We spent three nights at Il Chiostro( The Cloister) in Pienza in May,2006. We loved every aspect of that charming hotel.
marthag is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Another vote for either Montepulciano or San Quirico.

We took a similar trip in September 2006. Arrived from US in Milan and traveled to Parma and then onto Montepulciano for one week at a rental by the name of Sant Antonio. LOVED IT!! We hope to return someday...

We really like the location of Montepulciano. If you choose Pienza, San Quirico or Montepulciano you won't be sorry.

Where do you fly home from? If its Rome, you could easily visit Ovieto on the way to Rome.
OhioDi is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 08:52 PM
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We just stayed in Pienza and I agree that it meets your needs. Try Piccolo Hotel, we recommend it highly.
sebinah is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2008, 04:05 AM
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Our flights are both in and out of Milan (we were stuck because of our dates and the FF miles).

I have 3 possibilities on hold now and will make up my mind in the next 24 hrs. All possibilities start with arr Milan and train to Milan and end with drive back to Milan airport hotel with afternoon stop in CT.

1: Train to Bologna for 2 nights (day trip Ravenna); get car in Bologna and travel to Pienza for 1 week

2: Bologna for 2 nights, 3 nights in Umbria and 4 nights Montepulciano.

3. Bologna 3 nights and Orvieto 6 nights *Flanner's comments keep this possibility in my mind. Also I have seen info on Orvieto being a "slow city" and there is some appeal in that.

Thanks for further feedback. I appreciate the room recommendations so far(they look great) but we are hoping to stay in an apt (a relatively inexpensive one).

mama_mia is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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Why not a visit to Viterbo if you want to see a non touristy town. Europes best preserved medieval quarter and during July-Aug there is the Opera Festival while Sept. 3rd is the big festival dedicated to Santa Rosa.
vetralla is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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The area around Orvieto, Viterbo, Bolsena, etc, is a 'slow' part of Italy in comparison to the other areas you're considering - and for me there is a great deal of appeal to that. I spent some time there in May and would recommend it highly, if you want to get out of the tourist mainstream, step away from the tour books for awhile, and discover some lovely places all on your own. There is a huge difference in feel and atmosphere between Orvieto and Montepulciano. Montepulciano is squarely and firmy on the tourist map and you will encounter a town full of American and other English-speaking tourists. Orvieto is still more a town for Italian tourists. Orvieto is lovely, and if you have a car and are parking in the town rather than down below, getting in and out of town each day for daytrips is no problem whatsoever, takes just a short time and then you're off and away for another day of exploring. Here are some photos from my trip, including Orvieto, and some of the great gardens nearby: http://www.jmstudio.fotopic.net/c1524074.html

It all comes down to what you want to see and do. Decide what's most important to you, plot out where these places are on a good large-scale map, and then pick a base that's centrally located. Remember, when you're in the countryside and small towns, the going can be very slow and you probably won't be able to cover nearly as much territory in a day as you think you will.

Or you can do as I do, pick a place that looks lovely and authentic for a base, such as Orvieto, and then explore outward from there each day, letting serendipity be your guidebook.
julia1 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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Spoleto is also worth a look if you have time. Amazing old bridge, cool market, beautiful duomo.

Orvieto's duomo is stunning. Town easy to navigate and, as someone else said, is at the top of the cliffs-funicular or drive to rail station.

TDudette is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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my husband took me on a surprise trip to italy.
we stayed in orvieto for two nights at the Hotel Duomo. orvieto is amazing.it is a quiet town but the food, the duomo and the etruscan history is unforgetable. there is an inclinator from the train station up to where you can pick up the bus staight to the town center. there was a great market day i don't remember what day though.of course, my favorite restaurant in all of Italy is I Sette Consoli in Orvieto. it was incredible.hope you have a great trip
Reckoning is offline  

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