Driving from Florence to Rome

Jul 1st, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Driving from Florence to Rome

The two of us are planning a 7-day trip from Florence to Rome, and have the following questions we would like to seek your advice on:

1) We are flying into Milan Malpensa and leaving from Rome airport. As we have been to Milan a couple of times before, we plan to take the train from Milan to Florence and then hiring a car there. Does this sound better than driving all the way?

2) I don't know the Tuscany/Umbria area at all, and am not sure about what route to take driving down to Rome - although my wife has insisted that we stop at the brand outlets at Montivarchi (Prada?) and Leccio (mall). As we only have 7 days, we intend to go via Tuscany and/or Umbria only without going "sideways" to Pisa, etc. Any suggestions for routing?

3) Friends have suggested towns including Siena, Chianti, Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, before getting to Rome. What would be the driving times between these areas?

Thanks a lot for the help!
alphalau is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:22 AM
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You can input your trips at viamichelin.com to get driving times at routes.
ellenem is online now  
Jul 1st, 2008, 09:22 AM
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. . . times and routes . . .
ellenem is online now  
Jul 1st, 2008, 10:34 AM
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I am confused---are you staying in Florence?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Re: 1) If you drive from Malpensa, you could visit the Cinque Terre en route (and maybe stay a night or two).

Re: 2) Stick to Tuscany - there's plenty to see and do there; save Umbria for another trip.

Re: 3) My advice would be to find a centrally located base and daytrip from there to the various scenic spots and hilltowns. Somewhere near Siena would be good. Or maybe near Montalcino.
TuckH is offline  
Jul 1st, 2008, 11:08 AM
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I have the same question as ellen:

Are you staying in Firenze?

If you are, you definitely don't want to park a car (or drive, other than to leave town) in Firenze.

However, if you are simply picking up a car there to take you into other parts of Tuscany, then I would recommend getting the car at Malpensa. It will save you a lot of time, since it takes an hour at least to get to the train in Milano to catch a train to Firenze.

However -- have you ever driven in Italy before and how are you with jet lag?

Also, if you are spending nights in Firenze and Roma both during 7-day trip, I would recommend that you price out the cost of hiring a driver for whatever excursions you want to take. Siena can be reached by train or bus quite easily from Firenze. You might enjoy Chianti more if someone else is doing the driving and you're doing the drinking. The Umbrian cities of Perugia, Assisi and Spoleto are too much to pack into such a short trip.

Lastly, do remind your wife the Italians to the US to shop because the exchage so much favors them, not dollar-earning Americans.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 12:16 PM
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I am assuming that as you stated, you will take a train to Florence. If you plan to spend a night or two in Florence, you don't need a car. You can get one on your last day, on your way out of the city.

Next I assume this leaves you five days to get to Rome (where I hope you are spending more time -- assuming the 7 days you were planning were to cover Florence and the distance to reach Rome. Your wife will find shopping in Florence and Rome are great. My DD had fun at the outlets outside of Florence, but she was in Italy for 3 weeks. She is also about a size 2. Her size 12 friend had no luck at all. I suggest unless you have more time, don't waste it at the outlets.

You can drive the road through Chianti, and stay out in the countryside, near smaller towns like Monteriggioni or Greve, or in Sienna -- which you will want to visit if you don't stay there. It is a nice city, but it is more of a city than a town.

As you drive towards Rome, you may want to stay a night in Orvietto (which is actually Umbria, but very close to Rome.) Do take the tour of the tuffa caves beneath this town at the top of a "hill" If you wish, you can drop your rental car in Orvietto and take a short train in to Rome.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 02:25 PM
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A good idea as pointed out by zeppole would be to stay one night in Orvietto a great destination located close to A 1...
If you do not need the car in Rome an even better idea would be to return the car in Orvietto and continue by train or bus.
Graziella5b is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2008, 02:46 PM
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Just to help you with your research alphalau it is not Orvietto but Orvieto.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 06:48 AM
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Grateful for all's suggestions. UPdate: We will not be spending any time in Florence City or Rome at all - upon arrival at Malpensa we have rented a car and will drive straight down to Tuscany - Umbria with final stop in Rome only to spend the night before flying out.

List of towns to visit (and I am certain I need to shorten this list, or just drive through some of them without stopping) now include:

Leccio-Reggello (outlet only)
Montivarchi (outlet only)
San Gimignano,

A bit difficult since the first few are really in a loop, whereas the latter part of the journey, the cities are all on the same road ecept Orvietto, which we may be forced to skip.

Any suggestions as to:
1) Which of the cities to leave out;
2) The rough amount of time required to see each city, not spending a lot of time in each yet doing it justice;
3) What are better places to stay in.

Because of our short trip staying in one town and doing day trips will be too much of a waste of time. Another thing is that we are not big on wine (my wife does not drink at all) hence we will not need to spend time in wineries in the Chianti region except to drive through it.

Feedback appreciated!
alphalau is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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I think your list is way too long for 7 days. FYI, you can't "drive through some without stopping" because the towns are removed and usually uphill from the road.

If the priority is the outlet malls, then I think you have to decide between the Tuscany towns and the Umbria towns.

I wouldn't even consider Perugia, Arezzo and Spoleto on this trip. They're interesting towns but too big to see quickly and too time-consuming to get in/out.

The rest is up to you.

Jean is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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> Feedback appreciated! <

alphalau, here's my feedback...

I must disgree with you that "doing day trips will be too much of a waste of time".

Having a home base is the most sensible use of time, especially when the sites are fairly close at hand.

Searching for a place each night, and checking in and out, is quite time consuming.

These are not cities that "are all on the same road". They are hilltowns; you have to park outside the walls and leave the car to visit the town. And, as jean said, you can't "drive through some without stopping".

Furthermore, by having a long list of spread out towns (that includes Umbria), you'll be missing out on some of the smaller gems that you'd be shooting past to get from one to another. That's a mistake IMO.
TuckH is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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OK. That helps.

My recommendation is that you leave Umbria for another trip, and concentrate on Tuscany (although you can easily include Orvieto, which is technically in Umbria, because coming from Tuscany it can be "on the way" to the airport). I would suggest you go to a Borders or Barnes & Noble and buy a good Michelin map of Tuscany. If you've already got the map, you may notice that actually, distances are NOT far.

There are a couple things you should also know about the "hill towns" of Italy -- just about everything except for restaurants closes at lunchtime. Do not plan to see more than two towns in a day, and if you get to see a third that's a bonus.

You may want to stay someplace near Florence for only 1-2 nights, so you can spend a full day in Florence and catch an outlet on your way to somewhere else. People say San G is a good place to stay because when the day tourists leave, you get to enjoy having the city to yourself. That means you can see a nearby town or two during the day. I have a good friend who stays in Pienza everytime she goes to Tuscany (3 times now). It was a town we only drove through, and figured we would come back to see it better someday. Siena is really beautiful and you could easily spend two full days there.

You will notice in Tuscany that there always seem to be road signs pointing to Firenze and Roma -- that is because the A1 - the superhighway - runs between the two. However just because you see a sign doesn't mean the highway is nearby. Also, some road signs have arrows pointing left with the name of a town (e.g., Pienza). It doesn't mean that you should turn left to go to Pienza, it means "You are on the road going to Pienza." It is very obvious when there is a turn you need to take. I suppose GPS systems make this a bit less confusing, but having a physical map is still an excellent idea.

Driving in Italy is mainly, even on small beautiful country roads, VERY EASY and BEAUTIFUL. You will love it. You may also find yourselves stopping very often just to enjoy the scenery. That is where your time will "go!"

Florence is horrible to drive in. We are used to driving in busy, big cities like NYC, LA and Chicago, but Florence was REALLY confusing.

uhoh_busted is offline  
Jul 6th, 2008, 02:44 PM
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First, you need a good map! Go to Barnes & Noble to get the Touring Club Italiano Toscano map. I used it last fall and it got me all over the place. It won't cover the section from southern Tuscany to Rome, but that route is easy enough to obtain online.
sheri_lp is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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This is our final itinerary (with hotels all booked):

Day 1 (flight arrives in Milan 8am) - Drive to Florence via Portofino on the Ligurian coast for lunch and a short walk along the harbour, then into Florence for dinner + night.

Day 2 - Spend all day at the Mall at Leccio, and if time, the Space (if wife decides not to buy Prada then we just go back to Florence earlier for a walk). Night in Florence.

Day 3 - Slow drive through Chianti, lunch at Castellina, afternoon arrival in San Gimignano, stay night in San G.

Day 4 - All day in Siena (and sleep there).

Day 5 - Abbey Monte Oliveto near Chiusure, lunch at Montalcino, afterwards into Pienza, stay the night there.

Day 6 - Cortona, then lunch (only lunch) at Passignano sul Lago Trasimeno, then drive to Bevagna (night there).

Day 7 - Assisi, Spello, 2nd night back in Bevagna.

Day 8 - Drive to Orvieto to see the Cathedral and for lunch at Piazza del Popolo, then straight down to Rome on the Autostrada. Dinner and night in SW Rome.

Day 9 - Bright and early, we drive to the airport and fly away.

Not very relaxing, but then not too rushed either, doable! Detailed itinerary for each town not put here.

We have booked everything but just noting this down here for others' reference and comments still welcome.
alphalau is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 09:57 AM
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I would not drive into Florence at all. And, your 3 nites in Tuscany could all be done from one location. Yes, I would train to Florene and not get the car until you leave. I suggest that the mall may disappoint you.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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I agree with bob above, plus I would drop off the car in Orvieto and take the train to Roma. It will be much, much faster than hassling with Roma traffic.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 10:22 AM
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I just noticed this:

"Day 1 (flight arrives in Milan 8am) - Drive to Florence via Portofino on the Ligurian coast for lunch and a short walk along the harbour, then into Florence for dinner + night."

What day of the week at what time of the year are you talking about, and how well do you drive vertiginous roads after an overnight flight?

If you are thinking of doing this drive on a sunny weekend day anytime between May and October, you are going to run into real bottlenecks as you get toward Portofino. On the lone road to Portofino (which is in some places only one-lane wide) there are huge electronic boards that flash "FROM THIS POINT, TWO HOURS WAIT TO PORTOFINO" or 3 hours, or 1 hour, etc.

You should also know that the main road over the mountains between Milano and Genova is really a roller coaster. It's demanding driving. I wouldn't want to do it after an overnight flight. And I especially would not want then need to keep driving after lunch to get to an area you describe as one you "don't know at all."

I seriously suggest you drop Portofino from this trip or, if you insist and are doing this between May and October:

Take the train from Milano to Camogli.

Take the boat from Camogli to Portofino. Have lunch.

Take the boat (or bus) to Rapallo.

Rent car in Rapallo (after 4pm only).

Drive on.

Even better would be to bed down in Rapallo and pick up your car early the next morning.

zeppole is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Chianti, Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto are definitely wonderful places to visit, but...

I would spend a couple of days in Firenze, then Siena, Montepulciano, Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto, one day at the Roman baths of Viterbo and then Rome.

By car it takes:
1.20h from Florence to Siena
1h from Siena to Montepulciano
1.5h from Montepulciano to Perugia
35 mins from Perugia to Assisi
42 mins from Assisi to Spoleto
1.25h from Spoleto to Viterbo
1.30f from Viterbo to Rome

It might be a bit stressful but it's definitely worth it!

Valeria_82 is offline  

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