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First Trip To Italy - Need Help With Tuscany Region

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Feb 18th, 2013, 07:08 AM
  #1
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First Trip To Italy - Need Help With Tuscany Region

I have no idea how to do this forum thing and I'm sure I'm doing it wrong but here goes. I will be coming to Italy in April 2013. Will be in Venice for a day, then will be coming to Tuscany for 6 days, then on to Rome for 4 days - at least thats what I'm thinking now. I'm struggling with this. First time I've been and have no idea what I'm doing. I want to see Volterra, San Gimignano, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre maybe, Siena and I'm sure I'm leaving out a million other beautiful places. My husband is not keen on driving so we will be taking public transportation. I need to know the best place to stay that will let us have access to see all these places easily. Also any suggestions on places to stay in Rome or Venice would be greatly appreciated as well as in the suggested area above. I would love to stay within walking distance to the spanish steps etc in Rome. I've been told that from Rome we can do day trips to Pompeii which I hope is true. In Venice we would need to stay in the heart of the historic district because we will only be there one night. If I've left off anything that is essential please let me know. I know that I have not mentioned the sights in the cities but I do have those down.
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Feb 18th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Welcome to Fodors.

You're doing fine but a first glance at you wish list suggests you are trying to cover too many places in too short a time--and you want to do it by public transportation, doable but it would require extra time. One day in Venice is a "rush"--may we ask why? I always advise at least two days to allow you to experience early and late in the day when the tourist traffic subsides.

Your list of places in Tuscany suggests the need for a central hub with public transportation--Florence jumps out as trains and buses are available to your sights. But each will take about a day (Volterra is a stretch) and practically speaking, Cinque Terre is too far (2 1/2 hrs ea way). Florence is a great small city with more than enough to keep you busy between day trips.

A car would solve a lot of your logistics but would require you to stay outside of Florence as Florence is not 'friendly" to tourists having cars ( ZTL ).
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Feb 18th, 2013, 07:59 AM
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First, you're about to visit the number one country in the world for tourists, IMHO. Venice, Florence and Rome are the top places to go on a first trip, so you've got that part right. Public transport will be fine.

Second, I second macanimals that you'll need more time in Venice, and you'll see why when you get there.

I also second macanimals that you should leave out Cinque Terre.

A day trip to Pompeii from Rome is certainly doable.

As to where to stay, I'd check out TripAdvisor, as it will help you narrow down by area, price, hotel amenities, etc. That's become my number one (and usually only) place to select lodging.

But wanting to stay right in the heart of the cities is the right approach for the amount of time you've got.

In Florence, if you're going to day trip a lot, consider proximity to train station. However, Florence is pretty compact so this shouldn't be a problem In Rome, consider proximity to subway stops.

Buon viaggio!
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Feb 18th, 2013, 08:18 AM
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I want to see Venice but not as much as I want to experience the Tuscany region so I was torn about my time limitations. If my husband would drive we would be OK but he does not want to. Is driving - we are from the US - going to be really crazy for us on a first trip when we don't know the language or maybe won't understand the road signs.I am really trying hard not to worry about not understanding anyone or not being understood. This is my dream trip. Volterra is really not something I want to give up. Cinque Terre I'm fine with not seeing this time. If I took two days in Venice would that give me time to see more sights. I've spent all my time researching other areas so I will have to go back and make a list of things to see. Please let me know what I need to add to my Venice list and I will update my days accordingly. My dream trip is keeping me up nights. Maybe I could talk my husband into renting a motorcycle? Is that possible there? Thank you!
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Feb 18th, 2013, 09:46 AM
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Motorcycle? And you are concerned about driving a car?

Seriously, I've driven in Italy extensively ever since college (I'm now in my 60's) and do not see the problem with driving in the countryside. It sounds like in spite of your lists of 'must sees' you want to experience the Tuscan countryside. This is a different trip than a public transportation oriented one. A motorcycle on uncertain roads in a foreign territory with a passenger sounds very adventurous. Stick to a car and understand that the passenger (you?) will have to be the navigator reading signs and pointing the way. Its not at all hard but cities are difficult (one-ways, traffic, parking, ZTL and always the finding of your lodging) but the countryside and small villages are charming.

You could pick up a car in Venice as you depart, drive to Tuscany and stay in a central spot for your intended day-trips, drop it off in Orvieto and train into Rome. A motorcycle is not advised.
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Feb 18th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Of your Tuscany list, Volterra is the most difficult to reach by public trans. It has no direct train service, and reaching the town by bus gets rather convoluted. See this summary of your options:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations...537010002.html

I would stay in Florence and see some of your list as day trips from there. Lucca, Pisa, Siena are easy; San Gim very doable. Stay a night or two in Siena if it is of particular interest to you. Instead of Volterra, I'd spend a night in Orvieto on the way to Rome. It's not similar to Volterra at all, but it's interesting and charming in its own right.

I'm not the biggest fan of Venice, so one day on a first visit might be enough for me. You can add a half day of sightseeing on Day 2 if you take a late train to Florence. Of the major Italian cities, I can never have enough time in Florence or Rome. But will you be jetlagged on arrival in Venice? Are you counting your arrival day as that "one day in Venice"?
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Feb 18th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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It's fine not to drive if he really doesn't want to.

Plot out your trip so you can see if you will have time to do things.

Day 1 - Depart US

Day 2 - Arrive Venice - Are you flying into Venice? If so, you probably won't arrive until mid-day. If you departed for Florence on Day 3, you wouldn't really have time to get over jet lag and see Venice.

Day 3 - Suggest you stay in Venice

Day 4 - Train to Florence, etc.

If you base in Florence, you can easily hop a train to Pisa (1 hour - 7€ one way), a bus to Siena (about 75 minutes - 7€ one way). San G and Volterra are a bit more tricky by public transport for a day, but you could book a day tour from Florence that would include them. The tourist office in Florence will have a list of tours to various places. Here's an example from one company.
http://www.caftours.com/excursions-and-day-trips.html

You may have to search around for a tour that includes Volterra or hire a driver for a day and make your own tour.

>>>Also any suggestions on places to stay in Rome or Venice would be greatly appreciated as well as in the suggested area above.<<<

What is your nightly budget?
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Feb 18th, 2013, 10:56 AM
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I will be in Paris for 4 days prior to going to Venice so I am hoping the jetlag will be better before we leave. Motorcycles would not be my first choice - it was to entice my husband into nonpublic transportation. I'll get my international drivers license in case I want to drive.
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Feb 18th, 2013, 11:32 AM
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I would like to stay under $150 US if I can for hotel stays. Of course the less I spend on hotels the more I can spend on fashion and wine.
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Feb 18th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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). San G and Volterra are a bit more tricky by public transport for a day>

Well Volterra is a longer day trip by San Gimignano is not - you can take a train from Florence to the S Gimignano train station six miles or so from this famous hill town known for its slew of medieval towers still standing - buses meet the train. I did it as a day trip from Florence and it was no problemo. No need to take an expenwsive tour to S Gimignano IME.
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Feb 18th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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The train station for San Gim is Poggibonsi. Between the train and the taxi, I'd guess the journey would take at least 90 minutes each way. I don't know, but the bus service may be faster. It goes through Poggibonsi, too.

I agree there's no need to take a tour if you just want to go to San Gim. But if you'd like to see both Siena and San Gim in the same day, the transportation is simpler on a tour. When we did this tour many years ago, the time in Siena included a talking tour of the town. For me, an entire day in San Gim would be too long, but to each his/her own.

Back to your original post... It is possible to see Pompeii as a day trip from Rome, but I would leave this decision until after you arrive in Rome. You may determine your 4 days there are not enough to see everything you want to see. Make reservations for sights in Rome that offer them. Don't go to Pompeii if rain is predicted.

If you decide to go to Pompeii, you may find this thread helpful although some of the fares/prices and train times may have changed a bit.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-a-budget.cfm
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Feb 18th, 2013, 06:44 PM
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My comment above might be misunderstood. Florence to San Gim by train to Poggibonsi and then taxi to San Gim would probably take 90 minutes. Not 90 minutes between Poggibonsi and San Gim.
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Mar 7th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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We decided Florence was perfect and will be staying there at the Antica Dimora Johlea hotel which I hope is a good choice. Has anyone stayed there?
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Mar 8th, 2013, 01:26 AM
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Florence is definitely the place to base yourself in Tuscany and I have been there a few times totalling up about 5 weeks. Therefore I have had the chance to do day trips myself by train and it is a great way to get around. However on my last trip because I was only able to stay four days in Florence I took a day trip that I booked on Viator, taking in Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa, a circle trip returning to Florence. I had been to these places before but would never tire of them. One of the highlights was having lunch at an Agriturismo farmhouse below San Gimignano (fabulous views) called Fattoria Poggio Alloro. The food was fantastic only matched by the wonderul hospitality of the family who own the property. They also take in guests to stay and I'd love to go back and have three or four days there. I would strongly recommend doing this tour, we had a wonderful guide in Siena and a our guide on the bus was delightful. We also had enough time on our own to just wander the towns' interiors.On the other days in Florence you will need time for Florence itself but you could also take the train to Lucca for a morning visit and then carry on to the coast to Via Reggio. It's an interesting area with much history relating to Giacomo Puccini, you can visit his house in Lucca if you are interested in Italian opera.
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:19 PM
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We leave this week! Yay! Got my schedule all worked out. Relaxed on the what to do section to just wing it part of the time. Can't wait. Thanks to everyone for all your help.
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:22 PM
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Have a wonderful trip!
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Apr 2nd, 2013, 06:52 PM
  #17
 
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Have a great trip. If you have time, please let me know how you have planned your itinerary. I am in the process of doing the same and find this thread useful. I wish I had more time in Florence/Tuscany but only there 3N. I know we will do another Florence trip as a family but on this trip we are taking our parents and want to balance city/hillside for my their 1st visit. I have Venice and Rome done but still working on Florence.
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