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Five nights in Siena or take two of those and stay in Cortona?

Five nights in Siena or take two of those and stay in Cortona?

Jan 14th, 2001, 04:50 PM
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Five nights in Siena or take two of those and stay in Cortona?

I thought I had my Italy trip all planned until I studied the map. My first thought was to spend five nights in Siena (coming from Florence) and day trip. Our next destination is Spello in Umbria. Rather than day trip to Cortona I'm thinking it would make more sense to stay in Siena three days and take the other two to stay in Cortona which would put us closer to Spello. Does anyone have any input on this dilemma? Thanks.
Jan 14th, 2001, 04:59 PM
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I think it's worth staying overnight in Cortona. Early in the morning you can stand in a small square where at the edge of town and watch the mist rise out of the valley. There are not enough foreign tourists to completely overwhelm the town so in the evening you can see the natural life of the town, people gathering in the sqares, on the steps of churches and public buildings, at the cafes, etc. The town itself is appealing, and the area has Etruscan sites worth visiting and pretty countryside.
Jan 14th, 2001, 11:15 PM
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Absolutely, spend 2 nights in Cortona! Siena is wonderful, but 5 nights is, in my opinion, way too long. It's a great base for daytrips, but so is Cortona. And Cortona is a wonderful gem in and of itself. Stay at the Hotel San Michelle, if available. ... Pick up some pine nuts while you're walking through the park and put them in your coat pocket. Then think about where you found them when you put that same coat on six months later...
Jan 15th, 2001, 12:45 AM
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I loved both Siena and Cortona. I can recommend a great restaurant La Loggetta in the main square. It's perched high up on a medieval loggia. The cannelloni stuffed with spinach and pinenuts is delicious. In Cortona you must see the sublime painting of the Annunication by Fra Angelico in the tiny Museo Diocesano. The view from the small square at the end of the main street over Lago Trasimeno is so beautiful.
Jan 15th, 2001, 01:01 AM
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Agree that 5 days is WAY too long in Siena. 2 days max in my humble opinion. Great driving through the country and taking chances. We headed to the shore for the day. It took 3 hours which was alot for a day trip. Next time we'll overnight somewhere.
Jan 15th, 2001, 01:31 AM
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I am an American who lives in Italy, and know both Siena and Cortona very well. If I were doing the trip, I would stay in Siena for three days, and Cortona for two days. Cortona itself is beautiful, but very small (you really can SEE Cortona in one day), so you can leave early the morning after your second night and enjoy stopping over in some other city on the way to Spello. I also recommend the charming, small Hotel San Michelle. It's right in the center of town, but quiet, and some rooms have lovely views over the countryside. It's where I stay, when I go to Cortona.
Jan 15th, 2001, 05:36 AM
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Judi - if your trip is in early June be sure to check the timing for the Spello Infiorata festival (usually early June). In one day the town streets are transformed into giant murals made with flower petals - it's amazing! Following web site has some great pictures:


Also the town of Gubbio has a festival around the same time - virtually the whole
town is involved in an elaborate, incredibly difficult to describe reenactment - look
at the following web site for more info:


Also, agree with other posters regarding Cortona - we spent a week in a villa near Cortona and loved the town.
Jan 15th, 2001, 06:54 AM
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Judi: Just adding my 2 cents worth! Spello is a delightful little town to see. If possible, have lunch or dinner at Il Trombone, which has great food, a patio w/ a killer view over a valley, a resident dog and MUSIC at night!! On Via Cavour, IMHO, is the most beautiful Derutan Pottery of all, in a shop called Il Baiocco. Spoleto is another great Umbrian town close to Spello that is well worth your time--the frescoes in the Duomo are "don't miss" according to what we read; unfortunately, the Duomo was closed when we arrived, but the restaurant, Tric Trac, right in the square was open and the food and wine were exquisite and helped ease the disappointment we felt missing the frescoes!! Todi, according to our Umbrian hosts, is also a very quaint little Umbrian town, but time didn't allow us to get there. Have a great time. Oh, also I just finished the best book about Umbria by Ferenc Mate called The Hills of Tuscany; it is set near Montepulciano(which sounds great), and this might give you some ideas of where you might like to go in Tuscany. The book is similar to those by Francis Mayes, but, to me, more interesting. Regards, Sally.
Jan 15th, 2001, 09:01 AM
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Thank you, dear Fodorites, for your great responses. We will go to Cortona and stay at the Hotel San Michele if possible.
Elizabeth, we are going in October but I enjoyed the web sites. I would love to see Corpus Christi's Day in Spello some day....beautiful!
Sally, your two cents worth is *way* more valuable than that! There is a plethora of information on Italy but very little on Umbria. I will take your advice and will also look for The Hills of Tuscany.
Jan 15th, 2001, 09:15 AM
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A few more restaurant suggestions in Cortona:

Had a lovely lunch at Il Falconiere just outside of Cortona (albeit expensive, and by virtue of the nature of the establishment, i.e. a Relais et Chateaux - more "international" cuisine than strictly local Tuscan cuisine).

"Preludio" (the risotto was excellent and we had the "beefsteak Florentine" - while we're not big steak eaters it was an interesting variation on what is a standard North American dish) and "La Grotta" (the "Asparagus Bismarck" was delicious - a deceptively simple dish of steamed asparagus with fried eggs on top) - both restaurants are right off the main square. For a day trip (or on your way to Spello)I would recommend "La Chiusa" in Montefollonico (Michelin One Star - I had the most amazing pasta with truffles, but be warned - it was $40!)
Jan 15th, 2001, 01:42 PM
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Elizabeth, thank you for the restaurant recommendations. We appreciate good food and have the books Eating in Italy and Italy for the Gourmet Traveler which we will use a guides for restaurants on our trip. However neither has any information on Cortona so I am very happy to have your recommendations.
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