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Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena and Assisi trip feedback

Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena and Assisi trip feedback

Old Mar 5th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena and Assisi trip feedback

Hello! We're leaving for Italy in less then a month and I'm SO EXCITED! I've been devouring all the wonderful information you guys have been sharing, but would love some final feedback. I know it's rushed but it can't be helped and I'd rather give up sleep then miss a chance to see more things!

Fri afternoon-arrive in Bologna, train to Florence (staying at Relais Uffizi)
Sat and Sun- Florence!
Mon early morning- hired a driver (Alessandro) to drive us to CT (hopefully stay in Vernazza)
Tues morning- Alessandro will pick us up and take us on a scenic drive/tour to Siena, stay the night there. (no bookings yet)
Wed late afternoon- Train to Figline Valdarno (30km south of FLR) for my sister's wedding. Stay 2 nights.
Fri early morning- Rent car/drive to Assisi and stay the night at Il Palazzo. (Would a train or bus be easier? Where can we pick up a rental car near here?)
Sat early morning- Drive to Bologna for a 12PM flight home. (is a train or bus better?)

Also, having difficulty booking a place in Vernazza. All the usually mentioned places (Hotel Steno, Pasquale, Camere Giuliani and Gianni Franzi) are already full. Any off the beaten path suggestions?
Sorry for the lengthy post! Thanks!
jfann is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 05:22 PM
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rex is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 05:30 PM
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Hi jfann,

I have a room booked in Vernazza that was recommended in the Rick Steve's Guide to Italy (for whatever that's worth.) The website is toninobasso.com. Good Luck!
peggybauer is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 05:44 PM
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Is there a reason you are using a driver rather than taking the train from Florence to Vernazza?

I can see using Alessandro for your "scenic drive/tour" to Siena, as that would be nicer than the bus and would avoid the need for you to return to Florence to get one (though the bus is actually fine, and rather scenic, too.)

Not sure I'd bother to rent a car just for the trip to Assisi. If you do choose to rent one, book it ahead of time from the States; it will be *much* cheaper. Autoeurope.com is a reliable broker that deals with multiple rental companies; they will help you determine where to pick up/drop off.

For train info: www.trenitalia.com
Lesli is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2004, 10:19 PM
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Thanks for the responses! Actually, because our whole trip is so rushed, we hired Alessandro for the drive to CT because it would buy us 2 hrs of hiking/sightseeing time. 2 hrs doesn't seem like much but when it's the difference of between arriving at CT at 10AM or around noon, the $50 extra seemed worth it... Is the Mon before Easter super crowded in CT?

Thanks for the AutoEurope tip, Lesli. I will definitely check them out. However, if we can avoid it, I'd love to NOT have to rent a car. I will defintely check out the train schedule too.

Any suggestions for Siena hotels? I'm running into the same problem as in Vernazza. All the typical suggestions are already booked. And we're tough customers, I'd love to find a place within the citywalls near the El Campo and with a view if possible?
Thanks for your help!
jfann is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2004, 09:42 AM
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OK, I've finally managed to book a place in Vernazza (Franca Maria's Room #2, has anyone stayed here before? What did you think?) and in Siena (Residenza d?Epoca Palazzo Fani Mignanelli, no one's commented on this place before on Fodor's. Any thoughts, anyone?)

Also, if we're leaving Cinque Terre at 9AM on Tuesday and heading down to Siena, do you think we should also stop at San Gimignano for lunch? We plan to arrive in Siena around 6-7PM, but we'd also like to stop a 2-3 wineries and a castle along the way... too crazy?

I promise to write a full report when I come back as I've leeched SO much information from the posting board. You guys are great! I'm so glad I found this resource!
jfann is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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I would take in both Volterra and San Gim. enroute. How much are you paying Alessandro? Why not get a car in La Spezia and drive it?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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Hi Judy. Funny, I was just going to recommend you try Franca Maria in Vernazza and then read that you found a room there. We stayed there two years ago and had the same room you booked, #2. As you can probably tell from the photos on their website, it's a small room (very narrow) but it's got a comfortable bed, is very clean, has a nice (if also small) bathroom with a shower, and a small refrigerator. The part we liked best, though, was the window overlooking the harborside piazza. It's also not far from the piazza so you don't have a long walk hauling your luggage up Vernazza's steps.

In Siena, if you're comfortable arriving there without a reservation -- or if you aren't able to book anything before you get there -- I'd highly recommend the Locanda Garibaldi. Not only is it about 1/2 block from Piazza del Campo, and quite inexpensive (around 75 euros) but it's run by a charming couple, Marcello & Sonja (sp?). Marcello is a very gentle soul and an artist -- the locanda reflects his artistry -- and Sonja is an excellent cook. An issue, however, is that they only take reservations a few days in advance but that could work out to your advantage if you arrive in Siena without anything booked, which is what we did. You can find info about it in Rick Steves' Italy book. Even if you don't stay there, I'd recommend their simple, but very tasty lunches & dinners.

Good luck and have fun! I love both Vernazza & Siena.
capo is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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P.S. I highly second Bob's recommendation for stopping in Volterra enroute to Siena. It was one of our favorite towns in Tuscany and is famous for its colorful alabaster products (if you like that.) If you arrive at SanG during the day, it may be very crowded. We stopped there around noon on a Saturday, on our way from Siena to Vernazza, but the traffic was so bad we gave up and left.
capo is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2004, 01:59 PM
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Thanks for all the great feedback!

Bobthenavigator, the reason we're hiring ALessandro (at a whopping 180E) is because we all want to wine-taste during the drive down to Siena. So, we're paying up the wazzoo for it! It'll be worth it for the money we save on all the wine we buy though.

Capo- I'm glad to hear that you stayed in room #2 and liked it. We were really hoping for a terrace/balcony, but alas, it wasn't to be. But we'll definitely have dinner at Locanda Garibaldi.

So, neither of you guys think it's too insane to drive from Vernazza (9AM), pick up a friend in Florence (11AM), hit Volterra for lunch and still be able to stop at a few wineries on the way to Siena (Enoteca in Castellina, Le Cantine in Greve and Castello D'Albola in Radda)? We're hoping to arrive in Siena around 7ish.

If not, then we'll do it!
jfann is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2004, 01:44 PM
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Judy, from what I recall, that room might have had a very small terrace -- like big enough for a person who's been flattened by a steamroller -- but I'm not sure. The Locanda Garibaldi's dining room is certainly not fancy, but we loved the food (especially Sonja's delicious crispy pollo, and her penne arrabiata) and, as I said earlier, I don't think you could find a more gentle and gracious host than Marcello.

Whether it's "too insane" to do what you're planning on from Vernazza to Siena I can't say. You may be able to do all of that. if you want to, what's the harm in trying?
capo is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2004, 02:46 PM
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<<It'll be worth it for the money we save on all the wine we buy though.>>

I have never thought tha wineries were good places to find good buys on wines. They only have their own stuff. Give me a big, good-service enoteca (typically in bigger cities) that is offering a dozen or more bottles open for tasting on any given day, and a proprietor who is willing to work with you for a few hours, honing in on finding what you really like.

Rather take home a half dozen (each) of two or three bottles that I know I like, and are associated with good memories - - than the goods from a winery where I have not been able to compare A to B to C.

Just one person's opinion.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
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