Nov 29th, 2004, 07:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
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A friend and I are traveling to Italy for the first time in April of 2005. We plan to spend 3 nights in Rome then go to Florence before heading to Venice(3 days). We will have 4 nights (3 1/2 days) in the Florence area. Question: Would it be better to stay in Siena and day trip to Florence or make Florence the base. We will not have a car, so we plan to do day tours. Also, time-wise would it be better and possible to do 2 nights in Cinque Terre and 2 in Florence and forget Siena or is that too much. Any suggestions would be helpful! Thanks.
lavblue is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:03 AM
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There's no rule that says you have to taste filet mignon before you first eat lobster. While it might be conventional wisdom to base in Florence, and "sample" Siena or other environs - - Florence will still be there for another trip another year - - and you CAN enjoy the highlights of Florence in a single day trip coming from Siena.

Consensus seems to be that the SITA bus is a superior way to get between the two, rather than train.

I do think that adding the Cinque Terre into this trip is moving around too much.

See where you are more; move around less.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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I think that either one would be fine. It just depends on what you prefer. We stayed in Florence and, while we did enjoy it, we wished we would have stayed in Siena instead. Florence was very hectic and crowded (we were there in March) and we preferred the atmosphere of Siena. But of course Florence is more lively and there is more to do, so it really depends on what type of city you prefer to stay in. I don't think you could go wrong with either one.

Good luck!
tcreath is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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I'd suggest 4 nights in Rome so that you have atleast 3 full days there. Yes, Cinque Terre would be too much travelling (for me atleast). I just came back from my first trip to Italy a couple of weeks ago. If I had to do it over again, I'd day trip to Florence. However, I wouldn't try to do everything in Florence. For 1 day visit my itinerary would include:
AM - Accademia and the Duomo
PM - Santa Croce and a walk through Ponte Vecchio to Piazzale Micahelangelo OR Santa Croce and Boboli gardens OR if you really want to do another museum, Palazzo Vecchio.
Yes, I would actually skip the Uffizi unless you can come up with a short thematic tour of your own (example: A 'Venus' tour). I did too much art in Florence. I wish I had gone to the Accademia a second time rather than the Uffizi.

I'm soo jealous, have a great trip!
ssachida is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:22 AM
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Just an addendum, I would stay in Siena and not Florence even though I love big bustling cities like Rome. Since you do get a taste of a big city in Rome, Siena(smaller city, more college townish) is a nice contrast.
ssachida is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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Cinque Terre is a hike from Florence. I would suggest saving it for another trip that included the Italian Riveria, for instance.

With four days, it really depends on your interests. Are you museum/art lovers? City people? Like crowds and nightlife? If so, you might find Florence much more lively than Siena. From Florence, you could do fairly easy day trips by bus or train to: Pisa, San Gimignano, and Siena.

Or, if your interests run more to winetastings and beautiful scenery, you could base in Tuscany ( Castellini,Greve, Radda are all close to Florence) and do day trips with a tour guide or private driver. We actually did it this way last August, found a reasonably priced driver, and were delighted to leave all the driving to him! If you're interested, I'd be happy to give you his name.

Good luck with your plans!
Weadles is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 08:27 AM
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I agree that adding Cinque Terre is really pushing it. As to whether you base in Florence or Siena, that depends largely on what you like to do. There is so much to see and do in Florence that it would be hard to take full advantage of everything with a day trip. If you like art and architecture, I suggest staying in Florence. If you would prefer a taste of the countryside, stay in Siena or one of the Tuscan hill towns.
mamc is offline  
Nov 29th, 2004, 10:00 AM
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I agree that your decision whether to stay in Siena or Florence should be based upon what kind of atmosphere you most enjoy.

We visit Florence 3x a year and have done day trips to Siena and many other pretty places. For me, I would be bored after more than a day in Siena because I am basically a city girl and much prefer all the options available to me in Florence. We stay a bit outside of the city center, in a residential neighborhood, where we are not in the throngs of tourists that do keep the city pretty packed most of the year. I can walk to anywhere I desire to go in 30 minutes or less.

I would also opt out of the CT as I think it is a hugely overtouristed area in general and too far away from where you will be to make the trip easily if you are really set on visiting the area.

I do not care for Venice so for me I would divide my trip between Florence and Rome. Packing and unpacking and getting to and from the station eats up more time than you might think so I try to not move around too much when I travel and opt instead for daytrips from wherever I decided to lay my head.
kfusto is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 09:14 AM
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Weadles, I'm not the original poster, but I would love to have the name of the driver you used. How much did he cost? Thanks.
SusanP is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 09:16 AM
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kfusto, what neighborhood do you like in Florence?
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 30th, 2004, 09:26 AM
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The name of the driver is Luca Garrapa. I found out about him from another poster here on the forum. Sr. Garrapa is based in Siena, a graduate student in archaeology/philosophy, and does private tours to your specifications. He drives a minivan, and speaks fluent English. You can reach him at: Hillsandroads.com
Weadles is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 12:46 PM
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Thanks, Weadles. There isn't really anything on the website except an email address, so I guess the only way to get an idea of prices would be to email him? I appreciate the information.
SusanP is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 01:25 PM
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Hi lav,

One more vote for doing the CT on another trip.

We liked Florence very much, and did a daytrip to Siena.
ira is offline  
Dec 1st, 2004, 03:11 PM
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Yes, I'd email him. His prices were a lot more reasonable than other tour guides I'd found here and at slowtrav.com. Also he's a delightful guy--very smart and full of great ideas for off the beaten track sightseeing.
Weadles is offline  
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