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Florence, Tuscany, Positano

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May 11th, 2016, 01:40 PM
  #1
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Florence, Tuscany, Positano

My husband and I will be traveling to Italy in late August/early September 2016. We visited Rome during a previous visit; this time we are flying into Florence and returning from Naples. We will be renting a car in Florence and driving to Positano traveling through Tuscany. This is our current plan;
3 nights in Florence
3 days/2nights Tuscany (with rental)
3 days/2 nights in Sorrento
4 Days Positano
1 day Naples before we head home (return car in Naples day before departure)

My current dilemma is which towns to say in Tuscany; there are so many and we only have 2-3 days. We were thinking of a B&B in Sienna for one night but are open to recommendations from other fellow travelers who have more experience with Italy. Looking forward to some good recommendations.
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May 11th, 2016, 03:25 PM
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Siena is great but a such a large hill town that it doesn't always seem like the iconic Tuscan hill town- but it's a great place I would recommend staying for sure or at least spending the day in.

I liked Montepulciano - well on the way to Rome from Siena and a bit smaller more intimate place - then maybe make your last stop at Orvieto - a really really neat place - a volcanic plug topped by an ancient town.

Well those are three that I would highly recommend and then shoot right down to Sorrento - 6 days on the Amalfi is a lot unless day tripping and driving can be extremely frustrating in August and early September - later the better - the narrow cliffside road can be harrowing but with traffic often moving at a snail's pace it'snot that frightening. Boats and buses also go between the various towns.
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May 11th, 2016, 03:40 PM
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We stayed at The Villa Vignamaggio in Chianti and absolutely loved it. It is a working vineyard as well as the former home of THE Mona Lisa ( the girl in the Painting) It is also where the movie Much Ado About Nothing was filmed. Here is the link. http://www.vignamaggio.com/en/ We visited Venice, Florence and Rome as well and this is the one place we wished we had spent more time. Siena is on our list for next visit, as well as Lucca.
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May 11th, 2016, 03:53 PM
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I agree with PalenQ - if you're looking for "Tuscany", stay outside of the big cities. We stayed five days in Montepulciano in November 2012 and LOVED it - beautiful, picturesque little town. We chose to stay in town because November weather could be unpredictable, but there are many gorgeous villas and agritusimos just outside of town if you REALLY want the stereotypical Tuscan experience (I'm actually planning a trip like that right now - my husband and I are headed back to Italy in July, but we're planning to try a different part of Tuscany this time. We did in-town last time, so this time we're booking an agriturismo near San Gimignano or Chianti).

We LOVED the Amalfi coast, and it's actually the reason we're planning this trip - we did our honeymoon there, and loved our hotel so much we said we'd be back for our fifth anniversary. That's this summer, so off we go! (The place is Villa Scarpariello, just east of Atrani - seriously, it's so amazing it's worth the trip from Canada on its own: http://www.villascarpariellorelais.it/en/)

We spent an entire week at the villa and weren't bored, but we were looking for a little R&R between busier sightseeing at the start and end of our trip. We did day trips to Ravello (on the cliff, beautiful - the Belvedere of Infinity is an iconic must-see with unbelievable views - we could see our villa!), Capri (the boat picked us up right at the hotel dock), and Positano. I would have happily stayed in Positano, as it's beautiful, but was happier we chose where we did - it was so much busier there than Atrani.

As far as Sorrento goes, I know people who love it. For us, we were there just after the villa, so anything would have paled by comparison. We just used it as a base for seeing Herculaneum and Pompeii (which were both amazing and definitely worth seeing).
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May 11th, 2016, 03:56 PM
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"We stayed at The Villa Vignamaggio in Chianti and absolutely loved it"

We looked into this place for our trip, but it was booked up. It does look amazing, though, so check out if it's available for you!

Just food for thought, though, I've heard other people say they liked the Montepulciano region of Tuscany (called the Val d'Orcia) better than the Chianti region - I can't yet compare since I've only done the Montepulciano region, but I guess I'll know after July! (But really - it's Tuscany. You can't go wrong.)
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May 12th, 2016, 07:52 AM
  #6
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Thank you everyone; very helpful information. I think we will stay one night near Sienna or Montepulciano. If anyone has any recommendations on a another good stopover (for one night) a little closer to Sorrento area as we make our drive down that would be great.

PalenQ; I am actually looking at http://www.villascarpariellorelais.it/en based on your favorable feedback as a possible alternative to our Sorrento stay. Sorrento is still TBD for me; not sure if it is worth staying there for two days or if we can just get away with a day trip.
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May 12th, 2016, 08:12 AM
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So you're planning to drive on the Amalfi coast? Does your hotel in Positano have parking? The AC road is edged into the hillside and it's narrow, crowded and slow. (Busses have to stop and back up to make it around tight curves.) The views are wonderful but the driver better keep his eyes on the road. Parking is scarce and expensive. Before you commit to this, consider long and hard.

There are busses and boats that connect towns in this area. Also from Sorrento it's an easy ride on the local train, the Circumvesuviana, to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Naples.
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May 12th, 2016, 08:30 AM
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Yes, I have read about the drive and it does concern be a bit. Our hotel in Positano reserved a parking space for us for 15EU/day; we wanted to have the option of getting in the car and driving to a nearby town on the AC without having to rely on public transportation. So you would not recommend driving? We could always drop the car off in Sorrento I suppose.

We took a trip to Croatia last year and drove all around the island of Hvar which also has some winding roads up/down mountains with very narrow passes. We did fine and the view was magnificent. Not sure how the road situation compares on AC we definitely want to stay safe.
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May 12th, 2016, 09:54 AM
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Since you asked: I wouldn't drive to Positano.
a. It's no fun for the driver.
b. Traffic that time of year is a pain.
c. Parking in and near any of the AC towns is problematic. Yes, your hotel provides parking, but what about when you go somewhere else?
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May 12th, 2016, 10:26 AM
  #10
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Thank you vincenzo32951; I will definitely take this into consideration when making my travel arrangements and look into other options.

What about Sorrento. Should we just do a day trip to Sorrento while in Positano or is it work visiting Sorrento for 2 days?
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May 12th, 2016, 11:20 AM
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What you might do is drop the car off in Sorrento, and stay overnight. For me, Sorrento is OK -- worth a day or so -- but I prefer Positano and the rest of the AC. Just one person's opinion.
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May 12th, 2016, 11:35 AM
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What about Sorrento. Should we just do a day trip to Sorrento while in Positano or is it work visiting Sorrento for 2 days?>

Sorrento is a well-equipped watering hole with few sea views from the town center and basically one long main drag full of hotels and restaurants and tourist stuff - I would not day trip in to see Sorrento itself but it is a convenient and pleasant base from which to take boats to Capri or Ischia (which I liked just as much as Capri) and trains to nearby Pompeii and Ercolo - (Heraculaneum) and to ascend Mt Vesuvius by mini-bus or foot or both.
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May 12th, 2016, 11:48 AM
  #13
 
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You have over-estimated the time you will have in Tuscany and Sorrento. "3 days/2 nights" really means "whatever part of the first day is left after we check out of old place, and travel to new place, find and check into lodging, all of the second day, and whatever part of the third day we chose to use bearing in mind that most places will have a 11:00 or noon checkout time."

Please consider NOT driving AT ALL in Florence (except when departing) or Sorrento/Amalfi Coast/Positano. Most Fodorites will confirm that a car is an absolute liability in those places. Consider picking up the car when departing Florence and turning it in at NAP, cab to main Naples train station and taking local train to Sorrento or combination of train/ferry to Positano.

Please consider choosing EITHER Positano OR Sorrento for your 6 nights. That way you save the time checking out and checking in. As between the two, opinions will vary. I prefer Sorrento because (1) it is relatively flat (I DIDN'T say it was completely flat), (2) has great public transportation options to Positano, Amalfi (the town),Capri and Ischia (ferry) or Pompeii (local train), and (3) a wide variety of really good restaurants with varying budgets, (4) a wonderful passagiata, (5) the world's best gelato (Davide).

BTW, we LOVED staying in Montepulciano as a base for exploring that part of Tuscany (Val D'orca).

Bonne chance!
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May 12th, 2016, 11:54 AM
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I recommend dropping Sorrento and adding those days to southern Tuscany countryside and Positano.
Here is a perfect place and location to stay, just outside of Pienza-

http://www.fontebertusi.it/en/
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May 12th, 2016, 11:56 AM
  #15
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Thank you so much everyone; all excellent suggestions. We would absolutely not consider driving in Florence until we are ready to leave. Now dropping the car off in Naples is not a bad idea and something that I did not consider...good point. Looking into all of these options.

Can anyone recommend a good Agroturismo in Montepulciano?
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May 12th, 2016, 03:24 PM
  #16
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Just one more vote for no car on the AC. Traffic, parking, etc. is just a hassle. I have stayed in Positano and elsewhere on the AC 7 times and have never had a car. I use the ferries almost exclusively. And frankly I would drop it in Florence at the end of your Tuscany time and train from Florence to Naples and have a driver take you to Sorrento or Positano. I think spending a night or two in Sorrento is fine if you are visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum, etc. Otherwise, stay in Positano.

You really should be booking your Positano accommodations ASAP. Many places book a year in advance - I will be there next month and have had my apartment booked for 9 months.
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May 12th, 2016, 07:26 PM
  #17
 
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Yes, I would agree you won't enjoy a car on the Amalfi coast. I love Tuscany and would want more time there then drive or train directly to Naples for your time on the Amalfi coast.
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May 13th, 2016, 02:58 AM
  #18
 
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsv7rMEJx3M

This is a video of driving on the Amalfi Coast. It looks like it was filmed in the 70's or 80's during off season, so imagine it in high season with horrendous traffic (including many many tour buses) and you will get an idea of what to expect.
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May 13th, 2016, 11:06 AM
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I enjoyed the bus ride along the Amalfi even though it was slow going - lots of time to see the landscape - boats are quicker between the towns in high season but do take at least a short jaunt of the world-famous Amalfi Coast buses - leave the driving to the driver and take in the scenes.
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May 13th, 2016, 11:54 AM
  #20
 
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Taking the public bus is a GREAT idea, but make sure you sit on the driver's side on a northbound bus and the other side on a southbound one.
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