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Good 'base' to explore Tuscany? Umbria? or ?

Good 'base' to explore Tuscany? Umbria? or ?

Apr 10th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 173
Good 'base' to explore Tuscany? Umbria? or ?

Just starting to plan our first trip to Italy. We have 9 or 10 days, possibly Sept/Oct 2007 or May 2008. Although we'd like a taste of Rome and Florence we'd limit our days there, we prefer the countryside. We like having one or two base places to stay in a nice villa and do day trips. Most talk about Tuscany, and maybe for good reason, but which of the other regions would be just as beautiful and maybe off the beaten path? Or should we stick to Tuscany? Places you all have stayed at and liked? Although not connoisseurs, we enjoy red wine(and good food), so maybe that should be a consideration? I will continue to read the wealth of info. and the wonderful trip reports on the board, thanks for any help you can give.
dosu is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Umbria! Umbria! Umbria! Less spoiled, less touristy, less expensive, and far more green and beautiful than Tuscany. Plenty of charming towns to explore and landscapes almost surreal in their loveliness. You're right next door so Florence is still convenient.

Of your choices, early October is probably the least crowded time and still enjoys fine weather; sunny and pleasantly cooler.

It sounds like you plan to have a car. We weren't the only ones to love Locanda Solomeo (www.solomeo.it) This place is off the beaten path and not a villa but a centuries-old country house restored as an inn by the same family who has always owned it. It's been fully modernized while preserving all the old charm. We had plenty of privacy and space and as it was our first trip it was really helpful to have friendly support to find our lost luggage and direct us to the best way to find this or that thing or place or help with impossible reservations for an event. They even went out of their way to locate and pack for travel some of our favorite local delicies. We really enjoyed the relaxing small-town ambience, the facilities, location, and superb hospitality and food. Normally we aren't hotel-types, but this wasn't your usual hotel, and we won't hesitate to stay here again.
cupid1 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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I haven't spent any time in Umbria yet, so I can't give any advice on that, but I love southern Tuscany. Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano and
San Quirico would all make good bases. There are a number of agriturismos in that area if you would prefer to really stay in the countryside. We stayed at Lucignanello Bandini in Lucignano d'Asso for our honeymoon. It was a bit isolated but still an easy drive to all the towns I mentioned above.

As for good wine, you really can't beat the Brunellos of Montalcino and the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano.

We were in the area in September and didn't feel like any of the towns were overrun by tourists. They all still had a bit of an off the beaten path feel to them.
mw2006 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 10:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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A few years ago we did all three as part of that trip to Italy.Do a circle:
Assuming you arrive in Florence head to Assisi. Spend two nights there and visit nearby.
Move to Orvieto for two nights.
Next, 3 nights in Val D'Orcia and finally 2 nights in Chianti.
We had a bit more time,but this worked well.
You could also adjust this into one stay more central in Umbria for 3/4 nights and the remainder close to Siena.You could wander both ways from this location.
I personally like to split my Tuscany stays. I also like Umbria and especially Assisi.
You can find great food and wine in all these areas.
jabez is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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If you enjoy red wine and like the thought of Tuscany, then Pienza is a good base for you. South of Siena, and wedged in teh Val'd'orcia Pienza and the valley are an easy way to access the famouse wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino.
Apr 10th, 2007, 01:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 173
Thanks for the recommendations on places to stay, they both look very nice. Do these types of places have washer/dryers available? That would certainly be a big plus. Yes, we are planning on a car. I suppose i need to get a decent map to see where all these recommended places are and check driving distances.
Another idea was to get a weekly rental in a 'villa' for two? Any special places people have stayed??
There seem to be so many other regions, any other favorites beside Tuscany?? Thank you all for some great ideas.
dosu is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 02:09 PM
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We had 10 nights last May and split it up as follows:

1 night Orvieto
2 nights San Gimignano
3 nights Montalcino
3 nights Spello Umbria
last night Rome

We loved both Tuscany and Umbria but found the food a little better in Tuscany overall. We said if we were to do it again we would likely spend 7 nights in a Villa in the Val d'Orcia somewhere between Montipulciano and Pienza and the other few days somewhere in Umbria.

You can't go wrong....both are beautiful regions. My photos from my trip last May can be found:


My trip report though long and quite boring can be found:

CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Apr 10th, 2007, 11:33 PM
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Dosu, Umbria is certainly wonderful, especially the area around Todi, but (as others have said here), I'm partial to southern Tuscany and the Val D'Orcia. I live in the town of Pienza, and run a small luxury hotel outside the town in a nature reserve. There are many other lovely placely to stay in the area...but we do have a washer and dryer if that is important to you. www.la-bandita.com.
jvoigtm is offline  
Apr 11th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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jvoigtm....advertising on this site is strictly forbidden.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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What GREAT timing! I was about to do a search for your marvelous trip report and you have kindly supplied the link.

I am off to Tuscany at the end of April for 4 days - see my recent post re Tuscany Itinerary. I'll spend one night in Lucca and the rest in Pienza.


Regards ... Ger
OReilly is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Southern Tuscany is lovely. We spent four nights in Pienza after three nights in Siena, followed by one night in Orvieto (Umbria). I wish we had stayed longer in Orvieto--but then I now have a reason to return some day. Here is my trip report and photos:

luvtotravel is offline  
Apr 16th, 2007, 02:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Oh Ger...if only I had read your trip report again before we left for Umbria, we may not have made the same fatal error as you. It all flooded back to me the minute the plate of "turds" arrived. I have to admit it was quite comical.

We loved Tuscany...the countryside is heaven. La Porta restaurant in Montichiello is well worth the detour. You'll love Pienza. I know some say it's too touristy but it was one of my favourite towns...picture perfect every inch of it. Enjoy!! I'll look forward to reading your trip report when you get back. You have a gift for writing...I very much enjoyed your Dordogne report...we're heading there is May for 11 nights.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  

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