Help for Tuscany and Italian Riveria

Old Apr 8th, 2018, 10:32 PM
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mjs
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Help for Tuscany and Italian Riveria

Have decided to attend a conference in Florence at the end of May. Have been to Florence many times as well as Siena and Pisa. Will have an extra 10 to 12 days for a holiday. Arriving in/out of Milan. Renting a car after leaving Florence. Considering 3-4 nights somewhere like Rapallo to explore the coast. Would like one or two other bases from which to explore Tuscany. Looking for a nice B&B or hotel with parking and a room with two beds costing less than $350. Prefer a small town like a St Remy in Provence with restaurants and some shops. Prefer to drive back to our lodgings before sunset with dine afterwards. Considering Volterra, Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino. Any suggestions?
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Old Apr 9th, 2018, 12:14 AM
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Montepulciano/Pienza/Montalcino is the zone of the most famously scenic area of red-grape Tuscany if you are going for the classic Under-the-Tuscan-Sun scenery and red wine. If you like cultural exploration and more substantial towns, staying in Pistoia, with its fun food market and high quality restaurants, might would be a more compact itinerary with loads of interesting sights nearby. I've never been to Volterra, but I have heard other people say that it get tiring driving up and down the winding roads for day trips, because it's position is a bit isolated.

Consider putting Rapallo at the very end of your trip and book a hotel you can cancel if the weather turns out to be rainy. May can often be quite beautifully sunny and balmy on the Italian Riviera, but it can also get bouts of successive chilly rainstorms blowing through. If the beach is too rainy to be enjoyable, cancel the hotel and go someplace like Bologna or Modena (or even Genova if you are curious about that cultural aspect of the Riviera). But if the sun is shining, you just keep the Rapallo reservations.
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Old Apr 9th, 2018, 02:16 AM
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During our holiday in September, 2016, we rented a car at Florence airport (wanted to completely avoid any risks of ZTL zones) and returned it at Rome FCO airport (again, I avoid driving in big cities altogether) - though Chiusi could also be a drop off point after Southern Tuscany. We used 2 bases to explore Tuscany - Siena (for northern Tuscany/Chianti area) and Montalcino (for Southern Tuscany/Val D'orcia area). San Quirico, Pienza, Montepulciano etc. all good bases as well. Slow Travel Italy - Planning Day Trips, Wagon Wheel Travel in southern Tuscany is a very helpful resource, and ironically we stayed in the same agriturismo outside Montalcino referenced here.
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Old Apr 9th, 2018, 06:01 AM
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I did not find Rapallo to be very charming. For my vacation, I would consider Camogli, Lerici, Tellaro, and even Santa Margherita Ligure. Montemarcello (not on water) is really pretty, too, and there are so many coastal towns in that area that might suit. Then if you have time, move south along the coast to the Maremma where there are a lot of enticing sounding coastal towns. (Or better, visit Maremma before Ligurian Coast).
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Old Apr 12th, 2018, 10:35 PM
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Thank you for the advice. Siena is rather a large town. Any nice hotels with parking that is close to the center of town yet conducive for a car exit/return?
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Old Apr 13th, 2018, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by mjs View Post
Thank you for the advice. Siena is rather a large town. Any nice hotels with parking that is close to the center of town yet conducive for a car exit/return?
The Palazzo Ravizza is a good choice with on-site parking and receives favourable mentions across forums. I've previously stayed at a a very charming B&B called Antica Residenza Cicogna, and parked our car at the station parking (ony 2E per day as I recall) which is well connected to the Siena towncentre by a convenient bus or a series of public escalators (involves further walking).
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Old Apr 13th, 2018, 02:46 PM
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Book your Milan-Florence tickets ahead of time at Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia or www.italotreno.it/en - two competing train systems using same tracks and stations - book your own discounted tickets but they probably can't be changed nor refunded so leave plenty of time between plane and train.
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Old Apr 13th, 2018, 03:48 PM
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For Siena - Hotel Chiusarelli, via Curtatone - Great hotel, and considering the price it’s a fabulous value. Booked on booking.com. The hotel is in a wonderful location, right off the Piazza Gramsci where the buses stop which is right next to the start of the pedestrian district. Less than a 10 minute walk to Il Campo on the main shopping/passeggiata route, and essentially next door to San Domenico – the sound of whose bells you can hear from your room (in a good way). I don't know if the hotel itself has parking (I didn't have a car when I stayed there) but I did notice a large public parking lot less than a five minute walk away.

I loved Rapallo. Stayed at Hotel Italia e Lido which is right next to the cute little castle. I spent an extra €10 a night for a sea view (something I never do) and it was so worth it. I used Rapallo as a base for 5 nights and did day trips to the CT towns, Portovenere, SML, Camogli and Portofino.
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Old May 1st, 2018, 05:24 PM
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So still struggling with my itinerary. Have Lonely planet, Rough guide, Rick Steve, Fodors and Tuscany for the Hedonist as print sources plus Slow Travel etc on the net. Have 4 nights booked for Florence as I am attending a meeting. Have been to Florence three times, last about 10 years ago for a week. Have been to Pisa twice and Siena once. Have 8 nights after Florence before driving to MXP to stay at the Sheraton before a 0640 flight back home the next morning. Would like to visit Southern Tuscany as in Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. Would like to visit part of Chianti. Would also like to visit Volterra and San Gimignano. Was thinking about stopping in Liguria on the way up to MXP. Now the question is how much time for all of this and is this even possible with 8 nights? Could stay in Siena for 5-6 nights and drive everywhere except Liguria. Could spend 2-3 nights down south and 2-3 nights in San Gimignano plus Liguria. Could skip Liguria and spend the time all in Tuscany. Tend to rather stay in one place and drive more than move all the time. Renting an Opel station wagon automatic. Nice to find my credit card covers the car rental for CDW. Further thoughts?
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Old May 1st, 2018, 08:40 PM
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>>Nice to find my credit card covers the car rental for CDW. <<<

Are you sure about that????

Stu Dudley
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 04:02 PM
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I thought in Italy you were required to get all the insurance through the rental company and you could not use your credit card for the CDW?
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 08:32 PM
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That's what my experience has been also. My Cap One card and all my other 4-5 cards won't cover CDW in Italy. But I don't have an AE card, so I don't know what their policy is.

Stu Dudley
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 09:17 PM
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I happened to be going through about 50 pages of my Chase Sapphire reserve guide to benefits when I noticed that there was no exclusion of Italy, Israel and Ireland as with my AMX card so I called. I was told that I am indeed covered as a primary insurance up to 75K for collision or theft of a car in Italy as long as I decline CDW or similar provision. As Italy has a minimum CDW required, and I cannot decline that minimum amount I am covered with my credit card being primary insurance for damage or theft of the car. Called them twice to make sure.
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Old May 3rd, 2018, 03:31 AM
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Thanks for the information. I will call my credit card. I think I called the last time I went and Italy was not covered but maybe something has changed. Or I need to get a different credit card!
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Old May 6th, 2018, 10:27 PM
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Have come down to 8 nights in Pienza or 4 nights in Pienza plus 4 nights in Siena or 4 nights in Pienza and 4 nights in Rapallo. Any thoughts?
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Old May 7th, 2018, 11:37 AM
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I would choose your last option if it were Santa Margherita Ligure or Camogli and not Rapallo. If it has to be Rapallo, then I would choose Option 2.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 12:03 PM
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Well we had a lovely stay in Rapallo - very convenient to visiting the other towns in the area, maybe a bit more of a Italian town as opposed to more touristy SML. But the whole area is nice - have a lovely trip!
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Old May 7th, 2018, 07:37 PM
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Could stay at the Albergo Minerva in SML but have tentatively booked the Excelsior Palace for about the same price as it looks like a nicer hotel.
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Old May 15th, 2018, 09:38 PM
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Updated itinerary as we leave in two days. Four nights Florence at Palazzo Gamba, Three nights Pienza at Fonte Bertusi, Four nights in Siena at Palazzo Ravizza (hope its easy to drive in and out) than 2 nights at Sheraton MXP as we fly out at 0640 last day. Weather in Liguria looks rainy for our possible visit so am keeping a reservation in Rapallo just in case we change our mind but think we shall use this trip just for Tuscany.
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Old May 21st, 2018, 12:24 PM
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arrived MXP at 0830. Went to train station and exchanged tickets from 1200 train to 1000 train to Florence at a cost of about 15 Euro a ticket. Local ticket MCP to Milan did not have to be changed. Florence much more crowded than 10 years ago!
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