Honeymoon suggestions

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Dec 22nd, 2006, 11:06 AM
  #1
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Honeymoon suggestions

Hi all -

We will be in Italy for 14 days, the first 2 weeks of May, flying into Rome. We'd like to hear pros, cons and alternate suggestions on some of the things we have tentatively planned. We are planning the first 7 days in Tuscany, then 2 nights in Venice and the remainder in Rome.

Tuscany
We are going to rent a car for our portion in Tuscany. We will be staying at a villa in Manciano (Villa Nonna Zolira) for 7 days. While in Tuscany we will do a day trip to Florence, and plan to visit the towns of San Gimignano, Siena, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano and Orvieto. We also want to check out Abbazia Di Sant'Antimo. We love wine, we love food, and enjoy the outdoors.

Questions:
Rental car company suggestions?
Should we do a pick-up in Rome and a drop off in Florence for the car if we are going to Venice next?
Good restaurant and vineyard suggestions?
Any towns that we are missing that we must see (especially port towns)?
A good tour guide in Tuscany for a day trip to vineyards?
Any hiking/biking opportunities we should look into?

Rome
We will be staying at the "Best B&B" which we found on venere.com, it was highly rated. Has anyone stayed here? We are planning all the usuals: Vatican (Through Eternity tours?), and ancient Rome. We were going to use Francesca Caruso as a guide for the ancient Rome portion (forum, pantheon, colosseum, etc.). Restaurants we've heard of: Pizza Re and Da Baffetto for pizza (very important!!!), Il Gelato di San Crispino for gelato (more important!), other restaurants Trattoria Monti, Ristorante Antiche Terme Di Diana and Roscioli.

Any restaurants that are a must?
Neighborhoods we should concentrate on?
Can you travel to Pompeii as a day trip from Rome or is it too far?

Venice
Staying at Pensione Accademia Villa Maravege. Gelateria ca d oro for gelato and Didovich for pastries. Restaurants include Vini da Gigio and Osteria La Frasca. We haven't done a whole lot of research on Venice yet but plan on Doges Place, St. Marks and Rialto Market.

Should we add a day in Assisi or Ravenna and subtract a day somewhere else?
Restaurant suggestions in Venice?

Be critical! Your feedback will be a huge help! Thank you!


rmeyer is offline  
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Dec 22nd, 2006, 11:28 AM
  #2
 
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Car rental: check the rates offered at www.autoeurope.com or their sister company www.kemwel.com. They are wholesalers who can often beat the rates offered by the "usual" companies such as Hertz, Avis, and Europcar.

I would definitely consider picking up the car and dropping it elsewhere and taking the train Florence-Venice. You might do better taking a train somewhere and renting the car there vs. Rome in the first place. You could train to Florence or somewhere else in Tuscany and rent there.
Dukey is offline  
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Dec 22nd, 2006, 12:35 PM
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Hi R,

Sounds like it might be best to pick your car up right at Fiumicino as long as you don't feel too jet lagged to drive a few hours.

Without looking at a map, I can't say where Manciano is. What other towns are nearby? You might want to see Orvieto on the way to your villa if Manciano is further north in Tuscany. Depending on your arrival day of the week, Orvieto is a good car pick up town also.

You could reasonably expect to do:

Siena, 1 day
Montepulciano & Pienza, 1 day
Montalcino & Sant' Antimo, 1 day
and the rest sounds good.

This should give you time for wine tasting and maybe a winery tour too!

I would DEFINITELY add a night to Venice, taking 1 from Tuscany. 2 isn't enough for Venice, and many weeks in Roma wouldn't be enough anyway.

Buon viaggio!

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Dec 22nd, 2006, 01:16 PM
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Hi

My wife and I went to Rome last summer and it is an amazing city. I have posted a trip report with some pictures, links and map on my personal homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/rome_italy.htm . Maybe you can find some useful information there. We also went to Venice a few years back and you can find a similar trip report on http://gardkarlsen.com/italy_venice.htm . Get in touch if you have any questions

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Dec 22nd, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Hi M,

I would fly into Venice for _3_ nights.

Pick up the car in Venice, do the visit to Tuscany, drop the car in Orvieto, train to Rome.

Keep in mind that you will have to adjust to being in Italy before you start driving around.

Nothing goes as planned. Nothing fits into a schedule. Learn not to care.

Also check rates at www.novacarhire.com and www.gemut.com

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Dec 22nd, 2006, 01:53 PM
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Manciano is located quite far south in Tuscany. It's a beautiful area, but it is not convenient for day trips to most of the places you have mentioned. If it is important to you to see these cities and towns, you should consider relocating to a villa further north.

There are many beautiful and interesting places within a more reasonable day trip from the Manciano area. You should google searches for "Maremma Tuscany" to get an idea of what you might like. You should also use a distance guide -- like mappy or Michelin -- to show you just how far it is from your villa to San Gimignano, and then realize you will be taking very winding, two lane highways where the driving is not speedy, especially if you get stuck behind a truck.

The area around Manciano is exquisitely beautiful, so if the big tourist draws for sightseeing are not that important to you, you can have a great and relaxing honeymoon enjoying the wonderful food and wine of the area (I think the food and wine in southern Tuscany is better than in the north) and doing interesting day trips to beautiful places most tourists ignore.


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Dec 23rd, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Good point nessundorma...I guess I should do more research about the towns around the villa. We've just heard so much about the towns we had listed, we just focused on that. But...after driving throughout our trip in Costa Rica, we can probably handle any driving at this point!
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Dec 23rd, 2006, 07:25 AM
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Nessundorma,

Hey, I think you just sold me on Manciano. I'll have to consider the area for the next trip!

R, pretty much everywhere in Tuscany and Umbria is wonderful. Enjoy!
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Dec 23rd, 2006, 07:57 AM
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rmeyer,

The driving will not be challenging. What I'm empahsizing is that it be very time consuming to get from the area of Manciano to places like Firenze or San Gimignano. Even if you take the most direct routes by cutting over to the high-speed autostrade as much as possible, it will still take you hours to get there, and hours to get back. Unless you get up very early in the morning, you will find yourself arriving in places (and trying to find parking) just as the Italian lunch break will begin. Almost everything will shut down until 3 or 4pm. You will find yourself driving back in the dark, which is not easy in Italy, since Italian road signs are not good.

There are of course beautifual villas and agriturismos in Tuscany, further north, that are also convenient for day trips to the places you listed. But again, if daytrips and seeing those particular places isn't so important to you, the area of Manciano is very pretty and unspoled, you don't encounter a lot of other tourists, and the local hilltowns -- such as Massa Marittima, Magliano in Toscana, Scansano, Scarlino, Pitigliano, Orvieto, Sovana, Montemerano, Saturnia (thermal baths), and the Tuscan coast and its islands -- can make for charming and fascinating day trips within an hour's drive of your villa.

It's just that when you get home, people will think you were crazy for going to Italy and not seeing Michaelangelo's David. (More than a dozen trips to Italy and 3 to Firenze, I've still not seen it!)

I wish I could honestly say I think you can have both, but I think you will need to choose unless you a real fans of freeway driving and don't mind hours on the road.
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Dec 23rd, 2006, 07:59 AM
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Dayle,

When you're reasearching this area of Toscana, the key words are "Maremma" and Grosseto province. To me it is one of most lovely areas of Italy, but it is remote and undeveloped, so getting from one place to another along small and very winding roads takes a lot of time.

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Dec 23rd, 2006, 08:06 AM
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rmeyer,

One other thing: If your villa does not serve dinner, you need to find out how close the nearest restaurants are or I would advise looking for a villa that does serve dinner. One of the pleasures of Italian dining is sampling the apertivi, the vini and the after-dinner digestivi, and it's no fun to climb into a car after that and drive miles in the dark.

Also, sometimes the agriturismos in the Tuscan countryside are close to only one town with one restaurant. Nice if the resto is good and affordable, but sometimes the restaurant is quite expensive or just a pizzeria.

I believe that the Quercia Rossa serves dinners. It's near Manciano.

If you are told that the nearest restaurant is only a "10 minute drive away", what that probably means it is 25 minutes. Italians have a different sense of time than we do. ;-)

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Dec 23rd, 2006, 09:32 AM
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The area around Pitigliano is beautiful (there are few areas in Italy that aren't). There are places where you can see Etruscan sites, just south of Pitigliano. Sovano is also interesting, as is a third town that I can't remember the name of right now.
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Dec 24th, 2006, 06:26 AM
  #13
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Well, I won a week at this villa through my job, so no chance at changing villas at this point, not that I am complaining! We'll explore southern Tuscany and do a couple of long day trips to see the northern towns. We are early risers anyway!
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Dec 24th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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Ok! Have a great time! And congratulations on your double win! You might check out the possibility of driving to the train station in Capalbio Scalo, Orbetello or Grosetto as a way of getting to some destinations where driving into town and finding parking is murder (like Firenze).

I'll also suggest that, since you've got one week's acoommodation free, you consider spending a night in Firenze (take the train) or a nearby hotel with parking, even though you still have a room near Manciano.

Are you driving to Venice? Check out the drive times for seeing San Gimignano on your way to Venice (I suspect it would make for a very long day.) Then consider stopping at Firenze on your way from Venice to Roma.

I meant to add Montefiascone to your list of possible day trips, but it's best on a very clear day. Climb to the top of Papal castle for an unbeatable view of Italy. There are other fascinating places in Lazio if you like ancient Etruscan sites. But don't miss Orvieto and Massa Marittima (another town with great views from the castle at the top).
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Dec 24th, 2006, 07:39 AM
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I also wanted to address some of your other questions:

The best winery in the Maremma area is in Scansano.

If you want to see a charming port, visit Porto Ercole, not far from Manciano.

If you want an enormous commercial port, visit Livorno (probably best reached by train), which also has a fine reputation for food.

If you find yourself running late getting home and need dinner, Locanda di Ansedonia, right on the coastal SS1 (via Aurelia) is a good spot.

You should consider visiting San Galgano.

buon viaggi!
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Dec 25th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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Very helpful, thank you! We may have to add a day to Tuscany after reading all of this...
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