Italy - Sept visit

Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 07:02 AM
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Italy - Sept visit

Hello All - we are planning a trip to Italy in Sept. I have most of the trip planned but have a few loose ends and logistic questions Iím hoping you all can provide some advise.

1. Rental car question: we would like to pick up a rental car in Milan and drop off before Florence - is that possible and if so, can someone provide suggestions on best option(s)? If thatís not a good idea, please suggest alternatives. I know we can take the train from Milan to lake Como and from Lake Como to Val Díorcia, and pick up/drop rental cars in those areas however, we prefer the flexibility of having a rental car. Open to any suggestions from the experts on this forum for alternate options,. Hereís our rough itinerary so far. Iím still working thru some details.

A. Sept 5th - arrive late in Milan ( 730 pm) and for various reasons, we would like to pick up a rental car at/near Milan airport and drive to Varenna. 4 nights
B. From Lake Como our ďdraftĒ plan is to head to San Quirico de Orcia for 3 nights followed byÖ
C. Val díorcia to Florence for 3 nights

2. Florence question: any opinions on Hotel Kraft vs Palazzo Alfieri Residenza DíEpoca?

3. Florence question: recommendation of Private guide for ~3 hour Florence highlights walking tour?

4. Val díorcia question: recommendation for a private or small group winery tour with lunch, tastings, etcÖwe were in Val díOrcia a few years ago and we rented a Ferrari (Xmas gift for my husband) and as part of the ďpackageĒ they included this kind of tour and Iíd like to do something similar (minus the Ferrari) since we are traveling with my 85 year old father, I think that will be more low key than bouncing around to different wineries. Heís in very good shape in terms of mobility, mental capacity, etc however, at 85, he obviously moves slower and tires more than when he was younger.

I appreciate any advice anyone can provide.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.

shelley




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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 08:06 AM
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You can get a car at Malpensa airport, and you can drop it off at Florence airport after your visit to Val d'Orcia. Then you can take the shuttle tram (or a taxi) into central Florence.

You don't say where you're arriving from, but if it's a long flight, I wouldn't drive to Varenna that evening. The drive takes about an hour and a half, but it will already be dark when you get the car. I would at least spend one night at an airport hotel. There are several good ones with airport shuttle service.

In fact, I question the idea of renting a car at all until you get to Tuscany. While in Varenna, you can visit the other towns on the lake much more easily by boat than by driving. The trip from Varenna to Florence would be much more convenient (and considerably faster) by train. You could pick up the car at Florence airport, and drop it there coming back from the Val d'Orcia.

I can't recommend specific tour services in the Val d'Orcia. Someone else may have better advice. Do you want a private tour or a group tour? If you prefer a group tour, make sure it's a small group, no more than 12-15 people.

As for a guide in Florence, any guided tour will probably be a walking tour, as much of the center of Florence is car-free. Since your father tires easily, three hours of walking on uneven pavement might be too much for him. Since you'll be in Florence for three days, I would suggest getting a central hotel, near the Duomo, and walking to one or two things each day. I would suggest not waiting in the long queue to enter the Duomo. There's not much to see inside; most of the art is now in the Duomo Museum, which is one of the best museums in Florence, although it doesn't get much attention. Also unless you're passionate about Renaissance art (mostly religious art) I don't recommend the Ufizzi museum. It's huge and would be tiring even for a young energetic person. Apart from the Duomo Museum, I would recommend the Bargello Museum, which has a wonderful collection of Renaissance sculpture, including works by Michelangelo and Donatello. It's usually not crowded. If you want to see Michelangelo's David, make a reservation for the Accademia.

Other than that, take a walk along the Arno, where you can see the Ponte Vecchio; I wouldn't try to cross it, because it's extremely crowded. The last time I was in Florence, the relatives I was with wanted to cross it; I told them to go ahead and I would wait for them in a bar.

You might also want to get a taxi to take you up to Piazzale Michelangelo, where there is a lovely view of the city. You might also like to walk further uphill to the Church of San Miniato, a beautiful 1000-year-old church.

There are many other churches worth visiting in Florence, but for a relaxed trip, I would especially recommend Santa Maria Novella, which is near the main train station, and is full of great works of art.

Last edited by bvlenci; Jun 23rd, 2024 at 08:37 AM.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 08:56 AM
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I found this information on the Ufizzi museum website:

Persons with reduced mobility can rent wheelchairs and walkers free of charge (subject to availability). There is no need to book or pay a deposit, the service is free of charge. It is necessary to present a valid identity document, which will be kept by the museum staff for the duration of the visit.
Wheelchairs and walkers are available at the following distribution points: for the Uffizi at the accessible entrance at Door 1, and for the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens at the ticket office. Once the visit is over, the aids must be returned to the distribution point.
For the Boboli Gardens, please consult the map in advance to find wheelchair-accessible routes.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:01 AM
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Hello Bvlenci - thanks so much for the informative response. Fortunately, my Dad is still very active. He still works a few days/week and he golfs several times/week sometimes even walking the 18 hole course rather than golf cart so I’m not concerned about a 3 hour tour being too much.

As for your question re: guides, we prefer private vs small group. I know you don’t have a recommendation but I’ll answer here in case anyone else has suggestions.

Also, do you have an opinion on Hotel Kraft vs Palazzo Alfieri Residenza D’Epoca? My Dad is super easy to please and he’s excited about the rooftop pool at Hotel Kraft but it seems Palazzo Alfieri has more character and may be quieter? I’m not sure thus the reason I’m looking for input from others who may be familiar with both.

Thank you, again, for the suggestion on rental car and sites in Florence. Much appreciated.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:36 AM
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Thank you. That is very good info and I’ll be sure to keep it handy. My husband just had ankle surgery so, tbh, I’m more concerned about his mobility than my Dad’s thus the reason we’ve delayed til Sept in which timeframe he should be fine. 😊
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:38 AM
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Oops - Last message meant for KCTravel.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 10:23 AM
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This sounds like a lovely trip! You are so nice to take your father.
We just did this last October. I would highly recommend not getting a car in Milan upon arrival if your are arriving from a transatlantic trip. You will be weary and the dark is not the best time to adjust to driving in Italy. We hired a driver, which for the 3 of you would be about $110 each way. You do not need a car, the ferries are very easy to navigate and parking up there is expensive and hard to find. Then use a driver again to take you to the Milan train station to pick up your car and return it at the end of your trip at the Florence train station which is an easy walk to the city center.

We used Chiara for a 6 hour tour in the Val d'orcia which I highly recommend.
She can customize it any way you want, we visited Pienza, Montichiello, and Multepulciano, and the Gladiator filming site.
[email protected]

Our lunch
https://podereilcasale.com/en/

In Florence we did a 3 hour private tour, that could be customized any way you want.
We used Dina from Withlocals
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 11:04 AM
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Agree with Bvlienci. I donít like long drives at night in foreign countries and definitely would not do so if coming from another continent. There is a decent Sheraton in the airport at MXP. Itís not too expensive. Could consider picking up car in Orvieto and dropping off in Florence. I would think however you would be more likely to be assured of an Automatic if thatís what you need at Florence airport.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 11:41 AM
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Hi mjs - thank you for the note back. I’ll look into the Sheraton. Many years ago, like 15+, we did that rental car option of Orvieto/Rome so I was thinking of looking into that for this trip. Thanks for confirming that as a possible option.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 11:58 AM
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To avoid driving from Malpensa to Varenna in the dark after a long (overnight?) flight... You could hire a transfer service to take you from the airport to your Varenna hotel. After your time at Lake Como, taxi or train to the Avis car rental office in Lecco (closed Saturday and Sunday). You'd arrive in Varenna earlier and at a lower stress level. A car really isn't needed at Lake Como (but would be slightly more useful if you stayed on the western shore), and you'd probably have overnight parking charges.

I assume you know the drive to San Quirico could take 5-6 hours from Varenna (slightly less from Lecco), and that's entirely on the boring autostrada without any stops. If you haven't purchased your air tickets, you might consider flying into Malpensa and out of FCO and put Florence between Lake Como and San Quirico. Rent the car at the end of your time in Florence.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by mjs
Agree with Bvlienci. I donít like long drives at night in foreign countries and definitely would not do so if coming from another continent. There is a decent Sheraton in the airport at MXP. Itís not too expensive. Could consider picking up car in Orvieto and dropping off in Florence. I would think however you would be more likely to be assured of an Automatic if thatís what you need at Florence airport.
I don't understand why you suggest picking up the car in Orvieto, which is not near any of the places they want to visit. How would they get there?

Last edited by bvlenci; Jun 23rd, 2024 at 01:58 PM.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean

....

I assume you know the drive to San Quirico could take 5-6 hours from Varenna (slightly less from Lecco), and that's entirely on the boring autostrada without any stops. If you haven't purchased your air tickets, you might consider flying into Malpensa and out of FCO and put Florence between Lake Como and San Quirico. Rent the car at the end of your time in Florence.
I like the idea of visiting Florence between Varenna and San Quirico. In that case, you could travel by train from Varenna to Florence, which is quicker than driving, and pick up the car at the Florence airport. You could also pick up the car right in Florence, but that wouldn't be my preference. We once took a Tuscan car trip after a few days in Florence, and got the car at the airport.

The idea of flying home from FCO instead of going back to Milan also makes sense, but it may be too late to change your air travel plans.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by swanner
Hello Bvlenci - thanks so much for the informative response. Fortunately, my Dad is still very active. He still works a few days/week and he golfs several times/week sometimes even walking the 18 hole course rather than golf cart so Iím not concerned about a 3 hour tour being too much.

As for your question re: guides, we prefer private vs small group. I know you donít have a recommendation but Iíll answer here in case anyone else has suggestions.

Also, do you have an opinion on Hotel Kraft vs Palazzo Alfieri Residenza DíEpoca? My Dad is super easy to please and heís excited about the rooftop pool at Hotel Kraft but it seems Palazzo Alfieri has more character and may be quieter? Iím not sure thus the reason Iím looking for input from others who may be familiar with both.

Thank you, again, for the suggestion on rental car and sites in Florence. Much appreciated.
I don't know either of these hotels, but their locations seem good. When we go to Florence we usually stay in budget hotels, which we find on booking.com.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 05:25 PM
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I was thinking that Orvieto would be closer to San Quirico than Florence but unfortunately the train ride to Orvieto from Milan is a lot slower than to Florence, so train to Florence and renting a car there does make more sense. If flying home from MXP one could drop off car there if the drop off fee is not bad, otherwise return to Florence and train back to MXP. One could drop off the car in Orvieto if flying home from Rome if the drop off charge was reasonable.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 07:52 PM
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There aren't many car rental companies with offices in Orvieto. According to Google, Hertz is the only one close to the train station.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:51 PM
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Hi bvlenzi. That’s exactly what we are thinking of doing. And yes, our flights are already booked; flying into Milan and out of Florence. Thanks for your note… it confirms the plan we are considering is a good one.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:54 PM
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Hi mjs - thanks for your note and thought given to our itinerary. All of the input from everyone has been very helpful and I think we just about have our plans figured out …thank you again.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:57 PM
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Thanks bvlenzi - I use booking.com too. 😊
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 09:59 PM
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Hi Jean - I like that idea of private transfer service. Do you have any that you’d suggest/recommend? And yes, we have already purchased our airline tix.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 08:18 AM
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swanner, if you're staying in a hotel in Varenna, I'd ask if they can recommend a transfer service.
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