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Itinerary Advice: Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terra

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Aug 5th, 2005, 11:07 AM
  #1
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Itinerary Advice: Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terra

My husband and I are planning a trip in September or October (depends on work schedules), and we would like to go to Florence, Cinque Terra, and Tuscany. We have 9 full days, and I've put together the following loose itinerary:
Florence (3 days)>Monterosso (2 days)[side trips to other Cinque Terra towns]>Tuscany (4 days) [San Gimignano, Siena, Lucca, Montalcino, Montepulciano]

I would love any advice on modifying this itinerary, where to stay in each location, where to fly into/out of, and whether we should rent a car for the Tuscany portion.

These message boards have been extremely useful to me in figuring out where I want to go- I'm hoping you guys can help me make it a great trip!
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:22 PM
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Where you fly into depends on where you are flying from... within Europe, Florence or Pisa - from the US that typically means an extra flight.

My first trip I flew into/out of Milan as it was cheapest and only required one change of plane. This time its Zurich& Milan for the same reason. Would have loved FLR or BLQ(Bologna) or VCE, but they all required a third plane segment - I'd rather have that last bit of travel be by train.

Happy choosing - where do you want to stay in Tuscany? I'm looking for a place in Chianti for Oct... need to decide soon! Top choice is: http://www.fagiolari.it/ or the sister property.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:55 PM
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thank you travelphile.
I will be flying in from Washington DC. I have noticed that flights to Milan are cheaper, and I agree with you that I would rather have that last portion be by train. So... 2 more questions - 1) do you know how far it is from the airport in Milan to the train station? and 2) how long is the train ride from Milan to Florence?
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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travelphile - to answer your question, I think I would like to stay in San Gimignano while in Tuscany. Since we're only spending 4 days there, unfortunately we can't really rent a house for a week...
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Aug 5th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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Go to the Trenitlia website www.trenitalin.it to train travel time. It might be around 2 hours (guesstimate)
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Aug 5th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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Train station... hmm? I flew into/out of Linate last time (was UK connection), but from MXP(more common from US) this time - so I'll have to find out! Funny thing was, for Linate we arrived by train and grabbed a cab, I don't think it was more than 10 mins, but have not a clue - no clue on cost either!

Back on topic... Frommers guide (sorry Fodors!) says 2.5 hrs from Milan to Florence by train. Oooh, further says there is an express train from airport to city train station every 30 mins and that it takes 45minutes. Bus also runs every 30 mins, but doesn't say how long it takes.
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Aug 5th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Danacat, travelphile -- thanks for your help - I looked at trenitalia and it said it takes 2h45m...
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Aug 5th, 2005, 02:07 PM
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A bit random but... I noticed most of the good flights from DC were United. If you have an entertainment guide (from any city) there is a united flight coupon in there - I believe its $75 off a flight over $400. I booked on Continental so I wasn't able to make use of it, but I hope someone will!
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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anyone have advice on where to stay? A friend recommended Hotel Paris in Florence, but I would love to hear any suggestions for Cinque Terra and Tuscany. Thanks for your help!
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:41 AM
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Hi there -- Check out the Hotel Villa Steno (www.villasteno.com/en/) for Monterosso. We had a large room with a balcony (with an amazing view!) and great A/C (which may be irrelevant in Sept/Oct). The service is great and it's located about 10 minutes from the beach/train station. Hope that helps! Good luck...
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Aug 7th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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thanks-- this looks great! Do you think Monterosso is the best place to stay in Cinque Terra?
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Aug 7th, 2005, 11:05 AM
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I really like your itinerary - sounds like a lovel trip. Many good posts about Villa Steno in Monterosso. Here is another link of Monterosso accomodations in case Steno is booked.

Monterossonet.com

We stayed at La Poesia - a b&b in old town - and loved it. We stayed in a larger room (aspasia ?) which I would recommend.

Try to stay in the older part of town rather than the newer part. Much more charming.

Cant help on San.Gimi accomodations but others probably will weigh in.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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we liked Manarolo much better b/c much less crowded/touristy than Monterosso. We stayed in a very nice place called A La Porta Rossa. We really liked the little restaurant on north side of main street just below the train tracks [my mind is blank on the name].

it's nice walk from Manarolo south to Riomaggiore [very easy walk] - from there it is fun to take the ferry boat back north along the coast, perhaps stopping off at other towns as you go. Then eat lunch or dinner in Monterosso and jump on the Toonerville Trolley back down to Manarolo for a quiet sleep.

Darn! writing about it makes me want to book reservations for next week!! Hope you too have a terrific time in the CT!
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Aug 7th, 2005, 04:31 PM
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Maybe I'm confusing my ground transportation at MXP, but I think that the MXP Express train goes to Milano Cadorna (Nord) train station, not Milano Centrale. I think you need to take a bus from MXP to Milano C.le, or take the train from the nearby city of Gallarate.

Given the logistics of getting from MXP to Milano C.le, and then a minimum of 2:45 worth of train time beyond that to get to Florence, why not take a plane from MXP to either FLR or PSA instead of a train? To come home, fly out of PSA or FLR to MXP/FCO to IAD. If you reverse your time in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre, such that you finish your trip in 5T, it could also be worthwhile to investigate flying out of Genoa (GOA, I think) as well.

Where in Tuscany were you planning on staying? Given your destinations, I'd recommend somewhere in the Siena-Castellina in Chianti-Poggibonsi area. You will need a car for the Tuscany portion, especially if you want to go to Lucca from here. Getting from, say, Siena to Lucca is certainly doable without a car, but it requires 1-2 changes of trains (Empoli and/or Florence and/or Pisa) or a schlep of a bus ride. Montalcino is "bussable" but not "trainable." Montepulciano is both "trainable" and "bussable," but is a pain in the butt, literally, to do. Having a car would be great in getting to these cities, although parknig it will be expensive.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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I would begin the trip in Florence, then pick up a car to drive to Cinque Terre. I'd stop off in Lucca on the way and spend two nights in Cinque and finish the trip in Tuscany. You should pick a base in Tuscany (possibly around Siena) where you can see both San G and Volterra which are close to each other and also visit Southern Tuscany, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Pienza. As you can see I've added Volterra and Pienza as IMO they are jewels not to be missed. I the three areas you picked are quite doable although it will be very busy.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 06:43 PM
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Without knowing what the heck to expect, I exited Milan airport and there was a bus waiting to take me to Milano Centrale for under 5E, where I caught the train to Florence, a 3 hour trip. I did buy my first class ticket in advance, I think for $75 and was glad I did so, having never been to a train station. After a long flight first class was the way to go.
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Aug 7th, 2005, 06:54 PM
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Hi again, love2explore --
I think it depends on what you want to do at night. Monterosso is more lively at night than the others b/c it's more of a resort town. When we were there, there were people on the streets well after dinner, street musicians, and lots of enotecas. The other towns are a bit sleepier. Monterosso is still relaxing and quiet, but there are more options for the evening. Hope that helps! Enjoy - h.
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Aug 9th, 2005, 10:29 AM
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Thanks for all the advice- much appreciated.

Any ideas on where to stay around Siena?
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Aug 9th, 2005, 01:30 PM
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We stayed at Chiusarelli, Viale Curtatone 15, in Sienna - nice place, cool a/c, good breakfast, close to the central plaza and other sites
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Aug 9th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Please read my trip report on Tuscany from June. We had a wonderful (but too short) visit and stayed in San Gimignano and Montalcino. Don't bother looking for the 2nd promised installment--I still haven't gotten around to it.......
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