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Itinerary help needed for Tuscany late April

Itinerary help needed for Tuscany late April

Mar 12th, 2015, 11:58 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary help needed for Tuscany late April

I've been reading earlier forums and gleaning information but still need some guidance from you experienced travelers. My husband and I will be exploring Tuscany after 3 nights in Florence in late April. We'll be renting a car and need to return to Florence for our flight home. We are energetic but don't want to overdo it, either. We have 5 nights and I was thinking of staying in 2 locations to maximize where we could explore and get back easily to Florence. I was thinking 2 locations would give us the opportunity for an agriturismo or something in the country and one location in a town -- Siena? Pienza? Greve? They all sound wonderful but without knowing the roads, the distances are hard to gauge.I was also figuring it was better not to backtrack too much. An additional concern is that one day will be May 1 and I expect some locations might be closed to visitors? I keep looking for a suggested loop, but it's hard for me to figure out. Thanks for any suggestions!
imgwiz is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:32 PM
  #2  
 
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You can really relax about this because the Tuscan countryside and its hilltowns is really very, very beautiful, so lose your FOMO (fear of missing out). You can pick just one place to enjoy, or 2 if you prefer, and you will have all the flavor without running around. It is a very touristic area and lots of Italians even like to visit on May 1, so even though maybe a museum in Siena or a small town may be closed, the restaurants and shops will be open because that is the "season" for them.

Broadly speaking, the two most iconic landscapes of Tuscany are the Chianti, the val d'Orcia and an area called le Crete Senesi. They are all beautiful places to be for a few days, and you will not get bored taking country drives and eating long lunches and visiting this town or that town without too much of a plan. It all hasn't changed too much since the Renaissance.

For some people, the deciding factor of where to "base" is the history and the architecturally interesting towns. For others, it might be which red wine they prefer, or a particular lodging they like. For still others, it is because they want to be away from all the other tourists and go walking, bike riding.

Maybe if you can pick which emphasis is most imprtant to you -- culture, or wine, or peace -- somebody can suggest something just right.

But wherever you pick, you will not have too long a drive back to where you need to be to leave.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:33 PM
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Sorry -- I should have said "the three most iconic landscapes" .
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:42 PM
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The standard 'Tuscan tour' would include Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, Siena, San Gimignano and the Chianti area. If you were to start in Florence, this would give you a route that doesn't backtrack. There are many more sites to visit and roads of scenic importance within that route i.e. the Crete Senese and the whole of chianti. You don't mention interests--food, wine, art, ruins, shopping--so its difficult to prioritize lodging locations.

Agriturismi may allow a short stay in April (not a week) but your inquiry had better be quick and I would suggest those near a town. I agree that two locations would be good and moving from say, southern tuscany to Siena would not take a long time. Consider www.politian.com for a place in Montepulciano--good apartments with views in a very historic setting.
macanimals is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:57 PM
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Wow. That is the first time I have ever heard that this is the "standard" Tuscan tour, and I live in Italy. Where does that come from?

Unless you are somebody who feels compelled to be in your car all the time checking off a list of tourist "must-sees", I would recommend that a 3 day trip to the Tuscan countryside be more focused on enjoying it and savoring it, rather than trying to do a "tourist loop" of sightseeing towns. I say that as a committed road tripper, but I would never dream of trying to see the Chianti, Siena, the val d'orcia and its towns and San Gimignano in 3 days.

There are a ZILLION agriturismi south of Florence that will be happy to have you for less than a week and most of them will still have space last minute, let alone now.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 01:01 PM
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Calm down Sandra--its five nights.
macanimals is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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Oh -- thanks for pointing that out. I did misread that.

However, I still FURIOUSLY object to this notion of such a busy tour of Tuscany, and I am not an official Slow Traveler. (Yuck).

If imgwiz has a heartfelt wish to see all the towns you name or others on a wish, then imgwiz should definitely do that and ignore me.

However, the biggest mistake first time travelers to Tuscany make is imagining there are some towns that are really MUST SEES as opposed to others, and that THIS ROAD is the one to take rather than THAT ROAD.

The reality is that the well-known towns feel like tourist towns and the towns that almost never get mentioned are incredibly charming with many beautiful architectural features -- but most of all, and most IMPORTANT -- it is the unusual scenery of Tuscany that is the attraction, not the towns.

Sure it is freaky to see the towers of San Gimignano or the baths near Montepulciano -- but that is so much less important than enjoying the in-between, and enjoying the bliss of letting everything drop away and just staring and seeing the beautiful rolling landscape, so well tended by Italians, and having a long lunch and forgettting the maps and lists and plans.

That doesn't change, even if you have 5 days. It's about the effect of the countryside on all your 5 senses -- the smells, the sights, the tastes, the--- well, you remember your biology class. Tuscany is not an intellectual test.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2015, 01:39 PM
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imgwiz--Try www.viamichelin.com to determine travel routes, times and distances--its very effective for planning. Best of luck.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 01:46 PM
  #9  
ekc
 
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The viamichelin suggestion is a good one, but it often seriously underestimates driving times. Be sure to add at least 20% to the quoted driving times.
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Mar 12th, 2015, 01:48 PM
  #10  
 
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You can use Google maps too.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 13th, 2015, 06:32 PM
  #11  
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Thanks for these suggestions. Our interests include eating, relaxing, wine, visiting old cities, ruins, art, enjoying landscape, maybe some hiking or biking, and generally exploring and experiencing the beauty of Tuscany. I was thinking a lodging combi of agriturismo and staying in a town would provide 2 different experiences for this first visit. All these suggestions help me understand that there are many options and that various day trips are possible from lots of locations.
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Mar 13th, 2015, 06:45 PM
  #12  
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I like using the Michelin maps, so that web site is useful. Another question, about car rental. Since we will be flying home from the airport in Florence, we'll leave the car there. We will pick up our rental when ready to leave Florence for exploring the region --should we rent it at the airport or at a possibly more convenient in-town location?
imgwiz is offline  
Mar 13th, 2015, 09:20 PM
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Rent your car at the airport. Driving in town is problematic:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g1....In.Italy.html
RonZ is offline  
Mar 14th, 2015, 07:09 AM
  #14  
 
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Re: Car rental pick-up in Florence. Picking up at the airport is the "safest" as it is far outside the Florence ZTL but it would require a taxi or bus ride from the train station to the airport--fairly easy with approx. 20 euro taxi and 5 euro bus.
An alternative is to pick the car up in town. There are several possibilities and the Borgo Ognissanti location has several dealers. They would give strict directions out of their location which avoid ZTL infractions and their pick-up location is relatively convenient to the city center. Don't deviate from their suggested route and I have long since given up trying to return the cars there--only back at the airport.
RonZ's attached info on driving is a good primer.
macanimals is offline  
Mar 14th, 2015, 07:39 AM
  #15  
 
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"Convenient" depends on where you are staying in town. Among several advantages to picking up the car at the airport is that rental offices there are open continuously and you get a preview of the airport layout and where to go when you return the car.

Two different experinces of Tuscany, one being in a town and one being immersed in the farms and vinyards would appeal to me. Agriturismo and winery castle lodgings come in every imaginable permutation. I like the ones that serve food to guests, either on request or because there is a restaurants onsite, to eliminate the need to drive in order to get dinner.
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