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Suzette85 Apr 8th, 2018 10:43 AM

Looking for 5 night base in Tuscany
Hello -
Family of 4 with sons ages 18 & 20 going to Italy in early August for 12 days. Like other posters, due to school and other commitments, we are pushed into this very busy tourist season.
Looking for a town/city as a home base to explore from Florence/Siena/San G and some off the beaten path towns in between. The most important thing for our home base town/city is that we can walk to dinner and as well as a place with bars as well.
We will mix up the days with some local activities and car rentals.

I know that San G is crazy during the day, but thought we could be 'reverse commuters' getting out of town during the day. What is the nightlife there? Same for Siena? Florence is an interesting option as well. Other thoughts?

Thank you!

patandhank Apr 8th, 2018 12:43 PM

Florence has a university so I think you’ll find more nightlife there for the age group of your kids. We stayed in the ZTL zone, parked our car with the garage used by the hotel and never needed it again — but then we were there just to see Florence.

We spent 4 nights in Siena too and it is much quieter at night. Can’t speak to San G as we were day trippers there.

StCirq Apr 8th, 2018 01:04 PM

<<we are pushed into this very busy tourist season>>

Well, yes, but you're not "pushed" into spending it in the most highly touristed places in Italy. There are literally hundreds of places in Tuscany (and nearby Umbria) where you don't have to experience the August crush - up in the woods where the spa towns are, all around Lago Trasimeno, etc., etc. - all of them with some nightlife and plenty of enjoyable places to walk to dinner or cafés - but then of course you can't say you've seen Florence and Siena and San Gimignano, and all the hot spots. Depends entirely on your priorities - if they are hitting the hot spots, you have to deal with the downsides, and "reverse commuting" isn't going to solve that to much of an extent - other people have thought of that, too.

Not sure what "mixing up the days with local activities and car rentals" means. A single-day car rental costs the same as a 3-day rental, so you certainly don't want to go renting multiple single-day rentals; you'll need to plan better for the rentals to economize. And know how to stay out of the ZTLs.

What do your kids want to do? They are plenty old enough to do research and decide what their priorities are.

kitbag Apr 8th, 2018 11:57 PM

Your best bet for what you are looking for really is Florence, staying on the Oltrarno side of town. That side of town is the only side of town where it is reasonable to have a car for day trips, and it easy walk to robust youthful nightlife for the resident young of Florence (the students are gone in summer). You can also find excellent deals on apartment rentals on that side of town. Just be sure you understand FULLY driving regulations in Florence, and when it comes getting off the beaten track, you will need to dig further than San Gimignano to find those towns -- but they certainly exist, in several directions using Florence as a base.

Reverse commuting actually works quite well for most people if they are good at planning, understand the rhythm of the italian day, and don't do day trips to places equally crowded. Just be aware that for small and very popular tourist towns like San Gimignano, locals are taking advantage of the summer months to work long hours making money. They are up at the crack of down, so aren't doing much nightlife. August is not a vacation for them. Bars throughout small town Italy typically close at 7.30pm. Nearby music events in places like San Gimignano tend to be classical concerts, but you can find some rock and roll. That's also true in Umbria. Waterside destinations like Lago Trasimeno are quite busy in August, filled with affluent (read older) tourists who prefer classic music or are traveling in tour groups, and the flatter areas of Umbria which aren't as hard on the knees as hilltowns in Tuscany.

If you want "spa towns", they are located all over Tuscany, including right near San Gimignano. Don't know where the idea comes from that Umbria or near Lago Trasimeno is where "the spa towns are" (unless its because it's got a couple of posh beauty farms.) But you can find spa towns almost anywhere in Tuscany -- just be aware that a lot of spa towns are located in spots that are extremely humid in August. A hill town gets more breezes (and the Oltrarno part of Florence sits a little bit uphill).

Ignore the ill-intended parenting snark. Noticing how many people using this forum to express contempt for younger people and families.

bilboburgler Apr 9th, 2018 03:55 AM

Well certainly St Gim reverse commuting works, but night life in St Gim is a bit meh. Their website Visit San Gimignano | Tourist Information works in English to look for concerts.

Siena reverse commuting might be better, you tend to leave the car down in car parks at the bottom of the hill and get in via escalators. This might help Home - Terre di Siena - Sito Ufficiale del Turismo in Terre di Siena - Provincia di Siena

Like others I might go elsewhere than the hot spots of tourism in August as it packs up, maybe down on the coast, or one of the lesser known towns, trouble is lesser known towns tend towards quiet. So maybe look at

StCirq Apr 9th, 2018 04:48 AM

I wasn't referring to "posh beauty farms" at all - I thought I made that clear, but rather hidden old Roman thermal spots in the hills (where there are plenty of breezes even in August and it's cool because you're in the forest). Lots and lots of places you can go to escape the August hordes without having to focus on reverse commuting. If you want to see the hot spots, though, it definitely will take some planning. But there are small, relatively out-of-the-way places (Panicale comes to mind) where there are rock concerts and lively activities for young people but that aren't mobbed with visitors.

I see nothing wrong with suggesting that folks 18 and 20 take part in the planning. If they're coming along for the ride, their interests should certainly be accounted for so that everyone enjoys the trip.

You've got your own special brand of snark, ......bag.

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