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Loved Tuscany last year... what can top that?

Loved Tuscany last year... what can top that?

Jan 1st, 2011, 09:03 AM
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Loved Tuscany last year... what can top that?

Traveled with dh June 2010 to Pisa/Luca, Cinque Terre and Siena for 25th wedding anniversary. It was our first trip together to Europe (dh travels a lot for business, but this was our first pleasure trip).
Anyway, we are in the very fortunate position to be able to take another trip this summer (2011) and would love to explore more of Italy. My mind tells me that there is so much more to see in Italy, but my heart is stuck in Tuscany.
I want to see the "real " Italy... not much interested in too many cathedrals/museums (although 1 or 2 would be fine). We love Italy for the food and culture.

Suggestions please!!!
michelle25 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 09:22 AM
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Sicily. Somewhat rougher around the edges vs Tuscany, but a very worthwhile destination. Read some Trip Reports.

Ian is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 09:52 AM
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On our first couple of trips to Europe, we returned to a few "favorite" places that we had visited before, and then headed elsewhere to explore "new" grounds. About one-third "return to" places, and two-thirds "new" adventures seemed to work for us.

Now, 33 years later we spend 2 months vacationing in Europe every year - and we really haven't even touched some major destinations like Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and most of Eastern Europe. Returning to old favorites is "comfortable" - but finding new spots is just as rewarding.

There is no need to leave Italy for your 2011 trip - there is certainly plenty remaining to be seen. I'm also a firm believer in minimixing "lost" travel time between spots.

Perhaps a good itinerary would be:

- Return to Tuscany for 5 nights. This time stay south of Siena near Pienza to explore my favorite region of Tuscany. From there you can also visit areas in Umbria - Orvieto, Todi, Assisi, Perugia, and Gubio. You will need a car for this part of the trip.

- Head south & stay overnight in Tivoli, & visit Hadrian's Villa & Ville d'Est.

- Visit the Amalfi Coast for 5 nights total, including a 2 night stay in Capri. See Pompii or Herculaneum on the way there, and Pasteum on the way back to Rome.

- Rome for 5 nights.

This itinerary may not be the "real" Italy - but I would recommend that you spend your first couple of trips to Italy (or elsewhere in Europe) seeing the "most popular" places.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 09:55 AM
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To me the obvious would be to suggest Rome, Venice and Florence.
cruiseluv is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 10:22 AM
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I too like the area around Pienza, and I too wonder why you haven't thought of Florence, but maybe you were in both those areas on your last trip.

I just got back from Rome and loved it, but it is not in any way, shape or form like Tuscany. It is a very busy city stuck like a plum pudding with historic sites of all sorts. The irony is that this, even the industrial suburbs, are more "real Italy" than a lot of more picturesque places.

We went to the Veneto -- Venice, Verona, etc -- on our first trip and have been back several times without losing our desire to go again. In fact, we are going back in September to be based in Vicenza. The countryside is not beautiful or even attractive in much of this area, but the towns are fantastic.

One last eccentric answer to your question: have you been to Sonoma in California? It has much of what you probably love about Tuscany, with fewer cathedrals and has sections that look like the Downs in England (Carneros) or like the moors of Highland Scotland (Point Reyes). And you don't have to worry about what happens to the Euro!
Ackislander is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 10:32 AM
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>>have you been to Sonoma in California? It has much of what you probably love about Tuscany, with fewer cathedrals<<

Also fewer Roman & Etruscan ruins, and fewer Medieval villages.

Interesting comparison, however !!

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 11:14 AM
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I'd head for the lakes and maybe a little Switzerland. Or Umbria or Piemonte. Generally, for a summer trip, I'd stay north. My preference would be to move up the trip to end before mid-June or postpone the trip to start mid-September or later.
Jean is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Frankly, I'm not sure you've yet seen what you would describe as the "real" Tuscany. Perhaps you need to stay out in the countryside somewhere and visit the smaller towns. Otherwise, I'd agree with the Sicily recommendation.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 12:32 PM
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Umbria. What Tuscany used to be like before it became a tourist mecca.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 01:19 PM
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I agree with Jean.
After 16 trips to Italy, and Sicily, my favorite destination is still the lakes. Couple that with Piemonte or parts of CH and you have a great summer trip.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 01:35 PM
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You guys are the best... I love all of your suggestions and will start my research here. Thanks so much and Happy New Year!!!
michelle25 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 03:11 PM
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Just a thought, have you researched the Region of Piedmonte and the Region of Veneto, michelle. The Region of Veneto is more than the popular cities which are often mentioned. Since you liked Tuscany so much they are two regions that might be of interest to you. As far as the "real Italy", real Italians live all over Italy but some areas certainly have far more tourist then other areas. For example the Region of Molise, the newest and smallest of the regions of Italy have very few tourist, usually those that go there do so as their ancestors are from that area. It it is s/e of Rome and n/e of Naples.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 07:17 PM
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Michelle25, seconding what Jean and Bob (expert on travel in Italy) said. The Lakes area is glorious in June. Loved Sicily too - but may be a bit hot in summer. Truly, in Italy, you can't go wrong.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 08:03 PM
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We were in Tuscany for 2 weeks our first trip,basing in Siena,......second time we based in lovely Sorrento. Very much a different area, but left us with the feeling that we could never say which we liked best! ...both spectacular.
From Sorrento (another good "walking the streets" town), you can take in day trips of Naples, Almalfi Coast, Capri, Vesuvius, Pompeii, Monte Cassini etc.

Of course there is also Venice, Rome, Lake District of the North, ,, and on and on !!!
mari5 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:39 AM
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I'm going to say something rather controversial here (on Fodor's anyway, other places it's less resisted):

The "real Italy" is of course subject to a lot of interpretation, but many places in Italy are now overwhelmingly vacation destinations, to pamper visitors. And while you won't bothered with obligatory museum or church "must-sees", you also won't get much deeper into appreciating Italian culture -- historic or contemporary -- by spending the bulk of your time there.

If you absolutely can't tolerate early summer temperatures, I suggest you that you come at a different time of year. But if you think you risk some hot afternoons, I would suggest that you fly into Rome and head for Orvieto or Chiusi and its surrounding areas, and then into southern Tuscany, finishing up in Florence, and flying home from there. If you like food and wine, plan to spend some of your time on a farm or in a winery with accommodations that serves dinner to its guests. Many of the places are not only lovely in every way (and air conditioned!), they diligently preserve the historic traditions of food and wine production of that part of Italy.

Another very good suggestion given to you was to tour the wine-country hills of the Veneto, including Venice and Verona as part of the itinerary, in case you would like to venture into a part of Italy culturally different from Tuscany.

You actually didn't see very much of Tuscany on your first visit, and if you include places in southern Tuscany like Pitigliano, or nearly unknown towns like Torre Alfina near Orvieto, you will get a chance to get behind the usual vacation spots. The region of Umbria has long been a mecca for art lovers, but increasingly is draws foreign visitors looking for "quaint" towns, spas and shopping, so it is possible to tour that region (even without a car) and skip the cultural sites.

The lakes, Sorrento and other vacation destinations inside Italy are indeed very beautiful and enjoyable. They rank among the prettiest of international vacation spots. But if there is something grabbing you about Italy -- especially its wine -- go to one of the wine areas (the lakes are not that), and it isn't hard from there to sidestep the vacation spots and spend your time with Italians working hard at things other than making vacationers happy.
zeppole is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:43 AM
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PS: I'm surprised to see a few posters here who ordinarily insist that southern Tuscany is really about "the scenery" and not the towns, suddenly touting all that history!

I've heard more than one visiting American compare the basically treeless but vinyard clad hills of much of Tuscan wine country to resemble wine producing areas of northern California. Think it could possibly be the reason why Italians who emigrated to those areas of California settled in them and grew wine? It reminded them of Tuscany too?
zeppole is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 06:12 AM
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We love Tuscany as well and recently spent a week in a farmhouse in Greve. It gave us a whole new perspective on the area. We have been to Florence on each of our 7 trips to Italy and to the Tuscan countryside on 5 of the trips. We always combine the Tuscan area with something entirely different (e.g. Sicily, Venice and the Veneto, Milan and the Lake Country, the Amalfi Coast and Capri) and almost always find a way to spend a few days in Rome.

A suggestion would be to return to Tuscany, perhaps southern Tuscany, for a few days and also choose another region to explore. Since it is summer, how about the lakes? This will allow you to spend a day or two in Florence on your way north. Florence is the one common destination in all of our trips and I don't expect ever to return to Italy without stopping there.

You will find, as you explore Italy, that you want to return to every place you visit! Good luck and have a wonderful trip.
mamcalice is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:50 PM
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I would definitely agree with the Piemonte and the Lakes.
We stayed at a wonderful B&B called Ca San Sebastino. We had a gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment in an old renovated house, with wifi, carera marble fireplace and kitchen sink. The owner sent me a list of things to do from there before we visited.
Here are some ideas where you could go from there.

- Lago Maggiore (Stresa Arona - Verbania) and/or Orta (1 hour drive)
- Monferrato hills tour (it takes the whole day all around the beautiful small villages on the hills around here)
- Asti (beautiful ancient town) and its small romanic churches on the hills around the region
- Torino, its shops, its old royal palaces
- The Serravalle outlet, a village of shops selling the best brands at very special prices and a visit to Gavi
- The Divinum in Ca San Sebastiano, where you can relax in our pools (wine bath steam bath Jacuzzi bath)
- A visit to our cellars with a wine tasting combined with some local cheese and sausages

This is just from this B&B. There are many B&Bs located in the Monteferrato area, Asti and Alba area.
After the Piemonte I would head to Lake Como and Bellagio. It is so beautiful. Then on to Venice and the countryside around the area of Venice, like Asolo. As suggested by others going north to the Dolomites.
andreak is offline  

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