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Montepulciano or Pienza as base city for 2 nights

Montepulciano or Pienza as base city for 2 nights

Oct 8th, 2005, 08:27 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 65
Montepulciano or Pienza as base city for 2 nights

We are in the final week of preparations and thanks to many on this board I have learned a lot. Trip plans so far: 2 nights in Florence, train to Rome for 3 nights. Rent car in Rome, head to Orvieto for 1 night. We will have 4 days to tour Tuscan hill towns. ( We have been to Siena and Lucca on past trips.) Would like to base in or near Montepulciano for 2 nights and then 2 nights unplanned heading for Florence to end trip.
Is Montepulciano or Pienza or even Montalcino the best city to spend 2 nights. I am interested in a "real town," not just a tourist town. Looking for atmosphere as opposed to "Disneyland."
Also, since I will be renting a car in Rome, which rental office affords the best route out of town. I will be staying near the main rail station.

Thanks to all
curveball2 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,281
1. renting a car in Rome:
You didn't say which rental company, but most have offices right at the train station. Since you're staying nearby, you might as well pick up the car there.

2. regarding where to stay in southern Tuscany:
From your other posts, I see you will be there this month (October), so wherever you stay in southern Tuscany, there will be far less tourists than in summer, and any of the three towns you mentioned will be a great place to stay. My own personal preference is Pienza, as it is the smallest of the three, and easy to navigate and get around. I suggest you stay at a B&B or agritourismo outside of town. There are loads of them in this area.

BTW, we'll be there too. Flying on October 13. We'll be staying at Sant' Antonio near Montepulciano. In the past we've stayed at La Traverse, a lovely B&B near Pienza.
sssteve is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 04:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 35
Pienza, it is closer to more things to see. But Montepulciano must be one of them, because it is really beautiful!
casinadirosa is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 496
are you entering and departing italy from florence?

i assume so otherwise the itinerary doesn't make sense...too much backtracking. why not go immediately to rome, rent the vehicle, do tuscany and, then finish in florence?

as for tuscany i would spend two nights in pienza and two in either arezzo or cortona. any of these are good bases for eastern tuscany. while montalcino and montepulciano are important, don't miss some of the charming smaller and less touristed hill towns (like lucignano or sinelunga).

as to rome auto rental, i would suggest picking up the vehicle as close to the ring road around rome as possible. the borghese area has several rental agencies as does the upper via veneto).

whatever, have a great trip!!!
subcon is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 411
Since you have a car, I'd recommend Pienza. It's only about 10 miles past Montepulciano, so you get all of the good logistics of MP without being in the "big city" (big is relative here...). If you were staying longer, I would recommend MP though as it has more necessary infrastructure -- grocery store, wine store, Cafe Poliziano, wine, more restaurants, wine, more ATM's, wine, ... (notice a pattern?)

Any place that you can get to by car from MP you can do from Pienza in an additional 15 minutes. I wouldn't recommend Montalcino unless you want to return to Florence via Siena or Chianti.
tdyls is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,244
I would highly recommend Montepulciano. Spent a week there. We just visited Pienza, and to me it seemed like a very nice little town that rolls up the sidewalks about 8-9pm. Montepulciano has more charm, atmosphere, restaurants, and wine than Pienza.
Budman is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,403
Hi Curveball,

I stayed in Montalcino for 3 nights last month and loved it! I did day trips to Pienza and Montepulciano.

Pienza is very small, clean, realively flat. It also is on every tour group itinerary and has lots of shops geared to tourists -- ceramics, local food items, calendars, jewelery -- all very nice.

Montepulcicano is much larger than the other two. Also heavily touristed, but because it's larger you see locals, Italian tourists on the weekends, and foreign tourists. Lots of nice shopping and a more rounded selection of shops.

Montalcino gets tourists during the day, but is seems not very many stay there. I loved spending my late afternoons and evenings there. The people were especially warm and fiendly. If you want wine - Montalcino is all about the wine. Every other shop is a wine shop selling direct from the wineries.

Montalcino was about a 40 minute drive to Montepulciano and 10 minutes to Sant' Antimo.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 07:55 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 489
Hi. My vote is for Montalcino. Having spent 5 days there last year we also went to Montepulciano & Pienza.

Montalcino is a nice size town to get around but large enough to have a great selection of shops, restaurants and especially enotecas. The Brunello di Montalcino is an outstanding wine.

Pienza was nice but very small - could see everything in a few hours.

Found Montepulciano nice but not as special as Montalcino. There is a lack of good hotels and restaurants - not as charming as Montalcino.

Outside Montalcino be sure to visit the Sant'Antimo Abbey. A beautiful setting and striking abbey.

Cortona is great - spent 3 days there a few years ago and really loved it. However, it is a little out of the way.

Whatever you decide you will love Tuscany. Have a great trip.

Royal is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:03 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,188
I can't compare it to the others, but I just spent three nights in Pienza and loved it. I arrived late afternoon and spent the entire next two days there, as I needed to rest up before hitting Rome. It's small and fairly flat, beautiful views from the south wall, lots of absolutely delicious Pecorino cheese! Plenty of restaurants, although not really any nightlife if that's what you want.
SusanP is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 06:50 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 260
Reading the above posts confirms how different people find the same places. We stayed in Montepulciano for a week and visited the other 2, as well as quite a few other smaller towns. I would definitely choose either Montepulciano or Montalcino. We found Pienza much more crowded with tourists than either of the others, and also with fewer interesting things to see or visit. Also, both Montepulciano and Montalcino have outstanding views from all over town, which for us was a major plus.

No matter what you choose, see all three and reach your own conclusions. They are in a beautiful area.
jd_dallas is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,188
As jd_dallas points out, everyone sees things differently. In late Sept, I didn't find Pienza crowded at all.

And as far as seeing everything in Pienza in a couple of hours, here are a few things to do in Pienza (which I don't think can all be done in a couple of hours), in addition to just relaxing and enjoying the views of Tuscany from the south wall:

The Cathedral in Pius II Square.
Piccolomini Palace (the Pope's House--Pius II, who designed the city).
Borgia Palace, which includes the Diocesan Museum.
Church of San Francesco, one of the oldest Franciscan buildings in Italy, with an amazing Nativity Scene.

Outside town:
The Hermitage, or Pieve di Corsignano, some parts of which date back to the 11th Century.

Have fun choosing where to stay!
SusanP is offline  

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