Need help with Tuscany trip planning

Old Feb 14th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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Need help with Tuscany trip planning

I'm going to Tuscany for 10 days in late October with 6 friends and will be based out of a villa in Luciana--to give you an idea of location, the closest cities are Barga and Borgo a Mozzano (about 15 min away)and Pisa is about 45 min away. We plan on taking day trips and returning to the villa most days, except we may do an overnight stay in Rome. I'm slightly uneasy with driving in Italy, but not sure about trains since the villa is kind of in an out of the way town. Any advice on cars vs. train would be appreciated.

Also, need help with other places to go in Tuscany. I've been to Italy once before, but only went to Florence, Rome and Venice. Besides Rome, Florence, Siena and Pisa, not sure where else to go and what will be fun for a group of 20-something year old girls.


Thanks!
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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Late Oct. in that location will not be easy. That is well north of Lucca and somewhat isolated. It will take 2 hours to Siena, and longer to the hill towns south of there. I am curious how you picked the location. That is in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany known for hunting and hiking, but a long way from the main Tuscan sights. A car will be mandatory.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 07:58 AM
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I was invited on the trip by a friend of mine, and the villa is owned by her mother's co-worker...so I had no idea where it was or anything until recently.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 08:13 AM
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Well, Lucca is fun and you could also see Pisa and Volterra from there, but forget mainline Tuscany. And, late Oct. may be a bit chilly in those hills. Make sure you know how the heat works in the villa. The area is very pretty if you like rugged hills.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Driving is really the only way to see Tuscany, and with a group of 6 people, renting a suv or a minivan is very economical, so I would skip the trains. Driving there is just like driving in the states; don't worry about it. For peace of mind, though, spring for the CDW in case you have a fender bender. But don't try driving in Rome, Siena, or any other large/medium city. Park the car and use public transportation to get around within the city.

Cortona, Chiusi, Montalcino (wine!), Lucca, Orvieto, and Civita di Bagnoregio (these last 2 are in Umbria, not Tuscany, but in easy striking distance) are all great places to visit. Go to a book store and flip through a Tuscany picture book to get more ideas.

Consider staying at a farmhouse (called agriturismos there). They can be a great deal, especially for a group of 6.
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 08:27 PM
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San Giminagno is a magnificent hill town to explore.
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Old Feb 16th, 2005, 05:04 AM
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Except for Lucca, the towns Edward mentioned (while great) are probably just too far for most day trips.
San Gim, Greve, etc. will take about 1 1/2 hours one way. Cortona about 2 1/2. Orvieto, Motalcino, etc. will be more.
I'd suugest time in Lucca, Pisa and Florence.
I really don't believe that Rome can be appreciated in an overnight.
All of these are auto travel times. Trains can take longer (assuming the time traveling to train, waiting,etc.)
Except for Florence ,I'd recommend a car. From where you will be staying, a car will really be best.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:10 AM
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I think you will really enjoy that area. You can also organise wonderful wolking trips through the hills and woods. Do not be scared by hunters. I am born in Siena I go for mushrooms every fall. Renting a van for one week is not a bad idea cause. trains are ok for visiting cities like Firenze or Pistoia. If You need a tuscan driver around Siena and Firenze you can contact me.
Luca
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Old Mar 17th, 2005, 10:27 AM
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Thank you for your responses. We decided we are going to rent a van/SUV for the week we're in Tuscany and then head down to Rome by train on a Thurs, which is the last day we have the villa. This way we can spend Thurs, Fri and Sat there and fly home direct from Rome. Last time I was there I wasn't really a fan, so I'm hoping I'll like it more.

Does anyone have a good hotel recommendation for Rome? When I was there I was a college student and was broke, so I stayed in cheap hostel-type places. This time around I have more money to spend, but don't want to stay anywhere TOO expensive. Mid-range would be good, and close to major attractions.
Thanks!
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Old Mar 27th, 2005, 07:09 AM
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I stayed at Casa Howard on via sistina last time in Rome. www.casahoward.com

Small boutique hotel, themed rooms, clean, more modern than traditional, just near the spanish steps.
 
Old Mar 27th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Look at Nicolas Inn for good value, and Hotel San Carlo.
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Old Mar 28th, 2005, 06:23 AM
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We really liked hotel San Carlo near the Spanish Steps. It does require walking several sets of stairs to get to your room and we were panting--but we didn't mind at all. We would return there. The location was great--and the front desk very helpful and personable.
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