One night - Siena or San Gimignano

Jul 29th, 2007, 05:23 AM
  #1  
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One night - Siena or San Gimignano

Hi - I am trying to firm up our plans for four nights in Tuscany.

On day one we will fly into Rome and are thinking of staying in Orvieto as we do not want to drive too far after our flight but I would welcome any other recommendations.

Day two we will drive up to Siena and explore there. We are wondering if we should stay in Siena or San Gimignano when we are in that area. We only have one night.

Day 3 and 4 we are staying in Montalcino.

Thank you for any suggestions.
Kennedy429 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 05:39 AM
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Both are great places, an I do not know which to recommend. Siena is larger, and overall there is probably more to see.


SG is much smaller, and can be absolutely packed with tourists. As a result and overnight stay may be the best way to see it, because the hordes would have gone by early evening, and you would be let to explore at your leisure.

To me, Siena is more "real". On entering SG the entire main street seems to be taken up with tourist shops selling wine, salamis etc.
willit is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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Have you considered staying in Montalcino the whole time instead of moving around? You could easily do some nice day trips from there and save yourself the hassle of picking up and moving to another place to stay. San Gimignano is only about an hour and a half from there, so you could head there first, then see Siena in the afternoon.

DH & I based ourselves in Castellina in Chianti and made day trips to San Gimignano, Siena (twice), Pienza, Montelpulciano and Greve. Driving through Tuscany is beautiful and we really enjoyed it!

One other thing to keep in mind if you don't want to base in Montalcino is that you should check out the market days in towns you are considering staying in. When we went to San Gimignano, it happened to be market day and the piazza was extremely crowded. Not the picturesque photo op we were hoping for. Some people may like that, but we would have preferred to see it a bit less busy. If you will only be there one night, this may help influence your decision. Just a thought.

To answer your original question, I would stay in Siena over San Gimignano, but that's just my preference. There's something magical about sitting in the Campo with a glass of wine as the sun is setting.
sherhatfield is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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I had thought about staying in Montalcino, but the hotel we wanted was only available two nights. I had thought that Siena and San G. might be nice at night for dinner, as an alternative.
Kennedy429 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:22 AM
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I would say Siena...we spent 2 weeks there once, but for a day it it lovely also.
Market day in Siena is Wednesday!

San Gimignano is lovely, but as others have said: it is quite crowded in the daytime, one walks into the town from a huge parking lot, and it is smaller than Siena.
Sounds like you would be driving to Siena the 2nd day AFTER a long flight, (which you will possibly jet lagged anyway),and then on to Montalcino the next day for 2 nights.
You would have plenty to do in Siena the second day and night, and it might be wise to skip San G. this time.
Then the two days in Mont.,, and that would be a nice FAST 4 days.!
mari5 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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Hi Kennedy429,
We fly into Rome for 4 night and our next stop is Siena for 4 nights. We are basing there (much as sherhatfield did in Castellina) and taking day trips to Assisi, San Gim. and Montalcino.

We are staying at Hotel Santa Catarina which comes very highly recommended by many websites and quite a few Fodorites as well gt; Happy planning!
lovesroses is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:43 AM
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Lovesroses - how are you getting to Siena? Will you drive from Rome? If so, any idea how long a drive it is?
Kennedy429 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Depending on where you start in Rome and the spped at which you drive, it is between 2h30 and 3h. The bus from Rome Tiburtina station takes 3 hours.
willit is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 07:53 AM
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To add to the last post - I find www.viamichelin.com very useful for such journey calculations as it gives you a map, directions, and the cost in toll charges.
willit is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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Another vote for Siena.

Reversing your plan, we stayed in Orvieto the last night before departure. Perhaps we were just ready to get home after a long trip but we didn't think Orvieto was particularly special. If we were going again, we would try to find some other place.

GBC is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 08:33 AM
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Kennedy429,
Getting from Rome to Siena is the only thing not planned yet. I have researched the trains running from pt. to pt. but it's literally like a "slow boat to China", LOL, they are almost all "R" with multiple stops along the way, for instance, the train leaving Rome @15:14 has 7 stops before destination "Chiusi" where you change trains for another 7 stops to Siena, arriving @18:36...on the otherhand, it could be fun??! Length of journey: 3:22.

The only other option would be the bus.
(We made the decision not to drive until we get to Siena, where we will have a car for 4 days.)

FYI the rest of the trip by train is easy and quick. ES+ from Siena direct to Venice, an ES+ from Venice, (no transfers) with only 3 stops to Florence, and an Express out of Florence back to Rome at the end. Good luck with your decision!
lovesroses is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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lovesroses, You better check again on that ES direct from Siena to Venice; there is no such train.
Zerlina is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 08:59 AM
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loveroses

The fastest way from Rome to Siena is by bus look at the website http://www.sena.it/index_e.htm.

It is also the cheapest with internet fares available for €8 (The advertises €5 "forgets" a €3 "admin charge). The bus leaves from near Rome Tiburtina railway station, and takes around 3 hours non stop.
willit is offline  
Jul 29th, 2007, 09:11 AM
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Hi Zerlina, You are right--I misread my info (originally we were going from Siena to Florence--it was the Express#10 from Siena direct to FI.SMN in 1:10 mins that I was looking at!! (The 08:47 train from Siena to VE SL takes 4:45 with many stops!
lovesroses is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 04:42 PM
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I'm going against the grain here, but we visited both spots and I would pick San Gimignano over Siena. We just liked the dramatic setting of San Gimignano, enjoyed the shops and bustle and found a wonderful restaurant there. If you are already staying somewhere and can cook, the market day is great in any Tuscan town, but if you are coming in and out and staying at a hotel, it might be an inconvenience. Although San Gimignano is more tourist oriented, we did not find that it detracted from our enjoyment.
voyager61 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Another vote for Siena. Have been to both, both are great, but Siena has much more to offer IMO.
artlover is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 08:53 PM
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I have no vote to offer - I've been to both Siena and San G. several times, and enjoy both very much!

The Campo in Siena is great for people-watching; I could sit at our favorite wine bar there for hours, observing. It's fun small city to walk around in.

That being said, we've stayed in San G. on 3 different trips, and Siena only once (though keep visiting during the day). So I guess that says something. One reason is that we love the view from the rooms over the countryside at Hotel Cisterna, and the view while having dinner in their restaurant, or breakfast the next morning, is fabulous. Also, we love Dorando, a restaurant down a hidden alley. In the evenings and in the mornings the town is magical, with some tourists, but not many. Take a walk around the outside of San G.'s walls before breakfast and view the mist rising over the rolling hills. Each time we visit San G., we leave town shortly after the tourists arrive, and return when they're leaving.
Lexma90 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 08:56 PM
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Hi

I came home from Tuscany last Friday and me and my wife stayed at a place near Castellina. We took day trips to both SG and Siena and I enjoyed the trip to Siena. SG was too packed with tourist but they do say that it gets lovely in the evening when all the day tourists have gone. But I would vote for Siena

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 09:23 PM
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Gard, where in Paris is the statue of the big head that and hand? We saw it on your website, you are very organized.
Thank you.
mike_b12 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 09:49 PM
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Hi

It is outside the church of Saint Eustache: http://www.paris.org/Monuments/Eustache/ . But for Paris you should rather look at my updated trip report from last year: http://gardkarlsen.com/Paris_France.htm

Regards
Gard
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