Please help with Tuscany itinerary!

Dec 28th, 2000, 12:05 AM
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Please help with Tuscany itinerary!

We'll be going to Tuscany for 10 days in April and have the choice of flying into Pisa or Florence. What do you recommend? Do you think it would be best to see Florence first or last? (Relaxing countryside is important on this trip!) From what I've read here, I think we'll want to see Florence for at least 2 days and then drive around to see the Chianti region, Siena, Cortona, Assisi, and possibly other small hill towns. It's our 10th anniversary & first time to Europe. ANY advice you offer on the itinerary or accomodations would be appreciated! Thank You and Happy New Year! Bob the Navigator, I hope you're out there!
Dec 28th, 2000, 12:28 AM
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Carin, we are travelling to Italy in June 2001 and are staying for 1 month.
From past experience, try and settle on a few places and enjoy them.
Florence might be nice at the end of your 10 days. Fly into Florence, pick up your car and do your sight seeing of Tuscany.You could base yourself in/near Cortona. You must read "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayer (sic), reading her books certainly gave us the push to visit Italy. Return to Florence and enjoy your 2 days without the car. Remember that a lot of museums etc are closed on Mondays.
Good idea to try and book your accommodation now.
Kim (Australia)
Dec 28th, 2000, 02:41 AM
Mike Miller
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The only problem with picking a car up in Florence is driving it out of Florence - a stressful experience for those of us who don't know our way around the city. If you do this, make sure you have a good navigator at your side. We're flying into Pisa next fall and we are renting our car there. Also Pisa is just a short distance from Lucca, a town you should definitely include in your travel plans.
Dec 28th, 2000, 06:26 AM
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Carin - Don't even think about driving in Florence - it is horrendous (and we lived in SoCal for 30+ years!)

Go to and request a map of Chianti - it is free and wonderful(Thanks, Elaine). You may want to consider a villa or agritourisimo if the countryside is important. Many people on this forum have done that. You may want to search for "Tuscany Villa" under Italy. You could have a home base in Chianti, drive to a bus stop outside Florence, take the bus to the center and then it is a walking town. If Paulo is out there, he could tell you about parking the car and a bus, I'm sure.

We stayed in Castellina in Chianti and liked it. The roads are great, signage is really good so getting around in rural Tuscany is easy and fun.

I would recommend doing Florence early in your trip and then winding down. You will be saturated in Florence. If you give a little more of your interests:art, museums, wineries, food, etc., the Fodorites can contribute even more.

I would also recommend "Under the Tuscan Sun" which is set outside Cortona. I would also recommend Orvieto as a wonderful, little hill town.

If you want specifics, e-mail me directly.
Dec 28th, 2000, 06:34 AM
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I would also recommend that I proof read my copy more carefully!
Dec 28th, 2000, 08:23 AM
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Carin, I typed a long response to you but was not able to post---bummer.
I have some ideas for you. Why not just call me---I am too lazy to retype
the whole thing, and there are lots of
trade-offs you need to consider. I will
be home most of today 904-277-4036--be sure not to tell anybody. Domani I go in
for my first ever colonostopy--ugghh!
Catch me while I am still full of it.
Dec 28th, 2000, 08:35 AM
Bruce B
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Fly into Florence first - there's a lot more infrastructure. See the museums, climb the Duomo, eat at great restaurants, shop (great leather bargains!), and then wind down with a trip to the country. Plus - you can visit Pisa by train (easy trip - 4 dollar ticket and less than an hour away.)

Florence is nuts to drive in - it has narrow streets, restricted vehicle limitations (numbers of cars, buses, etc)and I can't IMAGINE what it would be like with UNRESTRICTED traffic! Anyway - there is no place to park in Florence.

Take a cab in from the airport, a bus or train out of town, and maybe, just MAYBE rent a car outside of Florence and drive around the countryside. Why not just try a local guided tour outside of Florence - or rent a car with a driver and save the hassle of driving at all. Once you have an encounter with one of those big speeding tour buses on a winding country road you'll think about waling anyway!

Make sure you see Siena and San Gimiango (SP?) Also - there are lots of Chianti vinyards to visit.

Bruce B.
Dec 28th, 2000, 09:28 AM
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The Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello, Cappelle Mediceee and Palazzo Pitti are closed on Mondays and are open during a shorter period on Sundays. Also, the number of religious services in churches is increased on Sundays with respect to other days in week and a few religious museums are closed (like the Opera del Duomo).

Having only 2 days in town, I would therefore avoid making either Sunday or Monday a full day there. Chances are that this will determine if your visit to Florence will be first or last in your trip.

Everything else being equal, I'd prefer to visit Florence first and then rent the car. This way you save yourself the airport surtax on car rentals. Also, when just about everybody says it's a nightmare driving in Florence, this is only partly true. Driving INTO Florence and finding a hotel in the old town is indeed a no no for most. Now, driving OUT is (believe me) a piece of cake: a) because the people in the rental office will direct you; b) you have signs all over the place directing you out of town in the direction you've chosen (e.g., to A1 north, or A1 south, to Siena, etc). In this case, it would be more convenient to fly into Florence instead of Pisa. It would be almost immaterial from where you'd fly out ...

If the Monday/Sunday restraint puts you into Florence at the end of your trip, I would probably prefer to fly into Pisa (planning to save on the airport rental surtax, I would plan to have my car delivered downtown ... a very short taxi ride). You don't say if you may fly out from Florence in this case, but even if you don't, it's not a such big deal once (unless your flight is very early) there are direct trains from Florence to Pisa's airport (approx. 1:30hs, 1st train out at 6:52am)

Finally, if you come up with a plan that calls for driving/busing INTO Florence, Carin, just "cry out" when you have the details and I'll try to "ease" the nightmare


Dec 28th, 2000, 06:04 PM
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Thank you so much, everybody! I'll print this out to show to my husband and hopefully interest him in th planning!

As for the things we do want to see - well, I was an Italian major at UCLA, but I was the only one in the entire department that never went to Italy! (Too chicken (immature!) to travel abroad then - how stupid is that?!) We are both huge Room With a View fans, Larry loves wine, and I want to see & try all the things I learned about in college - art, architecture, and food. We love the countryside. BUT trying to plan a trip with my husband is like dragging around a bowling ball and trying to get it interested in juggling.
I plan to reread the Commedia and the Mayes books. Thanks again for your advice!!
I'll call you in a few days, Bob. Hope all goes well with you!
Dec 28th, 2000, 06:07 PM
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I forgot to mention that we both love beautiful views, picnics, & history - are there any historical sites of interest in Italy? (ha,ha!)

What do you think of staying in Fiesole?
Dec 28th, 2000, 06:14 PM
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For Bob the Nav

Oh Bob, hope everything comes out all right Hurry back to the board.
Dec 28th, 2000, 06:28 PM
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I add my good wishes and hope all goes well. WE NEED YOU! TERRY
Dec 28th, 2000, 08:38 PM
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Carin - ALL of Tuscany is beautiful views and history. Visit as many of the hill towns as you can in both Tuscany and Umbria, but take the time to savor the beauty and history, and the warm and wonderful people (as well as the gelato)! And if you plan to drive into or out of Florence, get a very good map.

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