Rome/Florence/Tuscany Itinerary

Apr 15th, 2019, 01:00 PM
  #1  
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Rome/Florence/Tuscany Itinerary

I have created an itinerary for our upcoming trip and would love suggestions, additions, comments, etc.

Day 1 - Depart SFO and arrive FCO the next afternoon. Check into hotel Delsi Suites Pantheon.
Day 2 - Tour of Coloseum, Forum and Palatine Hill. Dinner at Passeto.
Day 3 - Tour of Vatican. Dinner at Vecchia Locanda.
Day 4 - Train to Florence. Check into Hotel Silla. Dinner at La Buchetta.
Day 5 - Tour of Uffizi Gallery. Dinner at Baccadarno.
Day 6 - Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset.
Day 7 - Taxi to Hertz rental car at airport. Drive to San Gimigiano. Check into Hotel Leon Bianco. Dinner La Mandragola.
Day 8 - Drive through Chianti (Casttellina, Radda, Volpaia, Panzana) to Pienza. Check into Agriturismo Fonte Bertusi for 7 nights.
Day 9 - Day trip to Montalcino and countryside back to Pienza.
Day 10 - Sienna day trip.
Day 11 - Montepulciano to Arrezo day trip.
Day 12 - Cortona day trip.
Day 13 - Explore Pienza and San Quirico.
Day 14 - Monticchiello.
Day 15 - Check out of agriturismo. Drive to Orvieto. Spend a couple of hours visiting shops and having lunch. Drive to FCO, return car, and check into Hilton.
Day 16 - Early morning flight back to SFO.

We have purposely not planned a lot for either Rome or Florence because we aren't "check off the boxes" types of travelers. We really enjoy wandering around and stopping when we feel like it. Any thoughts, suggestions? Thank you!
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 01:10 PM
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You have it planned down to the minute, it seems. I'm not sure what kind of suggestions you want.
bvlenci is online now  
Apr 15th, 2019, 01:46 PM
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I hope you're willing to be a little spontaneous...

I would probably drive through Chianti on the way from Hertz to San Gimignano, and stay in SG for two nights because I hate one-night stays. And I'd probably stop in Siena on the way from SG to Pienza. Your version of Day 8 doesn't give you much time in any of the several Chianti towns and little to no time for spontaneous stops or unplanned lingering.

Day 11 wouldn't work for me. I would pick one town or the other.

If you're using the driving estimates from Google Maps, you need to add more time because Google is almost always too optimistic. Also, Google doesn't take into account the time you need to find parking and walk into and out of the towns.
Jean is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 01:47 PM
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I'm looking for suggestions for perhaps other things to see and do. I do not have it planned down to the minute as you insinuate. For example, a tour of the Vatican in the early morning lasts a couple of hours. After that there is nothing planned until dinner. It seems you and I have a different idea of "down to the minute".
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 02:17 PM
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I hope you're willing to be a little spontaneous...

Thank you, Jean, yes we are definitely willing to be spontaneous and this is just an itinerary so we at least have some idea of what we'll be doing. I agree about San Gimiginano deserving two days but the agriturismo is booked and so are the flights and hotels. I wasn't initially planning on going there at all but my friend really wants to see it, especially at night after the tour buses are gone. The plan on driving from there through Chianti is just so we get a small taste for Chianti. We can't check into our agriturismo until after 4:00 so we have a little time. Alternately, we have discussed leaving San Gimiginano later if we are enjoying it and then driving straight through to Pienza.

Day 11 is mainly for visiting Arezza so if we have to do Montepulciano another day, that's no problem. None of this is set in stone except for what is reserved.
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AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 02:41 PM
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Book that train Rome to Florence ASAP - usually 3 months in advance or more I think yourselves at www.trenitalia.com or www.italotreno.com - two competing railways using same tracks and stations - take whichever is cheaper. www.seat61.com has awesome directions for booking discounted or full fare tickets - other sites for general info: www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.raileurope.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 03:19 PM
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Thanks PalenQ, that was very helpful. I have booked!
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 11:04 AM
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HI
I have been to Florence and Rome
I can only tell you that I did the Vatican museums basilica and St Peters starting 0800 am and ended by 1p, with the best guide tour ever. so you will have all afternoon free.
Day 5 also plenty time to wander around...I went to Palazzo Vecchio as the queue for Uffizi was too long like 3 blocks..I envy you as I did not do Chianti.
I was in Sienna for some hours..then continued to St Geminiano...stop there lovely medieval town.. u can spend a whole day in Sienna. Outside the walled town, there is a food fair surrounding it.
doloresmercado is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 12:28 PM
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Florence's Central Market of prepared foods and vegs is interesting to look around and have a cheap lunch of downhome Ialian foods in the restaurant stalls with just a few seats. Good place for picnic stuff too.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/mercato-cen...enze-firenze-2

https://www.google.com/search?q=flor...ih=625&dpr=1.5

At the Mercato Nuovo, an ancient market built by Cosmo de Medici that now sells leather good and tourist souvenirs, has one Florence's most famous statues - that of a bronze boar in a tiny fountain that folks throw coins into its jaws - if the coins stay in the jaw you have good luck but if they bounce out of jaw or miss mark it's bad news (see link below) -has become extremely popular and right in historic centre not far from Ponte Vecchio don't miss this delight.

The porcellino of Florence, the luckiest Florence attraction
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 01:14 PM
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The "food fair" that was mentioned in Siena was market day, Wednesday. Yes, there are some stands and trucks outside of the city walls early on Wednesday. Inside the city, most of the market stalls consist of what we go to Target for. Parking on market day can be difficult.

Lunch in Orvieto: most shops will be closed in the afternoon. Same with Siena and lots of other towns. Town hopping in Tuscany and Umbria is not a favorite thing for me to do, because of afternoon closings. I usually try to plan to visit something open or to take in outdoor sights for natural beauty spots.

Are you looking for other things to do in the places you are visiting, or are you wanting to add towns?

I love Arezzo for the Piero delle Francesca works, and the monthly flea market. Evening Passeggiata on the main shopping street is very pleasant. Same with Orvieto.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 04:19 PM
  #11  
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Thank you Dolores, Palen and Tuscan, this is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm not looking to add any more towns as I think I have more than enough now. Love the tips and opinions. Things like what you loved about a place really helps. As does knowing about the market in Siena and avoiding Wednesdays. And the market in Florence and knowing we'll love our Vatican tour. Thank you all!
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 04:48 PM
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If you are interested in art and history, there's enough to see and do in Arezzo to fill a day (or more), including the Piero della Francesca frescoes mentioned by tuscan and the Cimabue crucifix in San Domenico. Check closing hours. There are a few small museums in Arezzo too: Casa di Vasari, the Laic Museum... others.
Leely2 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2019, 07:30 AM
  #13  
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Thank you Leely, I will check it out. Arezzo sounds great.
AustinTraveler is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 02:31 AM
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Rome (Sermoneta and Sabaudia)

HI, I suggest you to visit Lepini area, near Rome. Sermoneta and its Castle, Ninfa's Garden, Terracina (Jupiter's Temple), Sabaudia's Beach, San Felice Circeo (Circe witch and Ulysses legend), beautiful Ponza Island. Wonderful food, especially mozzarella cheese and wine. This area is less known, but it deserves a trip.
Fla333 is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 09:03 AM
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Thank you for the suggestion, Fla333, but we have just returned from our wonderful trip. Since this thread has been brought back up, I thought I would let you all know what we ended up doing:

1. Our flight was a long one from SFO with a layover in AMS. Sacha at Delsi Suites arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport, which was a welcome relief after such a long day. Cost for the four of us was 50 euros. Delsi Suites was perfect for us but may not be for everyone. Sacha met us upon arrival and was available via text if we needed her. Otherwise, we had the place to ourselves and just locked up when we left. There are only three rooms and we had two of them. Delsi is located on one of the side streets off the Pantheon, but not one of the main touristy ones with all the shops. We loved the location.

We walked across the street to Bistro Rienzo for a glass of wine and some appetizers. We were greeted by our waiter, Luigi, who brought us free appetizers while we were deciding what to eat. I noticed that just about everyone in the place was (or seemed to be) a local. Not world-class food or anything but we really enjoyed the personalized service. Our group had pizza, ravioli, and carbonara. None of us wanted dessert but Luigi brought out homemade ricotta for us to taste. OMG! Luigi also recommended a Negroamaro wine from Puglia, which we all really loved.
Note that there is also a Ristorante Rienzo on the Pantheon plaza (same owners). We did not go there. The Pantheon is an absolute zoo during the day so it was nice to have our little bistro...so close yet away from the action. Bistrot Tabaccheria Di Rienzo al Pantheon - Bistrot Tabaccheria Di Rienzo al Pantheon

2. We really enjoyed our tour of the Coloseum, Forum and Palatine Hill. The Forum was definitely my favorite. Dinner at Passetto was the highlight dinner of our trip. It came recommended by fellow Fodorite, StuDudley and was a short walk from the hotel. The manager, Luciano Lombardi, came over to our table to ask us where we were from. He invited us down to the wine cellar and gave us a tour. There was no pressure to purchase wine and the tour was really interesting. Ordered our dinner and everything was beyond fabulous. The artichoke done 4-ways appetizer is a must! My husband and I split a carbonara, and our friends had whole fish and truffle pasta. Luciano also gave us some recommendations for our upcoming visit to Montalcino as he worked there for three years.

3. Had to get up early and take a taxi for our Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel tour. Although you can buy early admission tickets, the tour was really nice as you were given a lot of information and history while waiting for the museum to open. After that you are guided through the halls until you get to the Sistine Chapel. There the tour ends and you are on your own for as long as you like. The highlight for me was seeing Michelangelo's masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel.

Strolled back to the hotel taking in the river and the sights along the way. Did some exploring around the Pantheon and found an amazing shop selling salumis and other goodies. It's called L'Antica Salumeria. We got two different salumis and ended up enjoying them for our happy hours in Florence and beyond.

Dinner that night was again at Rienzo. We were exhausted from our early morning so just made it easy on ourselves.

4. Off to Florence. We pre-purchased train tickets on Italio, which means you don't need to do anything once you're at the train station except show your ticket just before boarding. Took a taxi to the station and had time for a coffee (and glass of wine for me) before we left. Arrived in Florence after an easy 1.5 hour ride and took a taxi to Hotel Silla. This hotel is on the other side of the Arno River but it was only a 10 minute walk to the city center. I'm so glad we chose to stay here instead of in the center with the masses. The hotel is very comfortable and has a great outdoor patio where we enjoyed happy hour. They sell alcohol but we always brought our own wine and snacks. Everyone at the hotel is very accommodating.

Just around the corner from the hotel is the Niccolo District. There are restaurants and a few shops. The main attraction for us was there were not hoards of tourists. Our first stop was wine time at Enoteca Bevo Vino. Very relaxed, casual place with free appetizers. Dinner that night was about 20 steps away at Boccadarno. We had planned to go somewhere else but decided to stick to our newfound favorite neighborhood. Dinner and service was very good.

5. Breakfast at Hotel Silla was very, very good, and included in the price of the room. Our friends wanted to do some shopping so my DH and I walked up to Piazza Michelangelo, explored several churches, and then walked all over the place in a basically residential area. Walked past Galileo's House by accident, and then ended up back by the river (and the crowds). Ended up walking over six miles that day and it was perfect. Stopped at a great supermarket (Sapori & Dintorni) and bought some cheese and crackers and other goodies for happy hour.

At 3:00 we met up with our guide for a tour of the Uffizi. This is probably something I would have skipped but it ended up being interesting. It was way too long though (3-3.5 hours) so we left the tour early. Headed back to our Hotel Silla patio and had happy hour with our cheeses, salumis, and of course, wine.

Earlier that day I stopped in at lunchtime at another Niccolo District restaurant we had seen the previous evening. It's called Zeb. It's run by a mother/son duo and from the reviews I read and the attitude I got asking for a reservation, the son, Alberto, has a well-deserved reputation as a snob. I didn't even let that bother me because the place smelled amazing. He checked his book long and hard and then decided we could show up at 7:00 that evening. He ended up being delightful in a snobby way.

Seating is bar-style and Alberto asks each person certain questions to determine which wine they prefer. I must admit that he was spot on with each selection. He then holds up a board containing the evening's selections. He only explains the beginning course first so of course we all ordered one. They were all raviolis but different fillings. They were all absolutely fantastic; however, we were all stuffed after that. I think it would be better if you could choose from the whole board so you can sample different dishes. My husband and I like to share so we can experience more without getting so stuffed.

After that it was back to Bevo Vino for more wine. We hung out here for a couple of hours playing some games and just enjoying our wonderful Florence neighborhood.

6. Decided to use today to just walk around and see the Duomo and the central area. Tons of tourists, of course, but we enjoyed just wandering around. Did not stand in any lines to see anything and still feel we didn't miss anything. Just being there was a treat in itself. Stopped again at the beautiful grocery store and had happy hour once again on our patio.

Dinner that night was pizza and salads in our Niccolo neighborhood at Bastionidi. Really good pizza.

7. Another great breakfast at the hotel before checking out and taking a taxi to Hertz. We changed our plans for picking up the car at the airport and opted for the city pickup instead. I'm glad we did as we had no problem navigating our way out of the city toward San Gimignano. Smart phones are the best! Made a pit stop in Poggolino at the supermarket for supplies and then arrived in San Gimignano. Our hotel, Leon Bianco, sent us directions on how to navigate into the city center so we could drop off our luggage. We got a little lost finding the entrance but before long we were on our way. I'm amazed at how easily the locals traverse through these tiny streets and archways! Unloaded our luggage and friends and then parked the car in one of the lots outside the walls. It was an easy walk back to the hotel.

I wasn't sure what I would think of San Gimignano as I knew it was a tour bus kind of place. But, by late afternoon the place had cleared out and we discovered what a gem of a village this is. I'm usually not one to like tourist shops but San Gimignano actually has some nice, quality things. It's a very small place so one night for us was just right.

We didn't have any plans for dinner but we discovered Ristorante Peruca on one of the streets off the main area. So glad we did as the food was very good and it seemed to be off the beaten tourist track. I absolutely loved all the alleyways in this village. What a cool place to explore. It was also a chilly, windy day so the warmth inside Peruca was very inviting.

8. Breakfast at the hotel was 7 euros and worth every penny. This hotel was such a great value and the perfect location in the village. They shuttled us to our car the next morning (free) after we did a little shopping. Navigated our way to our Agriturismo Fonte Bertusi near Pienza and were met by our wonderful hostess, Manuela. We arrived an hour before check-in but it was no problem at all. The place is very pastoral with amazing views in every direction. It's very comfortable and rustic and I enjoyed every second of my stay there.

Settled into our apartments and then gathered for happy hour. There is a nice library/community building at Fonte Bertusi that you can use. We had happy hour there and talked and listened to music. We had no dinner plans but chose Ristorante Dal Falco in Pienza. It was very busy and came recommended but none of us thought it was great. But, we're in Tuscany so all is good!

9. First breakfast at the farm and we are all seriously impressed. How I miss Andrea (Manuela's husband) making me decaf Cappuccinos every morning. The food was delicious and varied every morning. We headed out toward Montalcino to do some wine tasting at Enoteca la Fortezza with Sergi, the friend of the manager at Passetto. Really enjoyed tasting the amazing Brunellos!! Montalcino is basically all about wine tasting. Not much else to do there, but that was fine with us.

Afterwards we took a circular route back to Pienza with a stop at Abbey Sant'Antimo. This countryside drive was just spectacular and we took tons of pictures of poppy fields and Italian cypress lined hilltops. Decided on a simple pizza dinner at La Mensa del Conte, just outside the city center. Really good pizza and they gave you sharp scissors to cut it. After that it was off to the Coop (a grocery store found in just about every town) for supplies and of course, more wine in the library before heading to bed.

10. Decided to go to Montepulciano today but had to make a pit stop to get our tire fixed. Took a few tries before we finally found a place but 20 euros later the screw was gone and our tire patched. Parked the car and walked into town. We really liked Montepulciano as a day trip. We stopped at a wine bar called PerBacco and had a beautiful platter of meats and cheeses, and of course, Nobile wine. Did a little shopping and then headed back to Bertusi. Had snacks and wine for dinner.

11. Today we explored nearby San Quirico, which is a delightful town, much less touristy than some of the others. Found a beautiful fruit and vegetable stand by the Coop. We found the price of just about everything to be very reasonable in Tuscany. Decided to take an alternate route toward Monticchiello so we could check out Podere il Casale, an organic farm that offers cooking classes, tours, etc. and has a restaurant. We were greeted by a loud peacock and some beautiful views. We ended up making a reservation for dinner that night.

Kept going down the road and ended up in Monticchiello. Very cute little village for just wandering around and soaking in the beautiful views. There are not a lot of places to eat or shop (good thing, right?) so we had a light lunch and wine at La Porta. My bruschetta was outstanding. Prices were higher than other place we had visited, but we didn't care. We did check out a restaurant in town called Ristorante Daria that came highly recommended by another couple staying at Bertusi. We didn't end up eating there but we will next time for sure. It looked great and the reviews are excellent.

Dinner that night at Casale was excellent. Everything was fresh farm to table. Gorgeous Tuscan sunset.

12. Took a drive toward Buoconvento and stopped at the beautiful Abbazia di Monte Oliverto Maggiore. Kept driving and enjoying the countryside until we got back to Pienza. Parked and walked into the city center. Stopped for a light lunch and wine time at Bar Il Casello. Beautiful place to sit outside and enjoy the views of Val d'Orcia. Explored Pienza before heading back to our apartments. Dinner that night was at the Agriturismo next door, La Fonte. Dinner was very good and the two-minute drive home was easy!

13. Light rain today but nothing to be bummed about because we are still in Tuscany! I did a little Googling at breakfast and found a nearby winery that looked interesting. It was on the same road we had gone down on day 11 so I figured that was a good sign. I asked Manuela to call them and she said Andrea was a good friend so he called. We were told to stop by and see Marco anytime. The name of the winery is Capitoni. The place did not disappoint! Marco was a delight and the three wines he and his family make are delicious. We each bought two bottles to take with us and had a case shipped home, which I can't wait to receive.

Happy hour in the library and then homemade pasta and salad for dinner. Why does everything taste better here?

14. Last day at Bertusi and it's a cloudy, drizzly Sunday. Went to Montalcino to pick up a gift for a friend and then just laid low the rest of the day preparing for our departure. Dinner was the rest of our pasta dinner.

15. Goodbye Fonte Bertusi and our warm and wonderful hosts, the delicious breakfasts, my cat friends, and the amazing light and sunsets. Took an alternate route to the airport in Rome stopping at Civitavecchia for lunch. We just picked the city out of the blue and were surprised to see that it is a busy cruise port. Had a very good lunch at Il Delfino before heading off to the airport.

Dropped the luggage and us girls at the very comfortable Hilton and then the guys took the car back to Hertz. It was an easy walk for them back to the hotel. Room service of pizza and caesar salad was actually quite good. Walked to the airport the next morning at the awful hour of 4:30 for our flight home. The walk from the hotel to the terminal takes about 10 minutes. Getting to the gate at FCO took a lot longer and included a bus ride. Lots of construction going on.

As you can see, we didn't do everything according to "plan". I make a tentative plan but never feel like I have to stick to it or tick off all the boxes. That's not my kind of vacation. We absolutely LOVED Italy and would go back in a heartbeat. I just wish there was an easier and shorter way to get there!

If you're still reading, thank you. I hope this wasn't too long and I hope it helps others.
AustinTraveler is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 04:07 PM
  #16  
 
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I think your plan sounds great. We spent two weeks in Val D'Orcia on two different occasions and explored a lot of the area. It is a great area to drive around and you can cover quite a bit of area as it is not very crowded. We loved exploring the smaller hill towns. The day you have slated for Montichiello you can do some other towns too. Montichiello is quite small. The restaurant La Porta is there and a great place for dinner and to watch the sunset. Bagno Vignoni and Radicofani are both close to there and are well worth the trip. Radicofani has an old castle on the top that you can walk up to. You could easily do all three in one day. Podere Casale is also right near Montichiello. We didn't love the restaurant too much but the patio if GORGEOUS!!! Go for wine and cheese before going to dinner in Montichiello. Or have lunch there. You can't find a better view.

We also went to Cetona one day. It is not crowded with tourists and is quite fascinating. We took a dirt road after leaving Montichiello towards Cetona. We found this place called Monteverdi totally by accident (https://monteverdituscany.com/) It is a small town that has been pretty much taken over by a very high end hotel. It is so beautiful. We walked around and had tea at their restaurant. Would love to stay there but would have to win the lottery first. Great place to visit though and the views...!!! We then went to Cetona walked around and had a great lunch.

In San Quirico we loved Trattoria Toscana Al Vecchio Forno. In Pienza (well it is outside of the main town) we loved La Fonte.

On your way to Cortona do a wine/paired lunch at Avignonesi. https://avignonesi.it/en/hospitality It is expensive but it is hands down one of the best experiences we had in Italy. You eat on a lovely patio overlooking the vineyard. It is just lovely. Cortona is not far from there.

There are so many fun, small towns to visit in that area. You won't be bored or lack for places to go. La Foce has beautiful gardens but are only open certain days. Lots of fun restaurants, great food wonderful wine, what more could you ask for?
Sberg is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 04:11 PM
  #17  
 
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Just saw your post that you just got back. Glad you had a great trip. I am a planner too but always go with the flow when I get there, as you did. Now you know why we all love Val D'Orcia so much!!!
Sberg is offline  
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