Rustic base ini Tuscany

Jan 23rd, 2014, 09:06 PM
  #1  
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Rustic base ini Tuscany

We are looking for a base for our visit to Tuscany in September (6 nights). While in Tuscany we would particularly like to visit Florence, Siena and Cortona and will have a car (and don't mind day trips of, say, 60 miles or so each way of the trip is beautiful - which I fully expect). So, I'm thinking somewhere outside Siena (we don't want to be in a town) might be one option.

The location is key for us - without getting too cliché, we want to spend peaceful evenings overlooking beautiful Tuscan countryside, eating great food and drinking wine (no, I am not a wine person but for the purposes of this trip I will be!).

I'd say our budget is around $1500 - $1750 for the six nights (although I will weaken if I find something wonderful!).

Thoughts?

Thanks.

Mark
MarkWill is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 06:07 AM
  #2  
 
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Here is a geat choice near Montepulciano.

http://www.villacicolina.it/
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 06:44 AM
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For easy access to Florence and Siena, I prefer basing myself in the Chianti region. Cortona is much further east, nearer the Umbrian border. If I based myself in northern Tuscany, I would not include Cortona in my itinerary because it's too long a drive. Chianti offers too many lovely places to visit and explore without spending so much time in a car.

Tuscany is a very large region, and it offers several gorgeous areas. If you try to cover too much of it, you'll find yourself driving much of the time. You want to be outdoors in Tuscany as often as you can.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 06:57 AM
  #4  
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Thanks for the responses. Stayed up late last night and ended up booking this place: http://www.castellodelleserre.com/. Looks rather lovely and the reviews - if anything - are a little too good to be true

The location seems very convenient too. In the countryside but convenient for Siena and Cortona and Florence also seems well within reach for a day trip.

So, keeping my fingers crossed that we have chosen well.

Thanks again.

Mark
MarkWill is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 07:43 AM
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Serre di Rapolano is in southern Tuscany. There is plenty to see and do in this lovely part of Tuscany. I don't think of this area as being convenient to Florence. One has to actually make the drive to see what the process is like. The Castello delle Serre looks like fun.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 09:27 AM
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In my opinion, Under the Tuscan Sun greatly oversold Cortona. I was, shall we say, underwhelmed by the town. The best thing there was a magnificent Etruscan candelabra in the municipal museum. The Church of Santa Margherita was also worth the steep climb to get there.

There are scores of pretty towns in Tuscany. Cortona probably wouldn't even be in the guidebooks if not for that book.

Don't even consider driving into Florence. Park somewhere and take the train in. In general, the centers of Italian towns and cities are off limits to most traffic, and accidentally straying into a restricted zone will result in a large fine, plus a hefty charge to your credit card to reimburse the rental agency for helping the police to find you. (Google "ZTL".) In Siena, you can park outside the wall and take an elevator up to the town. In smaller towns, follow the signs to parking lots outside the walls, and walk in. Unless you have an EU license, you'll need an IDP (International Drivers Permit) along with your regular license, to drive in Italy.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 10:31 AM
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Too far for a day-trip to Florence, IMO. The drive is 90 minutes at a minimum each way. Parking outside of the Florence ZTL means you spend additional time walking to the historical center, so factor easily 2 hours total at each end of the day. Would you be comfortable driving back that far in the dark?

A few trains stop at Rapolano Terme near the hotel, but the journey from there to Florence takes over 2 hours. The last return would probably be too early for dinner in Florence.

There is fairly frequent train service from Rapolano Terme to Siena (which also has a ZTL). The ride is about 40 minutes, the fare is cheap, but the last return would probably be too early for dinner in Siena. There is bus service between Siena and both Serre di Rapolano and Rapolano Terme. It runs less frequently but later than the train, but you'd have to study the timetables to see if trains, buses or a combo would facilitate a day-trip to Siena.

http://www.trainspa.it/train04/extraurbano.pdf
[start at page 7]

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD
[use Italian spellings of all towns]



The hotel is close to Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore which you shouldn't miss.
Jean is online now  
Jan 24th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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As always, great advice from Jean, who has a fabulous profile photo.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 03:27 PM
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You could drive to Arezzo in about 45 minutes, and there are frequent trains to Florence from there, including some faster IC trains that take little more than half an hour. So the total time, including some spare time for parking the car and finding your track, could be about an hour and a half, which doesn't seem excessive to me.

If you don't mind getting up early, you could get the 7:32 train from Arezzo, and you'd be in Florence a little after 8 AM. The last "fast" train back to Arezzo leaves Florence at 9:42 PM, but there are slower trains up until 11:18.

I would probably just drive to Siena; as I said above, there's parking outside the walls, in spots where you can easily get up to the town by escalator. Some lots have mini-buses to take you into town. There are also some parking garages inside the walls, that are easy to find without risking entering a ZTL. It's altogether easier than driving into Florence.

Of course, since you'll have a car, you're not restricted to having dinner in Florence. If you want to have wine with your dinner, you'd be better advised to dine near your lodging unless one of you will be rather abstemious.
bvlenci is offline  
Jan 24th, 2014, 04:59 PM
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A lot of these choices/considerations depend on how familiar/experienced you are driving and taking trains in Italy, whether you're directionally challenged, comfortable driving back in the dark, want to drink wine at dinner, etc.

FYI, the blood alcohol limits in Italy are very low and the penalties very high and mostly automatic. AFAIK, the parameters of Italian law set forth in this article are still accurate:

http://www.stripes.com/news/italy-ra...or-dui-1.79826
Jean is online now  
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