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hobbitthefoodlover May 11th, 2009 04:33 PM

Siena, Assisi, Volterra, or San Gamgino
I have 4 solid days in Florence. The last two days I will spend exploring the museum/city. I want to spend the first 2 days exploring neighboring villages/towns.

Originally I was going to spend one day in Assisi and the second day in Volterra. I will return to Florence each night to sleep. However, Siena and SG have been recommended to me. If you only have two days, how would you spend it? Would you devote one day to one town? Or a combination? If so, how?

rbnwdln May 11th, 2009 04:45 PM

Siena and San Gim are closer. Both are very worth a visit. Wouldn't Assisi be quite a schlep from Florence?

tuscanlifeedit May 11th, 2009 04:59 PM

Siena and San Gimignano will both require the use of the bus. In Tuscany, Siena is only second to Florence in terms of churches, architecture, history and art. It is a larger city than the other three you listed, and I would devote a day to visiting there. Be aware that Siena is very quiet in the middle of the day when many attractions and shops are closed (this will hold true for a lot of places).

If you are doing a day trip to Assisi, I would give it an entire day, too. There are many things to see there. If you are a good walker, don't miss the trip out to the Eremo di San Francesco. It is a beautiful place in the woods, and it is amazing to see the tiny rocky bed where St. Francis slept. Anyway, it certainly ought to take you all day to get there, see what you want, and get back to Florence.

I would head to San Gimignano on one condition: that I was determined to see the amazing frescoes in the Duomo there. It is a charming town, but very full of daytripppers, and not all that easy to get to by public transportation from Florence. You might have to change busses, but I'm not sure. I really haven't done this without a car. Will you have a car? I presume not, because you wouldn't want to drive in and out of Florence multiple times. Or I wouldn't. By the way, the Duomo in SG also has limited hours and is closed through the middle of the day.

Because of midday closings, I don't like daytrips in Italy all that much. Please check all opening and closing times before you make your plan. Assisi seems to have broader hours, due to serving so many pilgrims. I can't speak for Volterra.

I don't see why you shouldn't follow your plan. Florence, Assisi and Volterra are all different from one another, and they were your original choices. Lots of places will be recommended, and as soon as people hear that you are going to Italy, they will want you to go where they have been, even if where they have been was the only place in Italy that they visited.

Mine is a long post, and I felt like writing. Remember that opinions are common, and mine are as common as any others.

Jean May 11th, 2009 05:18 PM

Unless you have a car, Volterra is not convenient as a day trip from Florence. The train journey is a roundabout trek that takes about 3 hours each way. Assisi is only slightly closer at 2.5 hours each way.

hobbitthefoodlover May 11th, 2009 05:23 PM

I don't have a car. I will be relying on trains/buses and hitch-hiking (JK).

Would it be possible to spend one day touring both Volterra and Siena? Or I should focus on one due to the limitation of transportation? Has anyone visited both Siena and Volterra in one day?

I will defintely visit Assisi for day 1. For day is open: either Volterra or Siena? I want to see different view/and be stimulated---which one (Volterra or Siena or even Lucca or SG) is difference from Florence/Assisi?

Thank you!

Thank you!

tuscanlifeedit May 11th, 2009 05:35 PM

Siena and SG can be done in the same day. SG is different from almost every place. It is lovely, as I said, but can be crowded. If you timed it from Siena for a little later in the day, it would be easy to see both places.

Lucca can be simple to visit because there is direct train service. Lucca also is different from most other places you might visit. Flat, circular, huge historic walls that can be walked (or you can ride a bike around them); lots of bicycles; a unique piazza that was once a Roman arena.

WebmasterTV May 12th, 2009 01:42 AM

I'd take in SG in the morning, and then go down to Siena for Lunch (latish around 2pm§) and see the rest of the city in the afternoon (from 330 onwards).

Here's an information page on SG:


ekscrunchy May 12th, 2009 03:00 AM

Here is the official site about San Gim; unlike the site linked above, it is not trying to sell anything!

julia_t May 12th, 2009 09:41 AM

I have been looking into this too as I have one day to spare when in Florence in July.

Somewhere searching here on fodors I found a link to assorted bus timetables and printed them out. I think the main website was

Anyway, I worked out it is possible to do Volterra in a day - depart Florence 08.40 arrive Volterra 10.35 (with a change at Colle Valle Este) This connecting service runs Monday to Friday according to my notes. Return - leave Volterra at 13.15 arrive Florence 15.15 or depart 17.20 arrive Florence 19.15

But Siena and San Gim can both be done in one day. Rather than go through the entire timetables, I will try to summarise - if you got the 8.40 bus from Florence you'd get into Siena at 10.15. Leave Siena on either the 12.40 or 13.40 and get into Poggibonsi at 13.25 or 14.25. Change on to the SG bus at 13.35/14.55 getting into San Gim about 1 1/2 hours later.

The last bus from SG leaves for Florence at 20.35, getting back into Florence at 22.05. So that gives you time for a meal in San Gimigiano.

I hope that makes some sort of sense but I strongly urge you to print out your own timetables and read and check them for yourself because I may have misread - it's one thing for me to get it wrong for myself but I would hate to mis-advise someone else!

I have not investigated train services yet - there is a train to Poggibonsi and that may tie in with the bus service, I will look into it over the next few weeks.

I think I am going to have to go to Volterra as my daughter is keen to see where the filming of the Twilight sequel took place!

willit May 12th, 2009 10:35 AM

I am not convinced there is a train from Poggibonsi to SG as I think Poggibonsi is the closest station to San Gimignano.

Personally, I would give Siena much longer than 2-3 hours, but I am very fond of the city.

Jean May 12th, 2009 11:04 AM

Volterra is worth a visit and seeing the countryside from a bus or train window is nice enough, but even 4 hours of sitting on a bus would be too much for me for a day-trip destination. I'd rather spend time exploring an interesting place that is closer to Florence.

Like Willit, I would need more than 2-3 hours in Siena if it were my first visit to the town. I suggest San Gim in the morning, lunch/afternoon/dinner in Siena and take the last return to Florence (which may be train rather than bus).

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