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Siena or Florence

Old May 21st, 2002, 10:37 AM
Siena or Florence
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Siena or Florence

We are spending 7 days in Tuscany and would like to stay in one hotel and tour the region. Of course, we will want to see Florence and its art but also want to experience small villages and towns in Tuscany. I have been told Siena is too small for a 7 day stay. I also have been to Florence a long time ago, for 2 days and rememeber Florence as being nosey with lots of traffic. What is your advise.
Old May 21st, 2002, 11:28 AM
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I'd pick Siena over Florence. It's more central in Tuscany, so you can go up to Florence, down to Montalcino, Pienza, Grosseto, etc. Since's it's smaller there's less cars zipping around. Nights are more peaceful, and Il Campo is a wonderful square to hang out in. I think a week in Siena is only too much if you never leave it, but if you do day trips then it's a great base. Personally, I'd do 4-5 nights in Siena and then 2-3 in an even smaller Tuscan town, but if you only want one place to stay Siena's a good pick.
Old May 21st, 2002, 11:40 AM
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Siena is a CITY! (mid sized), and I think probably more pleasant than Florence. ....and there is plenty to do for 7 days (with some day trips to surrounding towns) We spent 2 weeks in Siena last last year with an Elderhostel group, and were busy every minute. Of course we had some lectures, several bus day trips, walking trips of the city etc. My husband and I usually rent a car and
just drive around when in Europe, moving on to a different town almost every this was a change for us. We have friends who rented a little apartment in the small hill town of Monticino (south of Siena)for a week and loved it....driving on day trips to surrounding areas. Siena is a city, but a great "walking" city and is without the noise and traffic of Florence.......AND Siena is VERY historical, artistic, and beautiful.
Old May 21st, 2002, 11:53 AM
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It's somewhat difficult for me to compare them since I was in Florence fifteen years ago and Siena just last month. Wbat I remember about Florence from my visit was exactly what you mentioned as a concern, lots of traffic and noise. Now perhaps that's changed somewhat for the better; I don't know.

Given that, I can tell you that we LOVED our stay, for five nights, in Siena. I enjoyed it far more than my two or three night stay in Florence fifteen years ago. And, even if Florence has become somewhat quieter, Siena still *has* to be much quieter, overall, than Florence. For one thing, while some cars are allowed into the historical center of Siena, there aren't many. It's a real pleasure to walk around in a city where cars don't rule.

I can't remember much about Florence's Piazza del Duomo, but Siena's Il Campo is, as GGinSF said, a wonderful square to hang out in (and, in the evening, it has the most gorgeous deep blue sky you could ever imagine.)

Our five nights in Siena flew by, so I don't think you'd be bored there, especially if you're going to use it as base for touring the surrounding area, as we did (we only spent one full day in Siena itself.)

The *only* thing we did not like about Siena was the very confusing signs to the various portes (old city gates) but, once we got the hang of it, we were fine.

As GGinSF also noted, Siena has a nice central location. You can easily head south to the Montalcino/Pienza/Montelpulciano area (classic Tuscany scenes, with stone farmhouses and rows of cypress trees), east to Cortona & Arezzo, west to San G. and Volterra (not as many cypress trees, but very lush green hillsides), and north to Chianti (the most wooded of all the areas we drove in.)

Good luck!
Old May 21st, 2002, 04:19 PM
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Both cities are must sees...having said that, here are my impressions.

Florence is a beautiful city with unbelievable art around every corner. We loved the museums, churches, art, shopping, dining, etc. and will go back again to see what we missed. There is just too much to see and do in 3 days. However, we hated the noise and traffic. It was unbearable at times. In fact, we left one day early.

We then rented a car and drove through was so peaceful and serene. We drove all through Chianti country and wound up spending a night in Siena and loved it. Much quieter and quainter but still lovely with a magnificant cathedral and campo.

I would split the time between Tuscany and Florence. Read up on what your "must sees" are and then schedule your time accordingly.
Old May 22nd, 2002, 07:49 AM
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We spent ten days in Siena in an apartment about a 20 minute walk from the old city (also a regular bus to town, and we had a car if we planned to be out late)La Meridiane. Siena is a delightful place to stay. I would spend two nights in Florence and then rent a car and go to Siena and take day trips. It's an easy drive from Siena, but having a car in Florence is not a pleasure.
Old May 23rd, 2002, 06:07 AM
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Old May 23rd, 2002, 08:37 AM
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Florence is a magnificent place, and despite the crowds and noise it's one of my favorite cities. It would take the best part of a lifetime to explore all of it's treasures and get to know it well. And I imagine that Florence was a crowded, noisy, exuberant place in the 1400s as well. I spent 3 nights in Florence last October (my 3rd visit) and 1 night in Siena (1st visit). It seemed like a good division of time.
Old May 23rd, 2002, 03:29 PM
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Thank you all for your advice and thoughts on Siena or Florence. Right now I am booked in Florence with a another couple that we have know for 45 years and they have received advise to stay in Florence (from other New Yorkers). Not sure I can change their minds. They have never been to either city. Don't want to break up a long friendship over towns.
Old May 23rd, 2002, 04:12 PM
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Don't worry about what town you choose.

If your friends want to do Florence, do it. You cannot go wrong with either one.

We stayed in Sienna for 7 nights in 1999 with another couple and had a great time exploring the area. The one thing I wanted to do more of was to spend more time in Florence. You will be able to see all of Florence and do the easy drive to Siena from there. Neither decision is a bad one. Just go and enjoy Tuscany with your friends!
Old May 23rd, 2002, 06:26 PM
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Both towns are great, but Florence is wonderful. Key is make sure your hotel is quiet (on a side street or soundproofed). The blend of a city vacation (Florence) and country (Tuscany) is my favorite part. Although Florence is busy, there are great piazzas where you can just hang out and eat gelato. We leave June 3 and are spending 4 nights in Florence and then 7 nights at two small towns in Tuscany.
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