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Siena or San Gimignano for day trip from Florence?

Siena or San Gimignano for day trip from Florence?

Jan 21st, 2005, 07:03 AM
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Siena or San Gimignano for day trip from Florence?

We are first-timers to Italy. I've scheduled a 6-hour personal tour with Lucca from Hillsandroads.com. He'll customize it however we want. We want some time in the countryside and a visit to one Tuscan town. Would you choose San Gimignano or Siena for your town visit? Thanks for your insights!
Chris9 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 07:19 AM
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I would consider Siena a city and SanG a hilltown. You could easily spend days exploring Siena so if you're taking only a 6 hour tour that includes Lucca I would probably opt for San G
buongiorno is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 07:42 AM
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Hi Chris,

My husband and I stayed in San Gimignano for a couple of days with a day trip to Siena. Since you only have 6 hours, I would definitely go with Siena. San Gimignano is beautiful but definitely a small hilltown. You wouldn't need 6 hours there. Like Buongiorno stated, Siena is a city with lots to see. We went to the famous Duomo there (don't remember the name but you can't miss it). It was the most beautiful church I have ever seen. Siena is very charming with cobblestone streets without a big *city-feel*. I loved it so much that I told my husband if we ever have a baby girl, I wanted to name her Siena!
Have fun and don't forget to eat some yummy gelato!
obsessedwithfrance is offline  
Jan 21st, 2005, 07:46 AM
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Why choose ... they are very close, and a simple drive down from Florence. But a tip ... at all costs, do not try to drive inside Siena ... you'll be lost and confounded in five minutes!! LOL, I speak from experience, on the first time there ... and have never made that mistake on numerous return visits. Both are great towns!! Have fun!!!
Jan 22nd, 2005, 06:11 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses! We won't be spending the whole 6 hours in either town. That time includes drive time from Florence and back, a stop in Chianti, Estruscan tomb, a castle, and lunch! So, our time in whichever town will probably be limited to an hour or two. So, that's why I have to choose which one to visit. I welcome more input. Thanks!
Chris9 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 07:54 PM
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Even though I like Siena better, it might be better to stop for the short time San G. ..San G. is very touristy and tourist busses abound (down the hill in a separate parking area) but the the town is lovely and smaller then Siena, and the town is "condensed" and very typically a "hill town". It would be great for an hour or two. Siena , being a city, would take more time to explore...although the driver could let you off and you could walk down to the plaza de Campo, and maybe up to the Duomo..but that would be about it for the short time.
Is seems if I recall, SAn G.. is closer to the area you will be starting from,around Lucca..but I don't have the map in front of me. The driver can certainly give you some input too.
mari5 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 07:56 PM
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Sorry Chris9: I just reread your question...and see you are starting from Florence! My comments don't change much, however....either would be great!
mari5 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2005, 08:11 PM
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I think others misread this the way I did. Lucca is the name of a driver, right? You aren't going to the town of Lucca at all, right?

In 6 hours from Florence, I'd rally try to see the Palio in Siena AND stop for a visit in San Gimangnano. Especially if someone else is doing the driving. You will see enough pretty countryside just going between them.

Patrick is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 05:16 AM
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You're going to enjoy Luca very much! He's a wonderful guide for the area. He took us to an incredible lunch place called "La Bottega", which was in Volpaia on the grounds of a castle where you can also schedule winetastings. It was a highlight of our trip-- the food (and the scenery!) was heavenly.

However, lunch alone could take up at least two hours of the six you've allotted for the day. That doesn't leave you with much time to see both the Etruscan tomb and either San G or Siena.

Could you extend your time with Luca or schedule an additional day for sightseeing? It is possible to get to Siena (and I think San G) from Florence using public transportation, if you want to do it more cheaply.

Good luck!
Weadles is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 07:32 PM
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Thanks everybody - we leave for Italy March 31st and are really getting excited! You're right, Patrick, that Lucca is the driver and that we aren't going to that town at all - sorry for the confusion! I was thinking I'd like to see both towns, too, I just wasn't sure the time would allow both. Weadles, Lucca mentioned visiting a castle in our itinerary. I think it was called Veritine?, if that rings a bell. I wonder if that's the same castle where you had your fabulous lunch at "La Bottega"? Does the lunch really take at least 2 hours? While I'm in no hurry whatsoever, we'll have our 9 and 11 year old kids with us and that's a long time for them not to get bored! I've read of the lengthy dinners in Italy and am a little nervous for that, but we'll stick to ordering 2 courses I think and they'll be fine! Anyway,I could extend our time with Lucca to include the fabulous lunch at the castle and/or perhaps both towns - San G and Siena. What do you think? Thanks again for anymore input!
Chris9 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:11 PM
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San Gimignano is closer to Lucca and you might also go to Voltera to see the alabaster works. Siena is a great city, but it is some distance from Lucca.
klbell is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:32 PM
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I did both from Florence with CAFTours and had time in both, plus time for an amazing lunch.

Have fun!
Grasshopper is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 05:25 AM
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kbell, you need to read the thread and the responses to the thread.
Chris is not going to Lucca, so distance to or from there means nothing. Lucca happens to be the NAME of the driver. I'm just glad the drivers name isn't Palermo or we'd get nowhere with this thread.
Patrick is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 05:41 AM
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Siena is not a "town"; it's a city. If you must choose and cannot get to both places, I'd choose Siena. However, if you are economizing and you want to use the guide only for destinations that would be difficult for you to reach on your own, you might want to note that it would be very easy for you to get to Siena from Florence by yourself without a car.
cmt is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Where will you be based? If you're staying in Florence, maybe you could take an additional day with Luca so that you don't have to cram everything into the six hours? There's quite a lot to see in the area, and it would be a shame to rush through it.

I have not heard of the castle you mentioned. Sorry! And yes, my experience is that lunch does typically take about two hours unless you're just eating slices at the counter of a pizzeria. Just getting a check can take awhile because Italians don't rush through meals at all. But I bet with the promise of gelato at the end of lunch or dinner, your kids will do fine. Mine did, and we started taking them with us when they were pretty young.

If for some reason you're going to stop in Radda, see if Pizzeria Michele is open for lunch or dinner. It's a very simple place with wonderful food, and a very funny owner. I think your kids would love it, although we had to wait in line a long time during the summer. But since you're going in March, maybe the dining room wouldn't be so crowded?

Anyway, have a great time!
Weadles is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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Is it possible to go to Siena on your own early one morning by train and do that on your own, and then have Lucca pick you up there, spending the afternoon going to the countryside, SG, and maybe a lunch somewhere? Or do lunch on your own in Siena? I never understood the idea of paying a guide big bucks and then spending two hours of "his" time sitting having lunch, anyway.
Patrick is offline  
Jan 24th, 2005, 08:19 AM
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Luca didn't "charge" us for his time at lunch. We've used a few guides, and never had any of them do that. We did pay for his lunch because we enjoyed his company, but that was it.
Weadles is offline  
Jan 26th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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Patrick, thanks for your humorous response about our guide's name! I could have avoided all the confusion had I gotten his name right in the first place - it's Luca, not Lucca, like the town! Anyway, Luca says we can do Siena instead within the time frame, so I think we're opting for that. If we can squeeze in San G, too, then we will. Unfortunately, we only have 3 days in Florence, so we can only allow 1 day in the surrounding area. Thanks Weadles, for the great recommendation for Luca - it's nice to know how much you enjoyed his company and how reasonably priced he is! By the way, Obsessed with France, I love your name, Siena, for a little girl! omhwe've decided on theim the causewu
Chris9 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 06:08 AM
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How much does Luca charge for the 6 hours? Can he accommodate more people? There will be 6 of us traveling, and I would love to use a guide for a day. How do I contact him?

tracy is offline  
Jan 28th, 2005, 06:15 AM
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Gosh, that's a hard call, but if you must pick one, then Siena. The light in Siena and the architecture are breathtakingly beautiful.
I've been there twice and would never tire of the city's beauty.
bettyo70 is offline  
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