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Six nights in Tuscany - where to stay, what to do!

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Six nights in Tuscany - where to stay, what to do!

Old Apr 18th, 2010, 04:11 AM
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Six nights in Tuscany - where to stay, what to do!

Dear Fodorites,

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy in September/October. At the moment, we have planned Northen Italy (Lake Como, Piedmont, Verona, etc) but we are a little stuck heading south to Rome, especially what to do in the Tuscany region.

At the moment we have 18 days (17 nights) from when arriving in Venice to get to Rome. We are thinking of:
Venice (2 nights) – drop of car on arrival (or when arriving in Florence)
Modena (1 night)
Florence (4 nights) – drop car off on arrival if we haven’t in Venice
Cinque Terre (4 nights) – pick up car when leaving
Tuscany (6 nights)
Arrive in Rome.

We have been reading many of the informative posts by Fodorites about Tuscany, however, we are still unsure of exactly where we should stay in order to enjoy what it has to offer (we like good food and wine and are interested in photography). At the moment we are thinking of splitting our time, spending three nights somewhere in the Chianti region and then three nights in Pienza. However, Orvieto looks amazing as well. We were just wanting to get some ideas from Fodorites on how to spend our time in Tuscany, though comments for other parts of our trip will also be appreciated.

Many thanks!
JessB84 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2010, 05:51 AM
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I would drop either the night in Modena or a night on the Cinque Terre (or both) and add it for Orvieto. If you pick up a car leaving Cinque Terre, see if it can be dropped in Orvieto and spend a night (or two) there before training on to Rome.
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Kybourbon was being diplomatic. 4 days in CT is about 2 too many. Spend those days in Tuscany. I suggest 3 days near Siena and 3 days in Pienza (our favorite little Tuscan town).

Where did you plan on picking up a rental car in the CT area?

Please check out my web site which includes several trips to Italy and may help you in your planning.

www.travel.stv77.com
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 07:09 AM
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There is no one answer. I prefer to go to beautiful, less touristed areas of Italy with great food and great cultural offerings, so I would add time to Emilia Romagna to include Parma and its environs, pick somewhere else in Liguria to explore on foot and by car and boat other than le Cinque Terre, and use Orvieto as a place to drop off my car and see the cathedral, that's it (I'd buy a bottle of wine to take with me to Rome).

For Tuscany, I too would favor the Chianti area for food and wine, but would spend most of my photography time in le Crete Senese. I would avoid the tourist hot spots of the val d'Orcia like Pienza, certainly not for a base. I wouldn't split my time in two bases. I'd stay in one agriturismo that serves dinner. (Truthfully, I'd probably go to the Maremma for six nights in Tuscany.)

It's all beautiful, but many people are very tourist destination and sightseeing oriented. You can't see it all, so you really need to decide for yourself what you most value in travel -- some wandering off the beaten track or spending more time the most touristed hilltowns.

Since you are going to Piemonte, might it make sense to head to Liguria after Piemonte?
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 08:14 AM
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Val d'Orcia and Pienza are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. I think you will find Chianti to be more crowded than Val d'Orcia (at least that's been my experience), but splitting your time between the two will let you sample both areas.

I prefer to stay in a town where I have access to multiple restaurants without having to drive after dinner. Pienza is easy to drive in and out, has multiple restaurant choices, if you are wanting to stay in a town. For restaurants, hotels, etc. in Pienza I use this website.
http://www.portalepienza.it/

Nearby are Montalcino and Montepulciano if you are interested in wines. You might sample some wines (they have food also)at Enoteca Osticcio in Montalcino (the views are fantastic if you can get a table by the window).
http://www.osticcio.com/

Here are websites for Montalcino and Montepulciano.
http://www.prolocomontepulciano.it/index.uk.php

There are many small towns between Montalcino/Pienza/Montepulciano to visit. Get the TCI Toscana map. Lots of "white roads" to wander.
http://intravelmag.com/index.php?opt...7&Itemid=10039

For Orvieto:
http://www.comune.orvieto.tr.it//I/00000000.htm
http://www.orvietoonline.com/
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Old Apr 18th, 2010, 07:57 PM
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Firstly, thank you very much for your wonderful replies. I’ll try my best to address all the recommendations, which we are very open to.

@ kybourbon – The thinking behind Modena was to break up the trip between Venice and Florence, we don’t know too much about that area, but we did read that it does have some nice restaurants.

With the 4 nights in CT we figured we would be arriving late and departing early, however that still gives us 3 full days... maybe 2 full days will be enough? We were thinking of staying in Vernazza and exploring north for one day and south for another.

Ahh, yes, dropping the car at Orvieto and training it into Rome does sound good. So with the above, it would be an option to drop a night of CT and Modena and spending the 2 nights in Orvieto. If we drop Modena, should we look at flying to Florence from Venice, or just stick to the trains?

@ sssteve – Sorry I should have been more accurate, we can pick up the car from La Spezia. Thanks for the link to your site.

@ zeppole – >> “I prefer to go to beautiful, less touristed areas of Italy with great food and great cultural offerings”
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Old Apr 19th, 2010, 01:19 AM
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You should take the train from Venice to Florence.

The New York Times recently ran an article recommending visiting the val d'Orcia in winter because during the tourist season it described Pienza as "beautful, hot and full of Americans" (as well as tour buses). Your time frame is just outside the tourist season, so I think you will find the val d'Orcia less crowded (and cooler), but I doubt you will find much difference in crowds or tourist ambience between it and Chianti. If you don't want to drive after dinner, you should consider staying at an agriturismo that serves food and wine made from its own farm produce.

The area of Tuscany that you are going to is not only a place to look at. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List because farming techniques in that region are unique and historic, and thus protected, as are methods of wine production and its importance to the political and architectural history of the region. While many people's experience of "Tuscany" is to stay in a town hotel, eat in restaurants, and visit other similar towns all the time, the historic importance of the region is food and wine , and the recipes and wines of the region were developed on these centuries-old farms. The hotels and restaurants are part of the tourist development.

You can find agriturismo recommendations on Tripadvisor and you can use this website to search for those that have restaurants:

http://en.agriturismo.it/tuscany/index.jsp

Le Cinque Terre is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its unique terrace farming (different from Tuscany). Again, Liguria is not so much a place to be sight-seen and touristed as a place to be experienced. As a sightseeing destination, le Cinque Terre takes a day at most to see. For others, the attractions of the Italian mediterranean are about the pristine water and air, walks and hikes, boat rides to coves and islands, the stylish seaside restaurants and cafes (there are in parts beyond le Cinque Terre) and just the general seduction of the beautiful climate and healthy food and pastel architecture against the natural colors of the region. If you are on a sightseeing tour, you won't want to linger. If you are coming to Italy to linger in places, you'll want to set your own pace.

Modena is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, including its cathedral. I don't know why people are suggesting you drop it from your itinerary since it will make a convenient and delicious break for you instead of being on a driving rush all the time. You should ask these people to describe their visits to Modena and what they personally disliked about Modena. Although I urge you see the spectacular cathedral in Orvieto, and the setting of the town is impressive, I found Orvieto otherwise lacking in much charm and interest, even though is it is a well-preserved medieval town. And its orientation toward tourist shops and tourist restaurants can make it just one more tourist experience of Italy if you are already picking a lot of tourist destinations.

I can't prove it, but I think that people who take time during their first trip to Italy to experience places not now dominated now by foreign tourism see a whole different side of Italy that makes them hungry for more of it. it's just a different feel for the country. The most famous tourist places are indeed beautiful to look at, and have fascinating histories. But so do the not famous, non-tourist ones.

Much of Piemonte, musical, Cremona and beautiful (and musical) Modena offer you a chance to taste and discover for yourselves things about Italy that are less concerned with satisfying tourists' desires than getting on with Italian life. If you have indeed deliberately set aside a longer period of travel so that you aren't moving from one tourist attraction to another, don't miss getting off the tourist track. Make sure you balance the advice you get from tourbooks and other tourists with a simple willingness to try the unknown. Italy almost never disappoints, no matter where you go, especially if you go off the beaten track.

Have a great trip!
zeppole is offline  
Old Apr 19th, 2010, 01:28 AM
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PS: Since you are taking such an extensive tour of Italy and are interested in food and wine, you should invest in a copy of Fred Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet Traveller. A new, updated version is coming out in May. Although the title contains the word "Gourmet", the recommendations are about good eating and drinking in all price categories.

I HIGHLY recommend this book, not only for its food and wine recommendations, but also for its beautifully written descriptions of places in Italy you are likely to be. It is a real eye opener, and if you follow the food recommendations, you'll be in heaven.
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 12:24 AM
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Jess,

If you don't want to break up your stay in Tuscany, and would like an agriturismo that is convenient to touring both the Chianti and the areas around Montalcino, Montepulciano and Pienza, this place gets great reviews for its dinners and its accommodations (I've not personally stayed there). It's right near Siena.

http://www.agriturismomarciano.it/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...a_Tuscany.html

ttp://maps.google.it/maps/place?client=safari&rls=en&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=agriturismo+marciano+siena&fb=1&gl=it&hq=agriturismo+marciano&hnear=siena&cid=7083004607906392895&pcsi=7083004607906392895,1&ei=emPNS7_0K46lOLXb0OUP&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQnQIwAA
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Old Apr 20th, 2010, 04:48 PM
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The train between Venice and Florence only takes two hours so there is really no need to break the trip up (you might want to add that night to Venice as you only have two). I would not rent a car until leaving Florence although the train on this route is not cheap (about 44€ 2nd cl). It usually will cost as much for a one day rental car as for a three day rental. You really don't need it between Venice/Florence and you aren't allowed to drive in Florence (Google ZTL tickets Florence).

>>>Geographically (from my Google Maps investigating) it seems these towns are in a good location for day trips for around Tuscany and possibly into Umbria, would this assumption be correct?
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