Solo travel to Tuscany

Old Jun 9th, 2021, 04:00 AM
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Solo travel to Tuscany

I am planning a solo trip in midOctober, 2022, for two weeks in the Tuscany region of Italy before flying to Sicily to meet up with another family member in late October. While the Sicily end will be easier to plan since I have been there before, I could use direction in which towns to visit and stay while in Tuscany. I am in my 60s and have been to Italy a few years back. This time, going alone, and never having visited Tuscany, I have many questions, concerns, etc. Any recommendations on the best, safest towns to base myself in? I am looking for areas good for walking and close to trains to visit places like Florence. Any help with a good two-week itinerary keeping in mind that I donít plan to be renting a car unless necessary, would be very much appreciated.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 04:38 AM
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Moved to Europe board and tagged for Italy
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 07:21 AM
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Your planning on Tuscany seems to be starting from zero, and Tuscany is big (nearly 9000 sq. mi.). I suggest you do a little research into what interests you in the region and what public transportation will enable you to do. You won't be able to train directly to the iconic scenery of southern Tuscany (Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, etc.), remote-ish towns like Volterra, or the small towns of Chianti (Castellina, Radda, Greve, etc.). But there are still many interesting places to explore that do have train service... Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Montecatini Terme, Pistoia, Certaldo, etc. There is bus service to almost anywhere, but the timetables are friendlier to working commuters and students than tourists and don't often work out for daily exploring. If you're relying entirely on public transportation, you may want to spend several nights in Florence and/or Siena or Pisa for lots of day-trip options. Or you may want to hire a car/driver for a few days of targeted sightseeing.

I haven't looked at Rick Steves guidebooks recently, but in the past his guides have been good for touring by public transporation.

Rome2rio.com can help with understanding travel times and options, but every result needs to be verified as it doesn't always have the most recent schedules (days of the week, frequency, etc.).

You can search train service here... use Italian names for towns (i.e., Firenze).

https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html

Bus service would have to be searched by town (i.e., Florence, Siena, Pisa). "Extraurbana" are lines that extend beyond the city center to nearby towns.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 07:35 AM
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Florence being the capital is the best connected. Trains or buses. Unless you're planning on spending most of your time in one of the other provinces it usually makes sense to stay in Florence.

The downside is Florence might a bit more expensive.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 08:26 AM
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Thanks so much. Yes, you are correct, I am starting at zero but will do the suggested research. Thanks for the great information to get me started.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 08:28 AM
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I have considered staying in Florence and will look more closely at that. Thanks for the suggestion. I am open to suggestions and any good advice!
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 02:16 PM
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Certainly easy to do Pisa, Lucca and a bunch of small ancient towns between them and Florence by train. There are trains south but a big zone as described is autobus/ Pullman only, though odd ones like Sienna are reachable by train it is a bit of a walk.

October can still be warm so no problem there. Cycle hire might be a possibility but that zone is pretty hilly. I suggest a play with r2r and choose a bus friendly second base
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 06:46 PM
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Yes if you want to visit places like Val d'Orcia, you want a car. More costly but gives you flexibility to go to places on your own schedule.

Having a car would both free and constrain you on where you would stay.

For instance, with a car you can stay at an agriturismo or one of the smaller town. But having a car is a disadvantage in a bigger city like Florence or Siena, where there is limited parking in city centers, big ZTL areas which could make driving into these towns expensive for you. If you stay in Siena, which is a great place to stay, you would have to hike long distances to and from where you'd park the car.

If you haven't driven overseas, it could be daunting. But if you are comfortable using GPS on your phone, the mobility gives you more options.
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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by scrb11 View Post
If you stay in Siena, which is a great place to stay, you would have to hike long distances to and from where you'd park the car.
Not necessarily, my hotel in Siena, Palazzo Ravizza, offered free parking as do a number of other hotels. Palazzo Ravizza had stunning views overlooking the Tuscan countryside. It was located quite centrally and short walking distances to just about all the sites there. I would highly recommend it.

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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by joannyc View Post
Not necessarily, my hotel in Siena, Palazzo Ravizza, offered free parking as do a number of other hotels. Palazzo Ravizza had stunning views overlooking the Tuscan countryside. It was located quite centrally and short walking distances to just about all the sites there. I would highly recommend it.
Good tip! Doesn't seem too far from Piazza del Campo or the Duomo.

Did you have to cross the ZTL to get to their parking or is their parking outside and some distance away from the hotel?

Some of the hotels have arrangements with parking services, including golf cart to take you to and from parking but it's like 25 Euros a night.

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Old Jun 9th, 2021, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by scrb11 View Post
Good tip! Doesn't seem too far from Piazza del Campo or the Duomo.

Did you have to cross the ZTL to get to their parking or is their parking outside and some distance away from the hotel?

Some of the hotels have arrangements with parking services, including golf cart to take you to and from parking but it's like 25 Euros a night.
I was parked in front of the hotel when I checked in. To park, I had to make the next right and down to the first road behind the hotel, make a right for a very little bit, go around a curve and a right turn into their parking lot which is directly behind the hotel with accessibility to the hotel.

I don't remember a ZTL but I'm sure I would have seen the signs for it so I'm guessing that I didn't have to go through it.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 04:51 AM
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Siena is a lovely city with incredible medieval architecture. While in Siena, you can visit Piazza del Campo, Battistero di San Giovanni, and other sights. The city is walkable, and you'll surely enjoy staying there.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 07:03 AM
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Further to the Palazzo Ravizza in Siena... When we last visited a few years ago, you could enter the ZTL (the street in front of the hotel is inside the zone) for the purpose of checking in and off-loading luggage. The hotel gave our car info to the police so that they wouldn't issue a citation. But we were immediately instructed by the hotel to drive to the hotel's parking lot. When we checked out, we just carried our bags down to the parking lot and drove away. Most hotels within a ZTL offer a similar process for check-in or for reaching a private parking lot inside the zone.

ZTL signs in smaller towns are often not obvious, esp. if you're focused on driving, and it's easy to enter a zone unintentionally. It's a good idea to pre-plan your approach, have a general idea where parking lots are located (almost always outside the ZTL) and not rely entirely on your ability to spot the signs (which are not uniform in appearance as you drive from town to town). Many ZTLs are effective for only certain hours of the day and week, and big cities can have multiple zones with hours that vary . The enforcement info is usually included on the sign which makes quickly reading it while driving even more tricky. Lots of towns have improved the access to ZTL information online, but it's usually in Italian only. Turn by turn directions on Google almost never inform when the driving route crosses into a ZTL.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 07:36 AM
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I thought the OP wasn't going to rent a car?
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 10:58 AM
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I've done many trips solo in Tuscany and without a car.

It's true that smaller towns are a bit harder or more time-consuming to get to by train, but can be well served by bus. As mentioned above Rome2Rio is your friend here. I also check both Trenitalia and Bahn.de for train schedules.

By train, as mentioned, the biggies -- Florence, Lucca, Arezzo in the south, and so forth. A few days in Florence and Siena would be great. In Florence, we like Hotel David on the other side of the Arno. The smaller family-owned places are good for solo folks, I think--they take an interest and look out for you.

One possibility is a town like Impruneta, outside Florence -- there are agriturismos where you can take a bus from a few yards away and be in Florence in a half hour. These are the big blue busses with A/C and are on time. The lodging will have a current schedule for you. In some, like Relais Villa L'Olmo, you can walk to the town center in 5-10 minutes for services, restaurants, cafe and gelato as needed. Some of the charming smaller towns that are popular could be reached by bus, taxi, or even a day or half-day tour of the area.

I'd suggest looking at a rail map of Tuscany so you can get an idea of the places easier to reach by train and then sort out which hubs are better for connecting with the smaller towns you want to see..




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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 11:23 AM
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Would you say that for this year at least, it might be worth trying to minimize using public transportation?

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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 05:09 PM
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Are you renting a car? Or using only trains and public transportation?

Big difference in planning!!

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Old Jun 11th, 2021, 03:30 AM
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(what are those stupid grey advert boxes on the page?! Tried to move down to avoid)
I suggest splitting your two weeks between Lucca, Siena and Montepulciano (or possibly just two of them). All beautiful, all have transport, all have many things to do within the town themselves and also offer easy day trips if preferred. They each offer a different perspective on Tuscany. Arezzo sounds wonderful too but I've never been there so can't comment. Personally, I don't think you need a car unless you want one.
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Old Jun 11th, 2021, 05:03 AM
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OP says they are avoiding renting a car, leaving public trans as the main option. Assuming vacs and mask.
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