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Arikson Oct 7th, 2010 12:33 PM

Southern Tuscany or Rome: Where to start first
My wife and I are planning trip to Italy for October 2011. We are in late 50-s, love art, history, good food, and good wine. We want to split our vacation time, which is around 11 nights, evenly between Rome and Southern Tuscany. I need your advice what to do first – to fly from States to Florence (via Frankfurt) and return from Rome or the other way around. Also, I would appreciate if you can recommend a nice agriturismo place to stay in Tuscany as a home base, close to the city like Siena or other places of your choice.

Thank you in advance,

annhig Oct 7th, 2010 12:52 PM

hi arikson,

if you've not been to Italy before, i think that i might be tempted to start in tuscany, to get the hang of things, and then move onto Rome, which can be a bit daunting at first.

OTOH, it might be nice to start in Rome, and then move onto tuscany for a rest!

which is really a way of saying you can't go wrong, unless you try to cram too much in, which at the moment you are avoiding admirably.

Henry Oct 7th, 2010 01:41 PM

You may want to schedule to take advantage of this

For other ideas see

Racer042 Oct 7th, 2010 02:54 PM

My wife and I are going to Florence and Pienza this month and are attending Sagra del tordo (festival of the thrush). With help from an Italian speaking friend, we have secured reservations at the Travaglio Quartiere banquet where they are serving wild hare. We are really looking forward to this.

Arikson Oct 8th, 2010 05:40 AM

Dear Fodorites,

Thanks to everybody who answered my topic.

I know that some of you have visited Italy on numerous occasions. From your experience, where would you start first, taking in consideration jet lag or weather?

kybourbon Oct 8th, 2010 06:02 AM

Are you wanting to visit Florence? Flights into Florence tend to be higher than into Rome and Florence is only a 90 minute train ride away.

If you don't want to drive your first day, you could fly to Rome, train to Orvieto for your first night, pick up your car in Orvieto the next day to tour southern Tuscany.

Arikson Oct 8th, 2010 06:40 AM

I am not sure about Florence. I understand that Florence requires at least 4-5 full days, but I do not have this time. BTW, prices into Florence or Rome practically the same. Is there any significant difference in weather in October between Rome and Southern Tuscany?

Mimar Oct 8th, 2010 06:43 AM

Look into flights into Pisa as well as Florence.

Weatherwise, it's better to do southern Tuscany first.

With jet lag, I like to travel first to cities with lots to do. So even at odd hours (the time I'm awake), there's something to see. On the other hand, the countryside is more relaxing.

Are you driving in southern Tuscany? When and where will you pick up your rental car? And where will you drop it?

zootsi Oct 8th, 2010 06:48 AM

Although I love Rome, for the first time visitor with jet lag it will feel like a mad house. I would fly into Florence, crash for at least one night in Florence (Florence is wonderful), then rent a car and do a relaxing stay in Tuscany. Within a week you will be rested and have a feel for Italy. Then go ahead and enjoy Roma!

Arikson Oct 8th, 2010 07:21 AM

Thank you guys! Yes, I'll probably fly to Florence, spend a night there taking a light tour around the city and then ride a train or a bus to Siena. I am still waiting for your advises about home base in Southern Tuscany. I am planning to rent a car there and drop it off at the same location.

zoecat Oct 8th, 2010 07:49 AM

You could rent the car at the airport upon arrival and drive to a location is southern Tuscany. The drive is about 2 hours and getting to the A1 heading south from the airport is very easy. This is what I like to do.

If you are concerned with jetlag upon arrival or your flight arrives after 16:00, you can spend the first night in Florence and then pick up the car the next morning and head to southern Tuscany. Since check-in time is usually around 4:00, you could drive on the S222 road through Chianti, stop along the way at a village or two, eat lunch, and then proceed to your southern Tuscany destination.

You can visit Siena from your Tuscan base.

I enjoy staying at this beautiful agriturismo, located just outside of Pienza. The location is incredible and the owners very nice. It is a good, central base for exploring southern Tuscany. It is 45 minutes south of Siena.

I like the Rough Guide Tuscany and the Insight Guide Tuscany guidebooks for pointing me in the right direction.

I hope this helps!

annhig Oct 8th, 2010 08:23 AM

hi arikson,

combining all the ideas above, and trying to ensure that you don't have to drive either in Florence [traffic appalling] or rome [even worse!], I would suggest the following:
Day 1 - arrive at Pisa/florence airport. stay Florence.
Day 2 - Bus to Siena, tour town, pick up car. stay Tuscan base.
Day 3 - 6 - stay Tuscan base.
day 7 - drive to orvieto. return car. overnight there.
Day 8 - train to Rome. stay rome.
Day 9-11 - stay Rome
Day 12 [you state you have 11 nights]fly home.

this gives you a taste of florence and Siena, and an overnight in Orvieto, but still allows you 4 nights in Rome and 5 in Tuscany. you could of course reverse these, or drop the night in florence but setting off driving immediately after arriving whilst suffering from jetlag is not gemerally considered to be a good idea. [I speak from experience!]

kwren Oct 8th, 2010 08:36 AM

which are you looking forward to more? Rome or Tuscany? I usually put my favorite at the end, or in my case for next July, am going to Rome after Tuscany because I think it will be more exciting for the kids to end the trip in an exciting city. Do you have a gut feeling of when you need the most relaxation? As soon as you arrive which would make Tuscany a good choice, or will you be raring to go in which case maybe a city is the way to go and relax more afterwards in Tuscany? I've easily been able to recover well from jetlag in both country or city (but not so easily once I get home!)

I've been researching too and at the end of our time in Tuscany, we are driving to Orvieto, dropping the car, spending a bit of time there and catching the train the same day to get to Rome late afternoon.

kybourbon Oct 8th, 2010 08:43 AM

Which airline is showing flights to Florence as the same rate as Rome?

I don't see the point of spending a night in Florence if you don't plan to tour Florence. Siena is only an hour drive from Florence so I think you could easily handle that upon arrival if you picked up the car at the airport. You could also bus to Siena (better than taking the train), stay a couple of nights and then pick up your car.

Arikson Oct 8th, 2010 09:34 AM

kybourbon, it is Lufthansa. It is very convenient to fly Lufthansa from and to DFW. I've never been in Florence. I know that one day there is a mockery but I W-A-N-T to see Florence so much!!! So, we will probably spend one night in Florence, next day take a bus rapido to Siena and spend 4-5 nights there driving a car in Southern Tuscany.

annhig - Your schedule is perfect. I will definitelly use it.

kwren - My first choice is Rome that is why I want to meet this challenge being in a good shape.

zoecat - this place is so appealing.

kwren Oct 8th, 2010 11:07 AM

Arikson - I feel the same way so Rome is the last stop for us too! Tuscany will be so laid back before the hustle and bustle of Rome. Have fun planning - I've already been working on my trip for 2 1/2 months and have my airfare (frequent flier miles) and as of today, all my accommodations booked! After Christmas, I'll be starting on my transportation from Switzerland to Tuscany and then to Rome.

annhig Oct 8th, 2010 11:57 AM

arikson - glad to have helped.

have a great trip!

Mimar Oct 9th, 2010 07:01 AM

annhig, you should go into the itinerary planning business.

The only quibble I have with your suggested itinerary here is the night in Orvieto. I'd spend a few hours in Orvieto and then move on to Rome for that night. I'm not such a fan of Orvieto. So much to see in Rome. And Rome seems to be ariksen's main destination.

annhig Oct 10th, 2010 03:21 AM

mimar - I'm not going to fall out about whether to spend a day or a night in Orvieto.

sadly I don't do so well when it comes to itineraries for myself! something about it being easier to give advice than to take it.

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