St Cirq

Mar 27th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 305
St Cirq

I've enjoyed your postings for years and recently came across one from 2003 where you said your favorite towns in Italy were Asolo and Sperlonga. Is that still the case?

The Veneto is the only place in Italy we've been to but we fell in love with Asolo.

If you had 8 or 9 nights and had never seen Tuscany or Umbria, how would you allocate your time? I've been thinking Montepulciano/Pienza would be one base.

We could fly into Rome or Pisa. I've seen on other threads that you like to stop at the beach outside of Rome for a few hrs before heading north. We tend to like small villages. My other question is if Umbria has become industrialized.
Here's a quote from the book Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria:
"Though {Umbria} is considerably wilder than Tuscany, much of it has also been spoiled by development and industrial sprawl....things have become even worse since our last edition.."

How do you feel about Chianti? On another thread you said less is more which I agree with.

We plan to take your advice and make only 2/3 stops. Any suggestions of bases or accommodations would be very much appreciated. Thank you!
calville is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 04:17 PM
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Hi, calville:

Actually, there are a number of people who post regularly on this board who are far more expert than I about Italy. That said, I've been to Italy a dozen times or more and spent 5 weeks in Umbria in 2006 on two separate trips, so I think I have a decent sense of what that part of the country is all about.

I based myself in the tiny walled town of Paciano on both trips, but that was primarily because I had friends there. I think it might be too small for the average visitor to use as a base (though I'd definitely visit it and nearby Panicale).

I did not find Umbria industrialized in the least, except on the fringes of the larger towns, which is, frankly, the case all over Europe these days and nothing particular to Umbria. In fact, I think I prefer it to Tuscany now that I've gotten to know it precisely because it is more pristine and less visited by tourists.

I think Pienza would make a stellar base (if you can stand the wonderful smell of cheese that pervades the town!) for part of your trip, because from there you can easily tour into Tuscany as well as all over Umbria. It's a lot easier to get in and out of than Montepulciano, and because it's flat, easier to get around on foot, too.

If you're flying into Rome and want some beach time, yes, Sperlonga is a lovely place for a few days before heading north. And there are many attractions inland from there that make good day trips as well - Sermoneta, Finca, and other hill towns that seem forgotten by tourists, even in high season.

So one plan might be to fly into Rome, head south to Sperlonga for 2-3 nights (I think that would be sufficient), then 3-4 nights in Pienza or thereabouts, and then another couple in Tuscany (for Tuscany I prefer to be between Firenze and Siena).

But are you planning to spend any time in Rome? With 8-9 days, if you're going to visit Rome at all, you might want to just concentrate on Sperlonga and Pienza (as I said, you can get into Tuscany pretty quickly from there for day touring), then back to Rome for 2-3 nights.

Hope this helps!
StCirq is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 04:29 PM
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Thank you St Cirq. Is there a particular hotel in Sperlonga that you like?
Do you have a favorite hotel in Rome? I thought Splendide Royale sounded good- good a/c and sound proofing in case we're exhausted from our coach class flight, also the location near the Borghese Gardens was referred to as a "peaceful oasis" on trip advisor.
Then I looked up the rates for our dates and they start at 420E- pretty steep. We could swing that for a few days though. Rome might be overwhelming initially but I do want to see it at some point- either this trip or a future one.
I also appreciate your clarification on Pienza vs Montepulciano. Have you seen La Saracina by any chance?

I'm also going to look up the other out of the way villages you suggested.

Thanks so much! Do you still own the property in France? I liked your walnut trees
calville is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 10:18 AM
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Hi, calville:

I can't recommend a hotel in Sperlonga because we were exchanging homes when we were there and were living for a couple of weeks in a villa in Livinio, up the coast.

In Rome, I really enjoyed the Hotel Modigliani last October. It was a Fodor's recommendation and also confirmed by a friend who is a travel agent specilizing in Italy. It wa about $175 a night, I believe. Not far from the Spanish steps but on a very quiet side street.

I don't know Saracina, sorry. As I think I mentioned I'd take Pienza over Montepulciano as a base just because it's easier to navigate to and from and around, as it's flt and Montepulciano is on a huge hill. They're both very nice, though. Montepulciano is bigger and has more attractions and shops and restaurants and so forth, but from Pienza it's easier to get on the road and out to some of the nearby wonderful attractions.

Yes, I still own the house in the Dordogne. Am getting ever closer to making the permanent move there!
StCirq is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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Thanks for the additional feedback- most appreciated.

Do you like Lucca? I've noticed it only appeals to a minority of fodorites.

Erica Jong wrote a nice article on Italy for Travel and Leisure many yrs ago- said her two favorite spots were Asolo and Lucca.

Someone on tripadvisor called the town "vaguely depressing" and they were staying in one of the better hotels.
calville is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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I love Lucca! Was tripadvisor to Lucca or Asolo? I woudn't consider either of them vaguely depressing, but then, I'm not much given to depression, especially when I'm lucky enough to be in Italy!

Some other places I came to enjoy immensely in my travels in Umbria in 2006 were Perugia and Assisi and Orvieto and Citta delle Pieve and some of the towns on the northern shore of Lago Trasimeno and Bevagna. We also visited several small spas up in the hills south of Pienza that were delightful.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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St Cirq- thanks for the additional Umbria ideas- I've been looking into them- they sound great. We were able to get non stops from JFK to Pisa on Delta so I think we'll be seeing Umbria on day trips rather than overnight this time.

I had read somewhere else about a good fish restaurant and nice boat ride out to the island in Lake Trasimeno but then saw this posting on slowtrav: "don't be tempted by Lake Trasimeno or Lake Trashy-Meno as some call it."
Do you like any part in particular? Is there a fish restaurant you can recommend?

The negative tripadvisor report was on Lucca- not Asolo.
Thanks again.
calville is offline  

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