suggest a base in tuscany to see area?

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Jan 29th, 2006, 10:41 AM
  #1
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suggest a base in tuscany to see area?

My family will rent a car in Florence and drive into Tuscany for 2 or 3 nights. Never have been to Tuscany, and I'm looking for a place to use as a base while we drive the local area for two days.

We'll pick 2 or 3 towns for easy day trips: maybe Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, Volterra, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza...I know we can't do it all, but would love to be able to stroll a few of them, enjoy the sights, food, etc., anyway.

Looking for a nice place to stay/use as base of local explorations for my family of 4. Thanks for your suggestions!

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Jan 29th, 2006, 10:51 AM
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We rented an apartment in Casole d'Elsa last summer. When we were out and about in the area we often passed by a B&B called "Il Columbiao" near Stigliano. If you want a place that's out in the country rather than in a town, it might be worth a look. It's not far from Siena. I believe they have a website.
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Jan 29th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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I thought Pienza would make a great base. Easy to drive in and out of, a fair sampling of restaurants. (That's one of my criteria. I like to drive back to my base after a long day sightseeing, and be able to walk to a restaurant, have a glass of wine, and walk home. Remember, dinner starts about 7:30 or 8.)
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Jan 29th, 2006, 12:39 PM
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thanks--love the idea about Pienza...being able to drive back at the end of each day makes a lot of sense. Any ideas of where to stay there?
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Jan 29th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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ronnie56,
I have some suggested day trips in southern Tuscany. E-mail me if you are interested.
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Jan 29th, 2006, 12:48 PM
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The Val d'Orcia (Pienza, etc) is indeed lovely, but bear in mind that you'd be at the southern end of Tuscany and it's quite a distance to Siena (minimum of 1 hour), to say nothing about getting to San G and Volterra and especially Pisa.

I suggest staying near Siena, thereby being more centrally located to all the places you've mentioned above.
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Jan 29th, 2006, 02:36 PM
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tuck h-

I have looked at a map and you are indeed right. I think my new plan is to stay in or near Siena...I also like the idea or being in an area at night wwhere there is a little more going on (ie Siena around the piazza)), rather than in a tiny town like pienza which might be beautiful by day but shut down at night...

So, any suggestions about where to stay in Sienna? (I will also do a search of this forum for ideas)

Thanks
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Jan 29th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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With a car we like the Piccolo Hotel Oliveta just outside the walls of Siena and on S-2, the road south to see the best of Tuscany.
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Jan 29th, 2006, 04:25 PM
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The Val d'Orcia is not at the southern end of Tuscany - there is still plenty of Tuscany to the south. Pitigliano, Sorano, and Sovana are very interesting towns, and well worth a visit. Getting there takes you through some very pretty countryside also. Orvieto is 1 hour to the south, and also worth a visit.

Consider staying in San Quirico - it's only a 45 mins drive to Siena for a day trip there (done it many times).

You did not say if you are staying in Florence. If you are, I would suggest that you stay in a smaller town to get a different "slice" of life in Tuscany. San Quirico has three nice trattorias, and a cafe/bar where young & old congregate, and plenty of people strolling around at night - walking the dog, walking off dinner, etc.

The Val d'Orcia itself is worth a week in this region.

Stu Dudley
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Jan 29th, 2006, 05:41 PM
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Stu--thanks for the suggestions.

As an overview, I start my trip in Rome(4 nites, then take train to Florence (3 nites), rent a car in Florence, drive into Tuscany where I will spend two days and two nites, then return the car to Florence, and go by train to Venice(3 nites). Slow travel it isn't!

Anyway, based on suggestions here, I think I will chose the centrally located Siena as my hub, and do a few "spokes", or day trips , from there.

On the way driving down from Florence, maybe we can stop in San Gigmignanoor one other town, and end up in Sienna for late afternoon sightseeing and dinner.

Perhaps othe next day we'll go south, to Montalcino/Pienza/ Montepulciano, then back to Siena for dinner. Sadly, the next day we return the car, and travel on to Venice.

StuDudley,as much as your suggestions sound lovely, I think they are too far south for me to be based,considering my limited time and need to head back to Florence afterwards. Bob the navigator, I will check out Picolo hotel oliveta, maybe it will fit the bill!

Thanks again for all the fine advice.

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Jan 29th, 2006, 05:43 PM
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OH my goodness, I just checked my itinerary and my two days in Tuscany fall on a Sunday and Monday...will my plan still work? or will everything be closed?! Help--
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Jan 30th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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Just about every store will be closed in Siena on a Sunday, and many on Monday morning also. San G is always open, as is Pienza. Stores in Volterra, Montalcino, and Montepulciano will be closed on Sunday & likely will be closed on Monday morning also. Some of the very touristy shops in these towns might be open on Sun & Mon.

I don't like doing big cities like Rome & Florence back-to-back. Consider taking the train from Rome to Orvieto or Chiusi, renting a car there, and visiting the Tuscany countryside then. Dump the car in Siena or Chiusi, and take the train to Florence. Many shops will be closed on Sunday there (Florence), but the museums will not.

I still think the best advice I could give you is to not stay in Siena, but stay in a small village in southern Tuscany. Perhaps stay two nights there, and then head north towards Florence, visiting San Gimignano & Volterra on the way. Either return the car in Siena, or be brave & try to drive into Florence.

Another bit of advice - don't get too "locked in" on only visiting the villages. The beautiful countryside (especially the Val d'Orcia) is what lures many people back to Tuscany.

Stu Dudley



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Jan 30th, 2006, 10:07 AM
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thank you, stu dudley. I will change my itinerary and take your sage advice...I can't thank you enough.



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Jan 31st, 2006, 01:05 PM
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With all due respect to bobthenavigator, we stayed at Piccolo Oliveta in September, and I really cannot recommend it. Here is what I wrote in my trip report.

"As we approached Siena, we saw the signs for the Porta Romano, and a couple of blocks before it lay our next hotel, Piccolo Hotel Oliveta. Even though this hotel has received some nice reviews, I am afraid I cannot give it much of a recommendation, if at all.

Iíll give you the plusses first. It is located just outside the walls, has parking and in the evening has spectacular views over the Tuscan countryside. Alexandra is a very nice host who is most accommodating, and they have some interesting tours if you donít have a car.

On the negative side, the rooms are pretty worn, and the beds were the worst of the trip (not terrible, but not good either). I didnít so much care that the shower was on one side of the room and the bathroom the other, but some might. Much of the time, the first bursts of water emitted from the faucets had an uncomfortable brown color coming out.

It was told to us that this hotel will have a management change in the next 12 -18 months, so no upgrades could be expected during this time. I must admit it was a letdown, but at 125 Euros, you make the call."

In 2001, we stayed at Palazzo Ravizza, just inside he walls. we have had many friends stay there in the past few years, and they all rave about it...as do I. Garden view rooms are quiet.

By the way, if you change your mind, I second Stu's advice on St. Quirico d'Orcia. The Palazzo del Capitano was our home for four glorious nights. My favorite hotel experience ever...and not expensive!

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Jan 31st, 2006, 09:54 PM
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my cousin stayed at villa di piazzano and loved it. They have cooking classes on site, will arrange tours, etc. THe grounds are beautiful. We are staying there in April. It is located in Umbria.
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