Thoughts re Italy itinerary?

Oct 31st, 2005, 04:03 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
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Thoughts re Italy itinerary?

I am beginning to plan my third trip to Italy for early October 2006. (I have previously mostly been to the cities--Rome, Florence, Milan.) I will be traveling with my boyfriend (we are both in our early thirties), as well as with my parents (mid-fifties)--for my parents this will be a first trip to Italy. While this is a first trip for them, we all agree that we would like a holiday that is relatively rural and rustic; we definitely are not doing the classic Rome/Venice trip this time around. Our goals are to eat well, visit some wineries, spend time strolling in charming towns while sampling but not overwhelming ourselves with churches and museums, and do some hiking and horseback riding in the countryside.

I am thinking of flying into Rome, spending a night or two there to get our bearings and to let my parents get a taste of the city, then renting a car (or taking a train to a more manageable city and renting a car there) and heading out to an argriturismo in Umbria. From my initial research I am thinking somewhere around Spello. (I am currently very excited about Le Case Gialle, in part because of all the glowing reviews I have read here.) Given that it's not the high season, I am hoping that we can stay here for less than a week--I am thinking three or four nights there, doing the eating, drinking, and hiking described, and exploring Assisi, Bevagna, Montefalco, or some similar selection of hill towns. Then I am thinking perhaps three nights somewhere else--in or near Orvieto? Southern Tuscany? Siena?--before returning to Rome to fly home.

What do you suggest for the last portion? I would be open to a second agriturismo. On the other hand, if we stayed someplace like Siena, perhaps we would have more freedom to sightsee separately--e.g., one couple uses the car to explore, while another couple wanders the city for a day--which could be a good thing. But we don't want this vacation to become too urban an experience. We have also thought about getting two cars, in order to do rural lodging while not tying ourselves to each other at the hip. Any ideas are appreciated. I am enjoying the luxury of thinking about all this so far in advance, while things are still very flexible, and am very excited about my first European countryside trip.
emnyc is offline  
Oct 31st, 2005, 04:33 PM
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I'm planning a similar trip for July. I've got a beautiful little cottage in Piaciano (Umbria) where I'm going to park myself for two weeks. I'll spend exactly one full day in Rome after arrival and before heading to Piaciano, and then I'm going to leave Piaciano and spend 2-3 days on the coast just north of Rome somewhere (not quite determined yet, but narrowed down to 2-3 places) before flying home from Rome.

Your trip is a little shorter, it seems, so maybe a couple of days in southern Tuscany would be great (I'm going to cover all that while at my Umbria base). But you might also want to consider a couple of days on the coast. For me the one-day-in-Rome, two-weeks-in-Umbria, three-days-by-the sea just seemed like a winning combination.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 31st, 2005, 04:55 PM
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Yes, while we haven't nailed down dates yet, I am thinking 10 days is probably our maximum. Your trip sounds wonderful, and I had initially leaned toward the week's rental/parking ourselves idea, but thought in the end that might lead to too much driving time as we wandered further and further from our homebase on day trips. Where on the coast would you suggest we consider? And do you have thoughts about the coast versus Southern Tuscany in October--would one be preferable to the other in fall?
emnyc is offline  
Oct 31st, 2005, 05:00 PM
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My thoughts on southern Tuscany are that it's beautiful but I've been there quite a few times (though not recently) and for me personally I want an ocean view for a couple of days (not a beach person, but do love sipping a Campari and watching the waves).

Places on the coast I'm considering are Santa Marinella and San Severa. I'm also checking out the island of Giglio.

I think anywhere in Italy is beautiful in October.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 31st, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Hi emnyc

I am one of the posters who stayed at (and raved about) Le Case Gialle this past May, so I would be happy to answer any questions about it. We took the train from Rome to Perugia to rent our cars; there are other options, Of course,(including the closer town of Foligno)for renting cars, but Perugia worked for us for various reasons.

There was an American couple staying at LCG while we were there, and they were planning to stay in an agriturismo near Siena and then one in the Piedmonte region for their final week (3 week trip). Sounded like a fun plan.

In Tuscany, another wonderful agriturismo that I stayed in on a previous trip is Podere Torre; I think I accessed it through the Greve-in-Chianti website. It is more of a B&B. We stayed there for three or four nights, so at least 3 years ago you did not have to stay a week. It is only about an hour to Florence.

Maybe you could do 2 nights in Rome, 4 in Umbria, and 3 in Chianti. Sounds nice to me!
annabelle2 is offline  
Oct 31st, 2005, 05:39 PM
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Hi Emnyc,

If you want to wade through my trip report on the board now (see Vino maitai), we stayed in Spello (good Umbrian base) and went to the towns you mentioned. We loved St. Quirico as a base in Tuscany (Palazzo del Capitano in San Quirico was a great hotel as was Palazzo Bocci in Spello). Have a fun trip.
maitaitom is online now  
Oct 31st, 2005, 06:00 PM
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Annabelle2 and maitaitom, thanks for chiming in; I have been enjoying your various reports as I have dug into my research (though I have focused on the Umbria sections rather than the Tuscany sections so far--learning about one area at a time helps keep me from feeling too overwhelmed by a sea of options). Indeed, your trip reports definitely have informed my own tentative decisionmaking thus far about the trip. Annabelle, remind me--did you recommend a particular apartment at Case Gialle? And if you didn't, do you? And do you recommend picking up a car in Perugia rather than Foligno, or was your choice based on particular idiosyncracies of your own trip? I checked the Podere Torre website; it does look welcoming, and very reasonably priced, though I wish it had more details. Perhaps I will study up on Chianti over the next few days, and St. Quirico, and Tuscany in general. I think Palazzo Bocci looks adorable by the way, but wanted to try countryside lodging, and also would like to stay someplace cheaper--especially since Bocci seems to consider October high season. Do you recommend stopping by the restaurant, though?
emnyc is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 12:00 PM
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Hi emnyc
At Le Case Gialle, we stayed in two apts. One is for 2 people; I think it is called la Terrazza (spelling?). It is on the second floor, has a nice bath, kitchen/dining area, bedroom with a lovely antique bed (mattress is not antique!) and a great balconey with a view of the olive groves, hillsides, Montefalco in the distance, and the little swimming pool. The married couple with us loved this room.

The other 3 of us shared il Portico. It is downstairs, and so has lower ceilings and is a little darker and not as "pretty" but more rustic. The darkness was not an issue in the spring but may be in the fall. It has a large kitchen/dining/sitting area, good bathroom and a nice bedroom. Sofa bed in the living room was adequate for one person but I think it would be uncomfortable for two. What we really liked about this apt was the covered terrace (the portico) with a long wooden table, benches and some chairs where the 5 of us usually ate (along with our new friends, the couple in the studio apt, see below) and basically hung out. Right on the olive grove as well.

The other apt for two (don't remember the name but if you look on the site you will find it) was in its own little building and seemed very nice when we peeked in. More of a studio, with one room and attached kitchen.

As for Podere Torre, I first read about it in a great little guide book, Alastair Sawday's Best Places to Stay -Italy. (Also found a great place in Venice, Casa Martini, through his book). It is about 10 minutes from Greve up a winding rock road. Lovely views of the vineyards (you can buy their chianti and olive oil) and amazing flower, herbs and vegetables growing around. The owners are lovely and helpful. Breakfast was served to us outside or in the owner's home if the weather was cool. Another poster on this site "jabez" has stayed there several times and you can read his comments here -- I think we are the only two who have commented on it. I can't recommend it enough, a special place. Only two or three rooms, though.

We rented cars in Perugia because we wanted a larger car (at first, changed to two smaller cars before we went) and Foligno could not accommodate us. Also, I really wanted everyone to see Perugia and with so many other places to see, it seemed like a good idea to take the morning train from Rome, get our rental cars at the Perugia station and lock our luggage in the trunks and then take the bus up the hill into town for lunch and sightseeing before we drove off to Le Case Gialle.

You can do a day trip to Siena from either place although I am sure other posters would think that is nuts!(too much driving). From LCG, we did this. Left in the morning, went into Tuscany and stopped at Sant' Antimo abbey for a picnic on the grass and then went in to listen to the monks' beautiful gregorian chants. Then we drove 20 minutes to Montalcino and tasted wine, then on to Siena for the early evening and dinner. Then back under a full moon to Umbria. Long day but worked for us!
annabelle2 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2005, 06:03 AM
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Hello annabelle2,
In recent response to emnyc, you mention getting a rental car in Perugia because you wanted a larger car. Can you give me details? We need a rental car for 4 people, and 4 suitcases.
Also, do you recall cost of staying at Podere Torre?
This is my first response to this board, but I have learned lots by reading for past two weeks.
Thanks for any information you can give me.
cmcbride is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2005, 04:06 PM
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We rented our cars through Auto Europe, which some of us had used before (and many posters here on this board). The closest place (to our agriturismo) for us to rent was Foligno, but at one point we were trying to get a car for 5 people and that was only available in Perugia. (They could have sent us a car to pick up in Foligno, but it was an extra fee and we wanted to see Perugia anyway.)

In the end we opted for 2 smaller cars for more personal flexibility, and those we could have picked up in Foligno, but by that time, we already had the plan to see Perugia, so just stuck with it. It worked fine for us.

The Auto Europe website is helpful and I always end up calling them in person with more questions. Ask about any discounts; I always get a teacher discount, for example.
annabelle2 is offline  

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