Traveling in Tuscany

Old Apr 11th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Traveling in Tuscany

After staying in Monterosso, Italy in May, we are going to stay 4 days in Cortona in Tuscany. There are 6 adults in our party. In order to visit places like Siena, Florence, Lucca, Venice and see a bit of the countryside, should we rent a vehicle, such as a van, or would we be better off maybe renting for only one day, and traveling between Siena, Florence, etc. by train? Is is better to book car rentals from here (Canada) or can we wait until we get to Italy? Any suggestions?
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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You are considering staying in Cortona, and travelling from there to Siena, Florence, Lucca and Venice? In a four-day period? Use viamichelin or google maps to see your distances. That would be a lot of travel time (via train OR rental vehicle), and no time to enjoy Cortona and rural Tuscany.

If you want to visit Venice or Florence, I would strongly suggest that you stay in those locations. And if you only have 4 days/nights, visit only one or two of those locations, so you have the time to see and enjoy what's there.

From Cortona, you could visit Siena, but even that is an 1 1/2 hour drive. I'm not an expert on train travel - we only take the train if it's between two cities, such as Florence and Venice. But I would think that from Cortona, train travel might be time-consuming, and renting a vehicle would be better use of your time.

Then you have to decide, however, whether a van or two cars would be better. I would hate to drive a van on those narrow Italian roads, and would hate to deal with fitting the luggage in. Two cars would give the 6 adults more flexibility if the group wanted to split up, but of course, then you'd need two drivers.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 02:21 PM
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Hmmm ! You need to look at your location in Cortona. Only Siena and Florence among your chocies would be feasible from there, and neither would be easy. You need to judge time and distance---look at " Google maps".
You will need one large van or 2 cars to see anything from that location.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 02:32 PM
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You definitely should go ahead and rent a car, and I would do so in advance based on your needs. The Canadian site of Auto Europe might provide a good starting point.

Too far for you to explore Venice or Lucca on this trip with your time frame. If you are not set on Cortona, there are other small towns you can stay in that would be closer to Siena and Florence.

cheers,
CC
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 02:56 PM
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I agree with Bob - you will probably want to narrow your day-trip choices down if you're based in Cortona. The places you've mentioned are very far for day-trips. From Cortona, a day trip to Montepulciano & Pienza would be doable, as well as Assisi. I don't think Lucca, Venice, Florence would be practical either.
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Old Apr 11th, 2011, 03:25 PM
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hi gerry,

go to google earth and put in Cortona. siena is to the north-west, and according to viamichelin, is just over an hour's drive away. this should give you some idea about how long it will take you to drive to other places a similar distance from Cortona. Perugia, Assisi, Arezzo, and Montepulciano al look doable. there is also a very large lake nearby which probably has quite a few facilities for swimming etc.

you can get driving times, distances and directions if you go to www.viamichelin.com, plus links to the michelin Green guide. you could also look at Trip advisor for things to do in the area.

rather than a van, you might think about renting two vehicles - two smaller cars will be easier to manoeuvre in narrow streets, easier by far to park, and will give you flexibility if some of the party want to do something different from the other part of the party. and definitely book in advance, it's much cheaper than doing it when you get to Italy.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 10:37 AM
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Thanks for all your input. We clearly need to rethink our expectations,as I think we underestimated the travel time we need. I entered this forum because I was a little concerned about driving a big van on what I gather are narrow country roads and crazy drivers, so you have convinced me to stay with smaller vehicles. Unfortunately, I guess we need to leave some visits like Venice for another time.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 12:53 PM
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We have actually extended our stay in Tuscany from 4 to 7 days.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 12:59 PM
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Great choice! You won't regret it Gerry. 7 days will allow you some time for many enjoyable day trips and wandering around the Tuscan countryside!
cheers,
CC
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 02:10 PM
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Even with 7 days, Cortona isn't an ideal base for visiting Tuscany - much better for Umbria (Lago Trasimeno, Perugia, Chiusi, the smaller towns like Panicale and Paciano, etc.). It's also a major tourist mecca (though not so much in May). If your aim is to tour Tuscany and your plans aren't set in stone, I'd reconsider where you base yourselves.

You definitely don't want a big van in that part of the world, and you're definitely better off renting ahead of time, not once you get there.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 02:17 PM
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I agree with StCirq--and add Assisi to your mix.
You still can see Siena and Montepulciano from that location.
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Old Apr 12th, 2011, 02:24 PM
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you may not be able to tour what most people think of as tuscany from Cortona, but all the places listed by St. Cirq are certainly worth seeing. so i would stick with it, and get booking!
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