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Tuscan Country Tour - Suggestions of Places to See/Stay

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Aug 16th, 2015, 06:31 AM
  #1
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Tuscan Country Tour - Suggestions of Places to See/Stay

Hi all,

We are travelling to Florence in September/October 2016. We are planning to stay in Florence for 4 nights and then travel out into the country side and venture off the beaten track. We would like to visit some of the top wineries and towns.

Can anyone recommend a good place to stay (comfortable but not too expensive) and also some good wineries to visit in the Tuscan country side. Preferably not too far from Florence as we will need to drive back to Florence to drop off hire car before we take train to Rome.

Thanks,
DChrist
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Aug 16th, 2015, 06:47 AM
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You cannot both venture off the beaten track and visit "top wineries and towns". You have to make a choice. If you want to be a wine sleuth, you can ask around on message boards of wine enthusiasts about tips for tracking down little known but excellent wineries, and then make appointments to visit, that will get you off the beaten track.

Otherwise, you should decide how long of a drive you want to take to get back to Florence, and figure out from there where you would like to be. Most people would choose one of the Chianti towns, but it is definitely not off the beaten track. If you want to try something less touristy, yet still not be far from Florence, look around the province of Arezzo, in towns like Lucignano or Civitella in val di Chiana, or Castelnuovo Berardenga.

If you are willing to drive 2 hours or more to get back to Florence, you can stay south of Siena, although the towns are more thoroughly touristed, and rather than drive back to Florence, it would make sense to drive to a town like Chiusi (a nice town without many tourists) or Orvieto and drop off the rental car there, and take the train to Rome from there.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 06:53 AM
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I meant to add, if you want to visit what tourists generally believe are the top towns and wineries, you can find all that information in guidebooks or online. Try looking on the Destinations sections online for Fodor's (or Frommers or just do google searches). You can come up with recommendations and itineraries.

http://travel.michelin.com/web/desti.../travel-routes
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:11 AM
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If you are staying in Florence for four nights you might consider renting an apartment from Vacation Rentals By Owner. vrbo.com. We rented apartments in Rome, Florence, Venice, Vernazza as well as a villa in Venice. Very comfortable... much cheaper than hotels. Plus the owners are locals who can really help you with wineries, restaurants etc. Our last rental in Florence featured an expansive view of the Duomo...a mere block away. We have rented many apartments and homes from this website and never been disappointed.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:14 AM
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Strongly agree with training to Chiusi to pick up your rental. Don't drive in the bigger cities unless you have to.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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Thanks Sandralist - appreciate your response.

We are planing on staying in Florence 3 nights and Tuscan country side 4 nights. Do you think we can cover a fair bit in 4 nights? I would want to see 1 to 2 wineries a day and just drive around admiring the scenery etc. stopping off at little towns.

Alternative to above is to stay all 7 nights in country side and then take a day trip into Florence.. What do you think?

We will have 4 adults and 1 child and will need a larger SUV. Is this possible in Italy?
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:55 AM
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Florence is an immensely rich city, so spending 3 days means you get a chance to discover the details that make it even more amazing. A day trip usually means a headlong rush to cram in a lot of stuff.

Four days should be plenty to enjoy your agenda for the countryside, and even to wander down some roads others don't take. However, fair warning that unless you make some specific plans to entertain your child (like visit animal farms or climb towers if age appropriate), rural Tuscany is mostly of interest to retirees and honeymooners. Florence (and Pisa) have more fun things to do if you are a kid.

You should go to the Florence airport to pick up your SUV. I wasn't suggesting you go to Chiusi, but you should be able to drop off the car there without driving back to Florence. Depending on where you stay in Tuscany, you might consider driving the car to the Rome airport, droppng it off and taking the train in. Might work if you are staying very far south.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:59 AM
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Also, bear in mind that most wineries in Tuscany are not open to "drop ins". You need to make appointments or go with a tour. The expectation if you make an appointment and get a tour/tasting is that you are there to buy wine. If you make appointments, you are expected to show up on time, so it's not like you can just go wandering and be whimsical if you plan to visit 2 wineries per day. You will need to stick to a schedule.

If you plan to taste without actually drinking, that's fine, otherwise you will need a designated non-drinking driver because Italy has draconian laws that allow only very low blood alcohol levels, with very serious fines.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 01:33 PM
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We enjoyed our stay at Fattoria Poggio Alloro near San Gimignano.
http://fattoriapoggioalloro.com/?lang=en They have a pool (not sure if it will still be warm enough to swim in the fall) and animals, which your child will enjoy, good wine, and excellent hospitality.

Lee Ann
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Aug 16th, 2015, 01:38 PM
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DChrist,
This may give you some ideas http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/hs_planning.htm
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Aug 16th, 2015, 01:58 PM
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DChrist,

I stayed in Montalcino on one trip and really loved this hilltown. Montalcino is famous for Brunello. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I tasted at the Fortezza Enotecca. There are many local tasting rooms in this town, where it's all about the wine, but what I liked about the Fortezza is that they have most all the DOCC wines represented. The other tasting rooms are nice, but since they are the vintners' own, you will only taste their wines.

On another trip I stayed in the tiny village of San Sano in the Chianti region. The place we stayed was surrounded by olive groves and vineyards and had a pool. Highly recommend the Hotel San Sano, but check recent reviews as my stay was back in 2000!

I feel strongly what to really enjoy the countryside, you need to stay in the country. It makes a huge difference if you do.

Let me know if you have questions about lodging in these two towns, although San Sano is really a tiny, tiny village.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 07:51 PM
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We just came back from Tuscany, our favourite town was San Gimignano. We stayed at la Cisterna, in one of the rooms with a huge (shared) terrace. We had an incredible view of the town and the Tuscan hillside.

We also enjoyed out meals in San Gimi. We ate the first night at Quattro Gatti; good, honest food and wine and a fantastic dining terrace in the back. We enjoyed the dinner so much, we went back the second night, something we rarely do on vacation. The owners recognized us and treated us to prosecco and grappa - very enjoyable.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 08:09 PM
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I'm just joining in to reemphasize sandralist's points about visiting wineries in Italy.

This has come up a few times this week. It's important to realize that wineries in Italy are not like wineries in the US, with tasting rooms, frequent tours, or full opening hours to the public. No cute little stores with picnic supplies.

This seems to be something that isn't widely picked up on.

Check tripadvisor.com for things to do in Tuscany, and you'll find lots of tours and companies that arrange and conduct winery visits.

What are you going to do with the child while you're visiting a couple of wine stops a day? Castles, forts, towers, ruins, hikes, all seem more child friendly to me.
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Aug 16th, 2015, 09:01 PM
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Tuscan,

I think you are thinking of the other poster who was asking the same question. They are the ones with a party of 5 including a one year old.
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Aug 17th, 2015, 05:55 AM
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Some very good advice on here.

Would I be doing myself a favor taking a taxi to the Airport from Central Florence to pick up my hire car and then dropping it off again at the airport before heading back into Florence via taxi to take train into Rome? (aiming to avoid confusion and restricted zones)


Also where would I park my vehicle at night if I were to stay in a town such as Montepulciano or San Gimignano ? We would most likely hire a people mover 7 seats.


What are some prices of main meals in towns like this?(i.e pasta, pizza and meat dishes)


Thank you
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Aug 17th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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If your focus is wine and scenery, the area between Montalcino-Pienza-Montepulciano has plenty of both. Both Montalcino (Brunello) and Montepulciano (Nobile) have plenty of tasting places within the towns. Pienza's focus is their cheese. Many of the postcards you see of Tuscany will be this area (Val d'Orcia).

If you want to pick up your car at the airport, there is a shuttle bus from the train station area to the airport (about 6€). Of course, once there, you would still have to get to your actual rental office. A taxi to the airport is a set fee (I think it's 20-22€).

I would look at returning the car in Chiusi. I don't see the point of backtracking to Florence to return a car. You can catch a train from Chiusi into Rome for about 10€.
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Aug 17th, 2015, 07:20 AM
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MLoughman,

You are the only other person I've encountered who ate at Quatto Gatti. I very much enjoyed my simple lunch there, and often recommend it to people.

Still, I think if the point of taking 5 people out to the Tuscan countryside is red wine and famous views of hills, than the area of Montalcino is optimal.

Regarding parking, there are parking lots ringing the hill towns, but you need to get up hill with your luggage if you are staying inside the towns. If you prefer to stay at an agriturismo, they usually have their own parking. But if you plan to drink lots of wine, then you need to stay at an agriturismo that serves food, because most of them are not located within walking distance of restaurants. They are farms. It is sometimes easier for families to stay at agriturismos with restaurants because you have more control over the pace of the meal (and if somebody wants to eat less or skip dessert and go sleep, it's not a problem since you are guests of the establishment. Usually more elbow room too.
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Aug 17th, 2015, 11:00 AM
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Oops, sorry I was the one confusing posters. Traveling with a child is beyond my experience so I'll leave that to others.

Definitely agree to drop the Car in either Chuisi or Orvieto. Easier than Florence airport.
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