Tuscany and Capalbio?

Aug 15th, 2015, 06:03 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 510
Tuscany and Capalbio?

3 of us (early 70's, very active) are planning a 3 week trip to Italy next year: 3 days 4 nights in Venice, travel day, 4 days 5 nights in Florence, 4 days 5 nights in Rome, some time in Tuscany and Maremma on the way from Florence to Rome.

I'd like to ask you about the Tuscany & Maremma part.

One of us is an artist who would really like to spend some time at the Niki de Saint de Phalle Tarot Gardens near Capalbio in Maremma (as well as see the art in Florence & Rome). 2 of us would really like to experience the Tuscan hill towns.

The two of the possibilities that we're considering are as follows (but we're open to other suggestions):

Alternate 1
day 1: travel Florence to Siena, night at Siena
day 2: explore around Siena, night at Siena
day 3: day trip to nearby hill town(s), night at Siena
day 4: travel to Capalbio, night at Capalbio
day 5: Capalbio and the tarot garden, night at Capalbio
day 6: travel Capalbio to Rome

Alternate 2
day 1: travel Florence to Siena, night at Siena
day 2: travel to Capalibio or nearby hill town (any suggestions for a nearby hill town?),
day 3, 4, & 5*: relax and explore around agriturismo in Capalbio or the hill town and the tarot garden, night at Capalbio
day 6*: travel Capalbio to Rome
* maybe cut one day out and add to Venice, Florence, or Rome

Most of the trip (Venice, Florence, Rome) will be by train, but we're vacillating on the Florence to Rome part ,between renting a car or using a combination of local buses and trains.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
elbegewa is offline  
Aug 15th, 2015, 06:51 PM
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What time of year is this trip?

Have any of you explored Tuscany before?

Do you have to all stay together the entire time?

Public transportation timetables are not generally conducive to sightseeing in Tuscany. Capalbio does have train service, but almost all of the hill towns within a reasonable distance for a day trip do not have train service. You'd have to research where you could go by bus from Capalbio. I believe the company in the Maremma is Tiemme. I think, in the end, you'll decide you need a car.

How you divvy up the days is your call. I'd be too itchy to see the Val d'Orcia area to stay in isolated Capalbio, and one night in Siena would not be enough time there for me.
Jean is offline  
Aug 15th, 2015, 08:03 PM
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Hi Jean ... to reply
Time of year currently undecided depending on some unrelated commitments: Sept 2016 or May 2016

No we've never been to Italy before (we're comfortable travelling and have been to China, Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic, UK, etc.)

Hmmm ... we'll probably split up a bit within cities, but likely will travel together
elbegewa is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 03:28 AM
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Whether you pick option 1 or 2, you will do best to rent a car. Also, I think that Plan 1 is a better trip for May, and Plan 2 is better in September, when you are more likely to have fine weather than enables you to enjoy jaunts to the seaside.

But two biggest differences between Plan 1 and Plan 2 is that Plan 1 will take you into one of the most tourist-beloved parts of Italy, with iconic picture postcard views and famous Renaissance wine towns, while Plan 2 will take you into a less developed area of Tuscany that is much less explored by tourists, and much of its aesthetic orientation feels closer to ancient Rome than to Florence or Siena. The question is whether if you take Plan 1 whether some in your group will feel they are giving iconic Tuscan wine country short-shrift, or if your group generally finds it fun and rewarding to get off-the-beaten track.

With a car, you are not at all isolated in the area Capalbio (just isolated from tourists), but the natural landscape is not as intensely farmed and formal as the val d'Orcia, where centuries of unusual agicutural techniques have removed most of the trees, exposing the contours rolling hills, and creating those picture postcard vistas of cypress, earth and sky. The Maremma is often called the "wild" Maremma, where flora is untamed. Within striking distance of Capalbio are Pitigliano and neighboring Etruscan villages, Magliano in Toscana, the baths at Saturnia and Manciano (and famed restaurants in tiny Montemerano) and the scenic seacoast town of Porto Ercole and the island of Giglio.


Technically not in Tuscany but Lazio, you can also visit the towns of Tuscania, Montefiascone and Tarquinia.

So if people have their hearts set on seeing with their own eyes the Tuscany they've seen in photos, most of those photos were taken in the well-preserved val d'Orcia, or around Siena and Chianti. If people would like to walk a bit on the wild side to explore Tuscan life past and present, with no shortage of hilltowns, good wine and great food, and get up close and personal with untouristed Italy, (plus visit the Mediterranean!), the Maremma has all that and can be fun -- but not if anybody is going to kick themselves for not being where the guidebooks suggeset. I've never been to the Tarot Gardens, but I think Plan 1 would give you more than enough time to see them.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 12:45 PM
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good thoughts, thanks.

I guess we'll have some soul searching to do ... on most of our trips to date we have spent most of our time in rural areas off of the beaten track ... this is the first trip we've taken hitting primarily famous places. Although in China and Germany and UK we spent a few days in the famous cities, most of the time was in "mundane rural" areas that many would find boring, but we found interesting and had some special attractions ignored by guide books. Maybe we should listen to our past.

The planning period when the choices seem infinite and confusion reigns is one of the most interesting times. One can learn a lot while winnowing through it all.

*** Anyone have any specific suggestions re the far south of Tuscany or the Maremma area? ***
elbegewa is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 01:50 PM
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We spent a nice day wandering the spa town of Saturnia and enjoying one of the hot springs.

We spent another day in Pitigliano which has an interesting Jewish history. The view of the town as you approach (perhaps from any direction) is pretty stunning. There is an underground tour in the town, but our timing was off and we missed it. Using a map we got at the TI office, we found one of several of the vie cave (paths carved through the tuff) near Pitigliano.

Jean is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 03:58 PM
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I really enjoyed Tarquinia, the town as well as its museums. I am a huge fan of the white wine Est! Est! Est!, and the town has fantastic views panoramic views on a clear day if you are up for the climb to the top, and also a pretty church (whose dome is modeled on St Peter's, albeit smaller). The coast is enjoyable if you are there in fine weather.

If you are driving down from Siena, it is great to take the scenic road south in the direction of Montalcino, but then cut west so you can make a stop at the abbey of San Galgano. On the way to visiting such unusual destinations as Pitigliano (and tiny Sovana and Sorano nearby have historic and present-day attractions), you can also stop for a coffee or gelato at Manciano -- a well preserved hilltown that I cannot for the life of me understand why no one but local Italians and school groups visit. (Legends of witches?)


There is a British or perhaps she is American woman who has lived for decades in that area, and who has an extensive website called Elegant Etruria (Her name is Mary and I cannot right now recall her last name). If you decided to go to Capalbio (I'm not putting a penny on the scale, just offering an option), then you might find it extremely worthwhile to ask her if, for a reasonable fee, she would make up a self-guided itinerary based on your interests, since it is so difficult to find information about this area otherwise.

Anyway, wherever you go in Italy it is hard not to be fascinated if you have even the teeniest bit of curiosity, and that goes just as well for the most popular tourist destinations. Throughout their history most of these places have attracted visitors, and had their robust commercial side, and the famous sights are rich as well, and even the most voracious tourists never manage to find every hidden corner of Florence or Siena or even the Chianti, so if you only spend enough time in Capalbio to see the Tarot Garden and enjoy a dinner among Rome's trendy second home owners, you'll still find something essentially Italian and uncorrupted everywhere you go if you have an eye and an appetite for it.

Good luck with the soul searching!
sandralist is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 04:00 PM
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Ooops -- sorry for not re-reading my post before hitting the button. The town with the great white wine and panoramic views is Montefiascone. Tarquinis has some nice views too, but the main reason to go is the Etruscan treasures and the easy going town itself. Good food there too.

For the coast, I think Porto Ercole is the nicest place for a lunch, but there are nice seafood places all over, and I'm sure people in Capalbio can give recommendations.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 16th, 2015, 04:09 PM
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Here is an interesting description of Manciano, including some information about events in May and September


And the woman whose name I was trying to recall is Mary Jane Cryan

sandralist is offline  
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