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tommy Jan 2nd, 2003 07:42 AM

Tuscany - Day trips
 
In preliminary planning for a trip to northern Italy in Sep. 2003, I am planning 4 days in Chianti, hoping to take day trips to other towns in Tuscany. Will we be able to visit more than one town in a day. For example - could we do Volterra and San Gimignano in a day. What about Montepulciano and Montalcino in a day? We will have a car, and plan to start out early and perhaps stay late enough to have dinner in one of the towns. Any other &quot;must see&quot; towns? Pienza perhaps? <BR><BR>Thanks in advance!

carolync Jan 2nd, 2003 08:53 AM

Tommy,<BR><BR>Yes you can visit more than one town in a day, especially with advanced planning. We did Volterra and San G is one day, arriving late morning in Volterra and getting into San G late afternoon. I would have liked to spend more time in Volterra though. Start out as early as you can, it takes a much longer time to get around than the distance would suggest.

Marilyn Jan 2nd, 2003 09:24 AM

I agree with previous reply. A couple of towns are certainly do-able in one day. In fact, I think this is the best way to see Tuscany.<BR><BR>I would go to the farthest town, Montepulciano, first, have lunch in Pienza, and dinner in Montalcino. Reasoning: not a whole lot to see in Pienza, but it is a very charming and pretty place, lovely to spend an hour strolling around. Montalcino has a wonderful wine bar at the old Fortezza and all that Brunello to sample -- better for cocktails than brunch. Plus you will have less driving to do at the end of the day.<BR><BR>Also agree to start in Volterra and end with dinner in San G. If you are interested in things Etruscan, be sure to go to the museum in Volterra -- it's excellent.<BR><BR>And should you get the urge to just wander off course down some back road -- do it!!<BR><BR>You didn't mention Siena. I hope you are planning to spend at least half a day there.

tommy Jan 2nd, 2003 03:01 PM

Thanks for your help. I forgot to mention that yes, we were planning on a day in Siena, as well as a day just exploring Chianti. Glad to hear our plans are realistic!

Jacqueline Bond Jan 3rd, 2003 09:02 AM

How far apart is Sienna and San Giamignano? Can both be done in 1 day together, if driving from Florence? Does anyone know the distance down from Florence? How long will it take to drive? Is driving better than catching a bus?

Dayle Jan 3rd, 2003 12:56 PM

Hi Tommy,<BR><BR>We stayed near Gaolie (SP?) in Chianti and did day trips from there. One was San Gimignano/Volterra &amp; it was a long day. Another was Siena, another 1/2 day lunch at La Badia di Coultibuono - highly recommend!

Gabriel Rossetti Jan 3rd, 2003 03:04 PM

The drive from San Gimignano to Sienna is about 25 minutes. From San Gimignano to Florence is abour 45 minutes. Neither is a difficult drive, and I think preferable to a bus.

Uhoh Jan 3rd, 2003 06:18 PM

Be aware that most places, except for restaurants, are closed between noon and 3PM or so. Thus, plan to explore/shop etc. and eat lunch early in one town, and travel to your next town during that &quot;down&quot; time.

Pam Jan 4th, 2003 11:04 AM

Two things to remember already mentioned..it depends on the twons some take a brief time others a long time. Do consider the closing times as in many places particularly the smaller ones everything closes up. The tip on San Gimigiano in late afternoon is a good one. We did Montalcino and Montepulciano in a day. The driving distance between them is rather long. Montalcino is much smaller but the wine tasting at the fortress is a must. I'd leave alot of time for Montepulciano. This was our favorite of the hilltowns.<BR>I didn't see Siena on your list and I would absolutely recommend Siena. The Duomo there alone is worth the trip. Siena really does require nearly a full day. We stayed near Mercatale at the Antinori estates and I would recommend you check out the Osteria Badia en Passignano for lunch or dinner. The food was divine and the wine a perfect match. Oh to have the gnocchi with shaved porcinis. If you want a great dinner in a restaurant where lots of locals eat look for Frattoria just off the Tavarnelle exit for the autostrada in Chianti. It would be a great place when you have spent a full day among the hilltowns and are wanting to eat closer to home.

pam Jan 4th, 2003 11:07 AM

Make certain you have a good map for driving in Tuscany. I can't remember the exact one we used. I think it was the Italian Touring map in the largest enlargement we could find. Driving at times can be hairraising and good maps are essential.

cmt Jan 4th, 2003 02:06 PM

I really loved Cortona and would recommend going there on one of your days. If you can be there early in the a.m. you can look down on the valley filled with fog and see the domes of churches and farms below slowly become visible as the fog gradually lifs and disappear--beautiful. If you're there in the early evening, you will see very active local street life--people gathering to chat and take their traditional evening stroll. (At least that's how it was 5 years ago--I hope it's still that way.) It's also a good area for walking into the countryside and seeing Etruscan ruins. I agree that you can enjoy getting a quick taste of Pienza, Montalcino and Montepuliano in one day, as someone else suggested. Siena is a major town and I think you'd be better off spending at least one full day there (preferably more) instead of squeezing it in with a visit to San Gimignano.

Patrick Jan 4th, 2003 06:23 PM

There is an incredible difference between &quot;doing a city&quot; and experiencing one. You can &quot;do&quot; any city you want in an hour or two and be able to tell people you went there, if that is your goal. But I know of very few cities, including those you have mentioned above that can can be &quot;experienced&quot; by running through them in an hour or two. Many people here have hated San Gimagnano, but nearly all those did it as a day trip, stopping by with the rest of the tourists, and heading out again. Nearly everyone I have ever heard from that lingered for a day or two loved the place. You decide which you want to do -- &quot;do&quot; the place, or experience it.

Nancy Sampson Jan 5th, 2003 05:56 AM

I agree with Patrick. If you are pressed for time, then see both Volterra and San Gimignano in one day, but you will only get a surface view of both and they both deserve more than that. Keep in mind that traffic between the two towns can be very slow, particularily if you get behind one of the many tour buses. My suggestion would be to pick one of the towns to spend the entire day and night. You won't be sorry.

Pam Jan 5th, 2003 07:07 PM

Actually, I also agree with Patrick. It is easy to get caught up in trying to &quot;see&quot; everything and the best days are spent immersing yourself in a &quot;town&quot;. I suggest doing some more reading and pick out a few places you absolutely want to see. Before we left the states I also thought of lunch in one twon and dinner in another..it was unrealistic given the true pace of things in Italy.One of the best things about our recent trip there was how wonderfully slowed down we became. Think of this as your survey trip and the need to see more of the region will necessitate a return trip!

tommy Jan 6th, 2003 07:14 AM

Thanks to all who have replied to my question. Your (sometimes contridicatory!) advice has been helpful. I am the type to plan like the dickens before leaving on a trip, only to rearrange my schedule, once I am there and come across someplace I like where I want to linger. So for now, I will plan a few two-town daytrips and see what happens once I am there. Perhaps I will have to save a few towns for another time.<BR><BR>

Pam Jan 6th, 2003 07:46 AM

Tommy, That being said look at Castellina. It is a very small town, easy enough to do along with others and has a great feel. There is wine tasting &quot;downtown&quot; where we also bought some great olive oil and aged balsamico to bring home. I,too,plan &amp; plan..Italy delighted me with how surprised I could be when the best of plans went belly-up. Have a wonderful time!


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