Tuscany - How would you do it?

Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 04:45 AM
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Tuscany - How would you do it?

We are going to Italy in the end of June. We want to do only one region and decided on Tuscany/Umbria.
We have 7 days for this region...as of now, we have 4 nights booked in Florence.
Reading Frommers, it seemed like we could take various day trips from there within the region.
I also have 3 nights booked in Siena- we want to be there for the Palio (is it worth it?)and thought we could use that as a base to drive around as well..
I'm not tied to this and would really appreciate your input/experiences and suggestions on how to spend the 7 days there.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 04:56 AM
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ira
 
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Hi W,

I'm told that Siena gets rather crowded for the Palio. Have you booked a hotel yet?

Is it worth it? There are those who have found it not uninteresting.

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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 05:07 AM
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I have not been in Siena for the Palio but I am sure it is a VERY different place at that time than at any other. If you go then you won't be able to see the town as it really is. On the other hand you'll get to see a very famous, historic event. So "worth it" in this case would be very different for each person. For me I would not go then.

Four days in Florence could all be spent there, especially if you are renting a car anyway after Florence. But the two day trips from Florence most commonly mentioned are Siena (by bus) and Pisa/Lucca (by train). I did both of them last summer but I had six days/nights in Florence.

A suggestion for another place to base yourself besides Siena would be San Gimignano. Smaller, wonderful to stay in cause you can see it after the day trippers leave. In fact you could leave each day and go to other towns in the region and enjoy San Gimi in the early morning and later each day. We had a car when we were there and most hotels help you arrange parking in the lots surrounding the town.

But those are all in Tuscany. For Umbria I'd suggest Perugia as a base. It's larger than Assisi, etc but I found it very interesting and did day trips to Assisi and Spello, to Cortona and Deruta, and to Gubbio from there. Driving in and out of Perugia can be a little frustrating but we never got seriously lost (just kind of drove around in circles a few times).
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 06:07 AM
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Just to clarify, Tuscany and Umbria are two different regions. Umbria borders on southeast edge of Tuscana. Umbria, while it has been "discovered" has not have quite the hordes of tourists yet that Tuscany has (although Assisi is very popular).

--Marv
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Thanks...I realize they are 2 separate regions...and had hoped to see some of the scenery of Umbria using Siena as a base...but am not so sure anymore...

New plan: 3 days in Florence; 2 days in San Gimi; 1 day in Montecatene Terme; 2 days in Perugia ( I realize this is 8 days...decided to extend it by a day!)
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 08:09 AM
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wanderlust, my suggestion would be to focus on either Tuscany or Umbria, but not both with only 7 days.

To some degree, it depends on how much driving you are willing to do, how early you start your day, and how fast a pace you want to maintain. Do you want to spend 30 minutes exploring a hill town like Volterra, or half a day? When you are driving through the countryside, do you want to stop in some little town that looks charming, or just get to your destination?

After 5 trips to Tuscany and Umbria within the past 7 years, I am absolutely convinced that the best way to see Florence is to stay in the city. You've already planned to do that. You won't need a car while you're there, and there is certainly plenty to see to fill your 4 days.

I also think the Siena area is a great central base for days trips 1.)to Chianti country, 2.)to San Gimignano and Volterra, 3.)to Montalcino, Pienza, and Montepulciano. (There, that's 3 day trips without any time actually in Siena, a city worth a few days on its own, not to mention Palio!)

So that's my advice. Umbria is certainly worth another 5 days (minimum) all to itself, with Assisi, Orvieto, etc.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 08:22 AM
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Thanks Marilyn and everyone else..Based on the suggestions above, I think we're going to either do 3 days in Florence, 2 in San Gimi 1 day in Montecatini and 2 days in Perugia or
4 days in Florence and 3 days in San Gimi using that as a base for day trips...or is staying in Siena just as good given the Palio? I want some peace and quiet- husband seems to be losing the Palio battle!-and San Gimi seems close enough yet far. Any ideas?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 08:28 AM
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You realize, of course, that Florence will be packed in late June. A lot of people have had "meltdowns" in Florence due to the crowds. I never go there then.

Personally, the thing that makes me return to Tuscany is the beautiful countryside. I would recommend that you spend at least 2 days right in the middle of it. My preference is close to Pienza. If you do go to Florence, I would not stay in Siena. I would instead stay about 3 days near Pienza & take a 3/4 day trip to Siena.

Perugia is one of my favorite towns, but it's difficult to get into. The first time we tried, we gave up & went elsewhere. We've been back several times since, for overnights & day trips.

I have a 20+ page itinerary on Italy, with a heavy concentration on Tuscany. E-mail me at [email protected] if you want a copy

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 08:39 AM
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Peace and quiet is the exact opposite of what you'll get in Siena anytime around Palio, even afterwards. The winning contrada parades through the streets celebrating for days after the race.

My only comment about your revised itinerary is that you are doing more moving around from hotel to hotel than you need to. I don't like doing that for several reasons, not the least of which is that you spend a certain amount of time packing your stuff up, checking out, finding the next hotel, checking in, etc.

I agree with Stu that somewhere south of Siena, like Pienza or Montalcino, is a more central location for day trips than San Gim. You are also in striking distance of Umbria if you like. Pienza is a perfect little town, IMO, but it is quite small and I would probably opt to stay in Montalcino or Montepulciano instead.
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 04:53 PM
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So here is what I have booked thanks to all your help:

4 nights in Florence - day trip to Bologna and maybe an afternoon in Pisa.(no car for this leg)
Drive from Florence to San Gimi stay overnight at and then on to Montalcino using that as a base for day trips to Siena/Pienza and wherever the wind takes us! Husband still wants to stay in Siena (not too fond of the quiet countryside) - so my question is, Is Montalcino completly "dead" come 7/8 PM or are there people watching venues that exist!!? Are there many restaurants/wine bars to distract him and keep him busy?

Thank you for all your help!
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 01:57 AM
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ttt
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 04:15 AM
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Hi wander,

Much better itinerary.

You might fnd our day in Bologna helpful
Ira’s Trip Report
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34451044

>Are there many restaurants/wine bars to distract him and keep him busy?<

You can always buy a few bottles and let him wander down to the nearest piazza.

He will make many new friends.

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