Tuscany in October

Sep 10th, 2019, 06:52 AM
  #1  
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Tuscany in October

Hello! I'm heading to Italy mid-October and staying about a forty minutes east of Livorno. We fly into Rome, drive to and stay at San Ruffino Resort for six days, then we'll have two nights in Rome before we fly out. We'll have a car and have our hearts set on seeing a few things while we're there, but we're also happy to just drive and see what we find. Florence is on the list, for sure - I've read that there's a park-n-ride west of the city which seems like it may be a good bet. We'd like to see a smaller medieval town or two (like San Gimignano, Siena) but we're open to suggestions for any other charming, old town, picturesque places that are easy to get to. I've also read that we can book day trips from Pisa up to Cinque Terre, but we're open to other suggestions on the coast. Hoping for good weather and some outdoor café dining in towns and on the water. I'm also open to train travel and booking day tours or trips.
A couple of questions are
- has anyone done any of those day trips, are they enough time to get a taste of the villages of Cinque Terre?
- I've read up a little*on driving in Italy and ZTL areas. Is there anything else vital that we should know? Looking on the map I don't see a lot of toll roads, hopefully they'll be clearly marked?
- Does anyone have any other suggestions or tips? We'll be two women traveling and want to be safe, but have fun.

Rome is the last part of our trip and without too much time there, we may take a tour or hop on/hop off, just to see the main touristy things. But is there anything else that we may not know to consider seeing there? We'll be staying in the Vatican area.

Thank you so much!!* (Sorry, it looks like I rambled on a bit!)
Sandy
Sandygill32 is online now  
Sep 10th, 2019, 07:27 AM
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by Sandygill32 View Post
Hello! I'm heading to Italy mid-October and staying about a forty minutes east of Livorno. We fly into Rome, drive to and stay at San Ruffino Resort for six days, then we'll have two nights in Rome before we fly out. We'll have a car and have our hearts set on seeing a few things while we're there, but we're also happy to just drive and see what we find. Florence is on the list, for sure - I've read that there's a park-n-ride west of the city which seems like it may be a good bet. We'd like to see a smaller medieval town or two (like San Gimignano, Siena) but we're open to suggestions for any other charming, old town, picturesque places that are easy to get to. I've also read that we can book day trips from Pisa up to Cinque Terre, but we're open to other suggestions on the coast. Hoping for good weather and some outdoor café dining in towns and on the water. I'm also open to train travel and booking day tours or trips.
A couple of questions are
- has anyone done any of those day trips, are they enough time to get a taste of the villages of Cinque Terre?
- I've read up a little*on driving in Italy and ZTL areas. Is there anything else vital that we should know? Looking on the map I don't see a lot of toll roads, hopefully they'll be clearly marked?
- Does anyone have any other suggestions or tips? We'll be two women traveling and want to be safe, but have fun.

Rome is the last part of our trip and without too much time there, we may take a tour or hop on/hop off, just to see the main touristy things. But is there anything else that we may not know to consider seeing there? We'll be staying in the Vatican area.

Thank you so much!!* (Sorry, it looks like I rambled on a bit!)
Sandy
Hello Sandy,
It' s possible visit 5 terre in one day. For example there are many excursions from Florence, La Spezia or Livorno. I think that in this period there are the boats. Or you can visit 5 terre also by train.
All ztl areas( only on City centre) are indicated by road signs. Beetwen the cities like Florence, Pisa , Siena, etc there are toll roads ( indicated by green road signs).
All Tuscany Region is beautiful. Also you can visit some vineyard and try good italian wine! Or why not do some cooking lesson ( ice cream or pizza)!
Kateryna85 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2019, 07:29 AM
  #3  
 
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A small mention from one who has made this trip to Tuscany and Umbria several times in October....driving. No one can predict the weather, of course, but in our many times there, our constant companion in October was la nebbia.......the fog. It was there when we awoke and lifted by 10:30-11:00am like clockwork. After awhile, we just began our days at that time......keep an eye on this......not fun to drive those gorgeous country roads when you cannot see!
Traviata is offline  
Sep 10th, 2019, 07:31 AM
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Viamichelin and Google Maps are good about indicating tolls, but I think they would be hard to miss. If you are driving after an international flight, I would have trepidation about that. In addition to knowing the ztl sign, look up some basic info on parking.

There is so much to see in the vicinity, I would not spend the time to get to Cinque Terre. It is over an hour to get to La Spezia, where it would be prudent to park and take the train--definitely do not bother if the weather is not sparkling.
yorkshire is offline  
Sep 10th, 2019, 07:39 AM
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I don't know what drew you to that particular lodging in Tuscany, but its location is not ideal for the excursions you mention. None of the destinations except Pisa can be reached in under an hour, and some (Florence, Siena, Cinque Terre) are easily 2 or more hours away. For some (including me), that's a lot of driving and wouldn't leave much time in the day to enjoy the resort. If you picked the resort for the pool, make sure it will still be heated during your dates.

If you are using Google Maps for your estimates, add 10% or more to the drive times. If you want to drive on the more scenic secondary roads, you need to set the route search to avoid highways, perhaps at least in one direction. This will add more time to the drives but likely make the drives more memorable. Keep in mind that sunset will be at about 6:30p by Oct. 15th, and there's no "scenery" in the dark.

If you want to keep that lodging, I'd look for towns to visit that are closer to the resort. Volterra for sure. Perhaps Certaldo, Lucca... Research parking before you go.
Jean is online now  
Sep 10th, 2019, 10:43 AM
  #6  
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Good to know about the fog, we'll keep that in mind!
Sandygill32 is online now  
Sep 10th, 2019, 11:53 AM
  #7  
J62
 
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other tips.

Speed cameras are common, and they are live (at least one of them is). Obey the speed limits and you'll be ok. If you don't, expect to get a fine notice a month or 2 after your trip and expect to pay $100 to $150.

Most big cities (eg Florence and Siena) have parking apps for smart phones. They will give you real time parking space availability info.

Toll roads accept cash, and no need to avoid them.

As for the coast, there are many small, nice coastal beach towns from Livorno south. We spent a day at Cecina - it's a typical italian beach town that will probably be dead quiet and most things closed in Oct. Instead of going all the way to 5-terre consider doing an easy day trip to the coast and find a small port/fishing village to enjoy a lunch overlooking the ocean, away from all the crowds who will be all headed to the more popular destinations.

With 6 days at the resort I think you are planning too many long day trips. 5-Terre, Siena, Florence are all long day trips (incl 90+min travel each way, plus time to park, get into town, etc.- there is so much to explore or just enjoy much closer to where you are staying - Pisa, Lucca, Volterra, maybe San Gimi that could make for nice 1/2 day ventures. Do you really want to run yourselves ragged so you can say you've "seen" more places?

To get to Florence you could also look at driving to somewhere like Empoli and getting a cheap/frequent train from there.

Hertz offers a free wifi unit with car rentals - I got a coupon through AAA. We carried this wifi with us even when out of the car so basically had 24x7 free wifi coverage everywhere

Whatsapp work great over wifi for text messaging - ask your frequent contacts to use that (or fb messenger) to reach you, not just phone sms.

Last edited by J62; Sep 10th, 2019 at 12:03 PM.
J62 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 07:13 AM
  #8  
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The lodging is just part of a travel package that we purchased. It's not a resort so much as apartments and a base to begin at. (I figured the pool would be too cold and that's okay.) We figured it would be central enough to be able to drive a little and get to where we wanted to go and that we could make it work. Lucca and Volterra were two more that I had considered, so I'll look more into them, as well as Cecina. Distance/drive time doesn't bother us too much. Most places we go to around home are a solid 40 minutes away, too. From what I was seeing, we could reach Livorno or Pisa in that time. We will need to keep in mind the sunset time and the fog that someone else mentioned. I'll check out the parking apps, thanks. And a cooking class sounds like a great idea!
Sandygill32 is online now  
Sep 11th, 2019, 07:16 AM
  #9  
 
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I got this neat little book in preparation for a trip years ago and I recall it covering that area with scenic drives:

A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring and Eating off the Beaten Track

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1892145685/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1892145685/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

yorkshire is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 08:49 AM
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This is NOT first-hand info but someone on another thread suggested leaving the rental car in Orvieto and taking the train back to Rome.

Can anyone confirm this as a good idea?
TDudette is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 09:02 AM
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I've done that. Also dropped a car off in Chiusi. Both worked fine, and no stress.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 09:58 AM
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I suppose one can drive to Orvieto if one's rental agreement suits, and yes the train Orvieto > Rome is fast and easy, but the OP's location would make it inconvenient to drive there. Pisa and Livorno both have fairly fast direct trains to Rome if the rental company has offices in those cities. I've also dropped in Orvieto but was based much closer.

Last edited by tuscanlifeedit; Sep 11th, 2019 at 10:00 AM.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Sep 11th, 2019, 10:27 AM
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AFAIK, the only rental company with an office in Orvieto is Hertz, and you can't book this return through AutoEurope.
Jean is online now  
Sep 12th, 2019, 07:35 AM
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The Orvieto suggestion was only to avoid driving in Rome.
TDudette is offline  
Sep 12th, 2019, 08:28 AM
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There are some places not too far from the San Ruffino resort, and after all you are only there for six days.

I especially recommend Lucca and Volterra. Also Pistoia and San Miniato. San Gimignano isn't terribly far, and is worth the drive.

The Cinque Terre are not worth visiting if the weather is bad, or even iffy. I wouldn't count on visiting there. If you get a nice sunny day, especially a weekday, it might be a nice excursion. There are boat tours from La Spezia, which give you a nice view from the water, and you can stop to visit some of the towns.

Siena isn't a small medieval town, but a fairly large city with a medieval center. It's really quite far, and some of the towns I've mentioned above are also charming medieval towns, and much smaller and less visited.

Florence is a good hour and a half from your resort, and then finding parking and getting from there to the center will kill another half hour or more. If you go for a day trip, I would choose one or two things you want to see, preferably not the extremely popular things everyone else wants to see.
bvlenci is offline  
Sep 12th, 2019, 10:57 AM
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We did a day trip to Florence from outside Montepulciano in August. We parked at this lot off the A1 and then took a tram into the centre. The parking wasn't that expensive and it was pretty efficient.

Parcheggio Autostradale "Drive and Tramway” Villa Costanza

Last year, we did a day trip to Siena. We had done this before, so thought we knew enough. Well, we went on market day and we got a late start. It took forever to find someplace to park.
eastave is offline  
Sep 12th, 2019, 11:16 AM
  #17  
J62
 
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Re Siena " We went on market day and we got a late start. It took forever to find someplace to park."

Agreed - hence my suggestion to download the parking apps for these cities so you can see in advance where there is available parking and go directly there.

re Market Day (Wed mornings)
I recommend you avoid Siena on market day. Years ago the market (around the Fortezza) used to be a great place to find locally made/sourced goods. Nowadays most of the stalls sell cheap imported clothes & housewares. There are still the fruit/veggie/meat stalls, but the rest of the market is avoidable.
J62 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2019, 02:26 AM
  #18  
 
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Market day is different for every town; the vendors make the rounds of towns in their area.
bvlenci is offline  
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