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Tuscany: my husband thinks we'll be bored.

Tuscany: my husband thinks we'll be bored.

Oct 8th, 2005, 05:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 12
Tuscany: my husband thinks we'll be bored.

I need some quick help. I will be traveling w/my husband and another couple to Italy in one week for a 9 day stay. We are booked in a villa for 7 nights outside of Arezzo and plan to drive to various places. We will spend our last day and one night in Rome and fly out from there. So I know we will be hitting a couple things in Rome. My husband wants to go to Florence for one day and Cinque Terra another. In my opinion, and from what I've read here, that is enough. The rest of the time could be spent just wandering some nearby small towns. He is wanting to fill more days with ever more: venice! pisa! museums! more!.He can not CONCEIVE of how boring "just hanging out" sounds "Doing what?? Shopping???" (god forbid!) I actually am not a shopper, but more of a wanderer that very occassionaly wanders into a shop. Can anyone help me answer him better? Help me out with a couple definites. We are active people: hikers, runners, etc -- as is the other couple. But we also love a good meal, adventure and a view. We will obviously have a car. And honestly, if you could keep me as far away from museums and churches that would be great. One church. One museum. One monestary. One castle. One ruin. that would be more than enough for me! I think I could skip them all, but am told I would be sorry. I do love gardens (the actual working variety.)
I appreciate your help!
jenmenke is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 05:59 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 122
You have a good arrangement to allow you to figure this out when you are there. As a recovering plan-aholic, I sympathize with the feeling that being busy and seeing everything is the best way to ensure that you won't be disappoointed. But you are correct to note that people have wonderful trips to Tuscany just relaxing.

So here's what I suggest. Make detailed notes of everything you could conceivably be interested in, with hours, directions, etc. But make no commitments to do any of them. Okay, maybe a few, that you already know you agree on. Then just follow your instincts each day. You may be able to do this happily together, and you may find that splitting up for a couple of hours helps. But your husband will feel "safe" knowing that he has options, and you can hopefully preserve your freedom. My husband and I have traveled successfully this way, including a recent trip to France where we did almost nothing structured (a real breakthrough for me!)

What I would try to avoid is going over with no plan, expecting to just be charmed at every turn. Yes, it could happen, but you have a better shot at loving what you see if you have some idea what that will be.
rsb99 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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You won't be bored in Tuscany. Arezzo is fairly large for a Tuscany town and nice to wander around. There are hill towns galore to wander. Beware of finding a parking space in Perugia. Large as it is, we could not find a lot or space in the whole city and really never got to see it. The hill towns by the way are on hills and the uphill walking requires good legs. The food in these little towns is wonderful as are the pastry and gelato shops. We have traveled all over the world and found Tuscany to be charming.
jreyer is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
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Hi jenmenke:

I am not going to answer your question, just going to offer some alternative strategies.

I am very lucky in that I travel to Europe almost every month on business and take the opportunity to spend the weekends alone, doing the things I love. Joint holidays are always a challenge.

I am a bit like your husband on vacation: I just can’t get enough of the museums, monasteries, art galleries and ruins. I am extremely active and energetic on vacation, while my husband likes a more “laid-back” approach; he likes a holiday where we amble through villages and have long lunches. I am up at 6am, ready to go; he wakes at about 10, has a leisurely breakfast, reads the economist, and then thinks about where we should go for lunch. When planning our last trip to Provence, he asked me: “Just how many Roman ruins and museums am I expected to visit on this trip”? NONE would have been a good number for him! Every single one in the region would have been my response!

Anyway, here is a coping strategy for two people that have different interests:

- If the rest of the party are late risers, let him take the car and head out on his own in the early morning. He should do his homework beforehand, so he can plan what he wants to see. He must be back at an agreed time. He should plan these adventures the night before and offer the party the opportunity to join him and they have to agree to be ready at a certain time. He can scout out the local villages for you and find interesting places for the day.

- Give him a day or two on his own. For example, on our last trip to Provence, I wanted to spend a day in Nimes and one in Orange, exploring the Roman sites and museums. DH dropped me off in both locations, and then headed off with friends to do the things they wanted to do and have long lunches. So, let him take the train on his own to Pisa and Venice, enjoy them, and come back to you for dinner, where he can entertain you all with tales of his adventures

- Consider hiring a second car for a couple of days during the trip so he can have his freedom

- Identify the towns you want to visit in Tuscany and make him do research on important sites. While the rest of the party are having a leisurely lunch and wandering through the town, he can visit the churches, monasteries and museums

I know this may sound like I am taking his side, but honestly, if he is anything like me, if you try to force him to be inactive, then it’s a bit like having a belligerent and difficult three-year old in tow (YES, I am SO guilty of that!) and you will feel his tension. You are much better off working with him on this issue than trying to convince him that he should conform.

I hope you don’t think I am lecturing you: I am just trying to pass on some tips that have worked for two travelers, myself and my husband, with very different ideas on what constitutes a great vacation, that have worked.

Best of luck.

Regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 07:22 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 12
No no NO! I don't think you are lecturing me at all. I think your suggestions are great. I did think he may need to go off by himself some. While I am all for that, we may run into some resistance from the other couple on that point (I think that deserves its own acronym. As in: the OC). He may even have company on some of his "restless forays" in the form of the wife from the OC.

But more specifically, will a guy who wants to "see things" be entertained in the smaller towns in the area around Arezzo? Or does he really have to take a train to the bigger cities like Pisa, Venice, etc. (Assuming, as I said in my first post, that he already has his day in Florence and his day in Rome that I have agreed to). I think I personally would be more interested in seeing Venice than Florence, but I think location-wise Florence is much closer to where we are staying. Though I'm not sure! Whoops. My ignorance is showing...
OReilly makes it clear that she shan't be sated, tho I think that maybe isn't the norm?? Don't most people wish they perhaps hadn't done quite "so much"?
jenmenke is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 08:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I don't know exactly when you will be there, but are you aware that during the entire week starting on October 15 or 16, in Peruggia is a great chocolate festival?

Just thought I'd chip in with another activity in the immediate area where you will be staying. Does hubby like chocolate?? It's really a great festival.
sssteve is offline  
Oct 8th, 2005, 11:26 PM
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OReilly, you must be a blessed saint to endure such Time Abuse" on your vacation.
degas is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 12:47 AM
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If I am honest, I would say that your hubby and me are quite similar in this respect. I always like to be out hunting for the next church, museum, German Casemate, old building or something I read on this forum. That is brilliant for me, just as it is Brilliant for your hubby.
However I really had to learn to compromise, and in doing so I learn't a new side to my holidays was there to be enjoyed. It's called...mm let me see if I can remember..relaxation yes thats it, relaxation. Last October I actually learnt the art of relaxing. (It did help being in Gran Canaria and I hated it lol)

So I have no advise to offer other than teach him to relax and throw the occasional trip in to keep his curiosity at bay.

Good Luck

ps I am off to the Algarve in 2 weeks for a bit of 'hunting down castles' and a lot of relaxing... Muck
Mucky is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 01:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,608
in my experience, you learn and experience very little about a place by visiting its museums and "key" sites. i always try to plan a blend of pure siteseeing with just wandering around/exploring. usually, the most memorable times come not from museums , churches, castles or fountains. they have been, for example, sharing a bottle of prosecco in a hidden quay along the grand canal and watching the world float by, happening by chance upon a bull running festival in a provencial village that is well off the tourist map.

how much do you really learn about italy by, for example, visiting the leaning tower of pisa? of course, there are things like this that should be seen, however, you should not overfill your planning the big sites or you will just come home seeing things (most of which can be seen in books) and not really experiencing the area.
walkinaround is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 03:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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You can pick thematic itineraries if you are super active. You can go one day to see some castles, another day to see monasteries or abbeys, one day to a spa, another day to a winery or olive press, or you can go hiking or horseback riding. There is much to do and see in Tuscany that you will feel that one week is way too short. Most towns and villages are real outdoor museums. So you won't be short of things to take picture of, visit and enjoy.
Including a hot chocolate in a bar or if you are going when it's hot, then an icecream!
casinadirosa is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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You guys are great! Chocolate festival? Seriously? Yes, we will be there then! We arrive on the 15th, and at this point, have no set itinerary. We will do that for sure. Those are the things I am looking for. Thank you "sssteve!" Precisely as "walkinaround" says, I want to see wineries, olive groves, presses -- exactly the things you can't see in books. I am cringing at the thought of standing in lines to see the David. I know, I know. I've read enough here to know the backlash of my words, but I think it is helpful for you to know where I am coming from. I am of the assumption that there have to be other people like me who don't care to stand in lines and shuffle around taking pictures of things I have already seen in all the books. I will give my all to the 2 days I have committed to doing exactly those things I don't want to do. And I am sure I will be surprised and enjoy it. But this is my very first trip EVER to Europe, and being both a gardener and a cook, after having heard and read about Italy and it's food and countryside my whole life, that is what I want to see. I may be being selfish, but I can't imagine that my travel partners--husband included-- will be disappointed if I can find some concrete things to suggest. Like the chocolate festival!! Does anybody know of some cool garden places. Like ornamental kitchen gardens or wineries with gardens. Working farms that you can tour? Where do I go on the internet to find these hidden gems. Our tour books just do not list any -- and that is what my hubby has his nose sunk into... I am not having the luck I had hoped here on Fodor's when I search "garden tours" "working farms" etc. But then I may be being a total spaz. When I search "bored" in the topic "italy" my thread here doesn't even show up... thanks again!
jenmenke is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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You shouldn't have to stand in line to get into the Accademia to see David -- do call ahead and get a reservation. It is WELL worth it. The Florence day trip could be so packed full, your DH may want to go back for a second day, but that should be an "open" option to be decided after a day close to your villa "wandering" nearby towns. Are you also definite on visiting Cinque Terra for a day? With those two planned (and very full) days, plus the Perugia chocolate festival, there is plenty to see just "puttering around" visiting hilltowns for the rest of your time.

I'd highly recommend Orvieto and a tour of the caves under the city. Fascinating. What you describe as "wandering nearby small towns" really does turn out to be pretty active traveling. I don't think you'll be bored at all.

Save Venice for another trip. And I don't have my big Italy map right here, but maybe you could stop by to see the LT on your way to Cinque Terre.

Good luck, and HAVE A GREAT TIME! (Let us know when you get back how "bored" DH got!)
LadyOLeisure is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,211
Forgive me, but I can't understand why you're making such a huge mountain out of what sounds a very small molehill.

You like walking and gardens. So do lots of walks and go round lots of gardens. There's no point searching for things on this site: the search function is useless, and Fodors are more interested in censoring debates (or getting their undertravelled staff to interrupt threads to give babyish and inaccurate advice) than in doing anything about it.

But why search? People have been walking in Italy for thousands of years, and the country has a reasonable footpath network. Just go to your nearest decent bookshop and buy Italian walk books or walkers' maps.

If you live somewhere without a proper bookshop, go to http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/notes/.../pk_hiking.htm, or browse www.walkingworld.com. Or google "walking arezzo OR tuscany OR umbria". Or go to the sites of Italian guided walk specialists like ATG Oxford and pinch their itineraries. Actually, ATG Oxford holidays in Italy are obsessed with walking, food and flowers, and just browsing through all their Tuscany/Umbria programmes is a pretty good short cut to most of what you're looking for. Take one of their trips sometime, and you might even cure yourself of this ridiculous bigotry you've acquired against churches and museums. Incidentally, if you've never been to Europe before, how do you know you're stuck with this sad affliction?

For working farms, a good place to start is www.agriturismo.com

I'm not a garden fan, but just googling "tuscany gardens" got me in 2 secs to http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscan...as_gardens.htm. Actually, a few minutes on www.slowtravel.com should give you more ideas.

But most bookshops near me have dozens of different books on Tuscany and Umbria which suggest most of the things you're interested in. You simply need to extend your book choice from the tabloid section of the market Fodors and Frommers occupy to grown-up, gush-free, books like the Blue Guide or Cadogan.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 10:33 AM
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No offense flanneruk, but you are obviously a seasoned traveler. I, obviously, am not. I don't know about BlueGuide or Cadogan so thank you for that backhanded resource. Frommers and Fodors is exactly what my husband is obsessively studying. When I look through those books I cringe. -- call me crazy. As you said, perhaps I will not be stuck with this sad affliction when I actually get to Italy. As I said, I probably WILL enjoy it. But given my travel experiences (in the US and once to Hong Kong) I think I would prefer to "wander" the towns and all that that entails. I did not know, for example, that there even exists Italian walking books. I have limited time to research this. So far I have found this forum very helpful and that is why I have (horrors!) attempted to use the search option. And even tho you seem irritated by my lack of knowledge, your reply was actually very helpful. I also hadn't realized I was making a huge mountain out of my question. If I was I apologize! I am only out to get a few fun ideas for our group that don't involve standing in line, buying tickets and shuffling around in big groups in large cities. And I am getting them. So thank you very much everyone!
jenmenke is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 10:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,203
Bored...I don't think so!

The CT is perfect for you guys as hikers because you can hike through the towns. I don't know how many times you've been to Italy but as someone who has been there several times, you really learn that slower is better there. With the siesta in the afternoon, we plan no more than one destination in the morning and one in the afternoon. That way, you can visit a town in the morning, have a nice lunch and move on to the next destination as the shops and town reopen in the afternoon.
buongiorno is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,085
Hi jenmenke,
Please don't take what Flanner says to heart. Occasionally he does give great advice, although this probably isn't from experience , but down to reading books and the web.
I suspect he has joined the 'Rex' club and turned into a miserable git again.

Regarding the "mountain out of a mole hill" statement, I think your question is perfectly valid, and one frequently discussed in my house due to our differet views on what is interesting, we are all different andd that is healthy believe me. !!
(Imagine if we were all like Flanner !! ...lol)

I suspect that when you return you may be surprised at how much DH enjoyed himself. And if by some chance he doesn't enjoy himself, next time leave him home !...


Mucky is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Hello jenmenke, I have been reading your thread with interest.

I understand where you are coming from and understand how you feel.

I was able to go to Italy several times for two months each as although my dear husband loved big cities and all the joys they have to offer he also wanted "downtime" to just enjoy and savor whereever we happened to be that appealed to us.

So I have seen all the "must sees" and know that travelling in Italy has gotten so much more complicated over the years, reservations, long lines etc. I feel so blessed that I don't have to bother with all of that unless I am in the mood. I am able to go to Italy and just enjoy Italy..the day to day life, the dolce vita as it were.

Most married couples and most friends don't seem to really want the same kind of vacations when they travel together. Perhaps that is why we read about more and more women here on Fodor's that go to Italy, France etc. on their own or with a woman friend that they have a lot in common with.

A 9 day stay is probably 8 nights. Not sure if you are including the 9 days as part of your arrival day and departure day. If so then you are talking about 7 days.

I would suggest that everyone have their say about what they want to do. I would have my say about what I want to do. Hopefully some of these "want to do's" are the same so that you and your husband or all four of you can enjoy them together.

And then I would suggest that everyone enjoy other day(s) doing what they want to do even if it is doing it on their own. That can be lovely also.

You do not have to be the tour guide. IMHO there are four adults travelling to Italy. Each adult should be able to figure out their own itinerary. Meet up for dinner and wine at the end of the day and exchange stories perhaps? Best wishes to you.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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My father and I couldn't be more polar opposites when it comes to taking a trip. He is a type-A, anal-retentive, get-to-the-airport-5 (!!!)-hours-early type of person. Everything has to be planned ahead of time. I, on the other hand, generally am very laid back and play most everything by ear (a friend of mine was recently telling me that I am one of the most laid-back people she has ever met). Yes, I may have a list of things that I want to see, but I deliberately underplan so that things seem more spontaneous when I do them. Needless to say, this clash of personalities makes for....ummmm...."interesting discussions" when we travel together.

That said, he and I have NEVER been bored when we've gone to Italy. Whether we're in Rome for 3 days, or renting an apartment in Montepulciano for 6 weeks, we've always found ways to entertain ourselves; we've always found something to do. We've done some things together and some things separately, including Doing Nothing.

Part of going to Italy includes living life all'italiana: taking it easy and not trying to do everything. I think we all want to go everywhere and see everything in Italy because there's just so much to see and do, but we have to realize that Doing Nothing is needed too. While my total experience with Arezzo has been limited to the Arezzo train station, Arezzo is a big enough city that there will be something to keep your husband occupied. Maybe he'll find a soccer match going on. Maybe he'll sit in the main piazza, sip a Campari, and watch the world go by while he's pretending to be Marcello Mastroianni. Doing Nothing is definitely NOT overrated.

Getting to and from Cinque Terre though will be difficult and/or time consuming from Arezzo. It's 3 hours away by train. Venice would be similar, so for these two destinations, try explaining to him that it would be logistically difficult to impossible to see these locations.
tdyls is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 03:13 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3
I'm too impatient to read through all the replies to see what has been said. Ir sounds to me though like he wants to see the whole country in 9 days. That can't happen. Tuscany in 9 days is a lot, though. A warning about Cinque Terra... 1 day is too little. I could have spent a week there hanging out. There's a 5 mile hike there that is fun, plus it's a great place to laze away on the beach... it's such a mellow place that it's like hitting a patch of sand on a bicycle... you'd rather just stop and sit than keep pushing.

My formula for the Tuscan towns was reading the guidebook in the car while traveling, getting a background on the town, and then enjoying wandering the town, admiring the architecture, and the vistas. Like one post I read earlier, there are lots of steep paths, and stairs. You'll get your exercise if you want it. I do love architecture, though, and a lot of the Tuscan towns we visited were very mideval, and I couldn't be happier just walking around exploring and looking at the walls (so to speak.) What might be a great way to enjoy it on an adrenal level is renting Vespas or bikes (a 150cc Vespa has a top speed of over 50mph, and is a blast to drive, just make sure you know how to ride one before going, as they have a bit of power for their weight.) You'll have the in-between town adrenelin, and the mellow meandering to calm down between towns.
mkahmvet is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 04:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,282

I really hope your trip will meet your expectations...

I suggest you check my website which includes several trips to Italy, and maybe you can find something there that can help you in your planning.
Here's the URL:

We love Italy and have been there many times.

sssteve is offline  

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