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Tuscany: Relais Villa Petrischio - Cortona

Tuscany: Relais Villa Petrischio - Cortona

Aug 17th, 2014, 04:47 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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Tuscany: Relais Villa Petrischio - Cortona

Hello everyone,

I'm thinking of moving my Tuscany plans a bit more North. We are renting a car and driving down from Venice for (3 days and 3 nights) and currently headed to Cortona. We are staying at the Relais Villa Petrischio. The area looks lovely. As many have mentioned that there are many more fantastic country towns much close than Cortona: I'm curious if anyone has suggestions that are 2 to 2.5 hours from Venice...perhaps Lucca, Bologna or Parma? I want the countryside - wine tasting - local shopping, etc.

Many thanks!!
PaulaMarieJC is offline  
Aug 17th, 2014, 05:41 PM
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The area that is just northeast of Florence that is known as the Mugello produces red Chianti wine and has some of Italy's most famous outlet shopping. It is 2.5 hours from Venice by car.

However, 30 minutes further, you can reach the other red Chianti-producing area of Tuscany, just a bit southeast of Florence, which encompasses a fair chunk (but not all) of the iconic scenery of Tuscany seen in photographs. Towns like Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Panzano are the target zone.

There are other marvelous wine producing hills near Venice -- in all directions -- that produce completely different but fabulous wines, have a much different character and cuisine than Tuscany (often much better all around, actually!), and which have no end of shopping. They can be found to the northeast of Venice in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia near Cormons (90 minutes away), in the prosecco producing area north of Venice around Conegliano (1 hr by car), the very rich wine growing regions centered just north of Verona (90 minutes from Venice) or the exceptionally wonderful region of the Trentino surround Trento, which gives you luxury shopping in town and wine and apples and mountains galore in the vicinity (about 2 hours from Venice). Alas, Lucca, Bologna and Parma are not noted for their wines or their hills (they are in flat areas) although all 3 have both within a 45 minute drive.

The popularity of Tuscany around Chianti and the Val d'Orcia is that modern development has been outlawed in huge swaths of the wine producing areas. Therefore, a tourist can spend several days in the area, driving around, and almost never see a modern condo, a billboard, an industrial plant, even a highway. Instead one sees castles and medieval towns surrounded by vineyards dating back 1,000 years. it is like turning back the clock to another time completely, even if you are in a car. These same things all exist in the areas I mentioned but they are not as extensive when it comes to mile after mile, and one more frequently encounters modern infrastructure as one drives around. It is not that kind of escape from the modern world that touristic Tuscany is.

If you want that ancient landscape in all directions, and to avoid the modern world, you might think it is worth to drive that extra 30 minutes. Many people do. Other people are just as happy to burrow into these other places I mentioned, which have fantastic offerings, and not feel under so much pressure to be in the picture postcard areas.

You should do what makes your trip to Italy the right kind of trip for you and your traveling companion, and have fun. If driving too much is a mood killer, don't do it and you'll find great beauty at every turn. If you don't mind the extra drive and really want that Tuscan immersion, then make a fun day of getting there and getting back.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 17th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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here is info about the Mugello area of Tuscany if you don't want to drive further south

sandralist is offline  
Aug 17th, 2014, 05:54 PM
sandralist is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 05:48 AM
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These links are great! Thank you! I'll take a peak.

Have you been to Cortona? It's looks lovely as well as the surrounding towns. I'm just a bit nervous about the 4 hour (which will be more like 5 if we get lost). If Cortona is as beautiful as the pictures appear and worth the drive - perhaps there's towns along the way we should stop off in to help break the length of the car ride.
PaulaMarieJC is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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I've never spent the night in Cortona but one of the reasons it is so popular with tourists for multi-day stays is that not only was it the setting for "Under the Tuscan Sun" but also it is one of the few Tuscan towns large enough to be interesting for a few nights stay which has the feeling of being in the countryside with views rather than being a village where it takes no more than 30 minutes to walk around and see everything. There are plenty of shops and restaurants but it is not busy like a city and most of the entire town is completely off limits to motor traffic. Lucca and Arezzo are also large enough to be interesting for several days and tranquil in their centers but they don't have the great views because they aren't hilltowns. Montepulciano is some people's ideal for shopping and restaurants and views but it is an even further drive than Cortona. Siena is just a bit too big from some people and doesn't quite have that countryside feel. All of these places (with the possible exception of Lucca) are surrounded by lovely towns and villages and scenic drives.

But it is also true that for many people the real point of visiting Tuscany is not any of the towns really but it is all about the landscape of rolling hills. Sort of like agonizing over which town in the Berkshires to stay in is kind of beside the point. If you stay in one of the classic Chianti villages then you shorten the initial drive from Venice but you can still easily visit Cortona and drive through the landscape south of Chianti on the following days of your stay.

I think on another thread someone suggested you bit the bullet on the drive. I think you get a range of opinions about that and it is hard to advise somebody else. I would probably stop off along the way to enjoy a nice lunch somewhere. There are always good restaurants around. More so than on a similar drive in the US. But that means arriving in Cortona two hours later (and more if there is sightseeing thrown in or multiple stops are made). You will surely not want to drive 4 hours straight on Italian roads. You will want to take breaks.

There are some scenic destinations that for me merit the extra miles to see THE sight or else don't bother (some parts of Lago di Como or Lago di Garda are MUCH more beautiful than other parts but harder to reach. Ditto for some art works). But for me Cortona (and most of Tuscany anyway) wouldn't be worth the extra push as a place to stay. I'd probably stop sooner altogether rather than just for lunch and then take a scenic drive the next day to have lunch and take a scenic drive back. I probably wouldn't care if I was sleeping in a bigger town or a smaller town so long as it had one good restaurant. But other people who go to italy alot and love Tuscany would definitely feel it was worth the extra drive or take a train from Venice to Florence or Chiusi and rent the car there to reduce the amount of time actually behind the wheel covering the distance.

Hope other people chime in to give you a sense of what they would do or have done.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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Incredibly, I thought to something to add to what might be my totally irrelevant string of thoughts in response to your post, but here goes:

Some people would approach this by saying that since they are already investing so much time and effort and money to getting to Italy, that adding another hour or two on the road to see something they want to see is "worth it" even though they know it will add some stress and its not the ideal way to do it.

Other people would approach this by saying that they are defeating the whole purpose of going to idyllic Italy for a vacation by spending hours on the autostrade barreling to and from some place they'll be too stressed and time-pressed to really relax and enjoy once they get there and would look for an easy week, kicking back with the time available, trusting Italy is pretty amazing wherever you go.

Depends on your personality and also your mood for this particular trip.
sandralist is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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Hi Sandra,
I so appreciate your openness. Thank you! I'll check into everything you shared (much thanks) and let you know how it goes.

I had the destination in mind when booking and did not think about the long right (lost day) in travel; though perhaps I'll find a closer local or simply enjoy the journey as it comes.

Keep you posted!
PaulaMarieJC is offline  
Aug 18th, 2014, 03:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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We have stayed in Cortona for a week as well as have done several visits to the pretty Chianti region. Both are lovely but Cortona also offers you the chance to explore neighboring Umbria.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
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