Tuscany suggestions?

Jul 16th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Tuscany suggestions?


My fiance and I are planning on spending 3-4 nights somewhere in Tuscany for part of our honeymoon, I am looking for a place that would be a good base for exploring the area. We are probably going to have a car, and would like to take day trips to wineries, Florence, (not in the car!) and of the hill towns in the area. What would be a good place to stay? Siena? Lucca? Somewhere else? We would like to be somewhere near a decent sized town so we can walk or take a short drive to places for dinner and/or drinks. Thanks!
pschwerdt is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:31 PM
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Sienna is great, it's a fairly large town however, and getting in and out with a car could be a hassle. You night want to consider Montipulciano, Pienza, Radda. Orvieto is also a good choice, but technically in Umbria.
zootsi is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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The difficulty for you getting a helpful answer on Fodor's or any message board solely is that there are evangelizers for certain areas of Tuscany and certain ideas about Tuscany which may or not be right for you. Many people will tell you MUST stay at their favorite "digs" whether they are convenient to experiencing Florence or not. Some people will steer you toward or away from certain towns because they don't like walking up hill. Some will assume you want a fancy hotel because it is your honeymoon. (Maybe you do!) Personally, I would rather stay at a winery that serves dinner meals than stay in a town and visit wineries, but maybe you don't like being in the countryside.

So you really need to do some perusing of guidebooks first, on your own, and reading about how varied Tuscany is.

When you come back to post, you should include information like what time of year you are going, your budget, whether you don't mind being among lots of other tourists or find it more romantic to be off the beaten track , whether you want a pool, etc, etc.

And include the rest of your itierary!

But first check out some guides that give you an overview of Tuscany, which is quite a large place, some of it with seacoast, some of it wine country, some of it great art cities, some of it off the beaten track, some on.

Once you've done that, if you come back to post, it
zeppole is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:41 PM
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Sorry for the garble at the end.

You'll get lots of shout outs for certain areas or places in 10 posts, but it's really no substitute for doing some basic research into Florence and the areas around it, and the differences between Siena and Lucca, or the wineries of Chianti and Montalcino, etc.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:55 PM
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Terrific Zeppole !
You just killed any good input from at least 6 people who know Tuscany and are willing to help. This Forum is not about you. Just go away. We do not need your contrarian philosophy.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 01:57 PM
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Here is my trip report with photos from 2005 trip (link below). Chapters Two through Four deal with the hill towns of Tuscany and Florence. If you want to see how we killed our rental car, Chapter One will give you the details (pay attention to what petrol your car takes), although that takes place in Umbria (also beautiful). My report might give you some ideas on what area you might want to base yourselves. Good luck, have fun and drink plenty of vino!


maitaitom is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:04 PM
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This may help http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/hs_planning.htm

Henry is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Good for Tom and Henry,
Both are experienced Tuscany travelers. Of course, it is always wise to read some guide books and form your own opinions as to where to locate in Tuscany. I have been doing that for 20 years. And, recently I decided to ask the experts who do this for a living. Here is their consensus:

Everyone seems to have an opinion on this topic, but I must admit that I did not have a quick answer whenI was asked the question. So, I decided to do some research with some of my favorite guide book publishers. I selected both FROMMERS and DORLING KINDERSLEY[ Eyewitness books] for their opinions. I was surprised that both publishers actually agreed on the top 7 hill towns in Tuscany. Here is what they say, and I have to admit that I do concur.

* SIENA: Clearly the largest of the hill towns; really a small city.
The impressive Duomo is still my favorite in Italy

* SAN GIMIGNANO: The epitome of Tuscan hill towns, it can be very crowded, but with good reason with its famed towers.

* VOLTERRA: This ancient Etruscan center is the loftiest of the hill towns, and has the best alabaster artisans in Italy.

NOTE: The above two are often grouped geographically and can be seen in a single day from many Tuscany locations.

* MONTEPULCIANO: Has a real medieval ambiance and is home to the filming of the TWILIGHT movies. Also, famous for its VINO NOBILE and has dozens of wine shops.

* PIENZA: The only “hill town” that is actually flat. It was designed as the perfect Renaissance town center by a Pope.

* MONTALCINO: My favorite wine town in Italy, home to the famed Brunello vino. Check out the enoteca at the local Fortezza

NOTE: The above towns are in close proximity as you drive EW along the south Tuscany road, SS-146. This area is my favorite part of Tuscany and includes other notable features such as the Abbeys at Sant Antimo and Mt. Oliveto Maggiore and the spa hamlet of Bagno Vignoni.

CORTONA: An impressive Etruscan hill town made famous by the Frances Mayes book and subsequent movie. Surely worth your time if you find yourself in eastern Tuscany, but is easily the outlier hill town on this list geographically.

bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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Thanks everyone, here is some more info.

We will be there at the end of September, don't mind walking up a hill at all, actually we love walking. Don't want a fancy hotel, we are on a budget anyways. We like small hotels, apartments, and B&B's instead. Was hoping to stay around $100 USD per night if possible for accomodations. Love art, old buildings, small places to eat and drink, family run places...

We are also hoping to spend a couple of nights in Cinque Terra, and end our trip in Venice. (flight is home from there...)

Hopefully that helps.
pschwerdt is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:15 PM
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Lol, bob!

Who is really trying to help the honeymooners here?

I suggested that the couple expand their information base. You want to narrow it.

The idea that Fodor's posters "know" Tuscany is silly. They like to reminisce about their trips, a lot of them taken as retirees. You seem to think this forum is about bobthenavigator. I think travelers deserve better advice. So sue me.

But if you've got some relevant advice to offer, why don't you offer it? I'm not against people posting, like you are. And I assume the original poster will be glad for any information -including something other than a rewrite of a packaged tour brochure -- not threatened by it, like you always seem to be.


See what I mean about needing a dispassionate guidebook. Lots of good websites will give a complete overview of Tuscany -- including Chianti, the areas arounds San Gimignano, Lucca, le Crete Senese, the val d'Orcia =- and the overview will be helpful to you.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:33 PM
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Pschwerdt, if you haven't found a place - you might want to check out the Hotel Boscarecce, near Castelfiorentino, Italy. It is a small family-run inn, has a award-winning restaurant. and is located about an hour west of Florence. It is up in the hills, and I suggest you call ahead for directions if you stay there. But it is the most romantic hotel I have ever stayed in - and I don't usually look for those kinds of places.

And I apologize for the rude behavior of the posters above. This is your post, not theirs - they should take the disagreement somewhere else.
Marsha is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Ah, bob! I see we were posting at the same time. The typical cut and paste.

(Two days ago , bob just tried to arm-twist somebody who really wanted to see Cortona to go someplace else Will the real bob please stand up?


well, everybody has an opinion. I think anybody who believes there is a "consensus" on the "top Seven Hilltowns in Tuscany" is off their rocker. (Why not 8 hilltowns? or six?) What you've just been presented is the seven most touristy towns of Tuscany. Period. Yep - I'm a real contrarian.

If you want to see Florence as part of your Tuscan stay but don't want to drive into it as a day trip, your best bet is to stay somewhere near Siena, and take a bus in from there, or somewhere near Panzano in Chianti, from where you can take both a bus to Florence, and a bus to Siena.

Agriturismo Marciano might work very well for you if you'd like to stay near Siena with a car. It actually makes its own wine and serves dinner to its guests (it's not mandatory, but it can be a wonderful part of a Tuscan experience.)

Check it out:


For Panzano in Chianti, another poster here recently stayed at this agriturismo. It does not serve food but it is only a five minute walk to the town of Panzano (uphill, you are warned!) She gave it rave reviews:



Lastly -- for more "contrarian" advice (meaning, not the few places bob has been) -- for your stay on the Mediterranean, consider staying a seaside town that isn't one of the five le Cinque Terre towns for a more authentic feel of life in Liguria, You can look on Tripadvisor for charming hotels in places like Bonassola, Moneglia or Camogli for romantic stays all on the same train line that can take you day tripping into le Cinque Terre.

In other posts, bob just tried to argue somebody out of seeing Cortona who really wanted to go there. But boilerplate advice is
zeppole is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 02:38 PM
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More garble, sorry. My fingers get tired of warning people to keep the salt shaker at hand when reading Fodor's "expert" advice on Tuscany.
zeppole is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 08:08 AM
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Sorry Zep, but you are totally overmatched by several frequent posters here when it comes to Tuscany. You should stick to Liguria where you are indeed expert.

You always seem to think that I prefer south Tuscany because of lack of exposure. Well, I doubt if anyone here can match my coverage of Tuscany over the past 20 years. I have stayed at the following Tuscany locations:
San Gimignano--twice[once for a week at Agriturismo]
Chianti[ also an agriturismo]
Castelnouva Garfagnana
Bagno Vignoni
San Quirico
Porto Sant Stefano
West of Orvieto--for Pitigliano, Sovana etc

After that diverse coverage, and feedback from at least 100 of my clients, I have formed an opinion. It may be valid.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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sap is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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You might want to peruse Karen Brown's list of "value priced" accommodations.


You mentioned in your first post the desires to visit wineries and drive to towns for dinner and/or drinks. FYI, Italy's legal limits for BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is much lower than the U.S. (assuming that's where you're from). You do not want to drink and drive in Italy.
Jean is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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All I can add is: follow Bob the Navigator's advice! He planned a fabulous trip for us a few years ago which included Venice, Florence, and Tuscany...From hotel suggestions to type of car to rent, he did it all! It was great!
halcyon is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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I am reminded that when planning my recent trip to Italy, Fodors Italy Forum turned out to be the biggest downer of the whole trip. Take what info you need, use it as a springboard to get some input elsewhere, and know that Italy itself is a joy and the people openhearted and lovely. You can't see everything, and you will love your trip no matter what you choose.
arizonaa is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for the help everyone. And don't worry Jean, we have no plans to drink and drive in Italy.
pschwerdt is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:44 PM
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Contrarian or know-it-all, I think we all benefit from different opinions, especially when the reasons for those opinions are explained.

Thanks to both of you, bob and zeppole. I know your take on Tuscany is helping ME plan MY trip!!!

pschwerdt, sorry for using your thread to address others :<

Congratulations, and have a fantastic, unforgetable time.
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