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Tuscany suggestions: main goal = wine, where to stay and rent the car

Tuscany suggestions: main goal = wine, where to stay and rent the car

Old Aug 6th, 2022, 02:55 PM
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Tuscany suggestions: main goal = wine, where to stay and rent the car

Fodors community,
My husband and I are traveling to Italy in October, first time in Italy for both of us and we plan to spend 5 days in Tuscany.
Our main goal is wine, visiting wineries, tasting wine and maybe collect some bottles. And eat!

Coming from Rome, and will have 2 more days in Florence before flying out.

We definitely want to spend couple days in Montepulciano and Montalcino area. Initially plan to stay in Siena area as a base and do day trips.
Now we think we would be better spend couple nights in Val d'orcia area, not to drive back and forth too much.

Should we make Siena a base for remaining days? We are eyeing some wineries in Bolgheri area, also want to check out Chianti. Not sure if another town closer to Bolgheri makes sense for short drive?

Also, where should we start? We could train from Rome to Chiusi, pick up a car there which would be closer to VD. Do we do a one way rental, and drop off in Siena or take the car to Florence? Or train from Rome to Siena and get a car there, then drive to VD?

I'm looking to rent from Hertz b/c I have a work account that allows me to use company contract for leisure travel. Looks like Hertz location is only in Siena & Florence. If one way rental from Chiusi, I would use whomever is there convenient.

I would appreciate your suggestions. thanks!
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Old Aug 6th, 2022, 03:33 PM
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We always stay in San Quirico in the Val d'Orcia. Less touristy than Pienza, and more centrally located than Montalcino & Montepluciano. We also go/come via Chuisi - where we pick up & drop off cars. The Porto Romano in Siena (where you can park a car) is only 45 mins away. So a day trip to Siena is easy. Day trip from Siena to the Val d'Orcia may be more complicated because of car parking issues near whatever hotel you pick in Siena. IMO, the Val d'Orcia is much more scenic than Chianti. If you have only 4 days or less before heading to Florence - I would skip Chianti.

Attached is my Italy itinerary - with a heavy dose of Tuscany & the Val d'Orcia.

Also, my wife's Shutterfly book from our most recent trip to Tuscany
Click "Full screen"

An earlier trip to Tuscany in Spring
It is an older Shutterfly book & captions & titles ore often missing or truncated

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
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Italy-revised.doc (167.0 KB, 24 views)
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Old Aug 6th, 2022, 03:50 PM
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5 days.... Is that 6 nights or 5 nights? Asked another way, does Day 1 include leaving Rome, renting the car and driving to your first destination? If so, that day is probably half gone unless you train to Chiusi at 7:00 a.m. (Ouch.) The other 4 days will fly by, esp. if you have to return the car at Chiusi and train to Florence. If it was my trip, I'd pick up the car in Rome and drop it at the Florence Airport, and I'd just "eat" the extra cost of a one-way rental in order to maximize my sightseeing time.

Other than wine, you don't mention other interests or priorities for this trip. If so, I'd forget basing in Siena. The drive between Siena and the Val d'Orcia towns is over an hour and between Siena and Bolgheri would take 2 hours. Each way. That would be a lot of driving every day.

I would spend the first nights in the Val d'Orcia area in the town of your choice. My preference is Montepulciano, but there's no wrong answer. Then, I think you have to decide between Bolgheri and exploring Chianti, but not both. Hands down, my choice would be Chianti, esp. in October. I think you'd have a greater chance of rain in Bolgheri at that time.

If you drive yourselves, the driver won't be able to sample the wines without doing the "spit" thing. Italy strictly enforces its drunk driving laws. You'd be better off hiring a driver or tour guide for the days you both want to taste the wines. You also need to have reservations at most wineries which a guide can help you with. There are enotecas and wine tasting rooms in some towns. You don't get the winery experience, but you can walk to them from your hotel.

If/whenever you drive yourselves, you need to be aware of ZTLs... zona traffico limitato... which are designated areas in almost every Italian town that you can't drive into for most hours of the day. You park outside the town and walk in/out. If you're staying in lodging located inside the ZTL, you'll be given specific driving instructions/directions to reach the place.

Jean is offline  
Old Aug 6th, 2022, 04:51 PM
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Jean, thanks for the advice.

We do have 5 nights, plan to leave rome late afternoon for Tuscany.
I agree for time efficiency, it would be best to get a car in Rome. But I'm nervous about driving in Rome (though leaving it).
I've heard bunch of nightmare stories about driving in cities of Italy.
At least in Tuscany, there will be rural roads.

I know I can't see & do everything on one trip, why do I feel like I'm missing out on so much...
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 06:16 AM
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We usually stay in Chianti. There are so many wineries; many do not speak English but set up tastings. We drove down dirt roads to find many of them , following little signs. All wines were terrific.
We also love the Piemonte and it has fabulous wines.
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 06:26 AM
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I'm sure you know that spitting will not ensure that you stay under Italy's driving limit, the mouth is very good at absorbing booze. Good luck and have fun
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Old Aug 7th, 2022, 08:15 AM
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Depends on the number of tastings, speed of tastings, size/weight of taster... blah blah blah. A Dutch study concluded that spitting prevented absorption of about 95% of the alcohol in wine. But if you taste many wines at multiple times during a day... it all adds up.

Anyway, I hate the spitting thing. I'd rather have a driver/guide. Then everyone gets to have a good time.
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