Tuscany, Umbria where to stay?

Mar 9th, 2007, 05:28 PM
  #1  
EMM
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Tuscany, Umbria where to stay?

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy for 9 days in late Sept. We wanted to stay 4 nights in Rome, then the rest of our trip in Tuscany and Umbria regions. We are having a hard time planning our trip out, deciding where to stay as a base in Tuscany and/or Umbria-Sienna, Motepulciano, Perugia?! We are fine staying in two different places, we just didn't want to jump around too much. Debating if we should rent a car or not as well, we would have to get an automatic. Any suggestions? I have been to Italy before, my husband hasn't. Thanks!
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Mar 10th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Where you stay in Tuscany/Umbria depends a lot on what you want to see and do. My wife and I loved the Chianti area near Panzano and used that as a base for seeing much of Northern Tuscany on our first trip (Florence, Sienna, San G, Lucca and several of the smaller hill towns). We stayed in Proceno south of Pienza on our second trip and used it as base for Southern Tuscany/Umbria (Orvieto, Pitigliano, Sovana, Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Assisi, Deruta and more). I highly recommend renting a car (even if you have to pay more to get an automatic) - I think it really adds to the enjoyment of the area by giving you a lot flexibility in places you can see and the times to see them.
john183 is online now  
Mar 10th, 2007, 07:05 AM
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I agree completely with John. We've stayed in San Gimignano on one trip to see the surrounding area - loved it! On subsequent trips, we've stayed in southern Tuscany - near Pienza & Montepulciano to explore that area - loved it even more! A car was a must, for us, to truly experience Tuscany.
dorkforcemom is offline  
Mar 10th, 2007, 08:50 AM
  #4  
EMM
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Thanks for the info. I think you are both right about the car. As it makes exploring a lot easier. I can look into picking up a car when we arrive 9/22 in Rome, from there going to Tuscany/Umbria. Then on Thurs. coming back to Rome until Mon. am. In terms of what we want to do, we definitely wanted to see various wineries, countryside. Do you think it is too much to use Sienna or Perugia as a base for a couple of nights each and from there see San G., Montepulciano, Orvieto, Montalcino, Pienza, etc? I may be trying to pack too many things in!
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Mar 10th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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I think you might be trying to pack too much in. We did Tuscany and Umbria last Spring. It can take longer than you expect to get from place to place. We had a very full itinerary covering the same area in 9 nights. I think you'll spread yourself thin with 5 nights.

I would do either Umbria and Val d'Orcia area near Montipulciano....or Val d'Orcia and Chianti.
A car is essential in my opinion.

If wineries and countryside are your main goal, I would save Umbria for another time. You could easily fill 5 days in Chianti and the Val d'Orcia and still not do it justice. I would perhaps split my time 2 days in Chianti and 3 days in the Val d'Orcia. San Gimignano was a fine base as long as you are out of town during the peak tourist hours. The evenings and mornings are magical when you have the town to yourself.

Perhaps plan to pick up a car and drive to Siena...visit for the day and arrive San Gimignano late afternoon. Day two spend the day driving through Chianti wine country.

Day three visit Mont Oliveto Maggiore on the way to the Val d'Orcia...Pienza, San Quirico, Montalcino or Montipulciano as a base for 3 nights.

Stu Dudley has a very good driving recommendation for this region. You will have much to see in two and a half days.

My photos are posted here:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/crazy4travel/main?view=1

Good luck with your planning
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Mar 10th, 2007, 11:06 AM
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Hi EMM,

I would suggest just one base to explore for your 4 days. Siena would be good, or better yet, stay in southern Tuscany(Pienza area).

Perugia would not be a good base to explore the towns you mention. However, Perugia is a good base for exploring many small towns in Umbria (Assisi, Gubbio, Spello, Spoleto, Todi) using public transportation (bus and train.)

I suggest you train from Rome to Orvieto, have lunch there and explore, then pick up your rental car and head to your destination hotel (Siena) or agriturismo (Pienza area.) You can return your car in either Orvieto or in Rome.

This is my favorite place to stay-

fontebertusi.it

It is located just 2km outside of Pienza and makes a wonderful base for day trips throughout the region.

Car rentals-

novacarehire or autoeurope

Enjoy your trip!


Zoe
zoecat is online now  
Mar 11th, 2007, 11:41 AM
  #7  
EMM
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Thank you all of his is helpful! I did realize after I posted that we were thinking of too many places and we should likely pick either southern or nothern tuscany vs. trying to do both.
CRAZY4TRAVEL did you stay in Montalcino, your pictures were beautiful. Who is Stu Dudley another posting to look up? I have heard autoeurope is the way to go. Additional recommendations for places to stay are welcome! Thanks.
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Mar 11th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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EMM,
E-mail me and I will send you some suggestions for Tuscany towns.

Henry
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Mar 11th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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Hi EMM,

I did stay in Montalcino....although it is very well liked by many and don't get me wrong...the countryside surrounding the town is lovely...I liked Montipulciano, Pienza or San Quirco and would likely pick one of those towns for my base next time. It was a matter of taste really. I didn't find the town of Montalcino as interesting in comparison but it made a very cental base.

That area of Tuscany is absolutely beautiful.....stunning!!

Stu Dudley has provided his driving itinerary to hundreds on this board. The drive through the countryside from Monticchiello to Pienza on his recommendation was one of the most scenic of our trip. I think this thread should be helpful.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34652503
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 03:42 PM
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I am an American living in the town of Pienza for over a year, so I definitely recommend basing yourself in the val D'orcia in order to explore the best of southern Tuscany.

You do definitely need a car to really explore the area, but if you are nervous about picking up and dropping off a car in Rome (driving in and out can be a bit daunting), you can take the train from Rome to Chiusi (a little over an hour) and then rent a car from Hertz or Avis directly in front of the train station. From there it's a short easy drive to the towns where you might base yourself.

I also agree with Crazy4Travel that Montalcino is not the best base (despite my love of its wine, and being married there 5 years ago).

Zoecat recommends Fonte Bertusi which is a lovely agriturismo just outside of Pienza, I can verify that it is a great spot.

I own a villa/hotel on the other more wide open side of Pienza. We are opening this June, and in my biased opinion it is also a great base to explore. We know the area very well, and if I can help your planning in any way, send me an email:
www.la-bandita.com

September is a lovely time, you are in for a treat.
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Mar 16th, 2007, 05:42 PM
  #11  
EMM
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This is helpful information, thanks! I will check out Stu's postings as well. My thought in picking up the car in Rome was that it may be easier flying in, getting a car at the airport, vs. going from the airport to the train station? Do you agree? Granted it would make for a long travel day but we have an overnight flight arriving in Rome early am. I am going to look at Montipulciano, Pienza or San Quirco for places to stay. Any suggestions for places to stay in Rome as well? I wanted to look for places close to the Pantheon since it would be central/equal distance to many of the big sights. Thanks!
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Mar 16th, 2007, 08:03 PM
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Do not assume you will arrive rested after an overnight flight. Most of us don't sleep well on the flight and then there's the issue of the time difference and jet lag. You need all your faculties for dealing with Italian drivers. To attempt this while sleep-deprived is a recipe for disaster. Stay a few days in Rome, get acclimated to the country and the time change, then start your drive.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 16th, 2007, 09:42 PM
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Mimar has given you some great advice. If you don't want to drive in Rome, you can train to Orvieto or Chiusi to pick up your car, and return it to the Rome airport when you depart.
lovisa is offline  
Mar 17th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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I agree with Mimar...that you most likely will not feel rested after an overnight on the plane and the time change...jetlag.

We drove from Rome to Orvieto the day that we arrived and that was more than enough for us. Mind you we arrived in Rome at approx noon time to discover our luggage was back in Munich. We had the choice to wait 3 hours for it to come on the next flight...or have it sent to us at our next destination. We had a feeling we would not see our luggage until the end of our trip if we chose the later option. Unfortunately, the extra 3 hours only added to our fatigue. Our arrival in Orvieto ended up being approx 6pm.

I might also suggest that you spend the first few days of your trip in Rome...take the train Chuisi and pick-up your car there. Trains are very inexpensive in Italy and you won't have to contend with the traffic around Rome.

If you decide to go to the Val d'Orcia upon arrival, driving from the Airport out of Rome is not that bad. Just make sure you stay to the right side of the road as the locals are rather aggressive drivers.
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Mar 17th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Both times we went to Italy, we followed the basic idea you are thinking about doing and were very happy with how our itinerary worked out. We flew overnight to Rome, rented a car at the airport and drove to our destination in Tuscany within 2-3 hours (just in time for a late lunch). We really wanted to end our vacation in Rome so renting the car at the airport cut out the extra step of catching a train to somewhere in Tuscany before picking up the car. It is quite easy to exit the aiport and follow the signs for the Autostrada to Tuscany. Driving in Italy turned out not to be as hard as I had feared.

I took a prescription ambien on the flight after dinner was served and I had about 5 hours of sleep so I was fairly rested when we arrived. Ambien works for me but be advised it can have different effects on different people (one of our friends was basically knocked out for about 8-10 hours and was not refreshed when she finally woke up). It worked great for us to start our vacation in Tuscany and finish in Rome. On one trip we dropped our car in Orvieto near the train station and caught the train to Rome. My advice would be to plan the itinerary you think would work for you and if you think you will be refreshed enough, rent a car at the Rome airport.
john183 is online now  
Mar 17th, 2007, 09:29 AM
  #16  
EMM
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Thanks to all. John183, were you able to rent the car at Rome airport and drop off in Orvieto? We were researching picking up car in Rome and dropping off in our Tuscany destination and taking the train back to Rome.
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Mar 17th, 2007, 09:36 AM
  #17  
nma
 
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We rented a car in Pisa and returned it at the Rome airport. So easy! We spent one night each in Volterra, Siena and Montalcino while driving around all the little Tuscan towns. It was wonderful! Enjoy!
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Mar 17th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Yes we rented at the Rome airport both times, dropped off in Orvieto once and Florence the other (on our way to Venice). I think there is no extra charge in Italy to pick up at one place and drop off at another. In fact one time on the Amalfi Coast we changed plans in the middle of the vacation and dropped the car off in Naples instead of our planned drop off of Salerno with no penalty. Have you decided where you are staying in Tuscany yet? Even though we were not staying there, we found Orvieto to be very convenient to drop off when we were ready to go to Rome (I have heard Chiusi is also convenient). We were able to walk from the car dropoff location to the train station for the short train ride to Rome.

Also, I forgot to mention we stayed at the Albergo del Senato near the Pantheon in Rome in 2002 and loved it. I have heard the prices are now quite high but the area was perfect. We stayed once near the Spanish steps and liked the Pantheon area better.
john183 is online now  
Mar 17th, 2007, 10:31 AM
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We picked up in Rome and dropped off at Foligno in Umbria at no additional cost with Avis through Autoeurope.

When we were researching the car, it wasn't showing all of the locations on the website with Autoeurope so you may want to call them. We also found the rates better over the phone than what was quoting on the website as Autoeurope deals with several suppliers but for some reason the website favours the supplier Europcar. Make sure to ask if they have any upgrade promotions. We saved an extra 85.00 as a result.

The toll free number is 1-888-223-5555.
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Mar 31st, 2007, 09:23 AM
  #20  
EMM
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Thanks for the suggestions about renting a car with Autoeurope and calling instead of booking online. It was a lot cheaper and worked out great! We are picking up the car at the Rome airport and will drop off in Chiusi and take the train back to Rome. If anyone is debating hotels in Rome or Tuscany region, I think I have looked up hundreds so I can likely share info! We looked at the
Albergo del Senato in Rome which did seem great but in the end found a better deal at Fortyseven Hotel Rome and it seems like a hotel my husband and I would like. Any other suggestions for good tours/musuems that we have to book in advance? Thanks again!
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