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Tuscany: Which town(s) to stay in if main priorities are wine & food?

Tuscany: Which town(s) to stay in if main priorities are wine & food?

Old Jun 13th, 2016, 12:57 PM
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Tuscany: Which town(s) to stay in if main priorities are wine & food?

I've already posted a similar question but I am still not clear so hoping more people will answer this topic

My husband and I will be visiting Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria and Bologna from Sept 22- Oct 10th to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. Our main priority is food, wine and views. We are planning on staying 5 or 6 nights in Tuscany and I am certain I want to stay in either Montalcino or Montepulciano. Where I am confused is trying to decide on just staying in either of those towns OR staying 3 nights and then changing to the Chianti area for for 3 nights as well. We will do a day trip from Florence from Bologna and won't be visiting Siena. Is there a big difference in the regions where you feel we should really see both? So confused, please help!

Also, if anyone has a cooking class they would recommend that would be helpful too!
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Old Jun 13th, 2016, 04:21 PM
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Hi,

For what it's worth, Siena was one of my favourite places to visit in Tuscany! It depends what are you are into.. I think the scenery around Siena is what many people imagine when they think of Tuscany (cyprus trees, hill towns, etc). I really like Florence -- but I think you are seeing it as a day trip in any event. It is like walking around a museum -- of interest especially if you like Renaissance art. But I didn't think the countryside around Florence is as pretty as that around Siena.

We had a great meal and cooking class at this winery in Chianti:
http://en.coltibuono.com/cooking-courses

The food at Vichiomaggio was also very good:
http://www.vicchiomaggio.it/eng/guid...-tastings.html

I think it's 1-2 hours driving time so whether you want to stay for 3 days around Chianti and then move further south depends on how much driving you want to do.

We stayed for a week in one place and did day trips but didn't mind driving up to 1.5 hours in a day.

Enjoy!
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Old Jun 13th, 2016, 04:25 PM
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I'm definitely not the person to ask about a 3-night stay anywhere. I absolutely hate them. By the time you check-in, get unpacked, discover the lay of the land, find a great restaurant, it's time to get packed, check-out, and move on, only to repeat the pattern somewhere else. Just the thought of this style of travel is utterly exhausting to me.

IMO, the Montepulciano area is a better base for a 5-6 night stay. There's a lot to see and visit in a 30-minute radius in all directions. The food doesn't vary much in Tuscany, but there are plenty of good restaurants to choose from in and around Montepulciano. I also happen to find the Montepulciano/Val d'Orcia area more colorful.

The Montalcino area deserves a visit, but I tend to clump that area with a visit to Siena. There is so much to see and do between San Quirico d'Orcia and Montepulciano, you can eat up a week and still not see it all.

Some of the best places to stay around Montepulciano have their own terrific chef, and many offer cooking courses. The convenience can't be beat.
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Old Jun 13th, 2016, 04:40 PM
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We spent a week in Montepulciano at the Locanda San Francesco, and I'd go back in a heartbeat. The hotel is only 4-5 rooms, so it may already be booked up for your dates. If you stay elsewhere in town, try to stop at San Francesco's wine bar one night. It had a really nice atmosphere. The hotel and bar are owned by a local couple, and they gave us good restaurant and wine suggestions.

We stayed near Castellina in Chianti for several days on a previous trip. Castellina is charming, and I like Chianti overall a lot. But I'd rather stay in Montepulciano.
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Old Jun 13th, 2016, 04:56 PM
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Thank you for your input! I should have probably mentioned I have been to Siena and to Florence twice
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Old Jun 13th, 2016, 05:42 PM
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For views (massive sweeping) and wine (Brunello!), Montalcino. I like Montepulciano, but I don't think the wine or views are as good.

FYI - They are close enough together it doesn't matter. You can drive to the other for lunch and wine or to Pienza, Monticcheillo, etc. which also have great views.
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 02:34 AM
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You have a tough choice. I think both areas are distinctive, offer great views,
wine and food. But, having said that I don't want a long drive after a wonderful meal with wine. If you stay in the Chianti region I highly recommend La Mole for lunch. Incredible views and food
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 01:43 PM
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Personally I prefer the views in Chianti more than the Val d'Orcia, but that may be because I have spent more time there.

On our most recent trip we ate at this restaurant in between Pienza and Montepulciano and loved it:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...a_Tuscany.html

Also another vote for ristoro di lamole near greve in chianti for the views and food.

Have fun!
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Old Jun 14th, 2016, 03:26 PM
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I agree with what NYCFoodSnob said. Stay in Montepulciano or in the nearby countryside, Val d'Orcia or just outside of Pienza.

I like this place, located just outside of Pienza-

http://www.fontebertusi.it/en/
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 12:07 PM
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Yup, still confused lol If we just stay in Val d'Orcia and do day trips to the chianti region would we missing out?
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 12:12 PM
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I wouldn't worry about what you're missing by staying in one place or another. You're going to be missing things no matter where you stay. Tuscany is 9000 square miles.
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Old Jun 15th, 2016, 02:51 PM
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"You're going to be missing things no matter where you stay."

This is absolutely correct.

IMO, it's far smarter to pick Chianti or Val d'Orcia if you only have 5-6 nights. Attempting to do both will force you to spend an extraordinary amount of time in your car, and after an hour or two, the landscape will start to look as though it's repeating itself. Unless you're willing to start every day at 5:30 AM, you will limit what you can see during the peak hours when the postcard images present themselves. Some people think the views are incredible at high noon, so they don't care. However, photographers know that high noon is the worst view possible.

I love both Chianti and Val d'Orcia. I can't imagine picking a favorite. My advice is to pick one and plan a return visit. You won't regret this very rewarding plan.
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 10:47 AM
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Thanks, All! We have decided to stay in Val d'Orcia and come back. Debating to staying at either Salcheto Winehouse in Montepulciano or Podere Brizio in Montalcino. Now, I will look at Pienza haha. The advice is always much appreciated.
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 01:09 PM
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FWIW, I think the Podere Brizio looks more appealing, but you do realize that neither Podere Brizio nor Salcheto Winehouse are within walking distance of Montalcino and Montepulciano...? You'd have to drive and park. Be extremely careful about dinner wine + driving. Italy has tough drunk driving laws with very serious penalties.
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 02:07 PM
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Get ready for some beautiful countryside. You might wish to post your plans re car rental. And read this re driving:

http://driventoit.blogspot.com.au/
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 03:10 PM
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We've rented a car! I won't be driving and my husband is 6'2" and 180 pounds, we usually share a bottle of wine for dinner in Canada and he would be under the limit here for driving. I see that people keep commenting on being careful for drinking and driving and I am wondering how much people drink on these trips or how little can you drink without driving?

I thought it would be nicer to stay in the countryside... Do you recommend anywhere closer?
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 03:18 PM
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We've rented a car! I won't be driving and my husband is 6'2" and 180 pounds, we usually share a bottle of wine for dinner in Canada and he would be under the limit here for driving. I see that people keep commenting on being careful for drinking and driving and I am wondering how much people drink on these trips or how little can you drink without driving?

I thought it would be nicer to stay in the countryside... Do you recommend anywhere closer?
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 03:50 PM
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Sigh... I thought a 10 min drive to a restaurant wouldn't be a big deal. Now I am second guessing... So many places in the towns are already booked for our dates
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 04:01 PM
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Be aware that the blood alcohol limit in Italy is lower than in Canada. Add in dark, curvy, narrow and unfamiliar roads, wines that can have quite high alcohol content and cars that may not have the best headlights (we rented a Fiat 500 last year that had nearly worthless headlights). We have purposely stayed in town to avoid drinking and driving or on country properties where dinner was offered on site. For us, it's otherwise not worth the risk.
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 04:02 PM
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"I see that people keep commenting on being careful for drinking and driving and I am wondering how much people drink on these trips or how little can you drink without driving?"

The more appropriate question: Who are these people?

The Italians taught me how to drink wine decades ago. I don't get intoxicated at dinner, ever, and I've never dined with an Italian who did. Driving after dinner in Italy is not a problem for me, so I can only imagine what those people do.

Some people get drunk by sniffing wine. Some Italians insist, if the wine is great quality, you will not get drunk if you drink it properly.

There are a lot of variables, but on the internet, you mostly hear from those who don't know how to drink or have low tolerances.
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