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Tuscany with 8 month old in September

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We are visiting Tuscany at end of September with our 8 month old and also with my parents. This will be our first trip with the baby and so plan to take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and eat some great Tuscan food. We will have a car, we enjoy walks, and I love photography.

We have already booked an 2 bedroom apartment (self-catering) in an agriturismo in Monteriggioni, we will be using this as our base as we prefer not to pack every few days and move with the baby.

I have narrowed it down to the following itinerary, not necessarily in this order, I just tried to group places according to distance to/from our agriturismo:

Day 1 - Florence

Day 2 - Lucca and Pisa

Day 3 - San Gimigniano and Volterra

Day 4 - Monteriggioni and Siena

Day 5 - Chianti region (Castellina, Panzano, Greve, Radda, Gaiole)

Day 6 - Val d'Orcia region (Montalcino, San Quircio d'Orcia, Pienza, Montepulciano)

Day 7 - Free day to relax at agriturismo

My questions are:

1. Is the above doable? We really want to savour the moment and enjoy the Tuscan countryside at a slow pace.

2. Specifically re: Chianti and Val d'Orcia days - Is it too much? Should we drop some places? - We don't want to feel like we're spending our day mostly looking for parking, getting out the stroller and strapping the baby only to spend a few minutes and back again. Can you suggest view points/spots where to photograph the classic Tuscan rolling hills? Or is everywhere at these places?

3. Are there are any self-guided walks we can take? we prefer to avoid tours because of the baby.

4. We are not wine drinkers, but I know its a must do in Tuscany. Any suggestion for a nice winery where to enjoy some scenery/views, maybe have a picnic lunch?

5. Are these places baby and stroller friendly?

6. Finally re: logistics - we will have a car, are there driving restrictions in the towns we have selected? Will it be difficult to park?

Looking forward to hear your comments!

  • Report Abuse

    There are driving restrictions in all the towns. In the smaller town it is generally very easy to park right outside those areas in clearly marked public parking lots. In the bigger cities, in particular Florence and Pisa -- you need to be extremely careful about where you drive to avoid getting a traffic ticket that could be astronomically expensive.

    THe opposite is true when it comes to strollers: You'll find the larger cities are more stroller friendly than the village hilltowns. For an 8-month old, a child carrier backpack is probably more practical.

    Overall, I think when you get to Tuscany you will see that is really nothing like what you are imagining. It is a very, very beautiful place where you will quickly discover it is less important to go sightseeing following a plan than it is to enjoy where you are and make your own discoveries. (Or at least that is my opinion. There are some people who keep their noses glued to a pre-set map of roads with instructions to "turn left here, go right past the church, get your camera ready, take a picture of the cyprus trees, " -- I'm not kidding!

    So while I think you will need to plan your trips to Florence and Pisa very carefully, the rest of the time you can just have fun, and whether that includes going to Volterra or Pienza is something you'll decide when you are there. Any good guidebook includes walking tours for both the small towns and the big ones.

    I completely disagree with anybody who tells you that drinking wine is a "must do" in Tuscany. Wine is very important to the history of the landscape you are looking at and the castles you may visit, but you don't actually need to drink wine to appreciate that history. There are actually several dozen different types of wine produced in the area where you are going, and anybody who tells you one type is greater or more important than the others doesn't know what they are talking about. If you feel like drinking or tasting some wine, go ahead, but many people who don't drink at all go to Tuscany and have just as wonderful a trip as the ones who get tipsy every night.

    A couple of things you need to be aware of with the baby:

    In September, the Tuscan sun and heat can be quite intense during the day. Your baby will need lots of sun protection.

    Mosquitoes are a problem throughout Tuscany and many rentals do not have window screens or air conditioning. Mosquito netting is very cheap in Italy and your landlord should be willing to provide it but if it's not there, go buy some at the local market.

    Ticks are also a problem in many parts of Tuscany so don't picnic on the ground in grassy areas or go hiking through tall grass or brush.

  • Report Abuse

    1. Doable but I would not do it. If you want to "savor the moment", the sure way to not do it is to spend your time running from place to place.

    2. Your concern will be the same everywhere you go.

    3. Plenty.

    4. If you're not wine drinkers then don't force yourself to do it because "it's the thing to do".

    5. Define "baby friendly". Italians have children too, you know.

    6. How good are you at parallel parking into teeny-tiny spaces?

  • Report Abuse

    Agree that in the smaller towns a baby carrier will be a lot more practical than a stroller. They are called hill towns because they are and parking is usually outside the walls and you must walk in from there.

    For Florence you must find parking outside the pedestrian center (I would identify a garage or lot) and walk or ride into the center from there.

    Agree to spend a couple of days seeing various towns but with a little one I think one a day is probably all you can manage. And you will want to do quite a bit of relaxing by your poor - since it can still be very hot then - esp for baby.

  • Report Abuse

    If you want a relaxed and pleasant experience, I would not try to see so many places. Two towns in one day is not relaxed, even with a car. A more relaxed itinerary would be to see one town a day and spend the rest of the day relaxing at the agriturismo or in Monteriggioni itself. If you keep going back to the same bar or restaurant near your agriturismo, you'll soon be treated like a friend, which is something most tourists never experience. Your baby will appreciate being able to take a nap at the agriturismo instead of in a car seat or a stroller.

    I've visited all the towns on your day 6, and I would find that day much too rushed even for us, traveling without a baby. I would choose Montalcino if I had to choose just one; it's fairly compact, very attractive, and it has a nice castle.

    Pienza is very small, and can be seen quickly; it's the kind of place that's definitely worth stopping at if you're driving by, but I wouldn't suggest a long drive to get there. It's quite near Montepulciano, so the two could easily be combined without making the day tiring. However, Montepulciano is a "long, skinny" town, stretched out along a ridge, with lots of ups and downs. I'm not sure it would be easy with a baby.

    There is no compulsion to drink wine in Italy. You'd be amazed at how many Italians don't drink wine (or any other alcohol) at all. My husband is one of them. His father had a vineyard and produced wine in his own cantina. His siblings all drink wine, but my husband has never even tasted a glass of wine in his entire life. It doesn't even provoke a comment. We invited another couple for dinner this past Saturday. Since I was serving fish, I bought a bottle of a good local Verdicchio to serve with it. It turned out that neither of them drinks wine; they also turned down the idea of an apertivo. I'll use the Verdicchio in the kitchen; it's very good for making a risotto.

    Anyway, I'm fervently opposed to must-sees and must-dos. It's your holiday and you're spending a lot of money on it. Don't let anyone else dictate what you have to see or do. Relax and have fun, and don't worry about the post-vacation cross-examination. Since you're staying in one place (a good decision) you can decide day-by-day what you feel like doing.

    My experience with strollers is that in some places they're very helpful, while in other places, they're just a nuisance. They're always nice for letting the baby play or nap in while you enjoy a leisurely meal. Since you have a car, you can take it along and decide at your destination whether it will be useful. My daughter used a sling to carry the baby from about 6 months on; she was still using it when my granddaughter was three. It takes up very little space, and you never know when it will come in handy, even if just to relieve your arms and shoulder when you end up carrying the baby.

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