Umbria versus Tuscany

Jul 10th, 2010, 05:37 AM
  #1  
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Umbria versus Tuscany

Leaving from Rome and looking to spend 7 days at a villa with a total of 16 people in July, 2011.

I am told Umbria is what tuscany was 20 years ago.

So, which one do you recommend? Why? Where to go and stay in either that will accomodate.
Jimbria is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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www.TuscanyNow.com villavacations.com slowtrav.com or parkervillas.com will give you a start looking for a villa. Tuscany Now and Parker Villas will send an extensive catalog that probably can be ordered on-line. You could easly stay on the bordor and visit both locations. Driving is very easy. Richard
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Jul 10th, 2010, 05:56 AM
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P.S. General information on both areas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tuscany and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/umbria
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Jul 10th, 2010, 06:17 AM
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Read about both and make your own decision. Location will be your most important choice. I would stay near Montepulciano in Tuscany and see the best of both all within a 90 minute radius.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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With a group of sixteen, you need to think about whether you want to be close to public transportation to facilitate sightseeing, or whether you are going to rent enough cars for people to move about sightseeing, or a bus! -- or whether you want some kind of villa or resort with enough activities right on site to keep everybody pretty much amused for a week. (They do exist, with horseback riding, pools, cooking classes and arranging wine tours, etc.)

Umbria is really quite a different region from Tuscany, culturally, historically and touristically, and complicating the issue is that within Tuscany, you have several very distinct touristic areas. People base in northern Tuscany, near Lucca and within striking distance of the sea, for different reasons than people base in Chianti within striking distance of Florence, or people base in the val d'Orcia because they want to immerse themselves in scenic driving and tiny medieval villages more for relaxation and photography instead of cultural sightseeing.

Tourism in Umbria is more centralized around its historic towns, rich with spectacular art offerings. That said, some of Italy's most spectacular natural scenery is also within Umbria, especially around what is considered its fringes.

People argue about which area has the better wine and food, although certainly Tuscany's wine is more famous. (Umbria has the best chocolate, without argument.)

About the only way in which it might be true that "Umbria is what tuscany was 20 years ago" is that certain areas of Tuscany -- particularly Chianti and the val d'Orcia, plus San Gimingnano in the north -- now attract so many hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, other travelers increasingly go to Umbria to experience hilltowns and vinyards without the crowds.

(Actually, I think the Maremma -- which is in Tuscany -- is more like the "orginal" untouristic Tuscany that people now miss.)

Without knowing the interests of your group, it is really hard to advise. But if most of the people in your group have never been to Italy before and will want to see Florence while staying at the villla, you need to pick a location that makes that doable, and you might even consider the Tuscan hills right near Firenze. If most in your group are eager to see the great art of Italy, especially painting, Umbria might be more rewarding for them than southern Tuscany. Likewise, if people in your group will be eager to escape the heat of summer and visit the seaside, better to head near the hills of Lucca and forget about Umbria (or go to the Maremma).

If you just want someone to tell you what to do, stay tuned! Such folks will race to this thread to do so.

Just be sure you check Tripadvisor for current reviews of villas. Some in both Tuscany and Umbria can also be terribly overpriced, so comparison shop.

Hope that helps!
zeppole is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 07:05 AM
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bobthenavigator and iris1745 are absolutely correct. Will you have 4 cars???
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Jul 10th, 2010, 07:19 AM
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Well, what you've been told is already outdated to an extent, too. Nowadays, in both regions you'll find crowded and empty places (which doesn't necessarily say anything on how worth visiting they are). Admittedly, in Tuscany, a much higher percentage of places will be crowded. But then, the region is much larger, so there are still enough places that you have for yourself.
Basically, it depends on what you want to see, which surroundings you prefer. In Tuscany, the landscape is typically gentler, in Umbria slightly steeper/more rugged, and in the east of the region even alpine. Umbrian towns are completely medieval, Tuscany has much more Renaissance architecture.
If you tell more about your likes and interests, we'll be able to give you better advice.
franco is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 07:24 AM
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...I meant "what you've been told that Umbria is like Tuscany 20 years ago" - not what you've been told on this thread, obviously. zeppole said it much better than I did, but strangely, her post didn't yet appear when I started typing.
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Jul 10th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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I met part,4 people of a group of 16, that had been at a villa in the Tuscan countryside, during breakfast in Perugian Hotel. The comment they made was indeed related to the difficulty of transportation. They had 4 cars, but had abondoned them for a large van, because navigating through small hilltowns and between them CAN be very confusing. Even with GPS and a map! I think the group was traveling on a classical music concert tour of the area.
Tina
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Jul 10th, 2010, 08:19 AM
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Thanks to all. We haven't thought this through to the end but since we will be spending 4 days in Rome we thought we would rent a bus and driver or 4 cars abd drive sleepily to Florence and a villa near there. Onthe way we would stop by a town or two ans stay over. The we would spend a week at our villa and use that as a base.

One of our group is trying to get us to Orvieto for a day from Rome - any opinions
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Jul 10th, 2010, 09:01 AM
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Well, you know your group best, but we've been involved in a villa stay with a large group of people (all adults). If there hadn't been at least one car for every four people, I think there would have been bloodshed. No matter what everyone said and agreed to before we arrived, it turned out there were very different ideas about what time the day begins and ends, how much time should be devoted to shopping v. cultural sights v. hanging around the villa. We hired a chef to handle the food shopping and the cooking of some meals, and that turned out to have both good and bad results.

My husband and I vowed to never do this again unless we made it perfectly clear we'd have our own car and be doing our own thing every day.
Jean is online now  
Jul 10th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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I agree with Jean. This has the potential to be a disaster unless you establish the parameters well before you leave. Slowtrav.com has a good article about how to manage large groups in a rental place in Tuscany---well worth reading.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Hi; Agree with other folks suggestions. You need to get together and talk about likes and dislikes. Where people want to visit. On some days, we went different directions. We only had 12 people, but four cars. If you had a bus, everyone might not want to go in the same direction on a given day. We also had a chef and it worked out perfectly. Our method was to alternate on the road, long day [9am to 8pm], then short day [9am to 2-3pm]. On the long days, we had the meal waiting for us on our return. Had to have a swimming pool and for July/August, A/C. Have fun planning. Richard P.S Orvieto is easy to reach from Rome, Perhaps an hour. But you would have to start out early in the morning, especially if you spend half a day visiting. From Orvieto, your villa could easly be another two hours away.
iris1745 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Here is the article--take the time to read.

http://www.slowtrav.com/europe/es_large_groups.htm
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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We are going to be part of a group of 8 people staying in a villa near Orvieto, which is on the edge of southern Tuscany and western Umbria. We are staying here: http://www.rentvillas.com/PropertyDe...?Catalog=12472. RentVillas.com has lots of propeerties, so that is another place to look.

We all agreed ahead of time that we were not going to be chained together while there. There will be probably 2 or 3 days out of the week when we will do things together, but otherwise, it's all up in the air. The others are mostly relying on us to suggest things to do because we have been in the region before, but we're not responsible for their entertainment.

I hadn't thought about the shopping/cooking thing, though. I know they will all be willing to divide up the expenses, but who does what when has not occurred to me. Thanks.
charnees is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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What I don't quite get is the idea of hiring a cook - isn't that so expensive that you could dine at fine restaurants (probably better than a cook that can be hired!)? Or, if either I want to save or to cook with ingredients that are unavailable at home, then I wouldn't let anybody into the kitchen than myself. Ok, into the kitchen, yes: everybody welcome to chop onions, weigh flour and so on.
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Jul 10th, 2010, 01:24 PM
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One thing that you should make sure everyone is very firm on right at the start: Once they are committed to this thing, they are committed to pay their share even if they have to cancel, unless someone else can be found to take their place. One member of our group has become seriously ill and cannot go. We did find someone to take her place for 4 of the 7 days, but she still has to pay for the remainder. She is having a hard time financially so this has become a difficult problem. So it might be a good idea for everyone to take our travel insurance or at least set aside their share of the cost for the communal expenses (mainly the villa rental).
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Jul 10th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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We stayed in a villa in Tuscany in a group of 12, and another time were part of a group of 8 at a villa in Provence. Both times we had everybody pay their estimated share up front (total rental + the cost of 1 rental car/4 people). This amount was deposited in a separate account. If somebody had to cancel and we couldn't find a replacement, they lost their money.

Finding villas for large groups is not easy, especially if everybody wants a master bedroom with ensuite bath -- and they do. You do need to start looking right now, expecting to book shortly.

We had a cook for at least one dinner both places, and the cost was quite reasonable. Both times we had dinners on our last night, since everybody had to be in relatively early to pack for leaving. These meals were excellent and made very memorable occasions.

For other in-villa meals sometimes we cooked, other occasions we just snacked. We kept an envelope of store receipts, with the buyer's name written on each receipt. At the end of the trip, we toted up the final cost, adjusted each share for their food purchases, and included interest earned on the separate trip account.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 10th, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Jimbria,

You might do best to rent accommodations in Fiesole or Settignano, in the hills above Florence, or else in Panzano. Both have easy bus access to Florence, and Panzano also has bus access to Siena.

If you can't find a villa, what might work very well for your group is renting apartments in Fattoria Maiano, which includes a restaurant on its site.

http://www.fattoriadimaiano.com/en/

If you look around Panzano, you should not only look for one big villa, but maybe a collection of smaller ones, or apartments. Panzano is a small town with lots of amenities, wine, and restaurants. You could all gather in town for lunches, dinners, day trips, etc, but at the same time have privacy and independence when you want it.

You do need to figure out the cooking and shopping and cleaning up. I would recommend not a villa but an agriturismo with many apartments and a restaurant on site. Shopping for 16 people -- even just for breakfast -- can consume half a day in Italy, let alone making those dinners. Not all restaurants can handle 16 people ordering different items off the menu well. An agriturismo with a restaurant can work with you to get dinner on the table every night, and clean it up. They will set out breakfast too.

I don't predict disaster. There are many accommodations in Tuscany and Umbria who host weddings, family reunions, big meetings -- and they don't need to be expensive.

Have a wonderful trip!
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Jul 10th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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Here is my trip with photos from 2005 (Chapters One and Two focus on Umbria and Tuscany) that might give you some ideas.

http://web.me.com/tomfielding1/Tom_%...taly_2005.html

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