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Val d'orcia How much time?

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Mar 22nd, 2014, 10:21 AM
  #1
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Val d'orcia How much time?

This is the kind of dilemma I like to have - one where you can't really lose. We have finally convinced another couple who have never been to Italy to join us for 10 or 11 days. They like the countryside more than cities, as we do.

We are thinking of arriving in Florence, spending two days there and then stopping in Volterra on the way to the Val d'orcia. The main question is - should we spend 7 days in the Val d'orcia or 4 days and find a different area for the next three? And if a different area where would you recommend. We would finish with a final day in Florence - or perhaps two, one in Florence and one in and around Fiesole.

We have been to Florence and the Val d'orcia before, but that was 10 years ago.
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Mar 22nd, 2014, 10:51 AM
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I would not stay in Florence twice. If your flight departs from there, put all your Florence stay at the end. You can pick up your car at the airport. Depending on where in Val d'Orcia, you might be only a little over an hour drive from the Florence airport. You could stop at Volterra on the way back to Florence.
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Mar 22nd, 2014, 11:24 AM
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I agree with kybourbon--keep your visit to Florence at one time. To do otherwise wastes some of your time and makes for incomplete visits--we've tried it in the past and won't repeat. Picking up your car at the airport is easy and you can exit smoothly as well.

Now you have to pick your location in the Val d'Orcia--Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico, Montalcino or ? There's more than enough to do and visit for a week. Have fun.
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Mar 22nd, 2014, 11:34 AM
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Ditto the advice to stay in Florence only once.

Whether you should divide the 7 days outside of Florence between two bases depends on what you want to see/do in that week. Tuscany is 9000 square miles, so you'll have to be realistic about your plans.

The Val d'Orcia is technically the most southern part of Tuscany. (The northern edge of the area is about 25 kms. south of Siena.) If you hoped to explore Chianti and/or the Val d'Elsa (San Gimignano, Volterra) from a base in the Val d'Orcia (probably around Montalcino, Pienza, San Quirico, Montepulciano), you'll spend lots of time driving back and forth every day.

So, figure out what you want to do, check the driving times between points, decide how much time you want to spend in the car and then figure out whether two geographic bases would work better than one.
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Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:09 PM
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blej,
This may help http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/hs_planning.htm
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 08:45 AM
  #6
 
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Hi blej,

One trip we stayed in the tiny village of San Sano (about 20 min. driv enorth of Siena) for 3 nights. From there we did day trips: Siena, Castello di Brolio, San Gimignano, Volterra, Greve, La Badia di Coultibuono (lunch). Loved the Hotel Residence San Sano, the views of olive groves and vineyards. Got tired of the drive back and forth everyday. The SG/Volterra day was just too long. I would stay there again, but not underestimate the driving time needed - would visit towns more nearby.

Also on that trip, stayed in Orvieto for 3 nts. Daytrips to Todi, Deruta, Civita di Bagnoreggio. Orvieto remains one of my favorite places in Italy. Easy parking inhe parking structure, in/out.

Another trip stayed for 3 nts in Montalcino and did day trips to Sant'Antimo, Monte Olivetto, Montepulciano, Pienza. Easy day trips, beautiful drives.

Also on that trip, stayed in Umbria - Assisi & Spello. LOVED Spello, very easy to park and drive in/out. Palazzo Boci was wonderful. Very beautiful town with lots of flowers, views, next to NO tourists - just me .

I would stay in Spello again in a heartbeat and explore more of Umbria!

Haven't made it to La Marche yet....

Personally, I would stay in 2 locations for your countryside time. Hope this helps.

Buon viaggio!
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 10:47 AM
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Dear Kybourbon,macanimals and Jean - thanks for the advice, I certainly appreciate the idea. We initially thought we might rent a villa for the week, which frequently means Sat - Sat. In addition scheduling was dictating a Wednesday departure from NY - which dictated the split in Florence.

After much discussion we reserved two suites for the week at Palazzina Cesira in Montalcino. The last time my wife and I were in the area we skipped Montalcino and I have been trying to return ever since as Brunello and Rosso are favorites of mine. The four of us decided that as our friends were finally getting away we'd skip cooking and have the advantage of walking to restaurants after a day of exploring. We also realized we didn't want to rush at all and might want to spend a day or two without travelling and just relaxing, exploring in Montalcino or just picnicking somewhere scenic but close. After reading the responses and other trip reports we felt there was more than enough to see and do from Montalcino for a week.

What we might do at the end is drive north and spend the last day in Fiesole - as we haven't been there either. We hoping we can get into the Villa Medici. All I know at this point is that groups can request a tour. I don't know whether two couples will count. All four of us have studied the works of Marsilio Ficino who was a very frequent guest at the Villa and a friend, doctor and advisor to Lorenzo Medici. We will also visit the duomo in Siena to show our friends the marble mosaic on the floor showing Hermes Trismigistous handing the book of spiritual knowledge to Moses with Ficino watching. Our friends have made this a must for the trip.

Henry - thank you for the excellent link, I'm sure we will put to great use.

Dayle, we also loved Spello when we visited last year. Yes! the flowers are amazing.

Thank you all.I will post separately for info on Florence.
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 11:31 AM
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http://www.villamedicifiesole.it/

as you say, it's open to reserved tours for groups only, but there's nothing to stop you trying, especially if you explain why you are interested in it.

Also in Fiesole is the monastery of San Francesco with its bizzare basement museum, and lovely presepe, and the roman amphitheatre of course, as well as the Duomo. more than enough for a day, if you can't get into the Villa Medici.

Alternatively you can catch a bus from Fiesole to Florence [you can alight in the piazza San Marco just round the corner from the Accademia] which takes about 30 mins. Do not try to park in Florence or drive in its appalling traffic, or the dreaded ZLT. [limited traffic zone - prevalent in many Italian cities and towns, you are fined if you enter without a permit]. Much better leave the car in Fiesole and take the bus.
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Mar 24th, 2014, 06:07 AM
  #9
 
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In Montalcino, if you want to sample Brunellos with a great view, get a window table at Enoteca Osticcio. Bottom two photos are where you would be seated, not the top one which is downstairs.

http://www.osticcio.it/visita.htm

The food I've had there is good also, but they are not the cheapest in town (you pay a bit for that view).

http://www.osticcio.it/

The Fortezza has more selection and better tasting prices than Osticcio, but doesn't have the view. In good weather, you can sample in the courtyard.

http://www.enotecalafortezza.com/

If you are spending the last few days in Florence, I would drop the car. You can easily access Fiesole from Florence (bus takes about 20 minutes).

http://www.ataf.net/en/timetables-an...nea=7&LN=en-US

It appears there used to be a 7x (fast line), but may be seasonal.

Siena is not that far from Montalcino so you could easily visit from there. Get the Opa Si Pass.

http://www.operaduomo.siena.it/eng/opa_si_pass.htm
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