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Venice & Florence: Which gets the Extra Night? And … Hotel Recommendations

Venice & Florence: Which gets the Extra Night? And … Hotel Recommendations

Oct 20th, 2013, 08:21 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,731
I must respectfully disagree with Popov. Many, many travelers find Florence VERY interesting, with much to see/do. And many hotels can be found for less than $250/night. For instance, the Hotel Casci is showing a rate of E108 for March. At the current exchange rate, that would be about $148 a night.

Just my humble opinion.
sarge56 is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 09:01 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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We stayed in a wonderful B&B in Florence called the Dei Mori. The hosts were fantastic, helpful, welcoming, and the rooms were charming. It's right around the corner from the Duomo, but on a quiet little side street. Great location for walking everywhere. Daniel (one of the hosts) obtained our Ufezzi Gallery tickets for us ahead of time so as to avoid the lines (worked perfectly. He also suggested an amazing 'out of the way' restaurant for the most delicious meal we had in our entire month in Italy!! Can't say enough good things about the Dei Mori and Florence!!! Also loved Venice, but Florence deserves at least 5 nights!!!
didoanderson is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 09:18 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Songdoc,

I'll throw in a couple of different suggestions. I always like to mix up my trips with a combination of cities/countryside.

My first trip to Italy was in mid-March (we skied out of Cortina for a week), then did a whirlwind 10 days between Venice, Florence, Amalfi Coast (relatives) and Rome. Venice and the Amalfi Coast were quiet, atmospheric. A very nice time to visit, not at all too cold. Coats in Venice, but didn't need hats or gloves. Florence was mobbed the week before Easter and this was in the days before advance reservations were possible (ugh). Rome was busy, but it's always busy and I loved it.

Anyway

1. You could hire a driver to take you from Florence to a small hilltown, doing wine tasting along they way! Montepulciano, Montalcino, Pienza, etc., etc. they are all wonderful and would give you a nice perspective of the beautiful Italian countryside, a break from churches and museums.

2. If you choose to stay overnight in Orvieto (one of my very favorites), you could then take the train the next morning right into Rome - about 1 hr. Recommend the Palazzo Piccolomini in Orvieto.

Just an alternative. By the way, I found Siena a much larger city than expected. I liked it, but I love other places much more!

Happy planning,
Dayle
Dayle is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 10:03 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
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As to the question of how to visit Siena, CAF Tours does a good job. The trip we took also included the hill town of San Gimignano. As you'll see at their site, you could also spend a half day in Pisa, as well as other alternatives.

www.caftours.com
CharlesB is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 11:04 AM
  #25  
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I'm going to do the extra night in Florence. In terms of a day trip my #1 choice would be the Cinque Terre. I'd wanted to spend a few nights there, but got talked out of it on this forum, because of the possibility of bad weather and washed out trails at that time of year (early March). I'll play it by ear, and if there's dry weather will do that day trip.

I appreciate all the great advice and opinions. Hotel Casci looks likely--unless we decide to spring for something a bit more upscale, but the reviews are fantastic, and we tend to prefer location and nice people to pretentious furnishings ;-).

To be honest, being a male couple, we're always a little concerned when we stay in a small, family-run lodging--as opposed to a larger, more anonymous hotel. We've had some uncomfortable moments--including insisting that we have twin beds -- and that's not what we want -- especially while celebrating a 20-year anniversary! ;-)

I will probably send an email to Hotel Casci and be sure they are comfortable with having us as guests. If so, that will probably be our choice. The price is certainly great! It would be nice to have such an easy decision in Venice, as well!

Day trips to Pisa and Siena sounds wonderful. I'm wishing I'd booked a longer trip -- but hopefully, there will be another time. The CAF tours suggestion looks good--and easy.

Re: the suggestion to visit Rome ... we've already done a trip to Rome and LOVED it.

I'm sure this is blasphemy, but we don't drink alcohol--and I eat simple, healthy foods--no sugar and low-fat -- due to health issues. So no wine tastings (which seem to be a part of many of the organized day tours), and food is not an emphasis. Yes ... life is still worth living! ;-)
Songdoc is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 02:57 PM
  #26  
 
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songdoc- you sound like ideal guests - no rowdy parties, drunken escapades, or undue demands on the hosts.

The hotel Casci looks as if it's in a very good position on Via Cavour - we rented an apartment for the week just round the corner from there a few year ago. the Duomo and Baptistry are in one direction, in the other the piazza San Marco with the eponymous monastery, with its works of Fra Angelico particularly.

http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/musei/?m=sanmarco

it's a lovely place, and if you get there early enough, no crowds. [it only opens in the mornings during the week but all day at the weekends]. there is a wonderful cafe on the corner of the piazza with via Cavour, and the bus up to Fiesole goes from a stop on the south side of the piazza.
annhig is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 04:12 PM
  #27  
 
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songdoc, you should know that Siena is one hour by express bus. The bus station is very close to the train station, fyi.

The express bus to/from Siena runs often. Check the SITA website for times. The cost is very inexpensive.

Siena is one of those towns you most certainly could do on your own. You'll love it. Small and intimate, with a fair amount to see on a day trip.

I encourage you to explore Siena on your own if you don't have the time/budget for a "guided" tour.

And, by the way, the family who owns and runs the Hotel Casci (Carla Lombardi and her son, Paulo) have never given any indication (in my four stays there) that they would be rude enough to suggest HOW any guests choose to share their accommodations. They are lovely, caring people whose only concern seems to be that you have an enjoyable stay. They are more than willing to suggest restaurants, call you a cab, there are free guide books to browse in the lobby. There is also a free computer to use in the lobby, if you choose not to bring your own. Each room has a charging dock for all kinds of electronics; all the bathrooms have recently been remodeled/updated (some even have tubs- if you want a room with a tub, do ask at time of reservation); and the breakfast is wonderful (Carla makes the most magnificent cappuccinos) and plentiful. You will LOVE the Casci- I assure you!

Buon viaggio!
sarge56 is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 09:19 PM
  #28  
 
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I once again wholeheartedly agree with sarge56. I did not know there was another "Hotel Casci groupee" on this board with so many stays in their hotel!!

Go for it songdoc. You will love it !!
Flame123 is offline  
Oct 20th, 2013, 09:29 PM
  #29  
kja
 
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Perhaps I missed it, but I don't think I ever saw you say what your interests are. If you have a serious interest in art, note that Florence can easily take at least 5 full days just to skim the surface. Plan your side trips accordingly.

Enjoy, and happy anniversary!
kja is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2013, 07:45 AM
  #30  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 91
Good morning,

I don't post very often here (because I don't feel the need to repeat great advice given by more experienced travelers) but I just had to give one more good word for Hotel Casci. I've stayed there twice and both times was very pleased with the hotel and family who run it. I also took a day trip to Sienna, San Giminiano and Pisa ( guided) that might have been cramming a bit too much in one day but we loved it.

Enjoy your trip!
colleen61 is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2013, 08:12 AM
  #31  
 
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Always a good debate about these 2 cities. Hub and I visited both places in March several times. San Marco square was mobbed at times, not so much at others but in general less crowded. And less crowded on weekdays.

We took a train from Flo to Siena and a taxi to the centre. When we were there some years ago, we couldn't find a taxi stand to take us back to the station (we were in a hurry to catch the train or we would have walked--it's all down hill!). A kind restauranteur called one for us. Something to keep in mind.

You can take the train to Cinque Terre from Flo also for a day trip--get an idea of what's what. We did that one March and trails were closed for maintenance--this was before the big storms.

My biggest suggestion is to really study the good guides about both cities and make of list of what calls out (sorry if this is a repeat).

FWIW, Padua is a nice day trip from Venice.
TDudette is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2013, 11:36 AM
  #32  
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Thank you all SO much for the GREAT info. Soooo helpful!

Re: Hotel Casci: I've never seen such consistently strong recommendations for a hotel. I was sold--until I came across the Bernini Palace Hotel. Now I'm torn between the two. It's a 4* hotel--a converted palace -- and #24 at Tripadvisor. There's a very low price listed at Olotels. I've never heard of the Olotels website, and am a bit leery about why their price is much lower than other sites.

Any feedback about Olotels -- or the Bernini Palace Hotel???

Thanks!
Songdoc is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2013, 01:12 PM
  #33  
 
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Sorry, no help here.
TDudette is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2013, 10:10 PM
  #34  
 
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As indicated by TDudette's story- Do not take the TRAIN to Siena. Rather, take the express bus. The train station is outside of city center. The bus drops you in heart of Siena. FYI.

Sorry, no experience with the Olotels website or Bernini Palace Hotel. However, make sure you read the reviews, and not just look at the dot ratings. I see in the first few reviews contain complaints about the staff, the food and noise do to renovations.
sarge56 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 01:57 AM
  #35  
 
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songdoc - I got stung by one of those unknown hotel sites once - it turned out that they took the money up front and that there was a fee to cancel.

Read the small print V carefully.

can you post a link to the Bernini Palace? Where is it?
annhig is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 11:16 AM
  #36  
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Here's a link to the Bernini Palace Hotel:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...e_Tuscany.html

Re: charging upfront ... seems like many of the websites do that. That wouldn't stop me if it was an enormous saving. I've booked many non-refundable airfares (that involve big change fees), and non-refundable hotels through Priceline & Hotwire. I've never needed to cancel a trip.

In Venice I'm torn between splurging on a canal view room ($276/nt) at the Colombina Hotel;
#50 Tripadvisor -- 4 stars – 3 min. walk to St. Mark’s
Castello, Calle Del Remedio ...

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...ce_Veneto.html

or

Hotel Giorgione; $138/nt; #77 Tripadvisor
10 – 20 minute walk to St. Mark’s
SS. Apostoli, 4587Cannaregio Venice VE 30131 Italy

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...ce_Veneto.html

One of the reviews of the Hotel Giorgione said that there are cats in the lobby. That's a plus for me--and I have to make a decision based on SOMETHING! ;-).

The truth is that it will probably make very little difference where I stay. I'm not really that fussy, and despite obsessing about finding the perfect place, I've always had a great time whenever I've traveled--regardless of the place where I sleep.
Songdoc is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 12:38 PM
  #37  
 
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well songdoc, the Casci is no 12 on TA, and has a 10% discount if you book directly.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_R...e_Tuscany.html

I've stayed at neither, but given that you say that you're not too fussed about where you stay, the Casci shades it for me.
annhig is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 01:41 PM
  #38  
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OK, OK ... you win! I've booked Hotel Casci.

Now working on Venice.

For all of those who chimed in about which city to give the extra night ... I can't believe this, but when I went to make the reservation, I realized I had the wrong departure date in my mind! We actually have ten nights -- so 5 & 5!!!
Songdoc is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 03:39 PM
  #39  
 
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sarge56 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2013, 03:44 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: May 2009
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You will like the Casci; my wife prevailed on me to stay there this spring; I was a bit leery of a 2 star property, but it is well run and really nice. You will not be disappointed. Glad you chose Florence for your extra night!
pctraveler is offline  

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