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Would you be so kind to recommend a city in Tuscany for me to run away to for one month?

Would you be so kind to recommend a city in Tuscany for me to run away to for one month?

Jul 5th, 2002, 12:25 PM
  #1  
Mina
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Would you be so kind to recommend a city in Tuscany for me to run away to for one month?

Hello everyone:

I've been on a mission to find somewhere to escape to for two months. With help from the fodorites, I have narrowed it down to a month in Spain, then a month in Italy. I'll focus on the Italy part on this thread...

I have never been to Italy, and am most interested in the region of Tuscany. Florence is tops on my list to visit.

A fodorite suggested that I live in Lucca and do daytrips from there. I researched it, and the location appeals to me. I also like that bicycles seem to be the popular mode of transportation...a way to work off that Italian food!

Do you think this would be a good base for my monthlong visit? I am 29 years old, and traveling alone. I will be going in the Jan/Feb timeframe of 2003. My wish list for my city of stay is that there is decent public transportation, and that it isn't frigid cold in the winter.

My friends think I should stay in Florence. I'm researching it a bit more...but since I'm leaning toward spending my Spain month in Barcelona, I thought a smaller city like Lucca might be a good change of pace. The guidebooks say Lucca is "worth" a half day visit. Is a monthlong stay too much? Or maybe Siena might be better?

Thanks in advance for any help.

 
Jul 5th, 2002, 12:47 PM
  #2  
Marilyn
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I have not spent any time in Lucca, but I think it is too small for a month and too far north. If I were going to spend a month, I would base myself a little more centrally so that most of Tuscany would be accessible for day or weekend trips.

Florence is a relatively big city, with lots of traffic, tourists, noise, etc. I would prefer Siena, myself. But you don't say what your budget is. If you are counting your euros, you might want a farmhouse stay outside a city. But that would require a car. On the other hand, in my opinion, if you really want to see Tuscany, having a car is the only option. You can get to so many charming little out-of-the-way places that you would never bother taking a bus to.

From Siena or thereabouts, you can visit Florence, San Gimignano, Volterra, Chianti country, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, Pisa, and more on day trips. A weekend would get you Lucca, Cortona, Orvieto, Rome, and as far afield as Urbino if you wanted. (We actually did it as a day trip from Siena, but I DON'T recommend it!)

You know that it WILL be cold, right? The oh-so-traumatic question so frequently posted on this forum about wearing shorts in Italy will not be an issue for you.

I'm off to Orvieto in 10 days and would gladly trade the warm weather for cold if I could encounter a few less tourists. Oh well...I shouldn't be complaining, should I?

Have a great trip!
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 12:52 PM
  #3  
ken
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Siena - great base to work from and great place in it's own right. Good train service to anywhere.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 12:58 PM
  #4  
GAC
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If you plan on staying in tourist hotels, I'd split your month between Florence and Siena. From these two cities, you can visit a multitude of places, even by public transportation.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 01:05 PM
  #5  
Mina
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Wow, 3 responses already. Thank you!

My budget is $8000 for the entire enchilada of the trip (not including airfare). So I guess evenly split, $4000 would go to Italy.

Marilyn, thanks for the heads up...yes, I know it will be cold. It's the North Dakotan cold variety I am afraid of (being from L.A.) but I read that most places in Italy don't get that cold. So I won't ask if I can wear shorts in Italy...but maybe later I can ask you what kind of shoes I can wear.

Maybe Siena might be better for seeing other tourists. People watching is one of my favorite activities!

GAC, I wanted to find an apartment to rent, instead of staying in a hotel. Even though I'm only staying a month, I wanted a more "local" feel than a tourist/hotel feeling. Don't know if that's possible, but I want to try.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 01:07 PM
  #6  
Mina
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P.S. Marilyn, have a wonderful trip!
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 01:59 PM
  #7  
Capo
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Hi Mina. I haven't been to Lucca (we were going to visit it, but didn't) but I have been to Siena. We spent five nights there back in April, using it as a base for driving around Tuscany, and absolutely loved it. I'm sure the weather won't be as pleasant in Jan/Feb but, aside from that, I could easily see spending a month there.

I also love Barcelona, so I think that's an excellent choice for a month in Spain. A few years ago, I briefly corresponded with a guy from the U.S. who lived in an apartment in the Gothic Quarter for a while. If I still have his email address somewhere, I'll write to him and see if he can help you with any questions about living there.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 03:22 PM
  #8  
Susan
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Mina--try www.rentvillas.com for finding an apartment to rent in Sienna, they have all kinds of listings. I'm sure that you realize that with the exception of Florence, most towns in Tuscany will be fairly dead at night.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 08:58 PM
  #9  
Marilyn
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It's always so satisfying to have other people agree with you, isn't it? I love Siena and could happily spend a month there as well.

Mina -- thanks for the bon voyage, and don't even get me started on shoes...I am one of those people who feels faint when someone says they took a month trip with 2 pairs of shoes. I need 3 pair just for a weekend. I'd rather have less clothes and more shoes. This is not because I'm such a fashion victim, but I really like my feet to be comfortable. I feel like I have to have a pair of walking sandals, a pair of closed walking shoes, and sorry, a pair of slides or wedge-type sandals to just slip on for dinner. And then, how can I leave my beloved Merrells behind?
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 09:23 PM
  #10  
author
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You must try the food in the province of Emiglia Romania, it's addictive.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 09:44 PM
  #11  
Carin
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Take a look at slowtrav.com and labellatoscana.com for apartments in San Gimignano and Colle di Val De'Elsa (sp), just south of Florence. I have never used them, but the apartments look reasonable and they get good reviews on slowtrav.com. Have a wonderful time. I'm jealous, jealous, jealous!
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 09:46 PM
  #12  
Cathy
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Hi Mina,

A trip to Italy would not be complete without a visit to the AMALFI COAST....where Sorrento, Isle of Capri, and Positano are all within 20 min of each other....the drive along the Amalfi Coast is breathtaking...I left my heart in Positano 2 yrs ago...simply spectacular.
 
Jul 5th, 2002, 10:57 PM
  #13  
arney
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Mina--I've spent time in Florence, Siena & Lucca and I like all three. But if I were 29, single, and wanted to spend a month in one of those 3 cities, I'd pick Florence, especially if people-watching and meeting other tourists were a top priority. Florence has the most tourists and the most things to do, day or night, by far. It also is the railroad hub of Tuscany and has the best train connections to other destinations in Italy. (A weekend in Venice perhaps? In fact, Venice is another city to consider as a candidate for a month's stay. I've heard the city is very romantic when it's bereft of tourists and the Piazza San Marco has a light dusting of snow. Plus February is carnival time (usually--depends on when Fat Tuesday comes and I don't know when it comes in 2003 because when Fat Tuesday comes depends on when Easter comes.)
Yes, definitely you should rent an apartment. First, it's cheaper than staying in a hotel. Second, you get more of the feel of the city and its people. The best resource for initiating a rental search in Italy is www.slowtrav.com, a non-commercial site that specializes in exactly the kind of travel you're talking about.

I don't know about Barcelona, but for Italy, leave your sandals at home. You will have no occasion to use them ANYWHERE in Italy in January/February--not even in Sicily, which is as far south as you can go in Italy. All of Italy is cold and rainy that time of year, inland areas especially so. Coastal areas are more moderate, with more chance of sun.

No, it's not North Dakota cold, but it's the kind of damp cold you will feel in your bones. In inland central/northern areas of Italy, such as Tuscany, expect temperatures in the 40s (Fahrenheit) most of the time, in the 30s some of the time. You may get a few days in the 50s, but you can't count on it.

arney
 
Jul 8th, 2002, 09:22 AM
  #14  
Mina
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Hello all...

I read your replies this weekend, then hit the books and internet. The last thing I ever want to hear on this website is "go do some research!"

Capo, what a kind offer. Thank you. Yes, Barcelona really calls to me. (Screams at me, practically) Sevilla is still a possibility as I haven't read up on it, but I had done my research on Barcelona a couple of months ago and found it a fascinating city. I even found a tiny apartment in the El Born area, which seems an interesting place to stay. I really want to see Gaudi's buildings...I picture myself with my head cocked, scratching my head at some of them...

I tried to "apartment hunt" in Siena/Lucca this weekend, using your recommended sites (and others I found on this board). It was a little tough finding places within the areas I wanted in Lucca and Siena. Florence was a lot easier.

So of course, now I'm leaning toward Florence! This has kind of been like apartment hunting...first you start looking for small and within your budget..then you see something a little bigger and think, I can afford a few dollars more. Then you see a penthouse in the poshest place in town and say "oh bugger it! I'll spend all my life savings here!" I thought I wanted to stay in a small town, but I could not escape the lure of Florence.

Arney is right...people watching is one of my top activity choices. With it being the "off" season in Tuscany, I thought Lucca and Siena may be too dead at night. I don't need continual, pulsating, hip hop action. I can probably get that a bit in Barcelona. Just somewhere I can have a drink and chat with others. Florence looks like it fits that bill.

A few apartments I found are near the Ponte Vecchio on the Uffizi side. Looks like there's no real seedy areas in the city center except maybe around the train station. Is that correct? Guidebooks have such a way of making everything sound "charming" or "fascinating" (even L.A.!). I would appreciate if you could tell me any areas I should stay out of.

Thanks again (or dare I say "grazie mille"?)everyone for all your help. I am still working on this...and after I decide where to live, I will focus on day/weekend trips to Venice and Amalfi Coast as suggested...
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 08:44 AM
  #15  
top
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ttt
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 09:14 AM
  #16  
sandi
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I don't know if you're thinking about renting an apt. or villa, but once you've decided on an area check out www.travel-italy.com to see beautiful villas for rent. Good luck and I hope your "escape" provides you with everything you're looking for!
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 09:25 AM
  #17  
sandi
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by the way, they show some villas in Spain too.
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 12:20 PM
  #18  
Mina
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Thanks Sandi. I don't think I used the site you recommended yet, so I will check it out tonight.

I am looking for an apartment in the city center of Florence. Somewhere where I don't have to have a car.

My escape will definitely be everything I am looking for...if only because it's an escape!
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 02:12 PM
  #19  
tuscan sun and lack of tourists easily make up for the winter cold
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What a fun adventure! I just wanted to send some encouragement about the weather--I spent some time in Italy in Jan./Feb. last year and the coldest I experienced was in Venice (in the 30/40's at its worst), which was more than made up for by the paucity of tourists in that beautiful city. In Siena, it was about in the 50's and there was that gorgeous tuscan sunshine! I don't even think I wore a coat when we were in San Gimignano--I also remember sitting at an outside table in the piazza in the warm tuscany sunshine(and again, we were about the only tourists in the town.) Florence also was about 50's--I wore a coat, but no scarf or anything like that. It's not LA, but I never found it bone-chillingly cold, except for one cold rainy day in Venice. But hey, nothing that a good bottle of wine won't fix! Maybe it was a particularly mild year, but I'm also an LA girl so I'm not all that tough about weather.
Additionally, I am in my mid-twenties and found it very easy to make friends with the Italians living locally--especially with very few tourists, everyone was very friendly and willing to get to know you (generally, in Florence, that meant making me drink a lot of grappa!)
Have a wonderful time!!
 
Jul 9th, 2002, 02:28 PM
  #20  
Mina
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Dear Tuscan Sun and Lack of Tourists:

Nice to get a post from a fellow Angelena who went to Italy around the same time frame as I wish to go!

I don't know if you'll be checking back, but can you tell me which city you stayed in for your time there? Do you think Siena or Florence would be better for someone in her 20's? (Well, by that point, I''ll be 30, but you know what I mean...)

It's easier to find longer term lodging in Florence, but I'm still not entirely sure I want to abandon Siena. There's been some good advice on this thread, so I do think I'll probably end up in Florence...

And grappa sounds good to me!
 

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