July 20, 2011, 08:32 PM
Help with accomodation for two - Chianti area
My girlfriend and I are from South Africa and planning a trip to Italy in Sept in order to visit Venice (2nights), Rome (3 nights), and then the Tuscany area. We would like to stay somewhere in the Chianti country side for 5 nights from where we want to visit Siena, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, the Chianti (north of Siena) area and the Cinque Terre (if possible). I have researched a little and learnt that a car will be essential for the Chianti country area… for the rest (mentioned above) taking a bus/train seems possible. Don’t know which combination etc yet though… Would want to use public transport as far as possible. Initially I wanted to rent a car and drive up the Italian Riviera – all the way to the French border (but I think that will have to wait until next time…) Not that I don’t want to, but just a little uncertain about such a road trip…mainly due to concerns about difficulties with having to drive that route and the time required etc… I need to mention that here in South Africa we drive on the right side of the road… If anyone could give me some advice on that it would be great…
Anyway…back to Tuscany…
Biggest struggle thus far is to find a base that would be central and accessible by car and bus (in order to get access to a train station). Will rent a car but don’t want to rent one for five days if we’ll only use it once…(not sure how much we’ll be able to use it in order to visit our planned destinations and don’t want to rent one, return it and then have to struggle to find a means of transport back to wherever we will be staying.
So I’m just trying to think of practicality etc. Would prefer to stay somewhere that is not too expensive and to which one can return daily and then perhaps have a bottle of wine before heading off to bed… Self catering, cabin, bed and breakfast should do it...
Its our first visit to Italy so we’re definitely clueless…but getting there… some help and good advice will be much appreciated.
Oh and if there are any good recommendations for picnic spots in that area… then please let me know…
July 21, 2011, 12:14 PM
Welcome to the Forum Fred!
Italy and Tuscany in particular are extremely beautiful
I’m sure you’ll have a great time here!
Chianti is one of the most charming and renowned areas of all Tuscany, its landscapes are wonderful and the wine is really gorgeous!
Chianti is right amidst the Tuscan countryside between Florence and Siena, and if you decide to choose this area as a base to explore the main sights and attractions of the region, a car would be essential.
The hilltop villages of Chianti cannot be reached by train and some problems may arise from bus schedules, as buses running to and from the area are very few.
Buses run from Florence to Greve, Castellina, Radda, and Gaiole in Chianti; I suggest you carefully check the SITA bus schedules at this link, while here you can find useful information on how getting around Chianti using public transport.
As you say, however, the car is a necessity only for moving around Chianti countryside, while for all the rest using public transport is the best and most convenient solution.
Considering that you are used to drive on the left, you could meet some problems driving here in Italy.
Driving along the scenic roads of the Tuscan countryside is also very pleasing, but you should consider that driving in Tuscany, cannot be so easy, especially in the city centers or on main roads, where traffic can be intense. That is true especially because you 're used to drive in a completely different way!
Anyway, here you will find useful information as to renting a car, while on this link all you need to know about moving around Tuscany.
As to accommodation in Chianti (in case you decide renting a car), I highly recommend Il Cellese, a beautiful farmhouse with fantastic outdoors in the lovely village of Castellina in Chianti, in the very heart of Chianti. It offers independent self catering apartments with swimming pool and fantastic meals at its restaurant. A bottle of fine wine will always be at your disposal :-)
Another wonderful farmhouse I highly recommend in Chianti is Romitorio di Serelle, again with apartments, swimming pool, and the possibility to dine at the property's tavern, with typical Tuscan dishes and local products, such as the Chianti Classico wine and the great olive-oil.
Having said that, my suggestion is you base yourself in Florence, and stick to public transport.
That’s actually the best way to explore comfortably all the region's sights and attractions. The Renaissance city of Florence is beautiful and has countless things to see and do! It’s the greatest city of art in the world!
From Florence’s train station, you can easily reach all main art cities of Tuscany, like Pisa, Siena, and Lucca, but also the Cinque Terre.
You can then make day trips to the Chianti region, and to wonderful medieval villages like San Gimignano, Volterra, and many others.
You will find train timetables as well as tickets fares at this link.
I suggest making some tours starting from Florence, as this Chianti Countryside & San Gimignano Tour that is great as you will have the possibility to visit the most beautiful sights of the area, like Greve in Chianti and Montefioralle, taste Chianti wine in a family run winery, and visit San Gimignano and its famous towers.
Also this tour about wine tasting in Chianti, is highly recommended.
While in Florence, I suggest Il Palagetto, a nice and charming bed and breakfast located in a quiet area, with convenient rates and delightfully furnished bedrooms.
Other very good accommodations are Casa dei Tintori and Antica Posta B&B, the first located in the heart of the historical center, while the second more near Florence’s main station.
Regarding picnic areas, you'll find a lot in Tuscany, especially all across its beautiful countryside
These are just some suggestions so feel free to come back on the forum at anytime
Enjoy planning your trip to Italy and Tuscany!
Ciao from Florence
August 1, 2011, 04:23 PM
Thank you for the information! Have changed our plans slightly since and planning to spend 5 full days in Florence of which we'll take 2 days to visit Florence itself and then a day to go to the wine festival in Greve in Chianti (on weekend of 9/10 Sept). I read about the wine festival so would really like to see it. Don’t know if one will have to spend a whole day there, but I guess we’ll have to see? Don’t know much detail about the festival 0- but just recall having read about it. Maybe you have some information on it? Another day trip we plan to visit Siena and San Gimignano.
I'm considering staying somewhere close to Florence or in Florence – but accessible - so that we could do the viewing and also have fairly easy access to bus station for Greve for the wine festival as well as train station (as we’ll be arriving from rome and leaving to the CT from there). In doing this I thought we’d be able to go to Greve one day (by bus) and then rent a scooter or car (if possible) in order to explore the Chianti in one day. So the idea is to have a base that will allow fairly easy access to do all of this (and not have to relocate between the two areas). What will your suggestions be? Hope you can help me
I am looking for accommodation in the 60-70 euro range (depends on what is available).
With much appreciation,
August 1, 2011, 05:46 PM
Budget Accommodation in Florence
Staying in Florence’s center would be the best solution to have easy access to all types of public transport. Florence is actually the best base to explore Tuscany.
In this way you will have all main sights of Tuscany at your hand, so having the possibility to get the most out of the the region.
Starting from Florence you can make a lot of day trips and easily reach all main art cities of Tuscany, like Siena, Pisa, and Lucca.
Starting from Florence, you may also take advantage of a lot of guided tours like this very good one.
You can reach Greve and all other nice hill top towns in Chianti using SITA buses, leaving right from Florence's Santa Maria Novella train station.
You should catch line 365 from Florence to Greve in Chianti.
The Chianti Classico wine festival in Greve in Chianti is an extraordinary event all dedicated to food and wine, with shows, art exhibitions, concerts, and all types of markets!
The festival takes place in the large square of Greve in Chianti, full of stalls for wine tasting and other typical products. You will have lots of fun!
As to accommodation in Florence, in addition to the lodgings suggested above, I also highly recommend Johlea B&B, a very nice and elegant accommodation, right in the city center, but with good rates.
From this page I also suggest to have a look at all hotels and accommodations with instant booking in Florence; you can find great hotels' deals
Feel free to post again for any further help or suggestions needed
Have a great day!
August 7, 2011, 03:47 AM
We stayed in Castellina in Chianti and we were there the same time last year and went to the Greve Festival. The location was perfect as it was between Siena and Florence and a short ride to Greve. I would highly suggest this town as it has so much to offer and is a perfect location to get everywhere. We stayed at Poggetto, a typical Tuscan farmhouse, and the venue and the owners are fantastic. We are coming back next June and have already planned to stay at the same farmhouse.