February 17, 2015, 09:44 PM
Staying near San Gimignano or Panzano?
My husband and I will be traveling to Tuscany in May of this year for 5 nights. We will be spending the first 2 nights in Florence, and then would like to stay in a B&B in the countryside. We are deciding between staying at I Coppi B&B near San Gimignano or Il Casello Country House B&B in Panzano, however, we are not sure if there are any pros or cons to staying in these areas. We want to spend most of our time visiting wineries and taking a day trip to Siena.
Would there be any benefits to staying in one over the other, or is everything so close that it wouldn't really matter? We were also wondering if one area had more to do in terms of local restaurants/shops?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!
February 18, 2015, 09:23 PM
Colli Senesi or Chianti Classico
You've chosen two very different areas, the Chianti Classico region where Panzano is, where the hills are huge and almost mountainous, and the spot near San Gimignano which is much more gently rolling and typically "Tuscan" in its geography. This area is known as Colli Senesi (Siena Hills) as it is in the province of Siena, and there is a denomination of Chianti associated with it. There are fewer towns with practical amenities in the depths of tourist Chianti than on the train line between Florence and Siena that has great culture and history as well as a plethora of real lived-in Italian small towns serving local people.
San Gimignano is much nearer to Siena, and if you go to the nearby town of Poggibonsi (from which you would take the bus to get to San Gimignano if you were coming on foot) you can leave your car there and get a train to Siena and be there in 20 minutes - much less hassle than taking the car and grappling with parking. There are numerous buses from Siena station to the city up the hill. You would end up having to leave your car way outside and walk a long way to get in anyway, so why not make it easier on yourselves?
There is no train line between the Chianti Classico area and Siena, only the Raccordo Firenze-Siena, a fast but badly maintained highway. The train line between Florence and Siena runs in a southwestward curve down from Florence, passing through Empoli (where you can also change for trains to Pisa), Castelfiorentino, Certaldo and Poggibonsi.
It depends on what kind of shops you need. San Gimignano is mostly expensive, tourist-oriented and sometimes kitch. If you want more practical and less pretentious shops, supermarkets, gift stores as well as numerous restaurants, Certaldo is a great little town, and it also has the stunning medieval hilltop part. Poggibonsi has a lot of chain stores, but it is not a particularly attractive or navigable town. Certaldo gives you the best of both worlds, practicality, history and culture.
March 3, 2015, 04:12 PM
San Gimignano vs Panzano
Both areas are truly beautiful and fairly well visited with public transport. The roads in both areas are single highway country roads ... which means you will find more of a meandering kind of traffic. And if you are on vacation that can be a fine thing.
If you are more into the vineyards both areas are loaded. I personally live close to Panzano and find it to be well served with shops, restaurants, markets and yes - vineyards.
I do agree with Travi that San Gimignano is a bit touristy - and yes sometimes a bit kitch but it is also a lovely place and very romantic. I also agree that Certaldo is a lovely place AND if you don't decide to stay there definitely put it on your "to visit" list including a stop at the Ristorante l'Antica Fonte (http://www.tavernaanticafonte.it/)
As far as getting around both locations, in my opinion, are about the same both in distance and the quality of the roads.
I think you can choose just on the bases of which of the two B&B inspired you the most.