April 30, 2010, 11:28 PM
accommodation advice required
Hi there,I am posting for the 1st time, so would like to say hello to all.
I need a bit of advice regarding accommodation in Florence.
I will be travelling to Italy with my family (wife, 2 kids(1 and 3 years)) in september for just over 2 weeks and are travelling from Turin down to Napoli. During our time in Italy we wish to stay in the Tuscany region for 4-5 days in which we would like to visit Pisa and some of the sites and museums in Florence.
We will have a hire car as well so this makes driving into Florence difficult as i believe it is a restricted zone.
What i would like to ask is if anyone has any ideas of where to stay so that we can access all the areas we would like to see within these days. We would have no problem staying on the outskirts of town leaving our car and travelling by buses or trains just as long as we're not talking seriously long journeys. We also would not mind splitting our stay in different parts of the region to make things easier.
Some advice and suggestions would be helpful.
what else do you want to do/see?
Welcome satpal! 2 weeks sounds really good and working your way down the boot to Naples sounds like a wonderful way to see Italy .
As long as you're not staying within the main downtown area, you shouldn't have problems with your car hire while in Florence. If you were staying in the traffic limited zone (ZTL), then your hotel would likely have a nearby garage where you can leave it for the days you don't need it although parking is not cheap.
If you're outside of the main center (the ZTL area is roughly contained by the ring boulevard that surrounds the main part), you can just leave the car at your hotel or B&B while you're visiting Florence and then use it for your day trips out to Pisa, Siena, Chianti.... parking in Florence isn't cheap in any case but you wouldn't have to worry about driving into the wrong areas and getting fined.
Another alternative would be to stay a little outside of Florence to completely not worry about parking problems and come into Florence by train or bus when you do want to visit.
Do you want some specific recommendations of places to stay at? Were you thinking of hotels, b&bs, residences? Aside from Florence and Pisa, were there other places you were keen on visiting? If you give us a little more info on what you had planned, it will be easier to give you a few suggestions of specific places you can stay at during your stay in Tuscany.
thanks for the reply!
The way i have roughly (very roughly!) planned it so far is to go through the Tuscan region whilst travelling from Torino to Perugia, Umbria region. I am trying to do it in 4 days between Torino and Umbria region so, realistically have 4 days in Tuscany.
What would you recommend?
I have thought of the following ideas so far:-
1) The more i think about it, i would prefer to stay outside of city centres and have so far thought of only using hostels and B&B's as i don't want to spend all of my money on accomodation.
I dont mind changing locations over the 3-4 days going through different areas.
2) Or if possible, staying in one area that was strategically placed so that i could get to Florence and Pisa-as long as its not massive train journeys, as this will be difficult with such young kids.
3) Another option i was starting to think about was skipping Florence altogether-I could come back specially for Florence another time- and just going on a 4 day adventure through the area! I would love to take in some rural, authentic towns, villages and just relax and chill out- the only thing is that I am not sure how easy it will be to get accomodation like this? I do not want to be travelling with kids and not being able to find somewhere to stay! Are there many small hotels,B&B's dotted around less visited areas?
Apart from Florence and Pisa, I do not really have a great deal of understanding or info on the region, so am again more than open for your suggestions.
I guess It's a bit of mess at the moment really(!), I would just be glad to hear what you think and am open to suggestions.
Last edited by satpal; May 5, 2010 at 09:19 PM.
Reason: Forgot to add in answer for 'what else to see'.
May 11, 2010, 01:05 AM
maybe stay put in one place for 4 days...
I think I agree about staying outside of Florence to avoid worrying about the car and where you leave it, whether you are driving into the right street or not. Thankfully there are a lot of options open for you just outside of Florence, pretty close to come in for day trips.
The thing you'll have to decide is, with two small children already on the move for 2 weeks, whether you'd prefer to stay put for 4 days or whether to move every night to a different location. Depends on the rest of your schedule. I'd personally probably stay put in one place and plan a day trip into Florence, another for Pisa (and maybe Lucca in the same day), San Gimignano on another and Greve in Chianti on another, the hilltop towns in Chianti - Radda, Castellina, Gaiole for example on the fourth day. The best way to see Chianti is by car, so you can do a day driving through the area and stopping at your family's leisure. Since you also mention budget constraints, I'll recommend a great apartment in Florence's outskirts that has good rates - the apartment at Poderino farmhouse. The family rents an apartment for up to 4 in the same farmhouse where they live in, where you can stay by the night and not by the week (most farmhouse are by the week) so it would be perfect for just 4 nights. It is just outside of Florence proper in the countryside, so you have no problem with parking or need to drive into Florence - there are buses into downtown Florence. It is really close to the roads that would take you to Pisa (A1, then A11) in less than an hour and into Chianti (the Chiantigiana road). The location would be great for this type of itinerary.
Otherwise a little further out from Florence is the Palazzo Malaspina, as b&bs would be perfect solution for stays by the night, in the center of the medieval village of San Donato in Poggio in the Chianti area. From there you are very centrally located for day trips to Pisa, San Gimignano and the Chianti area. A day trip into Florence at that point might be easier to do if you drive to Empoli or Lastra a Signa and park your car there, take the train the rest of the way into Florence. You can see the general layout of Tuscany on this map of Tuscany, see that most of the places I've mentioned are pretty close.
May 16, 2010, 10:22 PM
wow, thanks for the superb information!
I think that you are right in saying that i will probably be better staying in one location and then venturing out on day trips. The Poderino farmhouse looks a great option. I have sorted out some of my iteniary and it looks as if i will have 3 nights to play with in between Turin and Perugia.
Looking at what you have told me, i guess i could do Pisa and Lucca on the first day if i leave Turin early, en route. Then I'll have 2 full days to play before leaving on the 4th day for Umbria, maybe do the Chianti area and hiltop towns on this day, sort of en route. I don't know, it might be too much to fit in, i guess i'll play it by ear.
As for the farmhouse, would you suggest to book up now or when i get there. I was trying not to plan too much, but my wife is a suggesting that we work out our whole iteniary now because of the kids- i can see her point.
What would you suggest, are there many places, such as b&b's, available in this area and how easy would they be to locate?
May 17, 2010, 10:36 AM
better to know where you're sleeping...
I think your wife is right about the itinerary. September is still a great month for touring Italy, so you'll find lots of other visitors along with you. It will be hard to find last minute availability and places are not easy to find off the road - no large neon signs to show where they are. For that reason I recommend contacting places you're interested in staying in and booking ahead of time. You can't depend on finding something walk-in, many places are small with just a few rooms. You can always ask about cancellation policies before booking to see whether you have a little leeway once you're on the road and traveling.
Even if you weren't to reserve ahead of time, you'd have to assemble a list of places you like with addresses to take along with you - B&Bs and farmhouses in the countryside often only have a really small sign at the road they are on that you see at the last minute as you're driving by. They are spread apart from each other so going from one to another to find out if they have vacancy is not a very efficient use of your time. You can do that with hotels in downtown Florence, where there are lots of them and you can walk from one to the other, but not in the countryside.
Plus you have the children: it makes more sense to plan where you're sleeping throughout your entire 2 weeks and try to respect the timetable for departures from each place, you can leave the rest of the itinerary flexible and decide as you go.
You can leave Turin early but taking into account at least a stop for refueling, the trip is still about 4 hours to reach Pisa. You could do Pisa on that afternoon, then head to Florence OR you could stay in Pisa the first night so that you're not rushed to reach Florence and have a more leisurely drive down. If you see something along the way and want to stop, you should be able to do so. Plus kids get restless in car seats, you'll want to make stops along the way.
I think less is more in Italy. Everywhere you look, everywhere you go there is something to see. Aside from planning where you'll be sleeping during the two weeks, make a list of the things you want to see in each place but remain flexible about when you see things and decide right there and then whether you have the time to see it. While I am sure you'll be able to do most on your list, if you don't see something you can always plan to come back to Italy and see what you miss!!
So for your Tuscany part of the trip, I would recommend staying in Pisa the first night, then staying 2 nights outside of Florence. You can do a day trip into Florence on one day, decide then and there where to go on your second day, maybe Siena and San Gimignano. On your fourth day as you leave, you can go through the Chianti area and stop wherever you feel like it and eventually get to the A1 around Siena or after it, to speed up the last part of the journey down to Umbria.
May 17, 2010, 07:43 PM
great advice again, thank you! Just some quick questions, can you suggest anywhere in Pisa or just outside of the main tourist area to stay?
I am still undecided whether to drive straight to the outskirts of Firenze and stay there for 3 nights or, as you suggested, 1 night in Pisa and then 2 near Firenze- i'm predicting that the driving time is about 30-45 mins more(?).
Also, is Pisa a non driving zone? Can we take the car in to park?
May 18, 2010, 12:26 PM
Well yes, at that point Florence isn't too far away but still about an hour and a half away. I proposed staying in Pisa because then you could take the whole afternoon there, calmly visiting the Piazza dei Miracoli and then having a great dinner - for an informal dinner, I highly recommend going to Piazzeria Il Montino hidden away in a little corner in the Vicolo del Monte behind the Borgo Stretto. There is always a crowd - the best thing is the cecina, a warm flatbread made of chickpea flour - but there is also indoor seating.
Another really good restaurant is the Osteria dei Cavalieri on Via San Frediano, not too far away from il Montino.
We've stayed at Hotel Roma just a few steps from the Square of Miracles and the leaning tower and even if it is just across from the hospital, the room was really quiet. We'd stay there again.
But if you want to proceed to Florence, then just make sure you tell your accommodation ahead of time that you'll be arriving in the evening. Once you check in, I am sure they'll point out places to eat nearby Always get suggestions from hosts, some are better than others at providing tips but it is also the best way to learn of places nearby that are not on the beaten track.
June 19, 2010, 12:07 PM
Thanks for the information provided.its very helpful.I am also planning a trip to visit Florence with my family..I will take your suggestions..
Last edited by DiscoverTuscany; June 20, 2010 at 09:46 AM.
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