July 24, 2011, 08:03 AM
Thank you so much again for the useful information! Hope I can do more planning for our trip soon, when work is not as crazily busy.
July 29, 2011, 07:22 AM
Dear Lourdes and Elena,
It's me again, with more questions. :P
So our plan is to leave Florence on a Thursday. We will be staying at Malazzo Malaspina for 3 nights. Then head back to Florence on Sunday morning.
The question is, we also want to visit Pisa and/or Lucca. Current plan is to get there after we leave Florence on Thursday morning, but we need to arrive in San Donato by that evening. Is that doable (time on the road/traffic/amount of driving, etc.)??
The other option is to drive down from Florence to San donato directly on Thursday first and spend the rest of the day in that area. Then either on Friday or Saturday, we drive up from San Donato to Pisa/Lucca. However, from the map, it seems more out of the way than our first option (Florence to lucca to Pisa to San Donato).
What would you recommend?? I hope I made sense with my descriptions...
Thanks a lot!!
August 1, 2011, 11:24 AM
Welcome back Rosespot :-)
I highly recommend visiting Pisa and Lucca while you are staying in Florence, before leaving for San Donato in Poggio.
You can conveniently reach both art cities by train from Florence SMN’s train station.
There are many fast trains reaching Pisa in less than one hour.
In this way you will spare a lot of time!
I would not recommend driving up from San Donato to Pisa and Lucca, the journey is quite long!
Feel free to post again :-)
Have a great day!
August 2, 2011, 01:03 AM
But oh, tough schedules for us. We will arrive in Florence on a Tuesday late afternoon. Plan to spend full day Wednesday visiting Florence. Need to be in San Donato in Poggio on Thursday night. Then will be back to Florence on Sunday before noon. Flight back to the US at 6 am Monday morning.
I guess we can either:
1) go to Pisa and Lucca by train on Thursday (from florence). Take train back to Florence and pick up our car in late afternoon and drive down to San Donato;
2) pick up our car on Thursday morning in Florence, then drive to Pisa and Lucca, and then San Donato at night; or
3) On Sunday, after we drop off our car in Florence, take the train to Pisa and Lucca, and return to Florence by the end of the day.
Are things open on Sunday? both in Florence, and in Pisa/Lucca?
Not sure which of the above options is the best.... please advise.
Thanks a lot,
August 2, 2011, 09:06 AM
I think Sunday makes the most sense, when you are not in a hurry to be elsewhere by the evening and can take your time getting to Pisa and Lucca. You'll find all of the main monuments open in Pisa (see hours here), just keep in mind that on Sunday there are several masses throughout the day and the cathedral can't be visited during services. The same for any churches you want to visit on a Sunday. Definitely visit the cathedral in Lucca as well (open 7am-7pm) and see the Volto Santo (Sacred Cross) and the monument to Ilaria del Carretto in the sacristy (beautiful marble funereal monument). Also recommend the nearby Church of San Giovanni where you can visit the floor underneath with archeological remains of the old church and see Roman floor mosaics.
August 2, 2011, 11:07 PM
Thank you so much for the information and recommendation! I am glad to know that most monuments in Pisa and Lucca will be open on Sunday. I was a bit worried.
Salute to all of you again!!
August 7, 2011, 03:43 AM
I agree about seeing Pisa, we stayed in the Chianti region of Tuscany for 8 days and burned one day going to Pisa and had no regrets. It is truly amazing to see everything inside the walls.
August 20, 2011, 11:07 PM
Hi Lourdes and Elena,
I am back again! With only one week left before we leave for Italy, I am doing some final planning now.
So we will start heading to San Donato in Poggio (from Florence) on Thursday (staying at palazzo malaspina for 3 nights), probably late morning or so. Should be in the area at noon.
I plan to spend the rest of Thursday in Chianti (Greve, Radda, Castellina, Gaiole, etc.). Trying to make a reservation at Solo Cicca for that evening!
For Friday, I am thinking about visiting Monteriggioni and Siena. Would that be too much time? should i cover another town or not?
For Saturday, I am not quite sure where to go... Should we visit San Gimignano and Volterra, OR Montalcino and Montepulciano?? would it be too crazy to go to both regions in one day?? How is traffic like on Saturdays?
Would appreciate some advices.
Thanks a lot!!
August 22, 2011, 03:37 PM
You've got a full Thursday planned! Since your time is limited, I'd highly recommend you head to Greve, head to Radda (really charming). Gaiole is the furthest and has the less to offer (not on a hilltop and thus less "charming" - most of the attractions are wine related and outside of the town) so if you don't make it that far don't worry about it! From Radda head back to Panzano to enjoy your dinner there at Solo Ciccia and then enjoy a stroll through town to work down some of that dinner!
Monteriggioni and Siena on the same day are fine, as they are really close. Siena will take most of your day, Monteriggioni is a small castle where you can walk around the walls and have a pleasant visit "back in time", it really is a neat small town within the walls. I don't think you can really include other towns into the same day aside from other options along the way heading back to San Donato - some options would be Colle Val d'Elsa (dinner there) or Staggia (a really small town along the Via Cassia but we had a wonderful meal at the "Pozzo dei Desideri" restaurant right in town) or Castellina in Chianti (since you'll likely not see it on Thursday).
For Saturday, San Gimignano and Volterra are definitely more doable, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. It should take about 35-40 min to get from one to the other. Being closer to your accommodation, I'd plan on Volterra in the morning so that you can spend the rest of the day in San Gimignano and enjoy dinner there, having a shorter drive to get back to Malaspina afterward.
Montalcino and Montepulciano are definitely another option, but it is further away and longer drive there and back. You really can't do all four in the same day, though. You would end up not seeing any aside from just passing through and feeling as if you were in a rush throughout the whole day. You could do Montalcino in the morning (get an early start as it is 1.5 hour drive), stop in San Quirico in Orcia and Pienza for a short visit to each (really small towns) on your way to Montepulciano, spend the rest of the day there and enjoy dinner there. From Montepulciano the drive back will be another 1.5 hours.
Traffic on Saturday truly depends on the day but is generally quite manageable. You should not have problems moving about Tuscany from that point of view - just remember many roads are 2 lane roads from the very start! The Florence-Siena road on the other hand is 2 lanes on each side, so traffic is generally fine on that road if you manage to not find work in progress (when that happens, sections become one lane and that is where you might find a bit of traffic but oftentimes it clears quickly). The most important thing to remember is this: You're coming at the end of August, when lots of Italians and other Europeans have been on vacation - and many of them will be on the road and going back home on the last weekend of August (this coming up weekend). Most of the flow is from South to North. Not knowing your exact days in Italy, I can only say watch out for traffic due to that - if you have access to internet, use the Autostrade website as a resource to check traffic conditions on the highways (toll roads manages by Autostrade).
August 22, 2011, 08:08 PM
Thank you so much for your detailed and quick response!! It's very very helpful.
For Thursday, we will focus on Greve and Radda then. And of course, dinner in Panzano (confirmed!).
I will discuss with my husband what to do on Saturday. He said he read that San Gimignano is notoriously famous for being packed in the summer. We actually will be there on Sept 1, 2 and 3, so hopefully, most other European tourists will be home already then.
You are absolutely right, we do not want to rush and just to be at places. We would rather enjoy each town in a more leisure way. It will be a struggle between seeing Volterra/San Gimignano OR Montalcino/Montepulciano. Which region has so-called "more to offer" in your opinion??
And if we want to visit one winery, which town would you recommend?
Thanks a ton!!