July 2, 2011, 01:33 AM
How should I spend my time in Florence/Tuscany, for about 4-5 days?
I am new here! first of all, I want to say THANK YOU to all the hosts here! you guys are amazing! I have been reading your forum the last 2 days in order to get some ideas on how to plan my trip.
My husband and I are planning a (sort-of) last minute trip to Italy (from California) in late August/early September. We haven't booked anything yet. Too bad we only have about 7 full days (wish we could spend 3 weeks in Italy!). We are thinking about visiting both Venice and Florence/Tuscany during this trip. Tentatively, I am thinking about spending 2.5 days in Venice, and save 4.5 days for Florence/Tuscany. Is that a good idea?? some people said there are more to see in Venice, but some said there are way more to see in Tuscany. I am torn....
So, with only 4.5 days, how should we spend them in Florence/Tuscany? I want to see Florence for sure, but would also like to experience the beautiful countryside a bit. Honestly, both of us are not very artistic, but are more into food and wine. So, we will spend some time in the museums, but not a WHOLE LOT of time. Would like to check out beautiful architectures/buildings etc. and eat good food.
Should we stay in a hotel for all 5 nights in Florence? or would it be too hectic to spend, say 2-3 nights in Florence, and spend a night or two in the countryside?
Should we rent a car to get to the countryside? or with such a short time, just stick with bus/train?
We plan to take the train from Venice to Florence. And we need to go back to Florence for the airport at the end of the trip.
Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!! Thanks a ton in advance!
July 4, 2011, 12:17 PM
Visiting Florence and Tuscany in 5 days
You are very welcome
Florence and Tuscany are incredibly full of beautiful things to see! Although 5 days are not so many, they are quite enough to get the most out this beautiful and extraordinary region of Italy
Venice as well is really an amazing and unique city :-) not to be missed from any Italian itinerary!
I suggest you spend 5 full days visiting Florence and Tuscany and the remaining 2 days in Venice, that is smaller and can be conveniently visited in a shorter time.
In case you wish to explore also the beautiful Tuscan countryside, that we personally recommend, the best thing is to hire a car, that will give you the possibility to move freely around the main sights of the region. So you might stay 2-3 nights in Florence, and spend a night or two in the countryside. Driving along the winding and scenic roads of Tuscany, especially in the Chianti region near Florence, is a very pleasant experience!
The wonderful Renaissance city of Florence has really a lot to offer, here you can find a useful guide to the city and its attractions, while here you can find some useful tips to visit the city in 2 days:
For your stay in Florence I highly recommend B&B Il Palagetto, a charming and elegant Bed and Breakfast, located in the quiet Oltrarno quarter, that is very convenient if you have a car as they have a private parking. You can reach the historical center with a pleasant walk along the Arno River.
While, for a nice accommodation right in the very heart of Florence’s city center, I recommend the lovely and welcoming B&B Casa dei Tintori, located near the famous Uffizi gallery and the wonderful Ponte Vecchio.
While, for your stay in the countryside I suggest B&B Palazzo Malaspina; a very elegant bed and breakfast overlooking Chianti hills, halfway between Florence and Siena. The setting is fantastic, right in the heart of the famous Chianti region, all surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and scenic landscapes. From here you can visit the beautiful hilltop towns of Chianti, such as Greve, Radda and Castellina in Chianti. All the area is renowned worldwide for its superb wine production so I suggest you make some wine tours. Here you can find a useful guide about the Chianti.
While at B&B Palazzo Malaspina, you can make a lot of day trips, such as to the wonderful medieval city of Siena, so different from Florence, yet absolutely amazing and not to be missed! Other Tuscan villages that you should include in your itinerary are Volterra, San Gimignano, Pisa and Lucca. You may find this post about a 5 day itinerary in Tuscany very useful.
And here some practical info on moving around Tuscany by car.
Of course, if you prefer to not rent a car and stick with train and bus, I suggest you base yourself in Florence, from where you can conveniently make day trips to all the art towns I mentioned above. If you are not having a car, though, and wish to visit the Chianti region, I suggest you make some guided tour as this good one on Chianti Countryside & San Gimignano. Actually, it can be quite difficult to reach Chianti's main attractions using public transport.
You can check train timetables as well as tickets fares at this link.
Feel free to contact us again for any further suggestion or request you may need.
Enjoy planning your trip and have a great Italian holiday
Ciao from Tuscany!
Last edited by Elena; July 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM.
July 6, 2011, 03:09 AM
Thank you very much for the helpful information! I will digest it first and share with my husband. And may bother you again later with more questions.
Thanks a millions again!!
July 6, 2011, 11:10 AM
You are very welcome!
We'll be here to answer your questions
Have a nice day!
July 7, 2011, 12:24 AM
Wow, B&B Palazzo Malaspina looks amazing! Would love to spend some time in the countryside! I assume we need a car to get there, right?
I have a few more questions:
1) Is it rather safe to take the night train from Venice to Florence? I am thinking that if we cut down the stay in Venice to 2 days, then perhaps we can catch the train at the end of the day and get into Florence at night. Just want to confirm it is a safe thing for tourists to do...
2) Since we may be getting in late, is there any boutique hotels in Florence you could recommend? I am thinking that if we stay in Florence for 2 days without a car (may hire a car for the other 3 days when we go to the countryside), perhaps it is easier to stay in a hotel. Any hotels that are clean and near public transportation would be great. We don't need to stay in the city center or the extremely touristy areas......
3) If our flight leaves Florence super early on a Monday morning, is it better to spend our last night in Florence instead of the countryside?
Again, thank you so much for your advices!
July 7, 2011, 02:28 AM
Sorry, one more question:
Is it true that most Italians will be on vacation for the whole August? is it a bad time to visit Venice and Florence/Tuscany during this month?
We are exploring the possibility of visiting in early August, but is it better to stick with the end of August/early September (tentatively Aug 28 to Sept 5)??
Thanks a lot,
July 7, 2011, 10:54 AM
5 days in Florence and Tuscany
Thanks for coming back
I’m very happy you like Palazzo Malaspina :-)
It’s actually a fantastic property of great charme for a great stay!
If you are going to stay in the countryside, having a car is actually a necessity, and of course you’ll not need it while in Florence.
You’ll find it very pleasing driving along the winding country roads amidst beautiful landscapes!
No problem for taking the night train from Venice to Florence, don’t worry. I only recommend you inform the hotel you are staying in Florence that you are arriving late, so you can go directly at your accommodation at your arrival! Here train schedules and tickets fares.
As to accommodation in Florence I agree with you that choosing a hotel is the better option!
I recommend Albergotto Hotel, a 4 star hotel of great charme located in a beautiful area in Florence’s historical center. All the rooms are spacious and carefully furnished, providing all necessary facilities. Albergotto Hotel is also a perfect base to explore Florence’s sights and attractions.
In addition, I also suggest you have a look at the following list of boutique hotels in Florence:
As your flight is leaving very early in the morning, the best thing is actually to spend your last night in Florence and not in the countryside, so you will reach the airport more quickly.
Actually, most Italians tend to take their vacations in August, but they usually escape the heat of the city center to go to the seaside, especially the Florentines
Of course Venice and Florence are very touristic destinations and tend to be quite crowded almost all year; maybe you could stick with the end of August/early September, that can be just a little bit more quiet.
Enjoy planning your Tuscan trip!
Post again for any question or suggestions needed :-)
July 12, 2011, 12:29 PM
Yes, many Italians do take their vacations in August and while you might find some shops closed during the central week of August (around the 15th since it is a national holiday), most shops and businesses that work with travelers (including bars and restaurants) will be open. Many in the downtown area don't close at all (they take their holidays in the off-season) so you shouldn't be greatly impacted by this... do consider that August tends to be hot in Florence since it is in a valley but other towns in Tuscany are sitting on hills so the weather even if warm should be okay in general ;-)
July 18, 2011, 07:35 PM
Dear Lourdes and Elena,
Thank you again for the great information!! We have booked our tickets and hotels, so here we come (last week of August)!
We still have a few things to work out, such as hiring a car. We did a quick search, and ouch, taxes and fees for hiring a car is quite expensive in Italy. Will try to find a bargain, if at all possible.
Another question, is there any website that has reviews for restaurants by the locals? We have "yelp.com" in the US, so I was hoping to find something like that.
Thank you very much for your help!!
July 19, 2011, 10:41 AM
Tuscany Restaurants' Reviews
You are welcome!
We are happy you’ve booked your tickets and hotels
Your Tuscan trip is approaching!
You are right, hiring a car in Italy is quite expensive! You might also try at this link.
As for websites with restaurants’ reviews by the locals, there are quite many but they are in Italian, such as 2 spaghi.
You might use Tripadvisor.com or the forum on chowhound.com.
Post again for any other question
Again have a great stay in Tuscany!