April 30, 2011, 09:16 AM
6 night trip to Tuscany & area - Questions/Tips?
my wife & I are planning on spending 6 nights in the Tuscany area. Our ideal trip would be to spend 2 nights in Florence, 2 nights in Cinque Terre and 2 nights in Siena. We are planning to go in early June. We are thinking of winging it and getting rooms as we reach our destinations. Is that a good idea for this time of the year? We will be traveling by train. Is it possible to fit in a few hours in Pisa on our way from Cinque Terre to Siena? Would it be better to rent a car (I hear it is expensive to park it in Florence)?
Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre in June
Welcome to our Forum, Maui Spud!
Your itinerary sounds very interesting and your vacation time is in the air : Italy is waiting for you!
These are my tips:
Florence will be your point of reference to move during the holiday. You will in fact depart from Florence to go to Siena as to move to Pisa and the Cinque Terre (cinque is the number 5, did you know that? ).
To go to Siena I recommend you to use the bus departing from Florence rather than the train, which is not as convenient to move to the city center.
You can instead catch a train to go to Pisa and then, from there, to the 5 Terre.
Car is not useful at all for your itinerary, I suggest you to use public transportation to avoid traffic and parking inconvenience.
In my opinion your itinerary might be slightly different passing the first two days in Siena, two more in Florence and then from there move to the 5 Terre. This because, as I' ve written before, you always need return back to Florence to catch trains towards Pisa and the 5 Terre.
About the accommodations, I recommend you to book in advance. June is generally a good period to travel to Tuscany and Italy due to weather and costs and is already a tourist season. If you are looking for some ideas for a comfortable accommodation, take a look at this free guide of Tuscany Lodgings >>
Hope these tips are useful!
Ciao from Tuscany!
Ciao Maui Spud,
Book ahead. It won't be any cheaper or easier leaving it til when you arrive.
A couple of hours would be fine for Pisa, though if you have longer there are parts around the university area worth seeing.
As has been pointed out bus to Siena is easiest/cheapest from Florence. Many people base themselves in Florence and it is possible to do day trips to Siena and Cinque terre- which would save all the moving of luggage, finding hotels etc, but the Cinque terre day trip would be a long day.
If you have decided not to rent a car take a look at the various day-trips to chianti offered from Florence. Public transport to the beautiful villages, especially hill towns, of Tuscany is very poor. Trains never seem to go where one wants to get to and bus services are infrequent.
Here are a couple of Tuscany day trips from Florence to get you started-
If you do opt to hire a car you will not need it in Florence, in fact it will be quite a burden trying to find parking and avoiding ZTL fines.
Enjoy your trip!
book ahead... and where are you headed after?
As others have already suggested, traveling by train the easiest option might be to base yourself in Florence and do day trips from there. But you can also consider moving north (are you arriving and departing from Rome?), doing Siena first, then Florence (get there with the SITA bus) and then Cinque Terre. All these places are busy in June, so definitely start looking into accommodation and book ahead of time.
You don't really need a car at all to see all three of your destinations, stick to train and bus to move around
You can definitely stop in Pisa on your way to or from Cinque Terre - where you are going to afterward, heading up north or down to Rome?
Let us know if you have any other questions!
Thank you all for the suggestions. It seems that Cinque Terre paths are closed so we think that we may be spending all 6 nights in Siena and renting a car and doing day trips from there. My wife is spending 6 nights in Florence and is trying to book places (3 start or so) and is having a hard time. Any recommendations for Siena and/or Florence lodging/hotels?
Cinque Terre trails + lodging in Tuscany and Florence
We visited the Cinque Terre at the start of April and yes, most of the blue trail that follows the coast line was closed due to landslides. Only the part known as Via dell'Amore between Manarola and Riomaggiore was open. But all of the other trails in the park were open, so we were able to still do lots of hiking the three days we were there. We were assured works were in progress to reopen the sections of the blue trail in time for visitors but I understand the frustration of all those that arrived only to find the most popular trail closed.
Checking on the official site, the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza and Vernazza and Corniglia were reopened on the 21st of April. Only the part between Manarola and Corniglia is still closed, no dates are indicated for when it might reopen but I would think that they'll be open by the time you get here in case you still want to fit them in your itinerary.
Having said all this, Siena is also a good base from which to visit all of Tuscany. Will you already have a car while in Florence? If so, I recommend the Palagetto B&B since it is right on the border of the viale that surrounds the center so it has parking space and it is easy to get to without the fear of driving in the ZTL.
If instead you won't have a car and want to be in the center center, you can try Casa dei Tintori or Le Stanze di Santa Croce, both small charming B&Bs in the Santa Croce area.
In the countryside, I highly recommend Palazzo Malaspina B&B in San Donato in Poggio, about halfway between Florence and Siena, or Poggio Borgoni, a farmhouse B&B also surrounded by Chianti vineyards.
You need to contact all of these directly to get availability.... if they don't work out and you want to search for those with online booking, you can search for Florence and then for Siena with your specific dates and see immediately what is available. The maps are useful in showing where everything is located so makes it easier to search by location.
Let us know if you need any additional suggestions!
May 16, 2011, 02:48 AM
Well, we have booked our trip. While my wife is in Florence, she will be staying at the Hotel Alessandra - most everything was already booked. I have been told that Trattoria Mamma Gina was a good restaurant. Have you heard of either place?
While In Siena, we booked Borgo Grondaie for 5 nights and will be renting a car (any suggestions) and doing day trips.
We feel that this may be the best way to truly see the area without hitting a lot of "touristy" places.
Thank you so much for your suggestions and advice. If you ever are coming to Maui, please feel free to ask us for suggestions. You can also look me up and we can meet up somewhere.
Maui Spud (Don)
May 18, 2011, 04:39 PM
You're very welcome!
Everything sounds great! Have heard of Mamma Gina, mostly from posts on blogs from other visitors. If you and your wife go, please do share what you think of it and if the food is good compared to other places you end up at.
It is generally difficult to eat badly in Florence and Tuscany - just avoid those places that are clearly just catered for tourists. Most trattoria are generally family-owned and managed so tend to have good fare.
If we do make it to Maui (which I hope too some day), will keep you in mind for tips and suggestions, thank you for the offer!!
June 18, 2011, 05:58 AM
Back from Italy
My wife & I have returned from Tuscany. I have so much to report but I am jet lagged after two days of travel. I will be posting reports in the next few days.
Everything was fantastic.
Will report soon.
June 20, 2011, 12:03 PM
Fantastic! We were in California last month and it took us a few days to get back into the swing of things, so completely understand about the jet lag and resting up a few days.
Looking forward to hearing how everything turned out in Tuscany and Italy in general.. did you include the Cinque Terre?