March 5, 2012, 09:42 AM
5 Days for Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre?
My wife and I will be making our first trip to Italy in May and only have 9 days (excluding the days we fly in and out). We've decided not to visit the triad of Rome / Venice / Florence but only visit Tuscany (including Florence) and the Amalfi Coast (we fly out of Naples and Pompeii is a must see for my wife). We'll be flying in to Pisa and are trying to decide how to organize our itinerary. Is it too much to try and explore some of the towns of Tuscany as well as Florence and visit Cinque Terre in 5 days?
Day 0: Arrive in Pisa @ Night, Stay there.
Day 1: Spend 1/2 day in Pisa and then go to Riomaggiore (or should we go to one of the other towns)
Day 2: Cinque Terre
Day 3: Cinque Terre -> Chianti (Stay somewhere north of Siena?), maybe visit Lucca on the way?
Day 4: Florence
Day 5: Siena?
Day 6: Travel to Sorrento
Day 7: Capri
Day 8: Pompeii and National Archeological Museum in Naples
Day 9: Amalfi Coast
Day 10: Fly out of Naples
Basically we'd set up a base in Chianti for days 3 - 5 and a base around Sorrento for Days 6 - 8. I believe it's a full days drive from Siena to Sorrento.
If we didn't do Cinque Terre, what would you recommend for Tuscany (spend an extra day in Florence)? Would you recommend splitting up the drive from Siena to Sorrento?
March 12, 2012, 01:58 PM
lots to see in 5 days in Tuscany!
I understand you want to see as much as you can in the short time you'll have available and I think most of your plan will work out just as you are planning! Just be prepared to be flexible as well....
First, will you be renting a car in Pisa or depending on trains to move around? Theoretically, most of your itinerary could be down with trains except for the part of staying in Chianti north of Siena - it is much much easier to stay in the countryside and move around if you have your own means of transport. On the other hand, it isn't recommended you have your own car for the Cinque Terre at all (lack of parking and very steep and narrow roads), so if you do plan on getting a car, I'd recommend picking it up as you head back from the Cinque Terre to Chianti (in either Pisa or Lucca).
I agree it is a good idea to set up a base in Chianti and from there visit Chianti, Siena, Florence. Visit smaller villages as you travel in the area, such as Monteriggioni near Siena, San Gimignano, the villages in Chianti (Castellina, Panzano, Radda).
As for the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is a good base but so is Manarola. You'll have heard of the flash flood that destroyed Vernazza and Monterosso back in October, but they are quickly rebuilding and by May many of the business and lodgings will be open once again so you can also choose one of those as a base. Here are the two websites to use for updates as regards the two towns:
Rebuild Monterosso: Visitors Information
Travel Advisor | Save Vernazza ONLUS
Keep in mind the main trail along the towns is still closed off, with the only part being open being the part between Riomaggiore and Manarola. You can see the state of the other trails here: Travel Advisor Trail Updates
May is still at the start of the tourist season in Cinque Terre so it shouldn't be too crowded... and with the area so devastated after the flood, visits to the are being encouraged so that it won't be forgotten....but if you choose to skip it and spend more time in Tuscany, I'd suggest spending the extra time to the south of Siena, in the are known as the Val d'Orcia: Montalcino, Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico... all lovely towns and beautiful landscapes and view in between make this part of the region the "Tuscany" we all see in postcards - lovely green hills with cypresses at the top ridge.
The drive down to Sorrento should take approximately 5 hours so it is up to you whether you decide to break it up... it would make sense to stop in Rome since it is about the halfway point but since you won't have much time to see it well, maybe I'd recommend to not stop and just spend more time in Sorrento. Plus you'll take longer once you reach Naples to get into Sorrento, with the view and drive slowing you down
Hope you're having fun planning your trip to Italy! Feel free to post any other questions!!