March 26, 2012, 12:35 PM
7 Nights in Tuscany - too much information and so confused
We are Aussies Travelling to Rome for 5 days then boarding the train to Florence for 7 days, arriving 12 June and stayting until 19 June. Thats all we know so far. I have been reading many things and there is so much confliciting information. There are two adults and two 12 year old girls.
Do we stay in Florence the whole time at a hotel with a pool (a must for girls who will get sick of the sights we wish to see during the day) or is it easy to obtain accommodation at a farmhouse/villa with a pool. If the latter is better, how easy is it to hire a car in town to drive there. I cannot seem to locate car hire places - apart from at the airport.
We prefer to drive ourselves to places rather than do tours - do you recommend this - being in a strange country with no real italian speaking ability. Also, would tours provide much more information that we would miss by not doing them?
How many days would we need in Florence and what other places do you recommend we must see.
Also, is it too much to travel from Florence and see all Cinque Terre in one day. Or is it better to stay at a place out that way to be cloer?
I must commend you on this site. It is very good and i am very glad i discovered it - even if it was by accident!
Thank you for you help.
April 16, 2012, 07:23 PM
recommend villa or farmhouse with pool and remain flexible moving around on your own!
I agree that there is a lot of information out there in guides and on the web about visiting Tuscany and the best way to experience it. The truth is that Tuscany offers a great deal of choice in how you want to live and experience the region, so it is really wide open to you to decide what you like best in a vacation and then be able to personalize it mostly to meet your needs.
For example, traveling with two 12 year olds, I'd definitely suggest the pool idea as well as being a must. The thing to know is that since Florence is so old and compact, you won't be finding very many hotels or villas in the city itself with that amenity.... BUT there are many villas and farmhouse in the immediate outskirts, as well as little further out, which let's you both enjoy the countryside as well as the city and enjoy the best of both worlds ;-).
I do highly recommend hiring a car - either at the airport or at the many rental agencies near the SMN train station. Here is an article that lists several car rental locations near the train station and shows on a map where they are located - then there is a search box that can help you get started on hiring the car.
You can definitely drive yourself to all places in Tuscany you're interested in seeing. It is doable, and actually much more flexible when traveling with family. You get to decide where to go each day and how long to stay - most towns have a tourism office where you can stop by and get some leaflets or info on the local sights, these generally have the most important information you want to know to get an idea of what you're seeing/visiting. You can also use printed guide books to get more detailed information - from Lonely Planet to the Eyewitness Guide series, which I personally enjoy.
I'd give Florence at least 2 full days. There is so much you can see, I suggest you pick and choose from what you and your family prefers to do..... a mix of museums, churches and outdoors will be best. You can definitely get "museumed-out" really quickly in Italy as there is so much history and art to see (much of it starts looking the same in a short time) so alternate days and go for the main sights rather than try to see everything. This itinerary gives you an idea of all there is to see in 2 days although if you have the time, I'd spread it out over 3 days.
Cinque Terre is a good 2 hour drive from Florence. You can do it in one day if you plan the whole day out but I personally think it is more enjoyable to do and see everything in Italy at a slower pace so I'd recommend staying in one of the towns at least 1 night so you can spend two days there. You could fit it toward the end of your week so that you move on from Florence/vicinity and not have to drive back before heading back down to Rome.
As for accommodation, here are a few suggestions of places with pool not far from Florence:
Villa La Medicea - really close to Florence
Casa Palmira - a bit further away in Mugello to the north of Florence but with a great personal welcome by the family
Cabbiavoli - to the south of Florence in Chianti, several apartments in farmhouses in the middle of vineyards
Tenuta Moriano - a wine estate so you can also do wine tours/tastings and cooking classes on site
There are just some suggestions to get you started - most all the farmhouses and villas have requirement of a whole week during the high season so I highly recommend you look into them, will be perfect for your time in Tuscany. All of these are pretty central around Florence so that you can take day trips to all of the main sights around Tuscany.
Lastly sorry for the delay in the reply, somehow your post had slipped my notice :/ Do post any other questions that come up or that I might have missed, I know there is way too much info out there and I could have also missed answering some of your questions. Hope I can be useful in clearing your doubts up so that you have a great vacation in Tuscany!