April 9, 2012, 08:09 PM
Car In Tuscany
I have travelled to Italy several times without a car. Somehow I feel it can be a bit more stressful navigating areas that are unfamiliar and I am trying to make this a relaxing, stress free trip. My boyfriend and I are travelling to Tuscany for 8 days. We would like to stay in the Southern region and would like ONE base where we can visit different towns from that one area. We have heard that Val D'Orcia is a perfect base, but don't know anything about it. Any suggestions? We have also heard Chianti and Sienna as a base? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
April 17, 2012, 05:23 PM
Re: Car In Tuscany
Val d'Orcia is a great area in which to base yourself in for exploring the southern area of Tuscany - up to Siena, east to Arezzo and all the area west to the coast in Maremma in addition to all of the towns in the area. If you're planning to go to Florence as well, it might get to be a little far since the drive can take around 2 hours.
In that case, Chianti and Siena are little bit further north and are just a bit more central for visiting the northern part of the region, including Florence and Pisa, for example.
The only thing is if you want to be out in the countryside - at a villa or farmhouse, for example - a car is really recommended in all of these areas. The train system does go from Florence to Siena but it goes around Chianti, not through it. All of the towns in Chianti are then pretty much off limits - here's a general article on ways to move around Chianti and you'll see that train + bus are doable but only if you arm yourself with a lot of patience (buses tend to be in the early morning or late afternoon and service is not abundant).
An option, if you're both walkers - is to stay in Val d'Orcia and move around with buses and on foot. Over Easter my husband and I went to San Quirico and walked to Pienza - it was around 8km each way walk over gently undulating hills and unpaved roads that connect the farmhouses in the hills and everything was so green and pretty. It was about a 2.5 hr walk each way and definitely stress free LOL! We'd done it about a year and a half ago and after lunch in Pienza it started to rain so we caught a bus back to San Quirico so we know that area definitely has a bit more buses between the towns and makes for a very relaxing vacation. So you might be able to combine the two (bus+walks) between several of the towns (will require checking bus schedules before hand - for that area, this website gives you bus schedules based on dates.
For example, from Pienza I see two buses in the morning (between 7 and 9) and several in the afternoon - same in the opposite direction so this is also doable with bus in both directions.
The closest train station in the area is Montepulciano Stazione which is about 11km away from Montepulciano.
If you want an idea about driving in Italy from a Canadian's perspective, I recommend you read Mathieu's post here - I second Mathieu's last 3 recommendations - don't drive in Florence if you don't have to, ignore the cars behind you in country roads and let them pass when they want to, and in the autostrada use the left lane only to pass and then return to the right lane. If you decide to drive, use the search box on this page to search for the best deals in car rentals in Tuscany