October 21, 2009, 06:20 AM
October 21, 2009, 02:43 PM
What to see in Tuscany
First of all congratulations on your upcoming wedding
The area between Florence and Siena is called Chianti and is one of the most beautiful and renowned areas in Tuscany and maybe in Italy.
It's famous for the unique countryside that in November will be colored by yellow and red tones, good wine and fabulous food.
It could be the perfect landscape for your pictures
Just a quick note before starting: Spoleto is a very beautiful place, but it's located in Umbria, the region to the south of Tuscany.
I personally think that it's really worth driving through the countryside from Florence to Siena. You have three different ways to get to Siena:
- the Superstrada,a toll-free highway to Siena, that of course is the fastest way (about 50 minutes driving directly)
- the Chiantigiana, SR222 a state highway, that passes through many beautiful and typical villages of the Chianti region
- the Cassia, SR2 the old Roman highway,that passes through other many beautiful and typical villages of Chianti
Both Cassia and Chiantigiana take you to Greve in Chianti, which can be considered as the gate into Chianti.
It's a small village famous for its particularly shaped piazza (square). It could be nice having lunch there. In the main square there are some nice and good osteria (typical wine-restaurant) and restaurants. After lunch you can then drive to Panzano in Chianti, where you can have a look at the old village on the hill. In Panzano you should visit the famous Italian butcher shop by Dario Cecchini, who cuts the Florentine steak while citing Dante Alighieri's Divine Commedy.
Then you can proceed to Castellina in Chianti, another adorable place, where you can have a unique view over the countryside. You may consider spending a couple of nights in Castellina in Chianti or in its surroundings. In fact, Castellina is centrally located and you can easily reach all the main attractions from there with your car.
In Castellina I can recommend a couple of places where to stay, such as Romitorio di Serelle or Il Cellese, that are both farmhouses offering holiday apartments.
Going on in our mini tour I suggest you visit Monteriggioni. It's a small medieval village surrounded by its original wall. Very impressive. A funny note about Monteriggioni is that the cats that live there don't have the tails
You can also stop at San Gimignano, a medieval town completely restored where you can feel the ancient taste of Tuscany.
Then you can drive to Siena and maybe spend a night there. Siena is gorgeous with its Piazza del Campo and all its contrade (districts). Don't forget to taste the Panforte or the Ricciarelli, typical sweet products of Siena!
If you still feel you want to go to Spoleto you can drive through Monteroni D'Arbia and then San Quirico D'Orcia, still typical Tuscan villages with beautiful surroundings. I also suggest you find the time to stop at Montalcino, a must if you like wine. You can even think to take a wine tasting tour over there and experience real Italian wine.
Then you can continue on to Montepulciano and Chiusi, which is famous for its Etruscan roots and visit the Archeological Museum and the archeological ruins. Then you can then drive toward Perugia and maybe spend some time there. It's a very nice city and above all you have great chocolate Spoleto is just few km far from Perugia.
Regarding booking your room in advance in Tuscany, November is not actually a busy period, but if you would like to stay in some farmhouse in Chianti, I would suggest you book in advance because sometimes they have just a few apartments.
I would strongly suggest you spend at least one night in a Tuscan farmhouse (not just a hotel) so that you can fully experience theTuscan life.
I hope these suggestions are useful!
October 22, 2009, 03:07 PM
a few more ideas...
Congrats on the upcoming wedding!
In addition to the suggestions provided by Valentina, I'd suggest that from La Spezia to the Cinque Terre you DON'T drive and instead take the train. You can buy a park pass with unlimited train travel between the towns at either the La Spezia train station or as soon as you arrive into the first of the five towns of the Cinque Terre. The train is the easiest way to move between all the towns, and the pass allows you to hop and off as often as you want as well as use the bus shuttles between each. The towns are on cliffs along the coast, parking is very limited in each and there are steep switchbacks. You'll move quicker by train and just make your day trip out to be much more enjoyable.
There have been several posts in the past about the Cinque Terre so if you do a Search you'll be able to read more, to get you started you can read our blog post about the Cinque Terre or get started reading this or this thread.
I also recommend you base yourself around Siena for your days in Tuscany, you wouldn't be locking yourself into an area since you'll already have been to Lucca and Pisa in the northwest and to Florence. Most of the other main destinations are either to the north (Chianti is between Florence and Siena), west (San Gimignano, Volterra, Colle Val d'Elsa, Monteriggioni) or to the south (Montalcino, Pienza, Montelpulciano - this area is called Val d'Orcia and Crete Senesi).
Depending on the place you want to stay in, most farmhouses or villas in the countryside offer either b&b lodging or apartments where you have complete liberty to come and go as you please. Perfect for organizing your days and meals out. For the most part, these are family-owned and managed places that aren't run as hotels.... so you definitely want to contact them ahead of time just to make sure of rates - I think you shouldn't have problems with availability at this time of the year. If instead you prefer hotels, you might be able to just wait and see...
By searching on here, you'll also find several threads on wine tasting recommendations, for example this one in Chianti but there are several other threads you'll find through the search function... a wine tasting and cellar visit make great day trips in both Chianti and in the Montalcino/Montepulciano area.
Hope these are also useful in your planning!