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Thread: First Timer Seeking Help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Question First Timer Seeking Help

    Greetings,

    My wife and I will be visiting Tuscany for the first time from July 1-5. We have a few nights reserved in Florence, but would also like to see the countryside before continuing our summer vacation in Venice and eventually Vienna.

    A few questions, in hopes that someone might have some insights:

    - If we want to get out in the country and see Montepulciano, San Gimignano, and possibly a few of the smaller towns (we'll likely skip Sienna to avoid the crowds during Palio), do you recommend using Florence as a hub or moving into the countryside?

    - Is it easier to train around the countryside or rent a car?

    - Any hotel recommendations that would allow us to walk to wineries and towns and still has air conditioning?

    - Any recommendation on cooking classes?

    - Any recommendation on the easiest way to get to Venice?

    - Any thoughts on how the larger tour companies compare to some of the smaller ones? Maybe more succinctly stated, do the tours arranged by the larger companies have a commercial feel, or are they simply facilitators with smaller companies?

    Thanks in advance for all of the help!


  2. #2
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    May 2014
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    Smile

    Ciao!

    I definitely would suggest you to rent a car to visit the Chianti (San Gimignano) and the south area of Siena as the regional train are not the best :/ - San Gimignano is quite close from Florence, 30/40 min by car while Montepulciano, which is south of Siena, is about 1h30 driving from Florence. But you can do both and I assure you that it worths if you want to visit 2 different kind of Tuscan countryside. If you have time I suggest you to find an accommodation near Montepulciano so you can also visit 2 beautiful towns like Montalcino and Pienza. There are lots of wineries that organize also cooking classes in that area, I can suggest you a couple if you want.
    The easiest and the quickest way to get to Venice is the “FrecciaRossa” (http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...817f90aRCRD”) or “Italo” train (http://www.italotreno.it/EN/Pages/default.aspx) from Florence, it takes only 2 hours! Have a safe trip and if you need any further suggestion feel free to contact me!

  3. #3
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    May 2014
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    Default

    Thank you so much for the input! If you do have any lodging, winery, or cooking class suggestions/recommendations in the area, I'd love to hear them! We're particularly interested in estate or family wineries that do not import to the US.

    Also, if anyone else has complementary suggestions, my wife and I would love to hear them as well.

    Many Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfrhoads View Post
    Thank you so much for the input! If you do have any lodging, winery, or cooking class suggestions/recommendations in the area, I'd love to hear them! We're particularly interested in estate or family wineries that do not import to the US.

    Also, if anyone else has complementary suggestions, my wife and I would love to hear them as well.

    Many Thanks!
    Hi,

    If you want to visit Chianti area, I suggest you "Le Miccine" near Gaiole in Chianti which is a small family owned winery that offer also accomodation and cooking classes (they also offer upon request special classes about winemaking). If you want to explore Val d'Orcia I'd rather suggest marvellous places for lodging such as Agriturismo Poggio Covili (perfect location for visiting Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano) or the Harvest Moon, still in the same area, which offer also cooking classes and wine tasting. Montalcino is full of wineries that offers good wine tasting, while Pienza is the capital city of the “Pecorino” – sheep cheese

  5. #5
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    May 2014
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    Thank you so much for the additional suggestions. I'll definitely look into these!

    If anyone else has any advice for "newbies", I'm willing to absorb it all :-)

  6. #6
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    Jul 2008
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    Ciao jfrhoads,

    4 days will pass really fast! Does that include the days you're spending in Florence? Hope IN ADDITION TO....

    Renting a car is definitely the way to go to visit the countryside, especially with limited time. You can read more tips here: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tuscany-car-rental/

    But if you don't want to rent a car and drive, a great solution would be to use Florence as your base for the entire time and then do day tours, such as the ones you find on here: http://www.partner.viator.com/en/8357/
    The site works with local agencies in Florence, they are the ones that offer the actual tours. There is a variety of offerings, from the ones offered for larger groups as well as smaller (up to 15 people) to private where you arrange for a driver and basically it is just you and your wife being driven around.

    So you can use Florence as your entire base, or stay in the countryside if you're up to driving. Siena around Palio time is busy, but particularly on July 2 - the other days you should definitely visit if you've never been, it is actually very nice to see it all decked out for the festivities.

    As far as cooking classes, I recommend Fiamma and Ginny - you can do a class at their home in Florence or if you're out in Chianti, they'll go to you. Here is more info: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tusca...chez-nous.html

    Finally, as far as hotels/wineries to stay at, take a look at: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/chianti since I think that would be a great base from which to explore the cities you're interested in.
    What to see in Tuscany? Check out ideas on our main website DiscoverTuscany.com!!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lourdes View Post
    Ciao jfrhoads,

    4 days will pass really fast! Does that include the days you're spending in Florence? Hope IN ADDITION TO....

    Renting a car is definitely the way to go to visit the countryside, especially with limited time. You can read more tips here: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tuscany-car-rental/

    But if you don't want to rent a car and drive, a great solution would be to use Florence as your base for the entire time and then do day tours, such as the ones you find on here: http://www.partner.viator.com/en/8357/
    The site works with local agencies in Florence, they are the ones that offer the actual tours. There is a variety of offerings, from the ones offered for larger groups as well as smaller (up to 15 people) to private where you arrange for a driver and basically it is just you and your wife being driven around.

    So you can use Florence as your entire base, or stay in the countryside if you're up to driving. Siena around Palio time is busy, but particularly on July 2 - the other days you should definitely visit if you've never been, it is actually very nice to see it all decked out for the festivities.

    As far as cooking classes, I recommend Fiamma and Ginny - you can do a class at their home in Florence or if you're out in Chianti, they'll go to you. Here is more info: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tusca...chez-nous.html

    Finally, as far as hotels/wineries to stay at, take a look at: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/chianti since I think that would be a great base from which to explore the cities you're interested in.

    Thank you Lourdes! The four days are in addition to two more in Florence, which will be tight, but will undoubtedly leave us yearning for more.

    We greatly appreciate all of the advice thus far. Two additional quick questions, if you don't mind: In addition to those already mentioned in the thread, are there any particular family/estate wineries you would recommend? Given that my wife and I are self-proclaimed foodies, are there any restaurants you would say are "can't miss"? Thanks in advance!

  8. #8
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    Of course, I forgot about the wineries.... in Chianti area, not just Chianti Classico, I'd recommend:

    Agriturismo Frascole
    Agriturismo Montalbino
    Agriturismo Vernianello
    Fattoria il Lago
    Fattoria Viticcio
    Villa Dianella
    Torre a Cona

    All are small family estates, maybe the last one is the only one that is a larger size but still family owned and managed. I've linked their full listing pages, all offer accommodation too in case you want to look into staying at one of the estates those 4 days in Tuscany (good, because otherwise too short! ).

    As far as places to eat at in Florence, there are many - just try to stay away from the very touristy ones and what type of fare you want. I've heard good things about Garga but have yet to go myself, then I would recommend the new "Touch Florence" as well as some of the older establishments, that if you've already done some research come up over and over: Buca Lapi, Sostanza, Cantinetta Antinori (this is great for tasting their estate wines by the glass too), and Trattoria Parione, a small place not that well seen from the street but definitely worth searching.

    You won't have enough meals to try them all so I'll stop here!
    What to see in Tuscany? Check out ideas on our main website DiscoverTuscany.com!!

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  9. #9
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    May 2014
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    Default first time user

    The thread has been helpful. I am brand new. Sorry for interrupting the thread, but I cannot find a way to post a new question. Please help direct me. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    ciao gumdrops - you posted here so you managed to get on the forum!
    so you can post your questions again on here, and I can move them to a new thread after.
    What to see in Tuscany? Check out ideas on our main website DiscoverTuscany.com!!

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