February 18, 2010, 11:54 PM
Tuscany: April 24-30
I am flying into Rome on April 18th and after a week in that area, we'll (two couples) be at a villa, Podere II Doccio in Terranuova Bracciolini from April 24th through the end of the month and I would like to know how the countryside looks like in late April. Are things in bloom and green or is it still coming out of winter's dormant stages? I've tried to see what's best to do, but I only seem to find festivals in the summer and nothing in late April. Looking for recommendations on what to see and do. I have been to Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, etc., but with a tour group and we'd like to see those cities again, but on our on. We plan to use rail to go to Florence and a couple of other bigger cities, but we plan to rent a car for our local tours. Open to any suggestions. Should we plan on visiting the Cinque Terre? We'd like to see out of the way places where we can enjoy a meal and a good bit of wine.
February 19, 2010, 12:33 PM
April in Tuscany
April is a nice month to visit Tuscany. The weather is mild and generally sunny. The countryside is in bloom and is colored with different nuances of pink, orange, white and green.
In April there are events. At the moment it's hard to find more information about festivals since there is no official calendar. We try to update our own events calender as we learn of events going on. But there is a nice antiques market on the fourth weekend of every month in Montevarchi, close to your accommodation, as well as in Castiglion Fiorentino.
I think moving by train to reach Florence, Pisa and Lucca is the best choice. Parking in big cities is always difficult and expensive. You'll save money and headaches by using the train
As for Siena, I suggest you take the bus SITA SI91 from Montevarchi to Siena directly. It's faster than the train.
Since you'll be staying in Terranuova Bracciolini I also recommend you visit Arezzo which is not far. It's the birth place of many famous artists, such as Giorgio Vasari and Pietro Aretino. Inside the Basilica of St Francis you can admire the masterpiece of Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca, a fresco cycle depicting the History of the True Cross. A quick note: the movie Life is Beautiful (La Vita è Bella) by Roberto Benigni was shot in Arezzo so if you've seen it you'll recognize some of the squares.
You can also visit the beautiful Etruscan city of Cortona. The center is nice and has beautiful Renaissance churches and buildings, where you find good restaurants and shops.
Certainly the Chianti region deserves a visit. It's world renowned for its beauty and wine. The landscape is designed by its vineyards and olive groves. There are many wineries, farms and restaurants where you can have good food and taste Chianti wine. See our article "Discovering Chianti" to find more information on what to see in Chianti.
Regarding Cinque Terre, I think it can be a "tour de force". Driving from Florence to Cinque Terre takes no less than 2 hours and half. Then the time for visiting the area, eating and then back. It can be hard. I also have to say that the highway to Cinque Terre is not a nice one. It's pretty narrow (as highway) and windy.
I also suggest you visit the southern area of Siena called the Val D'Orcia. As Chianti, it's famous for its wine and landscape. The most beautiful towns are Montepulciano, Montalcino and Pienza. All towns are picturesque and have good wineries.
I hope it helps. Don't hesitate to come back and ask more questions if you have any!
February 19, 2010, 02:13 PM
Thanks for your input. We know we'll have a great time. If you hear of anything else coming up during that time period please let me know. Thanks!