February 28, 2010, 10:45 PM
Tuscany on the Run
My wife and I are planning an Italian vacation with 6 days in Tuscany, 7 days in Naples and 5 days in Rome. Are we crazy or is it reasonable?
We will rent a car upon arrival in Rome and dive to Tuscany. We are thinking about spending 3 days in the country side and visiting the smaller cities and then 3 in Florence.
Any suggestions about places to stay, vineyards to visit or such would be appreciated. This will be my wife's first trip to Italy. My limited experience is in the south where I leanred to "drive Niapolitano," and it has been nearly 30 years since my first visit to Florence when I was 30.
Suggestions, suggestions, please feel free to offer us biased opinions, your favorite spots, things to do or avoid. Even if you think we should rearrange the basic trip we are ready to listen, or, I suppose, read.
Thank you for any recommendations.
Last edited by renaud21; February 28, 2010 at 10:46 PM.
Reason: Desire to add "subscribe"
March 2, 2010, 06:30 PM
lots to do but Tuscany and Florence in 6 days is doable...
I think your plan is totally doable, you are spending enough days in each place. If you were trying to do Tuscany, Florence, Rome and Naples in just a week then I'd say you were really reaching .
Dividing your time between the countryside and Florence also works out well. You don't say what period you are coming and what type of lodging you're interested in for the countryside and city - for example, Tuscany has lots of farmhouses or villas that either offer accommodation in rooms with B&B treatment or in self-catering apartments. If you come in high season, many often have minimum of a week stay required. Of course, a hotel or b&b won't place that type of limit but it is something you should consider because it might make more sense to stay put in one place for your 6 days and then do day trips into Florence.
If you want to stay in Florence for several nights, also consider that parking is not only expensive but hard to find and the main city center if off limits for cars without special permits. You'll have to check whether your hotel or b&b offers parking in some way or other.
Aside from these considerations, I highly recommend visiting Florence as well as Siena while you are here. You should also consider visiting San Gimignano and Volterra for additional medieval hilltowns. Head into Chianti for wine tasting - the hard part is to recommend one single winery as there are many estates, many of which you might not find wines back home as their productions are on a small scale. I've yet to find a Chianti or Chianti Classico that wasn't good - so as you drive, you might just wish to stop along those that have signs for a few tastings and tours. You can also get some recommendations from past threads on this forum if you search for "chianti wine tasting" or "wine tasting".
Are you interested in visiting museums? With so much art and history all over Italy, I think you'll have to measure the doses you get of museums here in Florence as well as Rome and Naples. If you give us additional hints on your preferences, we might be able to recommend additional things to do.
Have fun planning your trip and don't hesitate to come back and ask some more!
March 2, 2010, 06:31 PM
Wanted to add that if you also search on this forum you'll find other threads with suggestions of itineraries for 3, 5 or 7 days in Tuscany which might be a good starting point for your days in Tuscany.
March 5, 2010, 02:04 AM
Interested an any insights
Thank you for the kindness of the reply and for the reassurance that we are not out of our minds with the travel plans! Our plans are evolving. We are now committed to an arriaval in Rome on 27 July and departing on 15 August. Not long enough, but the best we can manage between summer and fall semesters.
At the moment we are looking into a room in San Gimignano for three days, using that as the base for our visits to Siena and Volterra. My memories of Pisa are restricted to the square leaving me less than enthusiastic for a second visit. Then again, my wife has never seen the tower. What do you think we should do?
Considering what you have said about parking in Florence we are leaning towards staying at Villa Dianella Fucini and then taking the local train into Florence. What are the "must do" museums? My wife has already staked out Vinci to satisfy her science background. She is especially interested in geology, meteorology and the history of science. I am a simple cultural historian, so I perfer objects with no moving parts!
The idea of agritorismos fascinate us, and the closer we can get to Italian life the better. The people of Italy are too fascinating for us to place the obstacle of hotels between us and locals.
Your recommendation for visiting local vineyards is wonderful. It has made us that much more excited. I am just hoping for a repeat performance of an experience when I asked a gentleman in a story (in broken Italian) if he spoke English. He replied "non." So I added "Non parlo l'italiano," to which he responded, in English, "you do so very nicely."
Thank you again for the response and future suggestions.
Lynn and Pam
Last edited by renaud21; March 5, 2010 at 02:06 AM.
Reason: readjusting font size
March 5, 2010, 05:47 PM
You're very welcome and hope my suggestions are useful in one way or another. You will definitely pick up some Italian while here, and Italians are quite patient and helpful in letting you try your hand at speaking at least the most common phrases (compared to some of our European neighbors ).
Using San Gimignano as a base for Siena and Volterra sounds great. I really enjoy Volterra and if you were coming a week or two later I'd highly encourage you to visit it during the medieval festival - it brings the hilltop medieval village back to life in a special way. It is a highly charming medieval town at any time!
As for Pisa, I highly encourage at least once in a lifetime climb up the Leaning Tower - at 15 euros per person it isn't cheap but it is a very particular experience because you feel your body reacting differently to what your eyes tell you. Most of the sights in Pisa are concentrated in the "Square of Miracles" and if you don't want to visit the cathedral, baptistery and Camposanto or Museo dell'Opera, then just looking at all from the outside can be anti-climatic. It is generally a half-day side trip from Florence. If you feel you don't have the time, you could leave it out but if you can, make the time to visit all of the sights so that you get all you can from Pisa.
Villa Dianella would be a perfect base near Florence, the train station is really close and convenient for getting to Florence and it isn't far from the FI-PI-LI roadway that would make moving around - to Pisa for example - really easy as well. Actually Villa Dianella is a working winery so you can tour their cellars and do wine tasting right there! They've started offering Tuscan cooking classes as well so you might really want to check that out, at least for one meal.
If Pam comes from a scientific background, then she'll definitely enjoy the Leonardo da Vinci Museum located in the castle tower in Vinci - this is a newer website but only in Italian while this one represents the same museum but is an older website, before the museum was renovated and expanded but contains much more details and in English.
In Florence you should definitely visit the Museum of the History of Science, shortly to be renamed as the Galileo Museum. It is currently undergoing some restoration work but that should be completed sometime this spring. By summer you'll be able to enjoy the entire collection, including Galileo's instruments. You can read more here: http://www.imss.fi.it/
It is too bad you're arriving in a later period to make it to this special exhibition taking place across Florence - http://www.firenzescienza.it/cont_E.phtml - especially dedicated to science and the collections available here.
Another museum she might enjoy is the "Specola", a division of the above museum, its particular attraction being anatomical waxes. You can read a bit more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Specola
The most important museum in all of Italy, after the Vatican museums, is the Uffizi Gallery, particularly for its Renaissance collections. I highly recommend spending 2-3 hours there and enjoying some of the greatest artistic masterpieces. You will get to see lots of art in churches themselves so you might not need to do any other museums per se but I highly recommend visiting the church of Santa Maria Novella and seeing the frescoes in there, particularly the ones in the main altar by Ghirlandaio. The Medici Chapels are also very interesting, if you haven't yet managed to estimate the importance and extent of the Medici power and riches after just one morning in Florence, their final resting place leaves no doubt ;-).
I hope you have fun planning your vacation and let us know if you need some more pointers. It would be great if you could come back after your trip in August and share with us what you end up doing and any great places to eat you discover - they are always highly appreciated by all!
March 11, 2010, 01:47 AM
So Much To See
Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions. I have made a copy of them and information from the links you provided to use during our trip.
I do have a small, very small bone to pick with you. Our plan originally had us spending most of our time in Naples. Well, you and Discover Tuscany have reoriented us towards Tuscany. We are both happy with the change!
We try to keep careful notes on where we go and what we see, so following your suggestion and posting an update on our travels will be a pleasure.
Once our planning reaches the next stage I will be back for more feedback.
March 11, 2010, 07:33 PM
LOL - glad it is a very small bone and that you're happy with the change!
Will be happy to help answer any other questions or offer suggestions you might want, in the meantime have fun reading up and planning what to see and do!
Do seriously look forward to hearing back about your trip afterward and hearing how everything goes, it makes us happy to hear how our suggestions and tips are put into "action" as well as learn new things and places to recommend and pass on to others