March 18, 2010, 05:02 AM
Planning my Tuscany/Florence Trip
My wife, my 2 year old son and I will be going to Italy this May and spending 12 nights . We decided to divide the trip to three destinations... Rome, Florence/Tuscany, and Venice. The way we have it packaged is, we want to spend 5 nights in Rome, 5 nights in Florence/Tuscany, and 2 nights in Venice. Right now, I'm trying to figure out what we want to do for our Florence/Tuscany part of the trip and was hoping to get some advice.
So to start off, what do you recommend on where we should to stay? Should we stay in Florence for all 5 nights and travel some of the days to a place in Tuscany, or should we stay a few nights in Florence and then stay a couple days in Tuscany?
Any areas or places that you recommend within Tuscany and Florence to stay? Something that's central in Florence? Maybe something close to the a train station if we are not going to rent a car?
Should we rent a car, or are the trains sufficient enough? If we stay in Florence all 5 nights, do you think it's better to rent car and adventure out on our own, or just use the trains? On the other hand, if we end up staying in Tuscany too, would it make sense to have a car?
I think this will be more then enough to get me started on planning this part of the trip. Your help would be much appreciated.
March 19, 2010, 04:00 PM
are you comfortable driving in a foreign country?
12 days to see Italy sounds very nice
I think most of your questions and doubts about what to do in Tuscany depend a lot on this question: do you feel comfortable driving in a foreign country?
If you do, you could rent a car once you're heading out of Rome and drive up into Tuscany, stay in the countryside near Florence and during your 5-6 days in Tuscany drive around everywhere you want to see including Florence. Parking here is a bit problematic but not impossible, as long as you park outside the city center since you need a special permit to enter into that area. This gives you a chance to experience Tuscany in a certain way.
On the other hand, if you don't feel like driving in Italy just use the train to move between Rome and Florence and then on to Venice. Train service does work, it is easy and service is always improving. You can stay in Florence the 5 nights and take days trips by train to Pisa, Lucca, Siena and San Gimignano - it can be done without a problem.
Having a car just makes it easy to reach some villages that might be less served by public transportation but if this is your first time in Italy, I am sure you'll be heading to the major towns that are well connected by train so a car is not necessary.
Keep in mind also that all train stations are located in the center of towns so it isn't necessary that you stay right next to the station to be close for day trips.... generally, a 5-10 min walk takes you to the station although with luggage you just might prefer to take a taxi to avoid pulling suitcases over lumpy cobblestone streets even if you were just 2 or 3 blocks away in any case.
We have several articles about getting to Tuscany and moving around Tuscany by several means of transport that might be useful in helping you decide. And might also enjoy reading Mathieu's quite entertaining recounting of his own experience of driving in Italy from a Canadian point of view .
Hope you're enjoying planning your trip!
March 25, 2010, 11:30 PM