January 2, 2011, 02:32 AM
4 weeks in Tuscany
I am interested in wine--I have made wine myself; food--I am a gourmet cook; and people--so I am learning some Italian before my trip.
I am planning a stay of about 4 weeks in Italy, primarily in Tuscany. I will be there in May-June 2011. I would also like to visit the Moto Guzzi factory further north as I ride a Moto Guzzi motorcycle here in Australia.
This will be my first trip to Italy, and while I am interested in seeing some of the historic sites and scenery, I really want to 'soak up' the culture and atmosphere, relax, drink great coffee and wine, and taste and learn to cook some real Tuscan food. Some time on the coast would also be nice.
Other than the air ticket, I have no definite plans yet, and would appreciate all suggestions and questions.
Last edited by GregW; January 2, 2011 at 02:45 AM.
January 3, 2011, 03:40 PM
Consdering what you wrote, you are going to love Tuscany wherever you go! Honestly, it's such a wonderful area that you cannot go far wrong. Where I live (around san gimignano) is in my opinion the most beautiful part, but I could be biased! For the coast I would check out Cinque Terre or even around Grosetto ways. Hope you have a great holiday, if you have any specific questions on the area feel free to ask me
January 4, 2011, 01:04 PM
lots to see in Italy and Tuscany in particular
I agree with La Fiaba, wherever you go in Tuscany you won't go wrong - great wine and food. Tuscan cuisine is quite simple since it is based on fresh seasonal ingredients whose taste is allowed to come through, I am sure you'll like everything you try.
4 weeks for all of Italy... are you flying in and out of Rome? I'd recommend spending a few days in Rome itself, then heading south for about a week to the area of Naples/Positano/Capri and then heading back north to Tuscany for roughly 2 weeks before heading further north your last week. I highly recommend you buy a travel guide on Italy that will highlight the must see places to stop at. You'll see that even 4 weeks go by real fast and you won't get to see everything but seeing a little bit of this and that area will be a great way to see the various sides of Italy, from its capital city to the small medieval villages. Try to find a place in each area you can use as a base. You don't need a car in Rome or Florence but it is highly recommended for visiting the countryside in Tuscany and to get to those small towns where the train doesn't get to. For the most part, the rail system goes everywhere and you can use that to move around, planning to maybe rent a car for a few days of your total itinerary.
In Tuscany, I highly recommend you spend a few days in Florence (here are some things to see in Florence and an itinerary for two days) and then move on to stay somewhere in the countryside, maybe in the area between Florence and Siena from which it will be easier to move around on day trips. You can drive through and visit Chianti and its hilltop villages, visit San Gimignano with its towers, Siena's medieval center and Torre del Mangia, and head south to the Valdorcia and to Maremma for the seaside... or to the island of Elba. There is so much to see in Tuscany you could actually spend most of your 4 weeks discovering the region, but as it is the first time you come to Italy, I also suggest you see other parts of the country so that you get a broader view. Start reading articles on the site and on the internet to get a better idea of what is what. Whenever you have questions, come back and let us know, we hope we might be able to help you!
January 5, 2011, 03:36 PM
I am indeed flying into Rome, and had intended to spend a few days there, but had not considered going south. Would you suggest that I drive south--and have you any suggestions as to where to go?
You also mention cars, are motorcycles or scooters a viable option? My Moto Guzzi is rather large (an 1100 c.c. California) and I'm not sure how a scooter would fare. Australia is very large, long distances between towns are usual, and scooters are town vehicles only for the most part. I am sure that Italy is much more compact. A group of us were going to ship our bikes for a riding tour and the Moto Guzzi factory's birthday party, but those plans fell through and I will be coming by myself and bikeless!
The ideas about Tuscany sound like they would fit well with what I had considered from my reading. I definitely want to spend some time in Florence, and thought I would do one or two cooking courses while there.
Maremma for the sea-side also sounds good. I live close to the ocean here, so swimming and such is not the aim, I can do that here, the goal is just to be by the Med. and experience some of the changes to lifestyle that the sea brings.
One of the types of accommodation that don't seem to make it to the internet is what I have heard called 'pensione'--have these moved into the 'bed and breakfast' category or are they still available? I am not interested in a fancy place to stay, I want to be out seeing the country and meeting the people. When I would be in my room it would be for rest, or sleep mostly.
I'd love to say my Italian will be reasonable, but I have little chance to practice here so I suspect it will be pretty basic, although I am studying some most days.
Please keep the ideas coming, per favore.
Greg (or should I sign: Gregorio?)
Last edited by GregW; January 5, 2011 at 04:18 PM.
January 12, 2011, 05:20 PM
a few more ideas...
May-June is fortunately a time with nice weather so if you want to travel around on a bike, you can definitely look into it. You can go on the motorways (such as the A1) with large bikes, not with scooters though. Those are also used mainly in town, you'll see tons in Florence and Rome . With scooters you'd have to keep to the provincial roads but for moving around it might not be convenient, considering they are harder to carry luggage around on. In any case, the provincial roads are recommended even with the larger bikes to get the best views of the countryside, even with cars, although it means taking longer to get places.
Heading south is a possibility if you want to see Naples, Pompeii, Capri and Positano... those are the main sights of interest in the area closest to Rome although they are still a few hours driving distance away.
The pensione do exist but those are often truly just a few rooms in a home and as such often do not have an online presence. That means you'll need to call to reserve or wait until you're here and try to find one last minute. That works out when you're traveling solo, and for a few days. If you want to stay put for a long period, it is better to get in touch beforehand so that you can try to get a better total price for your entire stay.
Those few pensione that are on the web do market themselves as B&Bs so look in those categories. They can range from very basic to more fancy offerings, if you take a look at the B&Bs on here you'll be able to see from the photos and descriptions the various types of offerings. If you want to go for the pensione, do searches on google for places with "casa" or "soggiorno" or "camere" in their names. For example the Florence tourist office calls them "non professional room rentals / B&B" in their search area and with over 400 results that means there is a whole bunch of different offerings falling into the category, from the true pensione to more professional b&bs (although by law B&Bs are only those with less than 6 rooms).
The Maremma is very pretty and a bit wild. You could go there and never make it to the beach! If you go to Castiglione della Pescaia, there is both as well as a fortress overlooking the bay. You should definitely go visit the Tarot Garden to see some interesting outdoor sculptures, the towns of Pitigliano and Sorano known as the "cities of tuff" built onto the hills and do some hiking in the Uccellina national park.
These are just a few more ideas of things to look into, all of Tuscany has something to see and you'll have the time to enjoy it, whether you rent a motorcycle or a car. Enjoy the planning... and once you're here, remain flexible as what you do everyday!!