February 25, 2011, 07:41 PM
A Week in Tuscany with car
My husband & I will be attending a festival in Cervia from 20 April - 2nd May. We were then thinking of renting a car in Bologna on Monday and driving to Tuscany, spending 5 days in Tuscany, and 2 days in Bologna before returning home. We spent a week in Florence last year and don't need to visit there again on this trip (I think). My question has to do with where to visit, and where to base ourselves. Ideally we don't want to change hotels every day, but it's hard to tell from the maps whether basing ourselves somewhere in Siena and taking day trips is feasible. Can you help with this, and any ideas about an itinerary?
March 2, 2011, 02:13 PM
A Week in Tuscany with car (reply)
welcome to Discover Tuscany forum!
The period of the year you've planned to come to Italy is perfect: not so crowded and not so hot yet! The idea of renting a car to come to Tuscany is a great one.
But before leaving the wonderful region of Emilia Romagna, don't miss Bologna and Ravenna. The latter is close to Cervia and its history is strictly connected with the Romans and the Byzantine Empire. There are many churches and remains dating back to Roman age. Furthermore the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, the father of Italian language, is buried there.
You will ask: why not in Florence? Well, because he was exiled during one of the countless civil wars old Florence faced regularly before it became the "cradle" of the Renaissance.
As to Bologna, since you're planning to rent a car there...that city is worth a visit before heading to Tuscany. It's a charming place which has preserved its medieval mood through the centuries. Its urban plan gives you an idea of how a typical Italian city looked during the Middle Ages (aside from the cars!! ) Don't miss the tower houses known as "Garisenda and "Torre degli Asinelli", veritable skyscrapers of that time.
As regards Tuscany, you wrote you already visited Florence last year and you're planning to visit new cities. Well, you'll be spoiled for choice!
Siena is a wonderful historical city, not as crowded and polluted as Florence and no less interesting than the Tuscan capital. Moreover its surrounding area and its countryside are beautiful and day trips are feasible.
There are many things to see.
On the first day you can visit the old city and its major attractions such as the Cathedral (a must see!), the many "palazzos" of the city center or the famous "Piazza del Campo" where the annual "palio" (horse-race) takes place.
If you have a car, it'll not be a problem to reach the nearby towns. I can recommend, for example, San Gimignano. It is worth a visit: a delicious small city famous for its tower-houses and its relaxed atmosphere.
On another day, you could visit the Chianti area (north of Siena), famous for its hills, vineyards and red wine. This is just a short list of some of the most interesting small towns you may want to see: Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti or Radda in Chianti, the three in the north-eastern part of the Province of Siena, or Greve in Chianti (just on the border between Florentine and Sienese provinces). All these towns are the ideal place where you can refresh yourselves and taste a good glass of red wine with some local specialities.
And if you want to get rid of the crowds and discover a very special place...I recommend you go to the Abbey of San Galgano located to the west of Siena. A unique place: a huge abandoned abbey in the middle of the countryside that will move you with its echoes of ancient knights and monks.
I think these are the main attractions you can visit if you choose Siena as your base and if you have a car.
I am sure you will love that part of Tuscany and I also hope you'll find my suggestions useful
Last edited by Fabrizio; March 3, 2011 at 09:28 AM.
March 3, 2011, 11:28 AM
a possible itinerary and some lodging suggestions
If you spent a whole week in Florence last year, you don't necessarily have to visit again unless you felt there was something you missed or something you really liked and want to see again! You could also do a day trip from wherever you base yourself.
Siena and its surroundings would make a good base from which to explore Chianti to the north, the Crete Senesi and Valdorcia to the south, Arezzo and Casentino valley to the east and Colle Val d'Elsa, San Galgano, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano to the west. Since you'll have a car, make sure to look into a place that has parking - staying in Siena is very nice but there are walls and you can't drive in. You'd have to leave the car in the parking lots so maybe a place just outside the city walls is better. A good option would be the B&B Fonte dei Tufi - we've heard and read positive feedback on it. It offers free parking and is really close to one of the doors in the wall into Siena making it easy to visit and dine in Siena in the evenings while driving out for day trips during the day.
Another recommendation would be to look into Villa Scacciapensieri (also free parking with buses right in front that take you to the historical center). It is slightly more luxurious as a whole but it is a bit further from the center. Also look into this other site for more options for accommodation in Siena.
A possible itinerary could be:
Day 1 - Siena
Day 2 - Valdorcia - Montalcino, San Quirico d'Orcia, Pienza, Montepulciano
Day 3 - Chianti
Day 4 - San Gimignano, Colle Val d'Elsa and Monteriggioni
Day 5 - Arezzo and Cortona
Then you can head back to Bologna by train to visit before heading back home.