October 18, 2011, 03:45 PM
Day trips from Florence on a Sunday in November
I will be traveling to Florence with many family members (a group of 10) to visit my daughter who is studying abroad in Florence. We will be staying in Florence as our home base (for 8 nights) and would like to take a few day trips. One day trip we would like to take is on Sunday November 20th. We would like to take a Tuscany wine tour and our wondering if most of the wineries are open on Sunday's in November and if we would be able to find a tour for that day. Another day trip we would like to do is to take the train to Venice and are also wondering if most shops/restaurants/attractions would be open on Sunday in Venice? Is it better to do one or the other during the week rather than Sunday? Thanks for any recommendations you may have.
October 21, 2011, 12:04 AM
With a group of 10 members, the most convenient way to do the wine tastings/tour would be with an organized tour where they organize your transportation as well. Most wineries are open on the weekends, but each has their own opening times and in a certain area they take turns on who is open on a particular weekend.
Take a look at this recent thread and post to get an idea of some day trips you can do from Florence, just to get started.
If, on the other hand, you want to do the tour on your own, then we'll have to find individual wineries that are open on Sundays... were you interested in a particular area or in Chianti in particular?
As for Venice, it is a highly visited destination so I am sure many of the main attractions will be open on Sunday as well. I can't give you specific details as I really don't know Venice that well, the best thing would to be to first identify what you want to see and do and then check to see they are open on Sundays. For example, the Doge's Palace is a must-visit place and that is open every day of the week. Take a look at Museums in Venice and Palazzo Ducale for more information.
So give me a better idea of what you were thinking for the wine tour so that I can offer more specific suggestions....
October 21, 2011, 07:44 PM
Thanks so much for the reply Lourdes.
Some further details on our trip. We will be staying in a hotel very close to the SMN station. We are planning on using public transportation (taking trains) for our trips to Venice and Rome. We are considering renting a Van or 2 cars for Wine country, Siena day trips, but are not sure if it would be worth the hassle unless we arrange our itinerary to to make those 2 consecutive days that we do those day trips.
So here's our current plan (using public transportation for everything):
Friday Nov 18th - arrive in Florence.
Sat 19th - Tour Florence
Sun 20th - Wine touring. Now for some of our group, this is the 2nd trip to Florence, last time we were kind of wandering amilessly trying to figure out what to do for a wine tour. We happened to find someone at SMN station that ended up taking us on a great Chianti wine country tour. It included stops in Castello Vicchiomaggio (Greve in Chianti) also went to Taverna del Guerrino (Castello di Montefioralle in Greve in Chianti) this is where we ate lunch I believe. So thats the area we were in last time. Now were not opposed to doing the same kind of tour, but also would be nice if we visited a different area to Tuscany, different wineries.
Mon-Tue - Train to Rome, spending 2 days 1 night touring in Rome. Tuesday evening back to Florence.
Wed 23rd - Train to Venice. Wed evening back to Florence.
Thur 24th - Florence
Fri 25th - Siena??
One question I have is would we be able to do a wine tour and Siena tour in the same day trip?
Thanks for your help.
October 24, 2011, 11:36 PM
Are you flying into and out of Florence then? I ask because it seems you're doing a lot of traveling back and forth between Florence and everywhere else but just wanted to make sure. If your main method of transportation will be the train for your entire group, it would seem more sensible on everybody's budget if maybe you organize yourselves to first visit wherever you arrive in, then move on to the other places. You can do Venice on a day trip... but that is really rushing it. It is almost 3 hours each way by train, so the time you have left to see the city will be quite short.
As for the wine tour, if you've already been in Chianti then you should try something different. You could head toward San Gimignano and try both the white wine called Vernaccia as well as some Chianti Colli Fiorentini... or head south of Siena into Brunello di Montalcino or Rosso di Montepulciano territory. In this case, definitely look into a guided tour because it will give you the chance to relax and not have to drive there and back.
It will likely be a whole day event, so I'd do Siena on a separate day.
Take a look at the wine tastings to Montalcino offered by Vinarium departing from Florence as well as wine tours.
p.s. Is your daughter studying with the Syracuse program? I spent a year at Maxwell for graduate studies and then had the chance to spend a semester here in Florence with the program too Anything to come back to Florence.... then I ended up staying
October 25, 2011, 03:30 PM
Great to hear you have a Syracuse connection! Yes my daughter is with the Syracuse program (she is currently an undergrad at SU) and living with an Italian host family, having the experience of a lifetime and loving Florence. I'm also an SU alumn and our whole group that is coming to Florence is other family born and raised in Syracuse, small world!
So yes we are flying into and out of Florence. Some of us were actually in Florence right around this time last year, visiting my nephew, also an SU student that did the same study abroad program last year. So this is my 2nd trip to Florence and we did a similiar type of trip last year.
Yes the Venice trip is kind of rushing it for the day, but we did do it last year so we know what to expect and where we want to go. There's a few in our group that will be their first trip to Italy and also that was definitely one place I'd like to go with my daughter for her to see for the first time also. I just took a look at the train schedules and it looks like it takes just under 2 hours, so we'll take the early morning train and spend the day there returning on one of the evening trains.
We will be spending all but one night in Florence. I've never been to Rome so I wanted to go there during the week while my daughter is busy with classes.
So the only thing to settle is the Wine tour and Siena day trips. I like your idea of trying something different for the wine tour (and also get a chance to try the white wines). I will look into your suggestions for that.
What is San Gimignano like? Is it a small Tuscan village with wineries nearby?
Would visiting the Brunello di Montalcino or Rosso di Montepulciano territories be different than San Gimignano or do you think that could be all part of a day long wine tour?
Thanks again for you help.
October 25, 2011, 05:58 PM
It's a small world indeed! I'm originally from California, the time I spent in Syracuse was the coldest and longest winter I've experienced in my life! I still think winters in Florence are cold but not that cold, not after experiencing upstate NY in the winter
OK so your itinerary definitely makes sense knowing you arrive into Florence. It also makes sense to fit the trip to Rome and Venice when your daughter can join you.
San Gimignano is a lovely medieval town but it is a bit hard to reach with public transportation. The area around San Gimignano makes Vernaccia di San Gimignano, you'll find it in the town at the wine shops as well as shops from local wineries where you can do tastings directly there.
San Gimignano would be a great stop to do on the same day as Siena, so I highly recommend this tour: Siena and San Gimignano tour.
Montalcino and Montepulciano are a bit further south than San Gimignano, they are to the south of Siena in the area called Val d'Orcia. It is a beautiful area but a trip there would be a day trip in itself. So you could do the tour above on one day, and then the tour to Montalcino or Montepulciano on another. You could of course also do Siena on your own, taking the SITA bus from Florence which takes you directly to Siena (easier than the train which requires a transfer in Empoli).
You'll basically be the expert guide on your trip! You'll have a grand time, family trips are awesome
October 25, 2011, 08:20 PM
Lourdes if you've survived a Syracuse winter you can survive anything!..Thats why I'm not too concerned about the November weather in Florence! I can only imagine the shock of an upstate NY winter when coming from California, glad you survived...
The Siena and San Gimignano tour sounds very good! So I just have to figure out what we should do for a wine tour and we should be all set...
October 26, 2011, 10:20 AM
Same thoughts here - you won't have any problems with the weather in Italy in November!
Glad to have been of help! The real problem is that there are so many choices for wines in Tuscany so it's hard to decide which one! I've pointed out some of the main ones, but the whole area around Florence is Chianti territory (just not the Classico sort) and every single area throughout the region has its own regional wine region. Wherever you go, definitely try the local wines to that specific area, you'll discover wines that never make it to the US because of their limited production and exportation. We were near Arezzo a couple weeks ago, we really liked the Chianti produced in that area. So don't worry, you'll have good wine wherever you end up at!
November 4, 2011, 04:22 PM
Italy vacation time is coming up soon and were making some final adjustments to our schedule...
It looks like we're going to spend 2 nights in Tuscany at this B&B.
Borgo Argenina - Tuscany Country Inn
Someone in my family had previously stayed there a few years back and said it was amazing.
So now were planning on renting cars on Wednesday morning driving there, spending 2 nights so
we can tour the surrounding Tuscany area!
So my next question is regarding a rental car. Are there places near the SMN station where we can
rent cars? Our hotel in Florence is just a few minutes away from there so it would be nice if we could
pick-up and drop-off a rental car near there...
November 8, 2011, 05:06 PM
Borgo Argenina looks quite nice - I read somewhere on the site that 3 nights minimum are required, have you already contacted them to book and make sure 2 nights are fine? Just don't want you to run into problems later on!
Yes, there are definitely car rental agencies near the SMN station, most of them are located on Borgo Ognissanti and in the streets that intersect it. I recommend you start your search from here: Rent a car in Florence and Tuscany.
This is Auto Europe - it searches across all partner rental agencies, including the top one such as Avis, Budget, Maggiore, Hertz, etc. It is useful to start from here because it lets you see various car possibilities - select CITY as location, since the rental agencies are not at the rail station.
Aside from the Maso Finiguerra 11/R location, all the others have automatic cars. (Make sure to scroll the results to the right to see the BOOK button). Since they are within the ZTL area, all of their cars should have permits to enter the ZTL area so you won't be have to be worried about driving back in. Once you book, the voucher says which agency you're renting from.