November 19, 2010, 04:45 AM
Florence, Siena San Gimignano etc
A friend and I are arriving in Florence in February 2011 and have booked for four nights, we will then stay in Siena for two nights, then 2 nights in San Gimignano (also booked ) I gather than both of these places are easily reached by bus from Florence but will we have to go Siena -Florence -San Gimignano or is there a bus that goes directly from Siena to San Gimignano.
We then have five nights free and thought that if it was easy to get there we would check out San Remo for three nights and then Turin for two before heading to Lake Como for four nights and then a night and a day in Milan before flying home.
So I suppose my main question is can we catch a bus from San Giamgnano to San Remo and then from San Remo to Turin and if we do go to Turin is it then easy to get to Lake Como from there.
Are there places that are nicer to visit at that time of the year other than San Remo and Turin.
Any and all suggestions would be very much appreciated.
November 19, 2010, 11:48 AM
the train will be the best solution for moving around Italy
Sounds like you've got a good itinerary so far and that you've already been to Italy in the past, since you don't mention Rome or Venice at all and are considering less common destinations such as San Remo and Turin
In February, San Remo plays host to a very popular annual music festival so keep that in mind when looking at dates and for hotels or other places to stay in. The city will be busy. Turin will be under the snow which would be great if you love skiing or other winter sports.
Otherwise, between San Gimignano and Lake Como other places you could consider visiting are: Venice for maybe 2 days and along the way stopping in Bologna and Ferrara, using this area as a base for 3 days. During this time you can also visit some of these: Mantova, Verona and Ravenna. All are easy to get to using trains and all offer special attractions, from the main square (Piazza Maggiore) in Bologna with its towers to Verona's Roman Arena still in use today and Juliet's house. All of these can't be visited in the 3 days, so I'm just giving you ideas in general of where you could head to. All of these cities are outside of Tuscany so it is hard to give you specifics - I've been to all except Ferrara in that season and remember loving the cities. If you search online you'll definitely find more details about what to see in each place.
As for moving around in Tuscany and beyond:
- between Florence, Siena and San Gimignano: the easiest way to get to Siena from Florence is through the SITA bus. The best way to get to San Gimignano is to take either the train from Siena to Poggibonsi and then the bus to S. Gimignano or to just take the bus from the start in Siena (which also stops in Poggibonsi) and then keep heading to San Gimignano. There is no need to head back to Florence since you'd still have to head back to Poggibonsi to get to San Gimignano.
- between San Gimignano and San Remo/Turin: at this point, the best way to move around would be on train. Both of these towns, as well as the ones I suggested above, are well connected with the train system so regardless of the cities you decide to visit, we highly recommend just using the train system. The towns around Lake Como are also well connected with the train system - you get to Como from Milan by train and the train runs all along the eastern edge of the lake. Have you already booked and if so, where? I've personally never been so can't give you personal insights. Visit trenitalia.com to check out train schedules between locations once you've gotten a more definite plan on where to go.
Hope I've helped with some of your doubts. I am sure you'll have a wonderful time in Italy, even if it will be on the cold side in February. The definite plus side of visiting in the low season is having a lot of the places almost to yourself!
November 19, 2010, 04:04 PM
What are you doing while in Tuscany?
I agree with Lourdes and her suggestions about alternative places to visit between San Gimignano and Lake Como.
Also the important event in Sanremo in February will be the National Music Festival 2011 and will take place from 15th to 19th. During this week you won't be able to find an accommodation in Sanremo and in its surroundings.
Regarding your four days in Florence, have you planned day trips to other destinations? If yes, where are you going to go? Do you need any suggestion? I think there are several unmissable places in Tuscany and I would love to recommend you some places if you'll need it. In the meantime I suggest you read our articles about spending 7 days in Tuscany even if you've already planned your stays. I hope you'll find some interesting suggestions.
I look forward to hearing from you soon A presto!
November 20, 2010, 08:44 AM
Thank you Lourdes and Valentina for being so helpful with suggestions
Italy and Florence in particular are favourite holiday destinations of ours.
While Rome and Venice are beautiful having been several times we thought that this time we would concentrate more on the countryside rather than the cities and go a little off the beaten track and see the smaller villages.
My travelling companion has now suggested Cinque Terre and having looked on the internet I have to agree that it looks hard to pass up an opportunity to see such a wonderful area especially when it will not be as crowed as what I imagine it will be in summer, there are further advantages in that these are places that my husband would also enjoy so as a forward scout I get to rave about these places and then take him back later in the year.
Valentina we have not planned any day trips while we are in Florence so I would very much appreciate your suggestions in the meantime I will read your articles with great anticipation of another wonderful Italian journey.
Many thanks to you both
November 22, 2010, 03:13 PM
Day trips from Florence
Cinque Terre are extremely beautiful and have just been declared as one of the most beautiful coasts in the world by National Geographic. In February they won't be crowded at all since it's low season. You will probably find some shops and restaurants closed for holidays so I suggest you plan your trip carefully. If you want to visit them I recommend you spend two days in Cinque Terre so that you won't be in a hurry and have the time to enjoy your stay. From there you can also take a train and move to Sanremo, since it was in your original plans. Here you have some useful info for moving around Cinque Terre
Regarding day trips from Florence you have several options depending on your interests. All the cities I will mention are easily reachable by train or by bus.
I don't know if you have been to Pisa and Lucca. If you haven't I strongly suggest you visit both of them. Pisa is very famous because of the Leaning Tower that of course is the main attraction. Lucca is less famous, but it's very beautiful. The city center is enclosed in massive walls. I recommend you rent a bike in Lucca and bike the walls. You have a different perspective of the city and you can take some beautiful pictures for your album.
Another interesting and beautiful city I suggest is Arezzo. In the Church of San Francesco are displayed the stunning frescoes by Piero della Francesca, Renaissance artist, depicting the Legend of the True Cross. Then you can visit Vasari's house that has beautiful frescoes, as well as the Archaeological Museum. I recommend you read the article on how spending one day in Arezzo.
Another beautiful area in Florence surroundings is certainly Chianti, that is one of the most famous destinations for wine lovers. It is also renowned for its beautiful landscapes and its small and medieval villages and towns. The best way to visit it is driving because not all places are connected one to each other. If you want to spend a day in Chianti and you are interested in wine tastings you can read this thread about getting around Chianti by bus. If you are not really interested in tastings I recommend you visit Greve in Chianti and Panzano in Chianti. In Panzano don't forget to try a MacDario, that is delicious hamburger in Tuscan style by Cecchini's butcher.
A place that I personally find unmissable in Tuscany is Maremma. It is the lower area of the region and it's full of things to see and to do. I don't know if you want to head so South so I suggest you have a look at some pictures of Maremma so that you can have an idea of the area.
Well, I really hope these suggestions help you planning your stay in Italy! Don't hesitate to ask any other question or suggestion