January 6, 2011, 10:00 AM
transport & accommodation in Chianti
I'm planning a trip to Tuscany this May with my mother. We will be spending a few days in Florence after which I'm hoping we can spend a few nights in the Chianti region. It's my mother's first trip to Italy. Coming from a city, I know she'll fall in love with the beauty and peacefulness of the countryside, waking up to sights and sounds of nature. She'll also probably be interested in visiting an estate or 2 (olive oil, wine), checking out the sights and sounds of a medieval town and nearby Siena. Hence, I think the Chianti leg of our trip may turn out to be her favourite part!
But here's my problem: I'm wondering if it's possible to not drive (rusty driving skills and not wanting to worry about parking). How do we get around the transport problem-- to and fro Florence and Chianti, moving around Chianti, and to Siena? Additionally, would you be able to suggest an appropriate base for us in Chianti?
Would very much appreciate any help you can offer!
January 10, 2011, 06:14 PM
Ciao Cookie Cutter and welcome to our forum!
The itinerary you have planned sounds great, spending time both in Florence as well as in Chianti to show your mother both sides of Tuscany. But you're right in worrying about getting around without a car, it isn't easy because the train goes south from Florence around the wine area and not through it. Buses as well do not have very good time schedules through the area, most are concentrated during the peak hours for commuters.
Make sure to read this article on tips for moving around Chianti.
Here are some suggestions as how you might organize your trip:
- stay in a town in Chianti, such as Greve, that is the most connected by bus that way you can move around that way. You could stay in Montefioralle, for example, a very charming medieval village above Greve - but there is a 2 km uphill climb up and down to get back to Greve.
- stay in a town along the train tracks, most of it is still Chianti although not the "heart" of Chianti as in the area directly between Florence and Siena. For example, a town like Certaldo or Castelfiorentino are charming and very peaceful towns, Certaldo has its historic area in the hill above called Certaldo Alto. Another possibility is Poggibonsi but the historical center here is really small as the town has grown industrially outwards - it is well connected with public transporation but just know that it isn't the first place someone looking for "Chianti" heads to.
In any case, for wine tasting you might not really want to do it with public transporation. While it is possible to do wine tasting without a car in Chianti, it is just easier to take a tour! There are many offered and searching on the internet will bring out hundreds of agencies offering tours. I can only recommend this one we have actually taken ourselves while hereHoneymoon in October you can read about someone who also did it and enjoyed it as much as we did
Siena is easiest reached by SITA bus from Florence even if it has a train station - it is just further away from the "historic" area at the bottom of a hill. You can walk it or take a local city bus to the center of Siena.... while the SITA bus drops you off closer to the historic center to start off with.
As for places to stay, if you're not going to drive you need to look specifically at places I've mentioned above that are better connected - and you have to assure yourself you are in the town and not out in the countryside! Many b&bs are actually located a few kilometers from outside the main town/village which is fine with a car but not fine if you're on foot.
Look on here for some ideas and to get your search started: Chianti Accommodation. For example, in Greve I'd definitely recommend the Verrazzano apartment which offers a good base in the main piazza in the small village.
Now if you decide to drive that opens up a bunch of other possibilities in Chianti. I'd recommend Palazzo Malaspina in San Donato in Poggio for a charming and peaceful stay in a small medieval village. Or if you feel like treating yourselves, I'd go for Villa il Poggiale, a villa turned into a B&B/small luxury hotel that has both a pool as well as a spa area with hot tub and sauna.
Keep in mind that most places have their own parking spaces, parking is generally not difficult in smaller towns but if you're worried about driving into Florence or Siena, you could always drive to a smaller town along the train route, park there and take the train in... or bus
Hope these ideas/considerations offer a good starting point for your search. Whatever you decide to do, I am sure your mother will love spending time with you in such a magnificent first trip to Italy!
Last edited by Cristina; May 16, 2011 at 06:08 PM.