March 20, 2011, 01:41 PM
Florence and Tuscany
I am Edward and I am planning to spend approximately 10 days in Florence/Tuscany.
I will be travelling with my wife and our 2 year old daughter. This will be our first time that will be coming to this region. Our intention is to come around late August or beginning of September.
The problem is that I feel really confused about how I should plan our holiday given that I want it to be adapt to our small one as well. Therefore we do not wish a holiday which is too much crammed with activities or which will include too much long distance travelling.
The other problem we have is deciding the most practical way of travelling our Tuscany. I understand that travelling around Florence itself is not a problem as it can be done by foot or bus. However we would like to visit the surrounding cities and the beautiful countryside in Tuscany. I admit that if it is possible I would like to avoid renting a car and do the travelling by train /bus. If this is possible would it still be better to base ourselves in Florence and do the travelling from Florence or should we spend some days in Florence and some days in another place?
I really appreciate if you can give my some suggestions about how I should plan my holiday and which places should I visit. At this moment I feel really confused. Thanks very much for your help.
March 21, 2011, 05:45 PM
Florence and Tuscany (reply)
I agree with you when you say your holiday must be adapted to suit the young member of the family. And the first thing to consider is that Florence is a very hot city during summer. If you can, choose September instead of August.
Your confusion is understandable, don't worry. In my opinion you can choose Florence as your main base during all your stay and then take the train to visit other famous cities.
From Florence you can easily reach Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Arezzo or Pistoia by train reaching each of these cities in 1 hour-1 hour and a half.
Even if the small one gets tired, in a couple of hours at the most you'll be back to your b&b/hotel in Florence without driving.
A "car-free" day trip I recommend is to go visit Fiesole, a small town on the hills surrounding Florence. You can reach it by bus (line number 7 from Florence's main railway station, Santa Maria Novella ). Fiesole is very close to Florence and is famous for its Roman archeological area (worth visiting) and for its view over the Tuscan capital.
As to your doubt about renting a car or not, I'd say yes only if you want to explore the countryside, shoot photographs, or if you like hiking or cycling. However, Chianti region is not far: it is between Florence and Siena and is wonderful. If you do not want to drive you can rely on a tour operator for a day trip among Chianti's hills and the beautiful town of San Gimignano, famous for its tower houses.
And....don't forget that if you base yourselves in Florence at least on the first two-three days you will not even think about leaving!
Hope this helps, if there's something else you need to clarify please keep in touch
Last edited by Fabrizio; March 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM.
March 23, 2011, 04:29 PM
Florence and Siena are good bases for visiting Tuscany
I also second Fabrizio's recommendation to come in September rather than August -- although as an American myself used to A/C everywhere back in the States, know that an A/C is required if you stay in Florence in August but not if you stay outside of Florence proper. Not very many places have A/C although it is becoming more common for units to be installed. August is hot in Florence because the city sits along the flat river valley surrounded by hills which prevents air from moving. Staying anywhere on the hills around Florence at even just 300 meters above sea level (Fiesole is already at 295 m) is actually fine - you get cool breezes and most buildings are built in stone which keep them really cool throughout the day. Of course, if you're out and about sightseeing this makes little difference so September is definitely preferable in general.
Traveling with a toddler means you definitely have to adapt to her needs and if you don't want to rent a car, Florence is definitely a great base from which to visit the rest of Tuscany. If you stay in the central downtown area, you'll also have your hotel or B&B nearby so that you can take breaks when you need them during your day.
You can find some suggestions for places to stay in Florence center but I should point out that the historical center is severely lacking in outdoor play areas or parks that would be perfect breaks for little kids. These two - Palagetto and Villa Antea - being just outside the ring of the historical center, are located near parks with playground areas so you might look into them in particular.
Florence is a small town overall, all buses go to the SMN train station so it makes it easy to get there and then from there go to other places in Tuscany. You could easily get to Siena, Pisa, Lucca and San Gimginano for day trips using the train or bus. Chianti and countryside are harder to get to without your own car because public transport isn't that widely available. If you choose to spend a few days out of Florence, you would still have to stay within a town along the rail line so that you can use it to move around. Here are some tips for moving around Chianti -- the easiest way would be as Fabrizio suggested, booking a tour for Chianti to visit the countryside without worry about driving.
Another good base would be Siena. You could first 5 days in Florence and use that as your base for the towns closer to it (visit Fiesole, Pisa and Lucca), then move on to Siena for the remaining 5 days and use that as your base for trips in the more immediate area (to San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Valdorcia, lower Chianti area - using buses for these).
Hope we've helped provide some suggestions that will give you a better idea of what you want to do while in Tuscany. If you have any other doubts or questions, don't hesitate to ask!
March 25, 2011, 12:47 AM
Florence and Tuscany
Dear Fabrizio and Lourdes,
I really would like to thankyou for your time to post the replies. The information you have given me is really valuable and helpful.
Although I admit that if possible I prefer to avoid travelling by car, I am not excluding it totally. Maybe you advise me to limit the use of the car to travel to certain places only? What is your opinion pls? I really cannot decide. Or would you suggest group tours?
I really would like if you can help me with the itenerary. I have the option to arrive either in Milan or Rome (although Verona may be another option). Although this our first time in Italy we did not plan to stay in any of these - we hope that would be another holiday. We really do like to spend some days in Rome but given that we will have our little one with us, we thought Rome would not be ideal for now.
Can you please give me some advice how we should best plan our holiday, taking into consideration practicality and our small one? We prefer not to rush about and would like to visit the Tuscan contryside. Am I under the correct impression that this part of Italy lack parks or zoos or something similar which are suited for young ones - do you have any suggestions? I would really be grateful if you can help me with the itenerary, although I am afraid I am asking too many questions.
Many thanks for your help.
March 25, 2011, 05:14 PM
Florence and Tuscany: getting around the countryside
we’re glad that our replies have been useful.
I understand you feel confused, but let's try to clarify your doubts.
If you have to carry a stroller and other necessary things for your child and if you prefer to not rush about and to relocate in the countryside, then you should not completely rule out the idea of renting a car......
So, as for a possible itinerary, first of all I recommend to plan your week in Tuscany after you have resolved things like: car, which airport, kind of accommodation, etc.....
If you want to rely on public transportation only, Siena or Florence as your main base are the best solutions. Otherwise, being located in Chianti (the region between Florence and Siena provinces) can be a smart choice...but you'll need a car to get around the countryside.
If you do decide to rent a car, I would recommend to stay somewhere in between Chianti, Florence and Siena, for example in the marvellous quiet little town of San Gimignano.
As regards parks suited for children, do you mean amusement parks or city parks?
Tourism in inland Tuscany is basically a kind of tourism focused on nature, art and tranquility so you won't find any “fun fair” or many zoos although they do exist (Pistoia Zoo, Poppi Zoo and Pinocchio’s park in Collodi are great destinations). You can find gardens or small parks in the majority of towns, many of the parks have play areas for children.
On the other hand, if you stay in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, let's say near Siena or San Gimignano (assuming you have a car), you can explore the Chianti region, not far from both towns.
So my suggestion is to sketch out your 10 days according to what is less time and energy consuming for you and your little daughter so that you will all enjoy your time in Tuscany.
Have a good day,