September 30, 2011, 08:06 PM
Need Adivce - Tuscany Plans
Hello All - this is my first actual post on this site! I have been browsing over the past week or so and have used advice from the forum to create initial plans for my trip to Italy. I just wanted to put in my current plans and see what you thought!
Just a few items to note - this will be my first time to Italy (will be going late June early July) and will flying into Venice and leaving from Rome. I will plan on picking up a car after leaving Venice and will return once i get to Rome. So I will have one for my time in Tuscany.
After Venice I am going to be heading to Tuscany for a week. I was hoping you could opine on which of the two options you would prefer.
1. Go to Florence for 2 nights and 1 day then head to Chianti for the remaining 5 days and explore via day trips etc.
2. Just setup in Chianti after Venice and include Florence as one of the day trips.
My next question is specifically around Chianti. I got the idea of using this region as a base for my Tuscany experience, but was hoping you could give me an idea of best town or towns that would serve best as a "home base."
Also what would be your top 3 list of places to visit other than Sienna and Florence. Looking for countryside/wineries/scenic.
I think this forum provides fantastic information and am really looking forward to your input.
September 30, 2011, 09:51 PM
I would recommend the thought of setting up a base in chainti, we did it last year and used Castellina as our base and it was perfect. It was easy to get to both Florence and Siena as well as every small town on the main road from Greve to Siena. I would recommend Greve for a small town, the center of town is pretty cool.
October 3, 2011, 11:30 AM
Ciao Chris and welcome to our Forum!
As JMFell already suggested, you might consider spending the whole week out in the coutryside, Chianti would be a great base, and plan day trips to Florence, Siena, all of Chianti, San Gimignano, Volterra and further south to the Val d'Orcia area.
Since you'll have a car and you don't really need it in Florence, you'll have to consider staying at a place with parking and not using it at all while you are in Florence. This is perfectly doable - you can stay at B&B Il Palagetto for example, which is right on the perimeter of the historical center and therefore easy to get to with a car and with its own parking spaces.
Another thing to consider: a whole week stay would make it perfect for you to stay in a farmhouse apartment or villa - during June and July, considered "high" season for the area, if you want to stay at a farmhouse generally you are required to stay an entire week and nothing less, they are not available for nights as a hotel would. So this offers you the chance to enjoy this experience.
Great bases in Chianti would be Castellina, San Donato, San Casciano and Greve. Look at this list of accommodation in Chianti and at the map - it gives you a good idea of where the towns and lodgings are. Most are in the countryside, but the area is small and distances are short. On the other hand, roads are all country roads with curves, so while distances are small, still consider Tuscany is perfect for enjoying the drive and the countryside so you need to not drive in a hurry This will make for more pleasureable drives.
Keep in mind though that Florence and Siena also have the "Firenze-Siena" roadway, a larger 4 lane highway that connects them more directly (the orange road in the Google map). So being close to this road is also useful, since you can use it to get closer to your destinations quicker than by just taking the smaller country roads. That is one reason why Castellina is favored by JMFell
Top 3 places to visit aside from Siena and Florence: San Gimignano, Volterra and Pisa (although it is further away). If you can make it, also head to the Val d'Orcia area, for the most scenic views of what you generally consider "Tuscany".
October 3, 2011, 04:09 PM
Thank you both for the replies! Great information to consider.
JMFell - If you dont mind, where did you stay in Castellina, would you recommend it?
Lourdes - thank you for the additional links, appreciate that response greatly. I will factor those top 3 places into my itenerary.
I suppose I just must decide whether a day trip to florence is enough (using a base in Chianti for the entire week) or spend a night or two in Florence.
Any other feedback/opinions/thoughts would be fantastic!
October 3, 2011, 04:38 PM
JMFell stayed at a place called Poggetto - read the last post on this thread to read what he had to say about it. He definitely recommends it and is already planning a trip back there next summer too! Who knows, you might both end up there at the same time!
Definitely a day trip to Florence might not be enough, we normally suggest at least spending 2 days here. Chianti is about half an hour drive away, so you'll have to decide whether to spend 2-3 nights in Florence before heading out to the countryside or whether you prefer to stay the whole time in Chianti and driving around. I cannot push for one over the other, as both have its benefits and negatives, it will totally depend on what you also want to do in Florence - visit museums, churches and more or just walk around and get a feeling of the city. You can definitely spend a few days in Florence, just remember what I had said before - with a car, you cannot drive into the historical center at all (a limited traffic area, the ZTL area) so look for a place outside the center in order to avoid getting into trouble and incurring fines for driving into the ZTL.
If you would enjoy some nightlife, then staying in Florence would be good. Staying out in the countryside makes it a bit harder
October 4, 2011, 12:51 AM
This is helpful. More information for me to base my decisions on, thanks! I will definitley make note of the driving restrictions. Im leaning towards going from Venice into Florence (no car) then upon departure to Chianti I will pick one up. Spend the rest of the time in Chianti. We shall see, time for a bit more research and discussions.
October 4, 2011, 11:03 AM
Definitely also an option, to take the train down to Florence and only rent the car once you're leaving Florence. There are many car rental agencies near the SMN train station, located around the Borgo Ognissanti street and that area. That would definitely help make your stay in Florence trouble-free as regards the car
Once you've got a few basics settled, remember you can freely ask for more suggestions - we'll try to help out as much as we can!
October 4, 2011, 03:53 PM
I sure would recommend where we stayed last year as Lourdes told you above. The owners are great and the location is amaing. You wake up to walk outside and see true tuscan views in every direction. From this location we drove to Florence a couple of times and parked at piazza michaelangelo plus we did day trips to Pisa, Greve and Siena. They were all easy drives, even Pisa. If you do stay at Poggetto please let Eva know I recommended you as I am going back next June for a week. Enjoy...