October 6, 2013, 03:06 AM
10 days in Tuscany
Hi, first of all I am so happy to discover your website! It is a wealth of information on Florence and Tuscany, well done. After reading through various posts, I would like your feedback and suggestions on our itinerary plan below:-
Day 1 & 2 Florence
Day 3 Train to Lucca, Pisa and CT (overnight in CT)
Day 4 Train to La Spezia to pick up car rental and drive to Maranello
Day 5, 6, 7 Chianti and Siena
Day 8 & 9 Val d'Orcia
Day 9 & 10 Back to Florence
My questions are:-
1. Do you think the above itinerary is doable or is it too pack?
2. Is it possible to do Pisa, Lucca and then head to CT in one day? Or should I stay overnight in Lucca and do CT as a day trip the next day?
2. How long is the drive from La Spezia to Maranello? Where should I stay overnight - at Maranello or any other nearby towns?
3. Is it too far for us to drive from Maranello to Chianti (after visiting the Ferrari Museum)? If it's not too long a drive, we thought we could drive straight to Chianti and make it our base for the next few days and avoid the hassle of staying a night in Maranello.
4. If I make Chianti my base (we are thinking of Palazzo Malaspina), is it easy for us to take a drive out to visit S.Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena, Arezzo, Cortona, Val d'Orcia? Or is it better to make Siena my base?
5. Car Rental - I know there are ZTL in Pisa, Lucca and Florence hence the reason why we are doing those cities via train rather than driving. However, would I be able to save more time if I drive rather than going by train?
6. Are there luggage lockers in La Spezia? If I decide to do CT as a day trip, I would need to store our luggages.
7. Can I make day trip to Venice via Florence? How long is the train from Venice to Florence?
We are open to suggestions on the sequence of the itinerary ie whether we should do Maranello first before heading to Lucca, Pisa and CT, public transportation versus car rental etc. Any tips, feedbacks would be very much appreciated. Thank you!
October 8, 2013, 04:13 PM
I read your message and at first it seemed so similar to this one
10 days in Tuscany- side trip to Modena
that I thought it was the same question posted again. But no, I see the differences now and am glad your found us and we can be of help!
First, I suggest you use maps.google.com to map the parts you are interested in doing by car.
Use www.trenitalia.com to see the timetables and total travel times by train for the parts you are thinking of doing by train to decide whether you can do parts faster or not.... or cheaper, in terms of having the car all the time. It is up to you!
Personally, I think Maranello is definitely too far out of the way to include it in a trip to Tuscany. It is in a different region so even if 2 hours driving time there from La Spezia and 2 hours driving down from Maranello to Chianti don't seem like a lot, I definitely would take more time as you travel and slow down the pace so that you can enjoy more each place you visit.
I suggest something more like this:
2 days in Florence, then pick up car rental
1 day in Pisa and Lucca, (morning in the first, afternoon in the second) - spend overnight in Lucca
1 day in Cinque Terre, spending the night in one of the towns or in Portovenere or Lerici. The 5 towns aren't easy to get to, with a car it would be better to leave it parked in La Spezia and take the train in. Take time to see the towns, walking around, having a nice lunch and dinner. There is baggage deposit area in La Spezia.
(day 5) Drive to Maranello, stopping in Parma along the way. I would suggest spending the night in Bologna.
Drive back down to Chianti taking your time to head back, seeing Bologna in the morning before you leave. Palazzo Malaspina in San Donato in Poggio is a great base, very central so that from there all the places you want to visit are close by. You can definitely make it your base to visit the rest of Tuscany in the next few days.
Last day you can head back to Florence to drop off car and departure, or spend the last night in Florence.
I wouldn't suggest driving in Florence, that is why I recommend picking up as you're ready to leave and drop off as you leave. The ZTL in Pisa and Lucca are easier to avoid getting into - just don't drive into the walled city of Lucca, park around the perimeter and in Pisa take the main streets that guide to the Leaning Tower (Piazza dei Miracoli) and park. The ZTL begins with the walls around the piazza too, it would be impossible for you to drive in!
I would skip Venice entirely, it is not a day trip from Florence unless you make a whole day out of it - leaving at 7am, returning at 11pm. In that case, better to sleep the night in Venice and return the next day.
Italy is small but CONCENTRATED in beautiful palaces, churches, squares full of art - it takes time to soak the environment in, to drive, park and walk into the historical centers. You cannot drive by any of the main sights and there are many things to see, even if you never step foot into a museum. So even if I haven't take Maranello out of your itinerary, I'd definitely take the time to see other marvelous and beautiful places in the area before heading back down into Chianti. There are churches, frescoes and architecture to see everywhere! Browse through the rest of our site to see the pictures and get a taste of what you'll be seeing, but also know it is an experience in itself
October 10, 2013, 03:17 PM
Hi Lourdes, I'm so glad to get your feedback. We had a nagging feeling that we should not try to do as many cities (or towns) as possible in those 10 days...and reading through what you wrote, everything just suddenly makes sense! The trip planning is much easier now that I won't be going to Maranello and Venice, and I will definitely be posting more after our trip. Thank you, you are a star!
October 10, 2013, 03:40 PM
You're very welcome!
I think it would be worthwhile to skip them in order to see and enjoy the places in Tuscany and Cinque Terre more... Italy needs to be savored and enjoyed with a great glass of wine in hand, not in a hurry and definitely not to "check" things off a list. If you fall in love with the place, you'll plan to make it back somehow ;-)
We're here if you have any other questions!
November 5, 2013, 03:09 PM
Tuscany is beeeaaaauuutiful! We had a fantastic holiday and will definitely be coming back for a visit in a few years time, perhaps the Umbria region. You are right, we can't rush from one town/village to another. The Tuscan countryside entinces you to stop and admire the view at every little twist and turn. We spent many hours just stopping by the side of road...doing nothing but just enjoying the view. As promised, here's an update of our holiday.
Day 1 and 2
Stayed at Hotel Por Santa Maria Florence and the reason why we chose it was because of the location. It is very central and we walked everywhere. Room is small, no breakfast, wifi excellent.
This is the only hotel we pre-booked prior to arriving in Florence - for the rest of the nights, we only booked on the day itself i.e. wherever we feel like stopping for the night. As it was not peak season in October, we were confident we would be able to find rooms in Cinque Terre, Chianti & Val d'Orcia regions.
Drove to Pisa. Just becareful of the ZTL zones, once you know what signs to look out for, it is quite easy to spot and avoid. We used AVIS - rented an Audi A1 for 7 days and the car was well kept & well maintained, great to zip around the countryside.
We only did a quick stop at Pisa (it was crowded with tourists) and drove straight to Lucca, stayed a night at Eurostar Hotel. We chose this hotel because it was easy to spot from the road and hotel has ample parking space. Lucca is beautiful, not many tourists. We enjoyed Lucca even more when it was late late at night.
Drove to Cinque Terre and found ourselves at a paid parking lot for Vernazza! It was quite expensive at Euro12 per night but we didn't want to backtrack to Riomaggiore. From the carpark, it was a long long hike into Vernazza. We kept our big luggages inside the car boot and packed light in small backpacks for an overnight stay. Found a room at B&B Francesca, newly renovated. Be ready to climb. I find Vernazza the prettiest of all the 5 towns.
Day 5 & 6
We spent a good part of the day just hiking and visiting the rest of the towns in CT. Train services are quite regular but you might encounter some delay. Please remember to validate your train tickets at the machines prior to boarding. Train conductor was working on Sunday.
Drove to San Casciano in Val di Pesa in the evening and stayed at B&B Le Dimore for 2 nights. Greve, Castellina, Siena, S.Gimignano & Monteriggioni were all done as day trips.
Day 7 & 8
Drove to Agriturismo Bonello halfway between Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia. Stayed 2 nights. Montalcino, Pienza, S.Quirico & Montepulciano are all a short drive away.
Day 9 & 10
Spent the day in Cortona and left late evening to Florence to return car.
We never made it to some other towns that were on my original list, but we did make it to Lucca, S.Gimignano & Castellina in Chianti twice! Grazie Lourdes, for answering my original post. We are missing the fresh air, beautiful sceneries, wine, food and the warm friendly people. And we can't wait to go back. I will definitely be asking you for your recommendations for Umbria then!
November 6, 2013, 01:03 PM
Am very glad to read your post and have an update on your experience in Tuscany, especially the part that tells me you've gotten the Italy-bug and will come back ;-) Umbria is also another beautiful region, less known than Tuscany but well worth exploring as well. Personally don't know that much about it but I've always heard good things!
Glad to hear that booking as you went worked out, definitely doable in low season and with hotels as they are definitely easier to find even on the net, while other types of lodgings are not so easy to book last minute unless you do it by phone.
I agree most people crowd the square in Pisa throughout the day and in comparison Lucca seems less deserted... but we've stayed in Pisa and the same thing happens after sunset, it feels like you have the town to yourself (well, it is a college town so there are lots of students in some areas, but not so much in the main square).
Good to know that the parking in Vernazza is so far from the town, didn't realize that one was a hike away since I've seen the ones at Manarola, Riomaggiore and Monterosso are right there, just above the towns. Vernazza is one of the prettiest for sure, maybe because it is a bit more concentrated. It was also one of the most hit by the flood 2 years ago so most of it has needed reconstruction, I am sure they're taking advantage to make it even nicer.
The conductors are definitely more serious about their work the more the location depends on tourism and making sure that visitors follow the rules - often, it is simple mistakes like what you mention of not validating tickets before getting on a bus or train that can sometimes also ruin the day or vacation, unfortunately, local administrations take advantage to make $$ for local coffers. Good to remind all of us to validate always BEFORE getting on!
Glad to hear you got to see so many of the places on your list! You will have to fit some of the places you missed on a future trip, Umbria is just a little beyond Cortona so you can definitely make it back to Tuscany ;-)
If you want to share any pics of your trip, you can post on our FB page here
and we'll reshare! And if you can, I hope you can also make it back to offer suggestions to others planning their trip ;-)
December 18, 2013, 06:14 AM
Florence is my favorite because It is the Capital of Tuscany and at the end of this year I am going to Florence.