July 20, 2014, 06:04 AM
Base for 2 weeks, Siena or Florence?
I will be traveling to Tuscany in November this year with my 15 year old daughter. The plan at this stage is to rent an apartment in either Siena or Florence for the full 2 weeks and take part in daily Italian lessons. This will leave afternoons and weekends free for getting the feel of the area and trips to surrounding areas. I will not have a car for the entire time but would consider getting one for a few days to make it possible to see places not well covered by public transport. I also enjoy doing the occasional organised tour. So... any advice on the benefits/disadvantages of Siena vs Florence would be greatly appreciated.
July 21, 2014, 08:49 AM
Choosing between two great cities
WOW - first off, sounds like you two are planning on a wonderful experience! I am not much of a "city" girl myself, always leaning for a more rural atmosphere however, I can appreciate the advantages of hanging in a city (especially one like Florence or Siena).
Florence will definitely give you more public transport options and quick train travel access since it is one of the main stops on the Freccia (speedy train line) circuit (important if you are thinking of visiting Rome or Venice). And of course there is so much to see in Florence you could spend every afternoon hitting a new museum, park, concert, restaurant and shop...and never get bored. Florence will probably give you more of an International feel to it, since you will find lots of foreigners and maybe not as many opportunities to use your new language skills are you might like.
Siena, though still a major city for Tuscany, may just give you a bit more of the "rural" feel to it. Well connected with bus routes, I am sure you will be able to visit all the major sites on your list with ease and organization. I believe you will find more opportunities to try out your language skills here and perhaps feel a bit more inserted into the culture.
July 23, 2014, 03:08 AM
Thanks DonnaDenise for your reply! I was leaning toward Seina for the very reasons you have said, it is nice to have confirmation of my thoughts. This is one piece of a longer trip and although I want to experience some of the amazing cities in Europe I would really like to have a bit more of an authentic experience where I can, and much prefer smaller towns as a rule. Ciao!
July 23, 2014, 05:08 PM
Either Florence or Siena would be perfect for 2 weeks, to do the slower, more full cultural immersion you're planning. I think it sounds great!
November starts being a bit more quiet in Florence, as the high season has already wound down. As Donna mentioned, Florence is a great hub for public transportation but Siena also has connections to the countryside... but when they aren't good, you can always do an organized tour, which are great for not worrying about schedules nor driving (particularly if you want to do some wine tasting along the way ). Here are some that leave from and are in Siena.
In any case, do plan to see the other city you don't stay in over the course of several day trips - they are both beautiful and inspiring, yet quite different from each other.
August 18, 2014, 04:28 PM
I would chose to have base camp in Florence - Not the busy side of the Arno River - the other side of the river. Everything is walking distance for most part in Florence. The train station is a quick 6-8 Euro Taxi ride away which will take you just about anywhere for a day trip. Lucca, Pisa, etc. We rented a vehicle for two days and traveled through Lucca, Pisa, Chianti, Livorno - just beautiful. Found a small B&B through booking.com for an inexpensive night stay in the countryside.
We stayed for 8 days on the quite side of the Arno in Florence - the bridge was very close to our hotel -and within a 3 minute walk we were in the hustle bustle of the city with many designer shops and tourists walking about. Quite exciting and energetic. The quite side provides you will leasurely exploring the many piazzas, sites, restaurants, gardens, etc.
Enjoy your trip!
August 11, 2016, 04:16 PM
How do you know if you're booking on the quiet side of florence? What are the words to look for on a booking site?
August 11, 2016, 06:06 PM
Bella Ruggiero was likely referring to the "Oltrano", so you can look for that term. It is also often called the Left Bank or south side of Florence, it is the area south of the Arno river.
When do you plan on coming to Florence? In summer, even the Oltrarno is NOT the quiet side of Florence
August 12, 2016, 09:27 PM
I am going to Florence October 3 and 4 but I too was trying to decide between Siena and Florence.
At first I was going to stay 3 days in Siena and not stay in Florence at all. (I am staying at a house that Friends are renting for 10 days in Barga before I start traveling around. They said you can get to Florence from Barga in about 1 1/2 hours each way but I'm wondering if I am going to be able to really see in day trips from Barga). Would two days in each be sufficient? I like to stay a little longer in places so I can relax instead of running from hotel to hotel. Any ideas?
August 13, 2016, 11:34 AM
Getting around from Barga
I would strongly suggest planning on two days in Florence and two days in Siena. I think the variation from Barga - and the bigger cities (and there is a nice difference even between Siena and Florence) will give you a well rounded idea of Tuscany. If you add a day or two in Siena you can take time to visit the Val d'Orcia area.
You didn't mention if you will be renting a car, which will make day trips from Barga a whole lot easier. For more info on the public transport system check out our article ...and day trips in the area can include so many things starting with:
various points of interest in the Garfagnana
even Montecarlo and the wine district in this part of Tuscany is ... delicious!
August 17, 2016, 12:52 PM
If you do have a car, day trips from Barga are easier to plan.... otherwise, they take a long time and would plan to move to Florence/Siena and do day trips from there. While in Barga with no car, better to enjoy the countryside and the villa there with walks in nearby trails