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Thread: First time to Italy in May

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018

    Default First time to Italy in May

    Hi everybody. Great website you have here and I have been reading to get as much information as possible. Just wish to get some specific help from you guys regarding the stay in Tuscany.

    My wife and I are planning a trip to Italy in the first two weeks of May. We will be staying 14 nights, not including the days we are flying in. The itinerary we have in mind is such :

    Rome(4 nights)
    Tuscany countryside (3 nights)
    Florence (3 nights)
    Cinque Terre (3 nights)
    Milan ( 1 night)

    We will fly in to Rome, and fly out of Milan, probably. A few questions regarding this plan :

    1. We are planning for 3 nights in the countryside. If we were to change it to 2 nights, would it be too short? The main aim of staying there is to enjoy the countryside stay, explore the landscape, take photos, also I'll probably rent a car to explore the nearby towns, but not go too crazy trying to see every single thing. Thing though is that in my country is a right-hand drive, whereas over there is left-hand drive.

    2. If we stay in countryside house with the hosts, will the hosts cook meals and we don't have to find other places to eat? Or if they have restaurants near where we are staying, it will be great as well. We also wish to have cooking classes, maybe. I heard that in May there wont be any olive or grape harvest, so we won't be able to participate in that?

    3. We do have dietary restrictions, for example we don't eat beef. Would the hosts be offended by that, and maybe in that case a farmstay might not be suitable for us? Unless we get our meals outside, which then won't be a problem.

    4. I would also love to take photos like the first one in this link: http://www.discovertuscany.com/tusca...n-tuscany.html
    The cypress trees with the winding roads. Is it in Val d'Orcia? And also Podere Belvedere, which I think is very popular.

    Hope to get some help regarding these, and also if you have any further suggestions to tweak my trip, or anything else I should consider, it would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited by shank; January 12, 2018 at 05:42 AM. Reason: Driving info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Florence, Italy


    Hello and welcome to our forum! Glad to hear you're finding the site and info helpful, we hope we can always offer useful suggestions! ;-)

    I would vote for 3 nights in the countryside over just 2, gives you more time to soak in the atmosphere. Also to get used to the driving. I agree with taking things slowly, not trying to get everything in and enjoying what you do see as much as possible.

    Your division of days seems good!

    Farm "stays" can be either in rooms where the hosts offers meals (they are often listed as B&Bs and will include breakfast with your room) or in private apartments/suites that contain small kitchen/kitchenette so that you have your own independence as far as some meals go. By default, the apartments don't include breakfast. Many have a restaurant on the premises and that's when you can have the best of both worlds: if you have a room, you can choose to have more meals there or if in an apartment, you can cook in for a meal or two, have a dinner at the restaurant or go out to a local restaurant. Keep in mind many now are like hotels specialized in offering vacation rentals, with their wine or olive oil production as another side of the business but as a guest you are not in any way tied to that side of the estate. With just 3 nights, you might not cook at all but an apartment can offer more space for a very similar cost.

    Don't worry about being vegetarian, there are many options offered in Tuscan cuisine that don't include meat.

    And as far as photos go, you will be able to take lots of those photos if you roam around the countryside and enjoy the surroundings. That first photo is actually of Montefioralle, we took it walking out of the small medieval hamlet towards Badia di Passignano (another photo worthy view) and looking back down on the town.

    So here are some of my suggestions as to places to stay, considering your time and requests:
    1. Casolare di Libbiano: has rooms and offers meals on site. It has cooking classes too, so you can have all you're looking for.
    2. Villa il Poggiale: also has a restaurant for guests and offers cooking classes.
    3. Tenuta Quadrifoglio: both rooms as well as apartments
    4. Le Torri: just apartments, no restaurant but is walking distance from a few in the town nearby
    5. Il Cellese: apartments with restaurant on site

    All are in the countryside between Florence and Siena, so with lots of opportunities to do day trips in area, lots of spots for great photo ops and choice of meals on site or nearby.

    Let us know what you think of these and whether you want more suggestions ;-).
    What to see in Tuscany? Check out ideas on our main website DiscoverTuscany.com!!

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2018


    Wow thanks for that very detailed reply. I agree and have decided that 3 nights would be better to enjoy the experience.

    I think what I would prefer are the room type of accommodations with breakfast included, and also maybe a restaurant on site or in a nearby town. Also, my apologies for not updating but after having done more research I think I would like to stay in the Val d'Orcia region, like between Pienza, montalcino etc. Those houses you linked are all in the Chianti region, which I guess you chose because of my earlier preference for that photo. Im sorry for the wasted effort in finding those places for me! Would something like La Fonte be good? However, they dont seem to accept a few nights stay in May, so I have to contact them personally to check.
    Edit: Are the type of places that I prefer called agriturismo? Im not sure I understand exactly what you mean by rooms and apartments, but it's basically a difference between breakfast/meals being provided versus cooking your own food, if I understand you correctly? We definitely won't be cooking our own, exceot for the cooking class.

    Oh we arent exactly vegetarian. We just dont eat beef, but other meat like chicken, lamb, bacon, ham we are fine with. Fish as well but I'm not sure if this region has seafood.

    One question on the car rental. Where do you suggest I rent the car from, given the order of cities/regions we are going to? Or should I change the order to Rome-Florence-Tuscany-CT? That would involve some backtracking, which is why I settled on thw original itinerary, but unsure of whether I should drive up from Rome, or take a train to Siena or Florence and then drive down? If im staying in Chianti maybe tbat would be okay, but if im staying further south then it wouldnt make sense right?

    By the way, I would love to see the stars and the Milky Way at night. Having lived in a bright city all my life, ive only ever seen the milky way when i travelled to another country with very little light pollution. Would I be able to see it in the tuscan region?d
    Last edited by shank; January 15, 2018 at 02:42 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Florence, Italy


    You most certainly can enjoy the night sky once you're in the countryside away from any of the towns.

    As far as the type of place you're interested in, you WILL find it marked as agriturismo regardless of whether they just offer rooms or apartments. The main difference in the two is the amount of space you have, in addition to having a kitchen or not. If you're not interested in the kitchen but want more space, you can still rent an apartment, knowing you won't use the kitchen ;-) But then just look for a place that offers breakfast as a possibility which normally is possible if they have a restaurant or offer meals to their clients (some only serve meals to guests and not open to public, others are open to the public).

    Another factor to consider is that many of the agriturismo that rent by the room allow stays of a few nights while the ones with apartments will sometimes require a whole week. So choosing a bedroom type accommodation is super fine. You will find these also labeled as "bed and breakfasts" so you have to keep your search wide for now: look for both agriturismo and bed and breakfasts with rooms.

    If you want to stay in the Val d'Orcia area, I would suggest a little bit of backtracking just for practical reasons:
    - take train up from Rome to Florence, do Florence first
    - then rent car out of Florence and do southern Tuscany. You will enjoy the drive down and see Chianti too down, if you wish.
    I would suggest on the day you drive down, to pass through Chianti and make stops along the way. See the small hilltop towns, maybe make your way to San Gimignano, then head down.
    Then a whole day to explore the towns in Val d'Orcia (Pienza, San Quirico, Montalcino, Montepulciano)
    A whole day in Siena.
    - drive north to Cinque Terre... Monterosso al Mare is a great place to get to with a car, the best of the five towns, just look for a place that offers parking. We stayed here last April and loved it: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9981395
    - drive north to Milan and drop off car. The reason why I would suggest keeping car to CT and Milan is because trains in between are not direct, requires various connections and make travel longer. So you can save time in travel (although you do spend in car rental. Take a look and see what makes more sense to you).

    As far as places to stay in, I see many on here: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/...nd-breakfasts/
    that would be appropriate - don't go by the name but whether they have rooms ;-)
    What to see in Tuscany? Check out ideas on our main website DiscoverTuscany.com!!

    Stay updated: FOLLOW us on Facebook!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2018


    Thanks once again for the extremely helpful reply! One of the best forums around.

    I understand what you mean now, about the rooms and apartments difference. I shall definitely take a look and research on those that you linked. I would love to find one where you can have a nice view over the fields and can enjoy sunrise or sunset from there. Of course I would want to travel out on the roads to capture some of the lovely mist. That would mean I have to set out pretty early before sunrise, right?

    After some more contemplation, we have decided that there's no point in heading to Milan just for one night, as it is mainly just to catch a flight, because we have found that we have flights from Pisa airport. Therefore, we can travel from CT to Pisa on the last day to catch an evening flight. That train ride is slight more straightforward isn't it? I might take your suggestion on driving to CT as well, just that I've heard it's really difficult to drive there.

    Also, this would mean that we have one extra night to spend somewhere else in these regions. In your opinion, do you think this extra night would be better spent in Florence, Val D'orcia or CT?

    As for renting from Florence, is there a link describing the ZTLs in detail? I wouldn't want to leave the rental office in the city and get caught driving into one.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2014

    Default Val d'Orcia


    so easy to skip over the area of Val d'Orcia but it is loaded with wine, scenery and local flavor.

    Especially the Maremma area will surprise you:


    absolutely amazing:

    Buon Viaggio,
    Donna Denise

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