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The wife and I are planning a 2 week vacation in Italy September of 2012. We are considering spending 1 week around Naples and the other in Tuscany. We like the idea of renting a villa for both weeks and renting a car. We'll be flying in from Toronto and I'm looking for suggestions on how to plan all this. Also, we'd like to spend a day or so in Rome, either while travelling between the locations above or as day trips in from either base of operations. As this is our first trip to Italy, we want to get a general idea of the lay of the land for future vacations. And since this is WS, I do want to visit Montalcino :-). A couple Mags of Brunello Riserva would be a nice souvenir.
Thanks in advance,
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Since this is your first time in Italy, I would reconsider renting a villa and/or Naples/Tuscany (as your base). If your travel style is to relax 70% and sightsee 30%, then a villa may make sense. If not, a hotel (depending on your budget) would do since you'll be out and about for most of the day. I could spend two weeks between Florence and Rome alone and just scratch the surface, but at least I can get a good feel for the cities. From Florence, you could take day trips to Montalcino and other nearby towns if you want to see wine country.

I haven't been to Naples, but if you are going to be in that part of the country, I would stay in the Amalfi coast area. It's a more scenic area and very conducive to relaxing. Plus you could always make a day trip to Naples and Pompeii.

Anyway, have a great time planning!
Agree with DoubleD 100% - if this is your first trip and you want to "see" more than "relax" focus on the cities and two weeks between Rome and Florence with day trips to Siena, Chianti Classico and Montalcino, etc. is the way to go. I think that'd be a great start of what will probably become many more visits where you can hit other areas like Naples but if you go down there try to stay in Sorrento or somewhere else on the Amalfi Coast because IMO Naples was a "nice to see" but not "need to see".
Agreed about Pompeii- it's fantastic.

As for Tuscany- don't fool yourself into thinking that because things are close the travel is easy. To get the 40km from Montalcino to Sienna is about an 60-75 minutes, and that's a pretty big road. Florence to Montalcino is about 2 hours. On the big highways travel is fast (like the A1, or the Sienna-Florence highway), but on the small roads it's not. I say you should select your Tuscany location based on that knowledge. Check Google Maps for driving times, it'll be pretty close.

If I were doing it the way you suggest I'd say stay near Sienna- it's close enough to get to Florence for a day or 2, and also close enough to Montalcino, San Gimignano, and a few other of the highlights.

I'm sure others have greater wisdom that I about the area.
quote:
Originally posted by grossie:
Agreed about Pompeii- it's fantastic.

As for Tuscany- don't fool yourself into thinking that because things are close the travel is easy. To get the 40km from Montalcino to Sienna is about an 60-75 minutes, and that's a pretty big road. Florence to Montalcino is about 2 hours. On the big highways travel is fast (like the A1, or the Sienna-Florence highway), but on the small roads it's not. I say you should select your Tuscany location based on that knowledge. Check Google Maps for driving times, it'll be pretty close.

If I were doing it the way you suggest I'd say stay near Sienna- it's close enough to get to Florence for a day or 2, and also close enough to Montalcino, San Gimignano, and a few other of the highlights.

I'm sure others have greater wisdom that I about the area.


Second. If I went back I would stay closer to Montalcino. Maybe around Montepulciano.
We are going to Italy in November as my son is studying in Florence for the fall semester (he left yesterday).

In addition to spending a few days in Paris, we'll be staying in Sorrento (Amalfi Coast) for a few days before renting a farm house in Certaldo during the Thanksgiving week and plan a American Thanksgiving in Tuscany at the house with some of my sons college friends.

Here's the house we are renting.

http://www.tuscany-villas.it/vacation_rentals/16230/

A few years ago we stayed just north of Siena in Vaglialgli after 4 days in Florence and to confirm some of the other opinions about staying near Siena.....it's a great idea. We were able to drive to Montalcino and San Gimignano as well as visit other villages such as Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Radda, etc. with no problems at all. Great vineyards and restaurants everywhere you turn.

You can easily bus or train to Florence for the day which I would recommend as it gets a bit confusing and the parking can be tough.

It's just a great place to vacation and there is so much to see. After trying the week of living independently we would like to do a month some day.

Enjoy your planning, that's a big part of the fun of traveling.

Bob
Thanks everyone, this has helped alot. My wife went ahead and booked 2 villas, the first one is on the Almafi coast in Positano and the second on is in Tuscany in Cortona. We'll be renting a car but will heed the advice to take the train for any trips into major centers.

If there are any other suggestions you have please keep it coming as I'll be checking this thread every day or so.

Cheers!
Make sure the car you get is small, gas is expensive and the roads in the towns are narrow and the walls close. We were there last September/October. We stayed in Montalcino for 4 days and loved it. We also enjoyed driving the "white" roads and exploring the entirety of Brunello. One thing to remember, Wednesday is market day in Sienna, and parking is impossible, take the train.
quote:
Originally posted by Bdublu:

You can easily bus or train to Florence for the day which I would recommend as it gets a bit confusing and the parking can be tough.


Bob


Right on. Stay in the country where it's roomy and easy to drive. When you want to visit Florence it's easy to get on a train near where you're staying and you walk out of the train station right in the middle of Florence, an easy walk from the Duomo. Driving and parking in Florence is too annoying.
Hi Everyone, this is David in San Francisco, I'm new to the forum.
We just got back from three weeks in Italy, having spent our last four days in a farmhouse B&B in Sovicille, just outside of Siena.
It turned out to be very easy to get to Chianti, San Gimignano and all the small charming medieval towns along the way, with the roads dotted withe wineries that sold directly to the public.
In Radda in Chianti, there's a café that also have wine merchant as part of the store and one can spend quite a bit of time sampling what the proprietor has to offer, getting the benefit of local expertise. Enoteca Dante is the name, I believe.
The scale of Italy in that region fool you; things are a LOT closer than what's on the map. Be prepared to get a bit lost, but also be prepared not to worry too much; where ever you go it's going to be nice.
I don't know if this is the appropriate place to post a link to images but the moderator will advise me if it's otherwise.
Cheers,
David
http://www.davidbishopstudios....Italy_by_iPhone.html
quote:
Originally posted by Arsenal4ever:
Patrick -
Les Barriques in Montalcino shipped two cases of mixed BdM home to CA for me when I visited there in 2004. Purchased all '97s and '99s. The shipping cost was $100 per case and took about 30 days to arrive. Nothing was broken.

Forget broken ... were any of them cooked? I guess it depends when the wine is shipped.
quote:
Originally posted by Arsenal4ever:
We stayed in Naples, Sorrento, and Ravallo last September for 10 days. We either had a driver or took the ferry. Traffic is horrible along the Amalfi Coast, so be prepared for long delays while trying to get somewhere. The views are fabulous, and don't miss Pompeii and Ravallo.


Arsenal - I'm going to a wedding in Ravello October 15th. With my wife being 7 months pregnant, what would you recommend the best way for us to get there?

we're literally going only for the wedding. Arrive in Rome Thursday and back out on the Monday. I already got a quote for 570 Euro for a car to take 4 of us from Fiumicino to Ravello, one way.
any other suggestions? comfort is obviously an issue.
thanks!
Mangiare -
We flew into Naples and had a driver take us from the airport to Ravello. I think the cost was around 120 euros w/ tip. It was well worth it, because the traffic was horrific, and no one pays any attention to any road rules. Everyone for himself. The road is windy and tight, and the views are fantastic. Sorry you can't spend more time in Ravello; truly a magical place.
If you drive around naples provence, roll up you windows,lock doors, and stash your belongings. Around amalfi...praia, positano. consider capri, but imho, ischia better. in naples proper, the archaelogical museum is world class. siena a must, you can drive there easy, plenty of parking (unless sienese have a home calcio game). having a car to tour chianti is the way to go, just spit when tasting....sept an excellent month to travel here, bravo.
Just got back- trip was great and food even better.

Had a questionable experience in Rome at a Michelin star restaurant Il Convivio Troiani. I usually refrain from these types of restaurants in Italy but decided to treat ourselves. The resto has a Michelin star and the prices are reflective of 2+ stars.

Everything was going great until they brought my wife the wrong main course. No problem but they decided to leave mine. At 40 Euro's per course, I really didn't think they made the right call. My wife's main course arrives and the fish is quite raw. I bring this to the attention of the waiter and he agrees. When the bill arrives, all 8 dishes are present.

We were having a nice evening and our mood was more important than a scene however I have to say that I cannot get over the arrogance. Overpriced!

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