9 days in Tuscany

Soo

Member
Hi

My friends and I (4 of us) are planning a trip to Tuscany this year and after reading this forum, we have come up with a tentative itinerary

12 Oct : Arrive in Florence International Airport, Pick up car rental and drive to San Gimignano area for farmhouse stay

17 Oct : Check out San Gimignano and drive to Florence ; check in Florence B&B/apartment

20 Oct : Check out; Drive to Florence International Airport to drop off rental car and fly home

We plan to visit Chianti (wineies) for 1 day and Siena and Monteriggioni for 1 day while making San Gimignano our base, moving around in our rented car. The rest of the days will be free and easy (for now) exploring the area around the farm, hiking or bicycling.

As this will not be our first visit to Florence, we plan to set aside 1 day to visit the designer outlet malls and remaining time in Florence to visit our favourite sites.

We checked out the car rental options on this site and noticed that there are very few rental cars on automatic transmission - most of the cars offered are on manual transmission.
Is there any other source for rental cars?
Also having gone through the Autostrade website I am still not able to figure out how much toll I'd have to pay just by driving from Florence to San Gimignano, to Siena and to Chianti - we just wanted to have an inditcation for budgetary purposes.

Would you have any suggestions on our itinerary and recommendations for accomodation (car park is required) ?

Last question : How will the weather be like generally - would the rains have started?

Thank you so much for your help!

xx Soo
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
very good itinerary so far!

Ciao Soo, seems like a very good itinerary so far! I really like the idea of having your base near San Gimignano and from there doing day trips and taking some time to take it easy and explore the area slowly :)

One suggestion I'd make is this: return the car rental once you return to Florence as you don't need a car in the historical part of town (unless you're in the outskirts and have parking included). You won't be able to drive it in the historical area, will need to have it parked those last few days and it is around 20-30 euros per day of parking - so if you're central, return the car and your last day catch the bus shuttle from SMN to the airport or call a cab (especially if you're catching an early flight).

As far as car rentals go, there are automatic transmissions but since they aren't as commonly used here, their cost is higher than the manuals --- so scroll through the entire list of results, you'll see they tend to be at the bottom since the list is organized by price. The search with rentalcars.com is pretty good since it searches through all of the major agencies (Hertz, Avis, Europcar, etc.).

As for tolls between Florence, Siena, San Gimignano - luckily for now, the Firenze-Siena road that connects all of these places is still toll-free! As are the regional roads off of this one, so no tolls for you :D Only the A11, A1, A12 have tolls, the Florence-Pisa-Livorno is also toll-free.

For accommodation, start by taking a look here http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/
You can navigate the maps to find places around San Gimignano or that general area in any case.
For Florence - if you return the car when you return to town, you'll have more options.... but if you want one with parking, start from this list:
http://www.florenceaccommodation.com/florence-accommodation-with-parking/
I'd recommend Hotel Principe and Apartment Guelfa as both are in the center, then head outwards...

Hope I've answered most of your questions, if I missed something or have more questions, let me know!
 

Soo

Member
Ciao Lourdes

We have another question : We intend to drive directly to THe Mall in Leccio, Regello and stay one night in Regello before driving towards Florence to drop off the rented car (yes we are taking your advice on this!) - as we will travel on a tolled road for this - how much are the toll rates likely to be?

Thanks, Soo
 

Soo

Member
Also any suggestions where we can stay close to Leccio Regello - so far the accomodation we have looked up only seems to take in weekly guests and not for one night.

Thank you so much!
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Reggello! :)

Glad to help! :)

You could definitely head to the Mall and do your shopping before going back to Florence and dropping off the rental... from San Gimignano area, you could actually cut across Chianti area (and get to see beautiful landscapes ;-))

Can you see the mapped route on here?

The time difference between taking the provincial roads vs heading up toward Florence and then taking the A1 is just 11 minutes longer... so I'd head for the scenic road and you'll end up saving on tolls.... but if you want to check how much you'd pay for tolls, go to http://www.autostrade.it/en/autostrade/percorso.do
- the toll road part is just from Florence to Reggello... they say toll should be € 1,70

As far as accommodation goes, you have to look for hotels or B&Bs for a 1 night stay - other places require at least 3 days or week stays in the low season (which October is BTW).
Take a look at these options.

Another option to consider - head to Florence and drop off the car, then on another day take the bus shuttle to the Mall - see details here: http://www.discovertuscany.com/what-to-do-in-tuscany/shopping/outlet-in-tuscany.html
As you can see, there are many buses throughout the day and 10 euros per person might not be that much?? What do you think?
 

Soo

Member
Grazie Lourdes

Your sugggestions are very helpful - we will have to consider how much time we wish to spend at The Mall before we decide to drive or to take the bus - but I do like the idea of driving through Chianti.

And yes the links you provided is useful - appreciate your pointing out the various routes and hotel suggestions.

OK more planning to do .... :)

xx Soo
 

Soo

Member
Driving into Florence Train Station

Hi Lourdes

Our trip is getting close and we are planning some final details.

If we were to drive from The Mall (Reggello) into Florence (paying toll is ok!), will we pass through any ZTL gate? Can we avoid it and still get to Santa Maria Novella parking lot?

Thanks so much,
Soo :)
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Hello there Soo!

Yes, it is almost time! :)

From Reggello, you can take either the toll road (the A1) to Florence or take the provincial roads that pass through San Donato in Collina (the old Aretina road) or the one that passes through Pontassieve. You don't have to pay on either, they are pretty scenic to do, particularly the one the passes by San Donato in Collina.

Where are you staying in Florence? Of all the parking lots, the SMN lot is the most expensive. If you follow the very precise instructions to get there, you won't pass under any ZTL gates at all.
The mapped route here - http://goo.gl/maps/64Rxp
shows the final part in Florence - follow it exactly and you won't go into the ZTL.
 

Soo

Member
Hi thanks for the tips.

We'll be staying along Via Fiume 5, 10 minutes walk from the train station. We thought that'd be the nearest place to park the car if we can't return it earlier for whatever reason. Your suggestion is a good idea about taking the bus shuttle!

What will the weather be like in the second half of October?


Hello there Soo!

Yes, it is almost time! :)

From Reggello, you can take either the toll road (the A1) to Florence or take the provincial roads that pass through San Donato in Collina (the old Aretina road) or the one that passes through Pontassieve. You don't have to pay on either, they are pretty scenic to do, particularly the one the passes by San Donato in Collina.

Where are you staying in Florence? Of all the parking lots, the SMN lot is the most expensive. If you follow the very precise instructions to get there, you won't pass under any ZTL gates at all.
The mapped route here - http://goo.gl/maps/64Rxp
shows the final part in Florence - follow it exactly and you won't go into the ZTL.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Via Fiume - is like just one block from the train station, so I'd say you're even less than 5 minutes away ;-)

Do try to return the car in time - that way you save on parking and rental fees LOL! :)

Second half of October starts getting cooler, likely there will be some showers on some days making it cooler. But generally the temps are still very nice - light sweater weather for the most part, light jacket in the evenings.
 

MollySecombe

New member
I'm planing to go there and your suggestion is quite very useful for me, and i have the same question what kind of weather will be in the end of September?
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao Molly,

Generally September-October has great weather with a few days of showers or thunderstorms that last just a day, making it cooler in mornings and evenings but still very pleasant during the day. It is a great time to come to Tuscany!
 

Soo

Member
Thank you Lourdes!!!

We have one last question (I think....) - Will I be able to buy a pre-paid SIM card at the airport?

:)
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
You're arriving at the Florence airport, right?
The airport has been going through a lot of expansion and new shops keep opening up - I was there last time in November and didn't see any electronics/phone related shops at all so my first instinct right now would be to say you can't. But I cannot be absolutely sure it isn't possible since things have certainly changed since then.
When you arrive, there should be an info point for tourists either in the baggage area or right after... ask right away so you know where to head to. I suggest ask just to double check, they should be able to tell you if you can buy one at the airport.
What you want is basically a place that sells phones and generally these shops are branded by carrier: TIM is the most popular and with the best coverage overall, but there is also Vodafone, "3" and Wind (these are the only carriers in Italy). General electronics shops also offer SIM cards if they sell cellphones. To buy a SIM card you generally have to leave a copy of your passport, so be prepared to show it. The phone shops are everywhere - so if you don't find one at the airport, I can assure you will find one anywhere else you head to (San Gimignano, Florence for sure).
 

Soo

Member
Yes Florence Airport - thanks for the pointers. You have been of tremendous help in our planning. :)


You're arriving at the Florence airport, right?
The airport has been going through a lot of expansion and new shops keep opening up - I was there last time in November and didn't see any electronics/phone related shops at all so my first instinct right now would be to say you can't. But I cannot be absolutely sure it isn't possible since things have certainly changed since then.
When you arrive, there should be an info point for tourists either in the baggage area or right after... ask right away so you know where to head to. I suggest ask just to double check, they should be able to tell you if you can buy one at the airport.
What you want is basically a place that sells phones and generally these shops are branded by carrier: TIM is the most popular and with the best coverage overall, but there is also Vodafone, "3" and Wind (these are the only carriers in Italy). General electronics shops also offer SIM cards if they sell cellphones. To buy a SIM card you generally have to leave a copy of your passport, so be prepared to show it. The phone shops are everywhere - so if you don't find one at the airport, I can assure you will find one anywhere else you head to (San Gimignano, Florence for sure).
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
You're welcome! Hope you can come back on the forum after your trip and let us know how everything turns out, what your impressions were of things and if you have any tips to recommend to others - I am sure it would be very useful!! :)

Hope you have a great time in Tuscany!
 

Soo

Member
Post-Tuscany

Buono giorno Lourdes

We spent 9 glorious days in Tuscany and Florence.

Driving in Tuscany was fairly easy as we had a GPS. We had a few comic moments at the toll and in the various parking lots. The farmhouse stay (Agritourismo Poggiacolle) was a good decision as the area was simply breathtaking and owner (Stefano) friendly and accommodating, giving us helpful suggestions on where to visit and what to do. He even helped arrange our winery tour and booked our restaurants in Florence.

We visited San Gimignano, Ponggibonsi, Sienna, Volterra, Certaldo and of course the Chianti area. We even managed a day trip to Reggello Outlet Mall - it was a lot more flexible changing our itinerary with a car.

We ended in Florence for the shopping and the Michelin Star restaurants. We skipped the popular tourist spots as all of us had been to Florence before - but Florence is still captivating no matter how many times you've been there.

Thanks so much for all your tips - it got us well-prepared for our trip.

xx Soo
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao Soo,

Very glad to hear your vacation turned out well!

I agree, a GPS is a great invention for getting places nowadays, even we can't go without it nowadays ;-)

Do you mind telling us where you ended up for the winery tour and how you liked it? If you would recommend it to others...?

What did you think of the shopping in Reggello? I agree, with a car, you have that flexibility for moving about that you just can't have without.... did you find driving ok?
 

Soo

Member
Ciao Lourdes

We went to a winery called Diovole at Vagliagli. We took the wine tasting tour (around an hour) which included a visit to the historic cellar, tasting different wines with some traditional nibbles and some information about wine-growing and history of the Dievole Estate. They also do a tasting menu for lunch paired with their wines which we did not get to try that. We only tried one winery so it is a little difficult to compare but we did not think the wines we tried were impressive. We had wine on a daily basis in Tuscany and in our opinion we felt that some these were better.

The Reggello Mall had a huge Prada and Gucci outlet and the rest of the outlets were much smaller in comparison - if you are looking for well-known brands such as TODS/Hogan, Bottega Venetta, Ferragamo, Dior, Balenciaga etc this is the mall to visit. It's best to get there early as there'll be bus-loads of tourists arriving in the late morning. Just before you reach Reggello Mall there is a relatively new outlet mall called Fashion Valley - they carry different brands, a mix of established and trendy, edgy brands - it had far less shops and alot less people.

And since we had done the two malls south of Florence we decided to go to Babarino as well. We tool a bus from Florence for that and it was really convenient. Babarino carried popular brands but not all the high-end ones. There is a lot more of choice and variety at this place - lot more bang for the buck as they say!
 
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