From Costa Rica

JOANGO

Member
We are planning a family trip to Tuscany region. We would like to stay around 10 to 12 days in the region.
We have been in Italy but not there. We prefer to rent a car and travel to meet the beautiful towns.
Including Cinque Terre would be excelent.
We live in Costa Rica, Central America. The time to go is between middle September and first weeks of October. Is that Ok? (weather, crowded, etc?)
After or before the time in Tuscany, we would like to visit some sites in some of the old Yugoslavian countries.
Our purpose is to create a good plan to enjoy Tuscany, but we do not know how to structure it. This includes: where to fly, which towns to visit and in what order, where to stay, renting a car, enjoying food, etc.

Please all the help you can give us. Preferably in Spanish, or English is Ok.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao Joango,

If you can do the 12 days, I highly recommend you give yourself more time. End of September/start of October are great months here, so definitely a good period to come visit, weather should be good. Crowded, maybe.... but we are not back to pre-covid levels so it is hard to know how things will go the rest of this summer and at the start of fall.

Having your own car is definitely the way to go, it makes it easier to move around and be flexible on when you go places. You don't mention the ages of the kids, so not sure exactly what to recommend as far as specific towns or areas or things to do. What do they like to do? Do you want a mix of museums and outdoor activities? So, for now, I'll link to a very general itinerary that would give you a general idea of the main cities in the region to explore: https://www.discovertuscany.com/itineraries-in-tuscany/one-week-in-tuscany.html
As for where to stay, I would suggest an apartment in a farmhouse or villa, centrally located between Florence and Siena so that driving around won't be too much on any given day. You can set out in any direction to explore a different area.

Ok, so I expect we can trade ideas back and forth, if you've already any idea of what you'd like to do please share. It will help provide more specific suggestions as to where to go and what to see.

Best,
Lourdes

P.S. I have to stick with English - my written (and spoken) Spanish is quite rusty and I get it all confused with Italian nowadays! :ROFLMAO:
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao Joango,

I see you posted your reply on a new thread, so I'm copying and pasting that on here so it makes it easier to keep the entire conversation in one single place.

We are all adults, between 37 and 64 years old.
I like to visit towns specially small ones. And medieval better! Besides, the countryside in that region looks gorgeous to travel and enjoy it by car. Assuming that we will be maybe 4 adults, and the baggage, we use to need a minivan or similar.
I have heard about so many towns, and I would like to visit all or most of them. Including the 5 in Cinque Terre. That is why it is very important to figure out a route, to optimize the time. Beginning with where to arrive in airplane, take the rent a car, and which route to follow, in order to see that beautiful countryside and towns around the region.
Outdoor activity is not a priority. Maybe horse ride would be Ok. About museums, when we are on vacation, usually there is no time for that; but it can be interesting in Tuscany.
At the end (or maybe before) of visiting Tuscany, I would like to visit some of the ex Yugoslavian countries. Are there appropriated flights between Tuscany and that region?

In order to avoid crowds, when is better to be there? Middle of September, last September days, middle of October, ending October? I want to avoid rainy days of course.

Your recommendation about where to stay there looks great. Is it reasonable to stay in a single place during all the days in the region, and moving from there to the different towns, cities and areas?

In your link, I see "Tuscany in 7 days". Is that what you recommend to read? According to the maps that plan involves to visit the "northern part" first, and then go down to the southern region of Tuscany. I assume that is "the logical way" to do the travel (route).
So, during the northern part of the path, we can include Cinque Terre.
Any other interesting towns or areas to visit, in case of having enough time?

I really appreciate your advice, prior to visit Tuscany.

Great to know everyone in the family is an adult, makes it easier to also recommend activities like wine tastings ;).

Tuscany is definitely a region that you can best enjoy driving around and visiting the many small towns you pass through, so let's assume you can have the full 12 days and this is what I'd recommend:
- divide the time staying in 2 places, one in northern area, the second in the southern part of the region. Just makes it less driving as you concentrate on areas closer to where you are staying. Actually, you could do 3 bases, if you want to do an overnight in Cinque Terre.
- easiest would be to fly into Pisa international airport, Galileo Galilei. That way you can rent the car/minivan there directly. Minivan would give you more space and make it more comfortable to explore.
- if you want to avoid too many crowds, then definitely the later you come the more likely there should be less people. As far as the weather, October should still be pretty good weather, with maybe some rainy days but not many.
- as far as museums, there are a lot with ART! so if you're not interested too much in the history of art, you might not seek the museums out, you will still end up seeing LOTS as you visit churches in the area. Every single piece of artwork seems to have been created for churches, they are now in museums, but many works still remain in the churches. So you might not need to visit any museums at all and still get to experience lots of the history and art of the region.

If you arrive in Pisa, you could definitely visit Cinque Terre in this first part. You could do it first, that way you could actually stay in one of the towns (I recommend Monterosso al Mare) for a night or two, then head back and stay at your second base. Cinque Terre is best explored on foot or by train, so once you arrive, you won't be using the car. Roads are curvy and narrow there, so you don't want to drive - explore the towns by walking.

After Cinque Terre, head back down to Lucca. I would suggest staying in this area as your base. From Lucca you can visit Pisa, the coast around Viareggio, down to San Gimignano and to Florence. You can spend a day exploring the towns in Chianti. Head down to Siena, stopping at Monteriggioni. Overall, I would say 5 days here.

Then move on to the area south of Siena for your secondary base. From there, spend time in Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia, Bagno Vignoni and Montalcino. You can easily spend 2 full days exploring these. You can also head toward Arezzo and Cortona on another day. You can spend a day at the outdoor hot springs in either Bagno Vignoni or at San Filippo. If you didn't get to Siena before, you can also go visit Siena... or go back!

As far as the ex-Yogoslavian countries, I have no experience in that area so cannot offer any recommendations. I know lots of Italians love Croatia for the lakes and beaches but that might not be what you're interested in.

Hope these suggestions are useful! Let me know of any other questions you may still have, I'll do my best to help :).
 

JOANGO

Member
Ciao Joango,

I see you posted your reply on a new thread, so I'm copying and pasting that on here so it makes it easier to keep the entire conversation in one single place.



Great to know everyone in the family is an adult, makes it easier to also recommend activities like wine tastings ;).

Tuscany is definitely a region that you can best enjoy driving around and visiting the many small towns you pass through, so let's assume you can have the full 12 days and this is what I'd recommend:
- divide the time staying in 2 places, one in northern area, the second in the southern part of the region. Just makes it less driving as you concentrate on areas closer to where you are staying. Actually, you could do 3 bases, if you want to do an overnight in Cinque Terre.
- easiest would be to fly into Pisa international airport, Galileo Galilei. That way you can rent the car/minivan there directly. Minivan would give you more space and make it more comfortable to explore.
- if you want to avoid too many crowds, then definitely the later you come the more likely there should be less people. As far as the weather, October should still be pretty good weather, with maybe some rainy days but not many.
- as far as museums, there are a lot with ART! so if you're not interested too much in the history of art, you might not seek the museums out, you will still end up seeing LOTS as you visit churches in the area. Every single piece of artwork seems to have been created for churches, they are now in museums, but many works still remain in the churches. So you might not need to visit any museums at all and still get to experience lots of the history and art of the region.

If you arrive in Pisa, you could definitely visit Cinque Terre in this first part. You could do it first, that way you could actually stay in one of the towns (I recommend Monterosso al Mare) for a night or two, then head back and stay at your second base. Cinque Terre is best explored on foot or by train, so once you arrive, you won't be using the car. Roads are curvy and narrow there, so you don't want to drive - explore the towns by walking.

After Cinque Terre, head back down to Lucca. I would suggest staying in this area as your base. From Lucca you can visit Pisa, the coast around Viareggio, down to San Gimignano and to Florence. You can spend a day exploring the towns in Chianti. Head down to Siena, stopping at Monteriggioni. Overall, I would say 5 days here.

Then move on to the area south of Siena for your secondary base. From there, spend time in Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia, Bagno Vignoni and Montalcino. You can easily spend 2 full days exploring these. You can also head toward Arezzo and Cortona on another day. You can spend a day at the outdoor hot springs in either Bagno Vignoni or at San Filippo. If you didn't get to Siena before, you can also go visit Siena... or go back!

As far as the ex-Yogoslavian countries, I have no experience in that area so cannot offer any recommendations. I know lots of Italians love Croatia for the lakes and beaches but that might not be what you're interested in.

Hope these suggestions are useful! Let me know of any other questions you may still have, I'll do my best to help :).
Thank you!
It seems there are more options to arrive by plane to Florence than to Pisa.
But in general, your advice looks good, in order to explore first the northern part (including Cinque Terre). And then going to the southern part of Tuscany.
In general terms, do you suggest to spend 50% of days in northern part (with Cinque Terre) and 50% in the south? Or maybe a little bit more in the north?
Regards
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
If you're finding more flights into Florence, then plan it around flying into Florence.
I would rework the days and bases then. First, spend first few days in Florence, no car.
Once you're ready to leave Florence, rent the car to go to Pisa and Lucca, spend a night or two there: from here, you can do a day trip to Cinque Terre OR plan to move on to Cinque Terre for a night, so that you have 2 days there. Then once you've done this, then drive back south toward Siena/Val d'Orcia to spend the rest of the time in that area.
 

JOANGO

Member
Hi Lourdes,
Please your advice again.
Here my parameters and ideas:
We will have 11 effective days in Tuscana.
First full day in Florence
Second day, with the car, travel early to Cinque Terre. One night there.

The rest of the time to allocate between north and south areas of Tuscany.

How many of the remaining days in each zone?
In order to know as much as possible, but with reasonable time for each town or site: for you, what are the sites or villages to visit, in each zone?
From those, please tell me the ones we "must" go to.

We will follow your recommendation in order to stay in 2 places, one around "north area" and other in "south area".
I understand that for some towns a short time would be enough. Meanwhile for others like Lucca, Siena, more time should be convenient.

Thank you in advance for your support.
Note: both flights will be in Florence.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
OK, if you arrive in Florence and depart, you can most definitely plan that into your schedule.

Let's see what we can do.... something like this, try to not follow it too closely and decide what to see each day depending on how you're feeling like doing. Another museum? Spend time outdoors walking around? See churches? Wine tasting?

Day 1 - Florence - a day is not enough, so I would suggest heading back at the end, right before you're supposed to leave. What to see in a day? Here is an itinerary for what to see in 24 hours.

Day 2 - Pick up car and head to Cinque Terre. I recommend you head to Monterosso al Mare and stay there for the night. It is the easiest to get with car, there are curves and all to get there, but you don't have lots of driving on cliffs.
During this day, I suggest walking around Monterosso and, using train, visit the other towns. I am not sure whether you want to do all on the first day, you can reserve one to the following morning.... you can visit whatever town you have lunch and dinner at after your meals.

Day 3 - morning in CT. Depart by lunch time, head to Lucca. I suggest finding a place to stay either in Lucca itself so you can spend the rest of the day there. I would suggest spend the night here.

Day 4 - Head out to Pisa. You spend a few hours there, maybe have lunch and then head out. By the late afternoon you want to be in the San Gimignano area, where I would suggest you spend the next two nights, using it as your base. I would spend the rest of the day in San Gimignano, maybe doing wine tasting in town or at a winery in the area.

Day 5 - head out to explore Chianti: drive toward Castellina in Chianti, then on to Radda, back to Panzano and then to Greve. It will be a day dedicated to exploring the Chianti wine area. It is perfect time to stop along the way at one of the wineries you pass and to enjoy the views.

Day 6 - SIENA! I would spend a whole day in Siena, visiting the Duomo and Baptistery, climbing up the Torre del Mangia, visiting the Civic Museum. Up to you if you want to visit more museums, like the Pinacoteca, the Opera del Duomo or the Santa Maria della Scala complex.
You can do a quick stop in Monteriggioni either on the way there or back.

Day 7 - Move on from your base to the area south of Siena. I would suggest staying in San Quirico d'Orcia or anywhere thereabouts. As you drive down, quick stop in Buonconvento. Depending on where you choose to stay, I'd go exploring in the area: either Montalcino and the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, San Quirico or Pienza.

Day 8 - Would you like to explore the thermal hot springs in the area? Head to Bagno Vignoni or to Bagni San Filippo. If not, I suggest you keep exploring the area, visiting any from the previous day you haven't gotten to and make your way to Montepulciano.

Day 9 - Head to Cortona and then on to Arezzo.

Day 10 - head back to Florence, spend the rest of the day here, going back to any places you missed on the first day, maybe adding some more. More ideas on the 2 day itinerary in Florence.

Day 11 - imagine you fly out at some point, not sure when. So enjoy your last day!!

As for where to stay: take a look at our listings on Tuscany Accommodation. You can find lots of places according to area, or other parameters.

Let me know how your planning comes along and where else I can help! I will expect to hear back after and know how everything goes ;-)!
 

JOANGO

Member
Lourdes, thanks a lot.
I think our stay in Tuscany will be mainly during first half of October? Probabilities of rain?
And what about that during second half of September?

If you would have to choose between visiting Arezzo or Cortona, what do you choose?

In Chianti, what priority to visit, between: Radda, Castella in Chianti, Montefioralle, Certaldo Alto, Greve in Chianti?

Regards
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Second half of September and first half of October are both very good periods for travel in Tuscany. It might rain, but it isn't generally a time when we expect very wet weather.

Between Arezzo and Cortona, I'd choose Arezzo. It has more things to see and do.

In Chianti, I'd for sure include Radda and Castellina, both are very small and you will be done in a flash. Montefioralle is a very cute but tiny village, it makes for a very quick fast visit. I'd include it when you visit Greve. If this is your day in Chianti, just set out as you go from wherever you stay and see what you have time for. The towns in Chianti are close to each other, so easier to include more. Certaldo Alto is the only one more "out of the way" of the others and would need more time, so if you're limited in time, I'd take that one out. Or include it on a different day, maybe the day you're in San Gimignano since it is closer to that area.
 
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