Tuscany 2015

Ciao Lourdes"
I am in the process of gathering information for a 2015 Tuscany vacation for about 7-8 friends for 8 days.I have been to Rome and Florence so my main destination is countryside.We plan on renting van or car's. Need Help with what places to go first. My plan is to save Florence for last 2 days for those that have not been since that is where we will be flying out from.Place's I am suggesting to the group are Siena ,Val D'orica,San Gimignano,Chianti and maybe other close by towns.Right now we may base ourselves in Siena or Chianti.
Need help on where to start .Tuscany is now at the top of my bucket list and I must see the cypress tree's and rolling hills and flowers.
 

Melany

Well-known member
It's the weekend here - Now it's Sunday night at 10 PM. I'm sure Lourdes will be around tomorrow to give you some advice. Be patient. :)
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao travelgirl, here I am! Sorry, but the weekend is spent chasing my little girl as she learns to crawl all over the place and even if I get a quick chance to check email on the go, if I try to reply, she thinks she can too and sticks her finger in to type. Kids these days are waaaay too smart :D and then I got a migraine on halfway on Monday which made it difficult to be on the computer... :/

Let's get to the planning: 8 days in Tuscany is a great amount of time, I definitely think it is about the minimum required to get to experience the region without feeling like you're rushed.
You'll definitely need a car or van - if you're 8, I think a van would make things easier rather than renting two cars but, on the other hand, if the group wants some flexibility about maybe a part staying in at the farmhouse or doing something different, cars permit the group to split up. Also lanes can sometimes seem quite narrow, so the van will just require someone who feels comfortable for the challenge.

Where do you fly into? Florence as well? If you do, you can rent cars/van right at the airport and head out, then return to Florence the last days. What period of the year are you coming in?
I'd suggest either a farmhouse or villa apartment/s where you'll have a shared pool and garden space. Depending on season, sometimes a whole week's stay is required. If that's the case, you could do a day trip into Florence during your week and only leave the last day in Florence.

The area closest to Siena would be ideal to base yourselves in: either to the north like in Castellina or to the south in the Crete Senesi. That would make traveling to Siena, San Gimiginano, Chianti and the Val d'Orcia easy to do. You can also add in Volterra, San Galgano Abbey, Arezzo, Cortona...

You should start by looking at the possible places where you might stay at - all of these are in the areas I suggested:
near Castellina in Chianti
Romitorio di Serelle
Il Cellese
Rocca di Cispiano
south of Siena in the Crete Senesi
Villa Corsanello
Podere Cunina
San Giovanni in Poggio

Then to get an idea of how to divide days (not in any order), here's a 7 days in Tuscany itinerary.

Ok, this just to get you started - let me know what else I can help with!
 
thanks so much for replying and sorry you didn't feel well. Girl you know just what I want. 3 of the place's you suggested are on my list with Villa Corsanella at the top. We would have the entire villa ,the only drawback is if I book it then people start dropping off and their share will end up on the rest.Hopefully everyone will commit.The other's you listed will be backup.
I am going to suggest to the group for us to fly into Florence on Friday and spend the night there for those that have never been before. Saturday get rental van or 2 car's and head to the villa.I have noticed on the rental car sites that most are manual.I agree if we have 2 car's instead of a van we don't all have to dothe same thing. My main goal is the countryside.I will have plenty of guestion's so please be patient with me. Thanks again.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Great! Yes, the entire villa Corsanello would also be ideal. I've had friends who get deposits for the villa from friends now when they book so that they don't drop out later on, otherwise their "deposit" is lost ;) just an idea! Planning for 2015 is far ahead enough that if people commit now, they might even forget or have other things come up that make their plans change.
Generally for accommodation the high season is July and August - if you're thinking of that period in 2015, you should book by September/October of the year before... so you have time before deciding and booking anything.

Don't worry, I'm generally here... sometimes with a few days absence but then I come back! :D
 
Great idea about the deposits.I am thinking of sometime in June so I will book early as possible next year. I think the 2nd choice for accomdation's will be San Giovanni in Poggio.That looks nice also.
Thank's for all the great info.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
you're very welcome! they both look like lovely spots, I've been in the area and it is fantastic by itself but both those villas/farmhouses also look great from which to enjoy the views :)
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
My suggestion is to bring the least minimum possible of electrical devices that you can, aside from todays essentials: cellphones/tablets/cameras... and for those I've personally found that a plug adaptor doesn't charge them well, I think the contact is not great. For cellphones, I've found it easier to charge through car adaptor (USB) or through a laptop.

In any case, Italy uses 2 thin round prongs for small devices such as for cell phones (one on the right), and an extra prong in the middle for bigger devices such as laptops (left) - here they are:

plugs.jpg


Small and large appliances use a completely different prong - round base, 2 fatter prongs. But I doubt you'll need/run into those in hotel rooms/apartments unless you go check the plug behind the refrigerator ;)

REMEMBER that VOLTAGE is different - that plug above with the box actually has the CONVERTER too for voltage difference, many cellphone plugs have that box... that is why sometimes it is easier to get the whole new cable to get converter+right plug all in one.
 

Melany

Well-known member
We came with the 2-prong adapters, and they worked just fine for us. We charged our iPhone and laptop, and camera batteries with it.
Be sure your electronics are dual voltage! Many are - the newest laptops, smart phones, tablets, etc. My son brought his Game Boy and it was not, so he couldn't charge it.

Don't worry about blow dryers - most hotels provide them (or just buy one when you get there).
 
Ciao ladies,
thank you two so much.I know what to pickup now and will pass along to my companion's.

Now what about those prepaid cellphones that can we can purchase when we get there.
 

Melany

Well-known member
Ciao ladies,
thank you two so much.I know what to pickup now and will pass along to my companion's.

Now what about those prepaid cellphones that can we can purchase when we get there.

I didn't worry about cell phones. We used Skype and FaceTime on the laptop. No charge to call home! Otherwise, email and this forum worked for me.
Communication between us wasn't an issue since we were together the whole time.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
If you have a large group and feel the need to get phones to communicate, maybe if you divide up the group, you could have one per car... then you can either get cheap prepaid phones here (I bought a really cheap one for 30 euros, old old basic model) and you'll get the SIM card included to which you can add euros to. Another option is if you already have a triband phone (Italy uses GSM 900), get it unlocked before leaving home and then just buy a SIM card here. The carrier to get is TIM as they have the best coverage everywhere you go. To buy a local SIM card all you need is your passport, which they make a copy of. You can buy SIM cards directly from TIM stores or from electronic stores, anywhere you see phones in the windows (not sure of the Florence airport, it is too small).

The great thing is that incoming calls to your local cellphone at that point are free, so you can ask people from back home to pay for the international call to Italy but you don't pay a dime. And having a local phone makes calls between your group easy to do.... of course, as Melany says, if you have access to free Wi-Fi and a laptop or tablet, you can also communicate with emails and instant messaging apps like Skype or Google Hangouts or with your phones using apps like WhatsApp rather than with calls. But not everyone will be somewhere with just Wi-fi so the local cellphones could be convenient to have in large traveling groups.
 
my thought's are with 13 people now and going different direction's some day's we may need to communicate for some unforeseen reason,plus we may have to call our host if we have a problem at one of the apartments since we will be the only one's staying there.
I will have a tablet to Skype with for checking back in the states. I will be meeting with the group to tell them they can also call their cellphone carrier and switch to the global setting while we are there,but for me I will purchase the prepaid for peace of mind. Thanks again
 

yvonnedms

New member
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Hello, I to am in the information gathering stage for a 2015 trip to Tuscany. We will be 5-8 african-american women ages 48-62; first time visitors to Italy (Tuscany, Florence, Venice and Rome). Our dates : 23/05 - 03/06/2015 (12 nights) - we desire a villa that is no more than 1 hour drive time from FLR or PSA (airports)
-what should we expect/anticipate as 1st time travelers
-what as a group of black females should we anticipate touring (i have read some forums that caution blacks regarding travel to italy)
-suggested villa rental companies - just a little hesitant because of such a sense of unknown-
i welcome any and all suggestions and insights-
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
ciao yvonnedms, thank you for reposting after the hacking!

I definitely recommend a villa that you can have to yourselves to enjoy, with a pool to relax by.

You can certainly go through a villa rental company but we personally don't usually recommend, instead recommend contacting the owners directly - you skip all of the outrageous commissions tacked on by the agencies for one thing, but also get to "meet" the owners directly, the ones you'll find locally once you're here. Of course, not all villas are managed in this way but where they are, going through the owner is generally a better experience.

I have never personally seen anyone treating black tourists in a discriminatory manner. While there are many immigrants directly from Africa in Italy, I've never seen Italians behave badly towards them either, so I can't imagine that they would do so when a whole group of English speaking women are traveling and are obviously visitors.
Actually.... do expect to get some stares but not because anyone wants to be rude - it is likely many Italians have never ever seen a group of 8 African-American women together, having fun and socializing. So they'll stare in wonder - I can see that happening :)

Now, as far as villas to contact - take a look, then get in touch but do expect many of them to not yet be prepared for 2015 - many are receiving contacts now for 2014 which already seems way far down the road. So many just start keeping record of the ones you like - and once your dates are really set (like once you have plane tickets in hand), make the reservations. Villas do tend to get booked months ahead of time, so you do want to plan ahead on this but I think generally 9-12 months should be sufficient.

So here they are:
Villa Vianci - the entire villa near Siena
Torre a Cona - has apartments as well as entire houses - closer to Florence
Villa Piaggia - might be bigger than you want but is very very nice - you'd have extra space so maybe more friends can join in? Close to San Gimignano (between Florence and Siena)
Villa la Medicea - this is divided into just 2 apartments, so theoretically you can rent both and have the whole villa with pool to yourselves - very close to Florence
Villa La Dogana - to the north of Florence, more secluded area, villa is beautiful although quite fortress like from the outside
.... and maybe the best for last (just joking, it is hard to find faults with any, especially as regards location)....
Villa Corsanello - in beautiful countryside.... and perfect for 8!!! ;)

You'll have more questions as you read more and start planning so feel free to post!!
Enjoy the planning stage!
 
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