Planning to stay 5 nights in Tuscany and visit the cities in the area, but is this possible without a rental car? What is the best way to do this? How easy is it to travel to from Rome to Tuscany, and also could you day trip to Venice from Tuscany region?
You can move around Tuscany's major cities completely by train without renting a car but it will be limiting in that you won't be able to visit the smaller, hilltop villages that can only be reached with a car.
From Rome, just take the train up to Florence... you could also stop in Arezzo first, if you're planning on moving about each day.
So take the train from Rome to Arezzo, Arezzo to Florence, Florence to Pisa and Lucca, back through Florence to head down to Siena. From Siena you can take a bus to Poggibonsi to then reach San Gimignano. These are the ones easiest to reach without a car.....
Venice is not really a DAY trip from Tuscany unless you want a really long day. It can be done, with early departure from Florence on the fast trains passing through Bologna and late return so that you can see as much as possible in Venice. But if you can spare an extra night, I'd highly recommend you putting Venice at the end of your days in Tuscany and spending at least one night there so that you can enjoy the magic of Venice in the evening and early morning when it isn't as crowded.
Are you departing from Rome? How many total days do you have in Italy?
Thanks for your help! Yes flying in and out of Rome (cheapest).....3 nights in Rome first, and we'll stay in the city, and do the usual stuff. Then train to Florence and stay 4 or 5 nights there, then back to Rome to leave. I think it'd be less enjoyable if we crammed too much so my only musts are to hit Pisa & Chianti within the Tuscany stay and just let anything else fall into place whenever.....I felt like it wouldn't be a true Italy trip without visiting Venice, but it would be at the end of the trip if possible. I thought it would be a lot to do Rome, Florence, Venice, THEN all the way back down to Rome to leave, so I was unsure how to incorporate Venice into the trip. I also though it would be a lot to be lugging suitcases on a train and here and there all different nights. What do you think?
Also, we LOVE wine and food, so do you know of any day tour type things that you could tour a city also with a dinner and wine tasting in Chianti? Are there even such things?
Ciao Courtney, let me correct my previous reply and add your name ;-)
Yes, I think less will be more - more time to enjoy what you do see and not be in a hurry. While distances in Italy are small compared to what you might be used to (certainly were for me coming from California), everything here is super concentrated into small spaces and thus you do need more time to get to see and enjoy things.
So I'd definitely recommend moving with train up to Florence and using that as your base. If you do want to add Venice, I'd add it to your last day. If you're leaving Rome early, maybe you could do 1 night less in Rome at first and add it to the end, so that you could do Rome 2 nights, Florence 4 nights, Venice 1 night and then back to Rome for the last night. The fast trains from Venice could take you back to Rome in 3.5-4 hours so it is doable in one go. See train schedules on www.trenitalia.com but also check italotreno.it - some parts are actually cheaper on Italo, but you should know the train stations are not the same in Rome (they are the same in Florence and Venice).
Since you won't have a car, the day tours into Chianti are the BEST way to go. That way you can do wine tastings and not worry about driving! ;-) Take a look a the ones listed here as well as the general tours available here for other days. You could do the super tour of Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano and Pisa on one day but I'd actually suggest doing that in 2 separate days rather than pack all in one. Take a look, there are a lot of options with either lunch or dinner included!
Yes, I love the tours that ya'll have (YES I'm southern!) I like the Siena & San Gimignano tours, but the only one I see that has both has a tour of The 1300 museum in San G, but that doesn't really interest me......is there some other tour that I looked over maybe with these 2 sites?
You know what, you can also divide up your 5 days between Florence and Siena, that way have two places to use as bases to also see the nearby area.
As far as the tours go, I'd suggest this one which also includes Monteriggioni, a very charming walled castle or this one which is the one with the 1300 museum in S.G. which I do recommend you actually do. But if you don't want the 1300 museum, then the smaller group tour doesn't include it.
If you do base yourselves in Siena, you could visit S.G. from there and add in Volterra, a beautiful medieval town, with this tour or S.G. with wine tasting in Chianti with this other one.
You can then head back to Rome from Siena by train, passing through Chiusi. It might take a little longer because you do have to change trains in Chiusi. Check times on the Trenitalia website to see whether it would be convenient or not. Stays in Siena would open a whole bunch of other tours to the south of Siena into the Val d'Orcia for you - check them here.
I'm actually open to staying in Florence or Siena, but would rather just pick one site for base for all 5 days......would Florence be easier though for all the day trips? What B&Bs do you recommend in either for 5 nights and at $1000 price range as max total? Open to hotels if it's smaller & has a "homey" feel. Basically, you can get to whatever places (Siena, Pisa, San Gimi) form Florence within an hour-ish, right? I'll check out the train websites, but could you explain generally how they work.....is there a pass? Pay by day? Will stops be easy to identify? Do you just purchase train tickets when you get in country? Not really worried about each individual cost, but total for Tuscany day trips & to and from Rome, do you have a suggestion as to what to budget for train travel total? I was guessing $200. Sorry, a lot of questions this time
Booking the hotel seems to be the most difficult part of the entire trip to me.....would like some recommendations on B&Bs in Florence. I'll find one and fall in love with it, then read some AWFUL reviews on it.....any suggestions?
Sorry for the delay, lots of new questions posted in the last few weeks and I'm sorting through all of them to get them all answered!
Yes, I think Florence would work better as a base in general seeing as you're interested in organized tours (have you booked any?) or train travel and you're going back to Rome at the end, so catching a train from here would just be easier.
Let's start with the questions about train travel: you're going to be within the region, so all trains you catch will be regional, without seats assigned. The easiest and cheapest solution is to buy tickets once you're here and right before you go on your day trip. There are automatic machines in Florence's SMN train station and you can buy round trip tickets then, even if you don't know what time you're heading back. The reason is this: tickets are just for a type of train and between destinations (you pay based on km) and you can use them anytime within the following two months after purchase. The important thing is this: before you get on the trains, make sure to put the tickets in the yellow boxes found at the start of the tracks to "stamp" the date and time on them - you need that stamp on the ticket when the controller comes around and asks for your ticket!! Don't get on the train without it, as you can get fines if you're caught with a ticket but no stamp (they'll think you're trying to use it more than one time).
So pay by day, stops are very easy because they are announced over the loudspeaker and you see large signs with the train station names on them as you approach the station and the train slows down. Pisa, Lucca, Siena, San Gimignano are within an hour train ride from Florence.
Train to Rome might be the most expensive because there you can take a faster train - which means costs more. That is up to you, it is the only one you might wish to purchase online now if you see a special offer on the train's website... the fast trains do assign seating so if you have a particular time by which you need to be back in Rome, you might want a particular train and for that reason alone you might book ahead. For all trains, the website is www.trenitalia.com.
Now on to accommodations: I can recommend several B&Bs in Florence that fall within your budget for the 5 nights and which you'll love. I know the owners and thus can assure you will have a great stay there. Take a look at these B&Bs: Casa dei Tintori Le Stanze di Santa Croce Residenza Casanuova
This is more like a small hotel: Antica Dimora Johlea but it has several locations, so you have more choice... and finally, this small family-owned and managed 4 hotel with reasonable rates: Hotel Principe
Are you interested in having a small apartment with kitchenette while here? those are really popular too, if you think you'd prefer the kitchen... but it is a completely different experience than staying at a B&B. For instance, see the ones at Palazzo La Medicea
Wow, awesome, no worries for the delay but thanks for getting back so quick! We switched the trip to do 5 nights Tuscany first and 3 nights Rome last, so we would be in Rome for departing flight and not have to worry about rushing back/missing a flight. I'm leaning towards the Casa dei Tintori-I really liked this one. I think we will stick with the B&B cause we will be eating out lots Yes to tours too.....haven't booked it yet, but will do the Chianti Half Day Wine Tasting & Dinner from Florence! and then do Pisa & San Gimi in a day then chill the rest of the days and go where ever, re-visit a place that we liked, or chill in Florence. One last question about electrical sockets? If you bring a hair straightener or phone charger.....not familiar with the foreign sockets.
As far as electronics goes, you generally need two things:
1. a converter/transformer
2. plug adapter
As far as phones go, most of the chargers have a small box at the plug that IS a converter/transformer so all you need is a plug adapter while most hair dryers, flat irons, irons and many other small appliances don't have that both so you need both. If you were to just use the plug adapter, you end up frying the small appliance. Most places offer hair dryers in the bathrooms, so you don't need to bring that.
Here's an interesting article that explains the differences in electrical system - Italy uses 220-240 volts/50hz and these interesting round shaped prongs that you can see here.