What is best place for base in Tuscany, Siena or Florence

CyndieL

New member
My friend and I are planning a trip to Italy next May and are having a hard time figuring out where to stay in the Florence/Siena area. Here is our Itinerary:
Staying in Sorrento,Naples for 3 nights and then taking the high-speed train to either Siena or Florence for 3 more days before heading to Venice.
1. Which is better to use as a base, Siena or Florence? We will not have a car and I have read your blog on that, but we would really like to stay in the countryside for one night that provides wine tasting, eateries and beautiful scenery and the chance to meet local people. We don't like day tours as they limit us to some of the things we want to do. As well, we are not museum people and only want to see Florence for the "David" and some of the other sites there.
2. Would it be more beneficial and/or cheaper to hire a driver to take us to a place that we will be staying overnight and then hire a driver to take us back to base or rent a car? Can you give me some idea as to the cost for both?
3. We are very interested in staying a night in a quaint B&B, Hotel, winery or a castle if that is possible.
This is the first time that both of us have been to Italy and hoping that we can have the experience of the beautiful Tuscany area. From Research it appears that Siena is more reasonable for accommodations than Florence and is more of a central base if we want to visit a Chianti winery.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Siena does have a more of a rural/small town feel that Florence, so considering what you want to experience, I'd suggest using Siena as a base. Consider that you will likely need to arrive in Florence first, then transfer to Siena as you arrive from Naples... so in that case, you could decide to stay in Florence for the first night or two, then move on to Siena for another 2 nights (you don't mention how many days you have total, so assuming you have some flexibility yet in deciding what and where).
From Siena, you could hire a private car to take you to a place in Chianti for the experience there, including wine tastings, etc.... I have a great place to suggest:
Relais Borgo Scopeto: https://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/borgo-scopeto-relais.html
I am pretty sure they could arrange the transfer from Siena to them actually, and back.
Another option is Borgo di Pietrafitta: https://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/borgo-di-pietrafitta.html
This one is a little further from Siena but to be honest, both are in areas with gorgeous views and vineyard covered hills all around.
 

Axel

New member
Florence has better public transport and is better connected to the rest of Italy, if anything. Bit biased though, cause I have been living in Florence over the last 6 months and it's really lovely!
 

alluring

Member
If you are a budget traveler than making Seina your base would make perfect sense because it is way less expensive than Florence and since the distance between the two places is not much, so you can always visit Florence during the day time to return back to Siena in the evenings.
 

Jsallen

New member
Hi! We are planning to spend a month in Italy - 2 weeks in Tuscany and 2 weeks somewhere in the south, perhaps puglia. My husband and I are traveling with a 1 year old and 4 year old and my in-laws so I think we will need a house in the countryside. Is there a town or towns you would recommend staying in as a home base where we can easily get to sienna and Florence? Pisa and cinque terre will be trips we would like to take as well.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Ciao Jsallen and welcome to our forum!

One first important question: do you feel like you want to drive during the time you are here? Because with 2 weeks and the chance to stay in the countryside, I would highly recommend being adventurous and renting a car so that you can move around freely and without worries of timetables for buses or trains. It would make it easier to also remain flexible, considering the youngest one. What period of the year are you coming? You'll need to consider bringing your own car seats or renting from the car rental places, although I know those can be iffy as a general rule.

A good home base would be the central area between Florence and Siena, from there day trip to Pisa and to Cinque Terre would be doable. I ask about when you are coming, just because I would keep Cinque Terre off as a day trip between June and August (really hot) and recommend it more as a 2 day trip, with an overnight there, at the very least. So you can also choose to divide your 2 weeks in Tuscany into 2 separate villas in the countryside, one week staying closer to Pisa and the coast, seeing CT then. And then the second week moving further south, closer to Siena or to the south of Siena to better explore that area, including the hot springs at Bagno Vignoni and San Filippo or wine areas of Brunello in the Val d'Orcia and Montepulciano to the east.

I'll add that while Cinque Terre is lovely, it tends to get hot and crowded in the summer. You either do want to stay close enough to reduce driving time and enjoy your time there at the most or spend an overnight there or skip it altogether. The five towns are best visited with trains mixed in with hiking and, with 2 small kids, I am thinking you might have to do them all with trains. Or visit some of them. Choose 2 or 3 of them and call it a day. Manarola and Monterosso are the easiest with strollers, Vernazza is lovely but with lots of climbing in any direction off the main street so you can visit that small part and then call it a day. Skip Corniglia as it is at the top of a cliff. Riomaggiore has less to see that is doable without climbing up stairs. All of them are on the side of cliffs so it's best you adapt plans knowing this ahead of time.

As far as as a good base: take a look at some of the family friendly places we have listed on here: https://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/family-friendly/
Some of these places have playgrounds and animals on site which will be interesting for the kids when you are "at home". I would highly recommend you plan your itinerary to alternate between being out and about and also enjoying the place you choose to stay at, so that you can relax and recharge as well ;-).
 
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infamaria101

New member
It really depends on what kind of experience you are looking for. If you are looking for a relaxing, comfortable break then Tuscany is the place for you. If you want to explore the culture of Tuscany then you must get out of the tourist areas. Camping in Tuscany is unique and this is what makes it so great. You can get away from the crowds and get more of an authentic experience of Tuscany than staying in a hotel.
 
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