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setting up "bases" to explore from

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Seattle, Washington
posts: 45
reviews: 25
setting up "bases" to explore from

First trip to Italy and we are looking at spending about 10 days of it in Tuscany. After a few days in Rome we plan to take a train to a place in Tuscany where we can get a rental car for the 10 days.

I was thinking about setting up somewhere around Lucca to see, Florence-Pisa- maybe a day trip to Cinque Terre.

Then set up in Siena to see- Montepluciano- Volterra-Perudia/Assisi, Cianti area

Then return the car and take train to Venice for the rest of the trip. We would rather not drive in big cities at all. But we like driving the countryside

-What are your opinions about this plan?

-should we spend a few days near Grosseto to see the coast there?

- Am I missing something I should consider in that area?

We will be there end of June early July and are planning to be in Siena on July 2nd to see the race/festivities (even if it will probably be crazy at that time it is something we would love I think)

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 58,095
reviews: 11
1. Re: setting up "bases" to explore from

If you want to be in Siena for the July 2013 Palio, book your accommodation *now*.

In my opinion, it would be easier to drive to Venice and drop the car there. It is a very bad idea to return a rental car in Florence city: there are many reports from people who have accidentally driven into a prohibited area and have been hit with multiple €100 fines months later.

If you drop the car at Florence airport or at Siena, you have to get yourselves and your luggage from the rental dropoff to Florence station, and change there for the train to Venice.

If you drive, you just put your luggage in the car and don't need to handle it until you drop the car at Piazzale Roma, at the end of the road into Venice. Walk across the square, and you are at a vaporetto stop for your transport into Venice.

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,526
reviews: 1
2. Re: setting up "bases" to explore from

To see all of the above comfortably you'll need quite a few days in southern Tuscany. Re Palio, it's something perhaps everyone should see at some point for it is so exciting but it's not easy unless you pay a lot of money for a seat in a stand. To see it from the centre of the piazza you'll need to have plenty of stamina, get there early (and parking is a pain on Palio days), be prepared for the heat and limited bathroom opportunities (the latter being something most people I know find the most challenging). Accept the fact that you may not be able to see all that much but the electric atmosphere will more than compensate. So that's one day out of your trip. Re Volterra, to save time, you could see this on your way down from Lucca / Pisa. It would have to be a quick visit but I guess you could see Perugia / Assisi in the same day. (If you decide to drop one or the other drop Perugia for it's not easy to get in and out of.) A day tour of the Chianti is easy from anywhere near Siena - try to mix the better known towns with a few of the smaller villages. Finally, Montepulciano / Pienza / Montalcino also work well in one day. With this plan you'll certainly see the highlights. The countryside is astonishingly beautiful during this period, the late June / early July is personally one of my favourite times as the sunflowers are coming out, the wheat freshly harvested yet the countryside hasn't yet been burnt dry by the summer sun. It's a busyish time so far as visitors are concerned but nowhere near as bad as late July / August.

3. Re: setting up "bases" to explore from

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