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Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

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Philadelphia
posts: 35
Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

My wife and I are lucky enough to be spending 10-11 days in Tuscany during the last week of April and into early May. We will have 5-6 days at Castello delle Serre and Albergo Pietrasanta. We are looking for some specific touring help and advice as part of a "slow travel"-type approach. We will have a car and we are interested in spending a bit of time in Sienna and a day in Florence [especially interested in the duomo, bapistry and the academia]. Otherwise we really want to see, explore and eat in some local towns. I am wondering if anyone knows or has advice about: [1] local festivals in and around the areas we are visiting [between April 23 - May 4; [2] outdoor markets - to buy food to picnic; [3] concerts/performances that may be going on [Puccini in Lucca? other]; [4] interesting and out-of-the way places? - any help is most welcomed - it is a very special trip for us - a 10th wedding anniversary and more. Thanks to all

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,854
reviews: 2
1. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

Great time to visit as there'll be quite a lot going on. 25th April is Liberation Day, 1st May is May Day, both of which are popular public holidays in Italy so there'll be plenty of local visitors out. It's just as well you've pre-booked your accommodation. I'll comment on what you can do around Serre di Rapolano. First off, excellent choice of hotel and village for hotel is very comfortable, village so authentic, it's a gem. Well placed for touring too along quiet, empty roads. Nearest local market will be in Rapolano Terme on a Thursday morning, starts around 8.30, will be packed up and gone by 1 pm. This town is worth exploring (the old part, not the new) for it's painted houses that always remind me of the Amalfi coast. I think you'll be too late for the monthly market at Asciano as it's usually the second weekend of the month if I remember rightly. Check out link: www.asciano.altervista.org. The people at the Castello will be able to confirm this when you arrive but I think there's usually something going on this week at Montisi, which you must visit anyway as it's so picturesque and has a couple of excellent restaurants. The weather should be warm enough for you to eat outside at Da Robertos. Ensure you go inside la Grancia, there's a similar one in Serre that's now a museum. To be honest, every village within a 30 km radius is worthy of a stop but you don't have to go quite that far even. Asciano - a couple of excellent museums, they're small, never crowded but home to an excellent collection of paintings and Etruscan relics. There are also some good restaurants in this village. San Giovanni d'Asso - truffle museum, picturesque lanes, great views and a good restaurant at their castle albergo. Chiusure - if she's open, there's a lady up here with a tiny restaurant that serves excellent local "house wife" food. Monte Oliveto Maggiore - abbey with frescoed cloister, monks chanting and very good restaurant. Buonconvento - seldom visited by tourists but the medieval town behind the still intact walls is beautiful. They too have a highly respected picture gallery, good restaurants too. Then there's Castelmuzio and Petroio before you arrive at the better known towns such as Pienza, San Quirico, Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, Sant'Antimo, Montepulciano. As I said, everywhere is worth a visit. Wonderful countryside of the Crete between Serre and the southern hilltowns where the fields should still be carpeted in yellow mustard in late April - a sensational sight. Going north, you're soon in the Chianti. We particularly like Castelnuovo and often head over there on a Thursday for there quite large town market. Nearby San Gusme is seriously pretty with enoteche (Chianti) and more good places to eat.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 8,693
reviews: 53
2. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

OK....somebody is going to say it...I'll jump in! DON'T drive in Florence. Get to a place like Arrezzo, park right beside the train station and take the train in to Florence.

Philadelphia
posts: 35
3. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

to lastraniera - thank you so much for a detailed, wonderful and spot on post - it is very helpful and I would love to follow up a bit if you are willing and able.

To datthecoast - I'm wit ya. I would never want to, or try to dry through or in Firenze, Siena, or many other cities/towns. My wife and I are currently living in downtown Philadelphia and we have previously resided in NYC - we are into walking and strolling through the town centers, stopping every minute or so for a gelato, or espresso, gazing at the colors, architecture and textures of Italy. Although Firenze is incredibly beautiful and packed with amazing sights, art and much else, it deserves it's own many days-weeks-months of time to explore and wander through and we have very little time so we figured we would take a train or use the car to park outside the city and spend a day just walking around looking for a piazza to sit in, have a gelato and maybe some special florentine meal -- maybe start in the Piazzale Michaelangelo, then on to the Accademia for an hour followed by a walk to the piazza at the Duomo - look at the duomo, check out the porta del paradiso, and make the climb to the top of Giottos Bell tower -- lunch - then to Piazza Signoria and Santa Croce - traditional dinner in Firenze and back to Castello delle Serre -- any specific advice on the one day in Florence - great gelato, great cafe, local Tuscan food/trattoria, place to get bistecca - would be welcomed. Thanks again

San Diego...
posts: 2,596
reviews: 5
4. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

In addition tho the excellent information of the other posters, the proprietors of the Castello Delle Serre, Sal and his family, have excellent knowledge and connections to the area. Three years ago, Antonio, Sal's son, was able to get me tickets to the Calcio Storcio in Florence and tickets for a Contrada Dinner and balcony seats for me and my family to the Palio in Siena. You have made a wise choice for a place to enjoy your visit to the area.

Edited: 8:12 pm, January 21, 2013
New York City, New...
posts: 9
reviews: 75
5. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

Hi,

Question (to lastraniera) regarding the market in Rapolano Terme;

Is it a good market for foodies?

The market is not too touristic?

We are group of foodies arriving Siena area next week (Tuesday).

I know there is a market in Siena but we read it is too crowded...

Thanks,

Noam

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,854
reviews: 2
6. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

You're arriving next week or in April / May? Next week I doubt you'll see any tourists at Rapolano Terme! But to answer your question re food, I guess it depends upon what you're expecting as foodies. I personally don't think the markets provide that much by way of foodstuff and personally split my shopping between specialist food shops such as the numerous enoteche, local farm shops or, even, top notch supermarkets such as PAM or the Coop where there's a very wide range of local produce and it's good quality too. I took a foodie friend from London to the Coop at Camucia (near Cortona) last autumn and she thought she'd died and gone to heaven. However, as a visitor, you'll certainly find the weekly markets interesting, even if the range of items is not that extensive. You'll find lots of fruit and veg stalls that will include seasonal herbs, a porcetta van, at least one van selling various types of pork products, also cheeses (especially pecorino), and another selling cereals / grains (which are very popular in this area) and, sometimes glaceed fruits. Being a Thursday, they'll be a fish van too. You may also find someone selling locally made honey but, generally, the local village markets concentrate on clothing and household items for local people who rarely travel far so need visiting stalls such as these for essential items.

New York City, New...
posts: 9
reviews: 75
7. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

thank you very much for the detailed answer!

we arrive Feb 5th...and the COOP looks great.

this is the address Centro i Girasoli (on SS71) - Camucia?

Also, do you know if they have a web?

many thanks again

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,854
reviews: 2
8. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

That's the place, it's on the main road and signposted from all over town. But, look, as real foodies there are lots of specialist food stores and enoteche that you should try too.

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,854
reviews: 2
9. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

e-coop.it/portalWeb/stat/docPortaleCanali/do…

Here's the website. But I'm in fear of my life now for some local food enthusiasts are bound to chip in and question why I'm sending you to a supermarket. Only, trust me, several in this area (like this one) are exceptionally good and the advantage is there is a massive range of produce all in one place. I think you'll find it interesting from a professional viewpoint too.

10. Re: Touring in April-May around Castello della serre

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