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Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

My wife and I are visiting Tuscany in September 2013 for a week, we want to spend 4-5 nights in Florence and 2-3 days in either Lucca or Sienna but not sure which is best, any suggestions on which of the 2 is the best?

We are in our mid 40's & looking for a nice relaxing trip but also the ability to visit the sights and would prefer to be centrally located so that most places are in walking distance, any suggestions firstly on Lucca vs Sienna as I have heard they are both beautiful and also any suggestions on hotel locations in Florence itself?

Our budget is around £90-£120 per night but I suspect we may have to pay more if it more centrally located, we are looking for a good 3* but preferably 4* accomodation.

Florence
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1. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Lucca is a quiet little town where the major attraction is riding a bicycle on top of the city walls. It is in the flats of the Arno valley - an area dominated by urban sprawl.

Siena (note the spelling) is, arguably, the best small town in Europe - which is saying something. Until the middle of the 13th century, it was a tremendously rich and important town commercially - a serious rival to Florence - and a major stopping off point for pilgrims on their way to and from Rome. It was well into the process of building a cathedral designed to dwarf the one in Florence - then the largest in Western Europe. They built a town hall larger and taller than the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Siena had many of the greatest artists in the West. Then the plague struck. Something like two-thirds of the population died in the first year. Siena never recovered. It is now a unique window into the 13th century height of the Middle Ages. Siena is set on a hill-top surrounded by the lush Chianti valley.

You choose.

New Jersey
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2. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

The walled city of Luca is very nice. But I find Sienna much more interesting and fun. When I was there I only liked Luca, but I really loved Sienna. You can explore each in a day. Florence is an amazing city with so much to see and do. Hotel budget wise I cannot help you there. But do a search on TA and you start of in the right direction. Are you renting a car? How will you be traveling? I stayed in a town last summer which I loved called Montecatini Terme. Its in a great central location. A lovely town close to the autostrada and for the most part in a half hour you can be in many places in Tuscany. You can stay a very nice 4 star hotel for about 100Euro a nite with breakfast. If your not opposed to renting a car you could stay in Florence for your week and take a day trip or two. Car rentals are not to expensive and you can pick it up in Florence. The autostrada is a nice drive with large open fields, farms and the mountains as the back drop. If any of this sounds appealing or do able for you let me know and I will try to help where I can.

Alexandria, VA
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3. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Lucca is nice, but Sienais fantastic -- not to be missed.

Spello, Italy
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4. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Hmmm... I'm not sure I'd say anything is not to be missed. In this year I'm spending in Italy, I'm missing many things that people tell me I can't miss. I just have to focus on what I do see, and let the anxiety about what I'm missing fade. To my mind, there isn't a "right" answer, they are both really different. Siena is so lovely I named my daughter after it, so truly, I love it, but Lucca has a different charm. It feels more separate from the Siena/Florence dyad. To me, Siena is charming because it is so fully Siena... it has a feeling of aged community—the neighborhoods, the history of feuding with Florence. It makes it feel magical. Lucca is charming in almost the exactly opposite way. Lucca is layered-- you can see evidence of it's history every place you look. In the main piazza, there are Byzantine windows and Florentine arcades and a cathedral that is ornate, yet feels not yet baked. We walked into one piazza and felt like we were in Paris, turns out it was designed by Napolean. It got to the point where we were cracking up around every corner, it was ludicrous how much variety there was.

So my take-- to really dig into Tuscany the way we think of Tuscany, and feel the Renaissance roots and the connection with Florence, go to Siena and imagine the palio and the people living their lives like they have for generations. If you want a contrary experience, something that feels different, go to Lucca. Or think about how you want those days to be, what you would want to do. Certainly if you want to explore countryside, Siena is a much better bet. But if you like the idea of walking atop ancient walls, all the way around the city, then explore Lucca.

And know that whichever you choose, it will be fabulous.

Have fun!

Michelle

www.ilbelcentro.com

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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5. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

I always say Lucca is lovely, but Siena is stunning.

Alexandria, VA
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6. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Not to mention that Volterra is vibrant and (San) Giminiano a jewel. And Pienza priceless.

Cambridgeshire...
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7. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Another vote for Siena - peggypatch has put into words my sentiments exactly.

Florence
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8. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

neuhoftraveler,

I agree about Volterra and Pienza, and I would add Montepulciano, Chiusi, Arezzo, and so many other towns.

But I am afraid San Gimignano (note the spelling) is now a tourist trap. It is worth driving past it on the way to or from Volterra, just to see the towers from a short distance, but going in to town has been robbed of all its appeal by the fact that every single local is living off the tourists.

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9. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

Hi, thanks for the sound advice, sounds like Siena is the place to go, any des on nice places to stay?

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10. Re: Tuscany trip- Florence & either Lucca or Sienna???

I hadn't thought about staying in Florence and driving out to both Lucca and Siena on separate days, might be worth considering, my only reservation is if a day trip would be long enough to Siena? More than happy to hire a car, how far in hours would it be to Siena from Florence?