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Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

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Geelong, Australia
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Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

Just beginning to think about trip to Tuscany in 2011 and am learning lots from reading all the tips here on TA. My best friend and I are leaving the men at home and spending our 50th birthdays somewhere in Tuscany.

We have both been to Florence before but only for a few days so we would want to spend some days there again before heading off to a "base" for a week or so. I had to choose a local forum here on TA so put in Siena as I'm thinking this may be a good starting point? Although I understand the Lucca area is also very lovely.

HOWEVER - I don't think either of us want the stress of driving so I know we are now limited as to where we can stay...local buses and trains will be our mode of transport. Given this - which area/village do you think we could stay that would still give us the opportunity to do day trips here and there. It would be lovely to have some grocery/market shops and restaurants within walking distance but still be peaceful enough for us to "slow down" in! Any advice or suggestions will be gratefully received:)

Toronto, ONT
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1. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

Lucca is good; small, historical and easily navigable town. It's relatively inexpensive as compared to major tourist towns like Florence; both for accommodation, dining and shopping costs. Lucca was rail and bus intercity service (both just outside city walls).

For bus service see www.vaibus.com/pdf/Carta_dei_servizi_2009.pdf Page 11 has coverage map. For train destination from Lucca see http://trenitalia.com/ This rental agency luccaholidayhomes.it/f-interno.php… was recommended in forums (we didn't use them)

pisa
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2. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

without a car, lucca is a good idea, but pisa maybe better...in which season will you be in tuscany??

from pisa you may directly reach by train lucca, florence, viareggio (beach), livorno and with one more stop, siena too...

i thik lucca is too north to reach for instance siena...

let us know

silvia

Geelong, Australia
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3. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

Thanks so much hkto and Silvia! My friend and I will be arriving in Italy in late September - have to wait for my daughter's 21st on the 18th and then we can jet off! (Remembering this is not until 2011 but I just need a bit of an idea on where we'll be so I can work out a budget and start saving!).

My friend has just nominated "a villa in Tuscany with a pool" so far, and I'm hoping it will still be warm enough to swim? So we don't want to be in a major city - something very atmospheric without the chaotic traffic I remember from Rome!! Nice for strolling, sipping lattes and eating Italian food...and able to visit some of those lovely places you mentioned Silvia using public transport. I'm thinking we may have to trade in the "villa" my friend suggested as many of them seem to be way off the public transport routes?? And we do like our creature comforts now that we're old (almost!) so I will be looking for something comfortable but not too expensive or glitzy!

Toronto, ONT
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4. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

If you are dead against renting a car then staying in a some town (Pisa, Lucca, Siena, etc) makes sense. Otherwise car opens lots of accommodations possibilities in above mentioned and other rural regions like Chianti; you don't have to drive it a lot; just to get to your place from out of town parking lots on your daily trips. In some Italian cities (e.g. Pisa) you will more likely be ticketed in historical parts of town (ZTL zone) as being an non resident. Also car option may turn out to be more costly.

Edited: 5:04 pm, December 08, 2009
Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

In general, "villa in Tuscany with pool" equates to somewhere outside any city walls as that is the only place with space for a pool. And that then equates to needing a car to get around. You will find occasional hotels inside walls with a pool and a few villas just outside the walls of places, but check just how far and what the terrain is like. "Close to Pisa" could be kilometres away and "Siena" could be kilometres away and the opposite side of the hills from the train station.

As mentioned, somewhere like Pisa or Lucca are on good transport connections for visits to other places. Most of the popular towns in Tuscany are not, they are up hills.

Geelong, Australia
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6. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

So if the locals in the small villages don't have cars - how do they get around? Surely there is a local bus service? Or not??

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

The local bus services are designed to meet the needs of local people, and many have infrequent services at times that are not very suitable for tourists.

If you want to stay in a villa in the countryside, then really you need a car. Although driving in Florence is a nightmare and to be avoided, driving around the Tuscan countryside is not difficult. I'm 64 and I manage it!

pisa
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8. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

tanya, everybody has a car...maybe one for family, but when you need to go in another town, you always use the car. best way for you is find a place near a train station...by bus is much difficult to travel...

let us know

cheers

silvia

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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9. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

I think that if you are certain you will not have a car, then you should forget about a villa with a pool. To be honest, you are pushing being able to use the pool at the end of September anyway.

As others have said bus services are very localised, so for day tripping you really need close access to a train and that means a reasonably sized town or city.

I think Lucca would be perfect for you. It is a very attractive small city (you can walk from wall to wall accross it in about 20 minutes). It has lots of restaurants, good shopping and enough 'sights' to keep you busy for a few days. Cars are not allowed in the city centre, most people use bikes which are readily available to hire. The walls around the city are very wide and so make a kind of park all the way around, very pleasant for cycling, strolling, picnicing etc. There are tourists there, but it is in no way as busy as somewhere like Florence and a lot of the visitors are day trippers so have left by late afternoon. I find it quite a relaxing place to stay.

There is a train station with good train links to Pisa, Florence, the coast at Viareggio, you could also visit Cinque Terre from there. There is also a bus service via which you could visit some of the delightful towns in the mountains to the north of Lucca, my personal favourite is Barga.

I find it a much more attractive place to stay than Pisa and certainly quieter. I do think that Siena is a bit of a trek from there, but you could plan to day trip to Siena from Florence during your few days there. This is an easy day trip by bus from Florence.

Edited: 3:20 am, December 09, 2009
Geelong, Australia
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10. Re: Suggestions for Tuscan base without a car??

Thanks so much everyone for your input - certainly gives me some good ideas...one of which might be to bite the bullet and hire a car for a few days (although I find the thought a bit scary!!)...and another is to change our thoughts about that villa with a pool and go for some lovely apartment somewhere (perhaps Lucca?).

One comment that I wanted to ask about though....will it be too cold to want a dip in a pool in late September? If so (and this is off the topic a little) would it be warmer down Sorrento way? (As we thought we might do a week in Tuscany and then a few days in Sorrento).