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5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

denver
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5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

My fiance and I will be staying in Montepulciano for 5 days in early December -- our honeymoon. We've taken the train many times to get to different towns from Florence, however, we wonder if renting a car to really see the area around Montepulciano is worth it or not. Someone said that trains don't run all that frequently at Montepulciano and Chiusi. Is it worth it to skip the trains, spend some money and drive around ourselves? I also want to factor in potentially bad weather in December. Appreciate your help.

Seal Beach...
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1. Re: 5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

If you want to get around easily to anyplace beyond Montepulciano and Montalcino then a car would be your best bet.

Montepulciano is beautiful and wonderful, but you have not chosen the best location for public transport connections. Certainly there is bus service between nearby cities of Montalcino, Assisi, Pienza, Chiusi and others, but as already mentioned the schedule is not as frequent as one might like and it could really cramp your style to have to abide by those kinds of infrequent schedules.

If you wanted to save some money then I wouldn't rent the car until you are ready to start exploring outside the two hilltowns that are only separated by 15-20 mins bus. Are you going anywhere else in Italy either before or after? If so, then we might suggest a specific way to pick up and drop off your rental car (when, where, etc.) that makes sense.

FYI, there is NO train service in or near Montepulciano and Montalcino. You will travel to one of the other towns and take a bus from there (or taxi is also an option, but I have no idea of cost or distance there.)

Bad weather in the sense of rain you should really count on. I am not aware of major snow in the area so I don't know if that's really a concern for you. I should think that if you're from Denver and have to drive there in its inclement weather, you will do just fine in Tuscany and Umbria!

Honestly though, in the end based on your location, you will probably be happiest if you have constant access to a car in this region. Probably might pick it up on your arrival and drop it off at a central train pickup city afterward, if you are continuing on to Rome or Venice or Florence or someplace else where cars are neither necessary nor desirable.

Congrats on your wedding and happy honeymoon! LL

Plymouth, New...
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2. Re: 5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

Hello Etruscanfan

We have only been in Tuscany in summer months - but I highly recommend you have a car once you go outside of Montepkulciano. I always defer to LubaLorine's advice as she offers many helpful suggestions - and she has given you insight into bus / train service. But I don't even think of Montalcino and Montepulciano as being that close to each other - they are about 35 km and 40 min apart (on some beautiful roads) with Pienza in between. All three towns worth visiting at a leisurely pace without worrying about public transport schedules. A car provides lots more flexibility.

Your winter esperience may be dramatically different than ours in June / July - much of our time was spent walking the many little streets in the warmth of the summer. But all three have lots of shops and a couple of museums and several churches, etc. (the main shopping area of Montepulciano being significantly larger than the other two).

I couldn't help notice your TA moniker - Etruscanfan - so i wonder if you've been to the Etruscan museum in Volterra - about 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 hours north of Montepulciano (maybe 75 miles)? But there is also a wonderful gem of a town called Murlo just north of Montalcino with a small, very intriguing Etruscan Museum. It's also a lovely, tiny medieval hill town built on top of an ancient etruscan city.

As LubaLorine suggested - you won't need the car while exploring Montepulciano - so maybe you can simply rent a vehicle for one or two days while you explore many of the other towns in the region.

What a wonderful way to spend a honeymoon - congratulations!

Seal Beach...
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3. Re: 5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

NH13 - nobody should ever "defer" to me!! My husband will be most glad to tell you so! :-) Appreciate the thought though...

Excellent suggestion on Volterra. It is by far my favorite of all the Tuscan hilltowns for it's medieval beauty, wonderful atmosphere that's devoid of tourist crowds and overcharging, lovely alabaster crafts and of course the tremendous Etruscan history of the city and the surrounding area. As mentioned, the town has a fantastic Etruscan museum and there are wonderful ruins just outside the city walls. There are also opportunities to tour some Etruscan tombs just outside the city as well.

It is in general a charming and wonderful experience to spend time in Volterra. For someone who is an "Etruscanfan" it should be absolutely perfect!! Spend the whole day here and you'll be in heaven! Excellent suggestion NH13!

Ciao! LL

Le Marche, Italy
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4. Re: 5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

I would definitely rent a car if you'll be staying 5 days in Montepulciano. If you don't rent a car, you can use buses to get around. These would be better than the train, because the train doesn't climb hills, and guess where all the hill towns are? The buses usually go right into the center of town, while the train stations are usually down in the valley, the valley so low... However, the schedules of the buses usually make it a bit difficult to see more than one or two towns in a day. From Montepulciano, I know there are buses to Montalcino, Pienza and Siena, but there may be more. However, there are lots of beautiful spots that are not on a bus, and when you're on the bus, you can't just stop to enjoy a lovely spot you see along the road.

Another great Estrucan town in Tuscany is Sovana. A really lovely little town, with Etruscan tombs just outside the town.

However, the best tombs I've seen are in Lazio, at Cerveteri. If you're an Etruscan fan, and if you haven't seen Cerverteri, don't waste another moment!

Have you ever read DH Lawrence's book , "Etruscan Places"? He wrote it shortly before his death from tuberculosis, so it's a bit tinged by his thoughts of death and rebirth. It was written in 1932, and much more is known about the Etruscans than when he was writing, so you can't take it as fact. Also, he saw what he wanted to see, and many archeologists and historians wouldn't agree. However, he was a great novelist, and he has a way with words, so his book is very evocative, and a good introduction to a visit to Etruria. You see quotations from the book on plaques in various places, often translated into Italian.

Lawrence's other books on Italy are interesting also.

5. Re: 5 days in Montepulciano, should we rent a car?

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