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Volterra or Barga?

Boston...
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Volterra or Barga?

We are planning some day trips from Lucca in July. We already plan to spend some time in San Gimignano. How different is Volterra compared to San Gimignano? We are considering another day trip to either Barga or Volterra, however, if Volterra area is similar to San Gimignano, we might choose to visit Barga instead. What do you think of Volterra v. Barga v. San Gimignano?

Grazie!

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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1. Re: Volterra or Barga?

They are all completely different. The only one I wouldn't really consider is San Gimignano in July as it will be heaving with tourists. Volterra will be much quieter and has quite a lot to see and great views out over the countryside which is a patchwork of fields. Barga will be quieter still and is much smaller, it has a few points of interest to see, but not as much as Volterra. It also has great views, but mountainous ones. All three are worth a visit, it really depends on what you are looking for. If you do go to San Gimignano, it would be better to arrive mid afternoon when the worst of the crowds begin to thin out and stay into the evening. I assume you will have a car.

South East England...
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2. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Agree with peggypatch's post. We visited Volterra from Lucca one afternoon last July and it was very quiet, hardly saw anyone else sightseeing. Again in July a few years ago, San Gimignano was so packed we just had lunch and left, it was just too busy for us. One thing to be aware of in Barga is that after lunch the town closes down and doesn't re-open until around 4pm or so.

mesh

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3. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Thank you for your input! We will have a car and do not plan on arriving in San Gimignano until after 4PM, since we have other activities planned nearby. We are going to stop there for dinner and to walk around at night. It sounds like Volterra has more activities than Barga, just not sure I want to drive there from Lucca since it is farther than Barga. Decisions, decisions.........

South East England...
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4. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Troy288,

This may be of interest to you as you say that you will be driving. For the non autostrada route to San Gimignano/Volterra we head out from Lucca on the SS439 towards Pontedera. Go through here staying on the SS439 for appox 27km, passing through La Sterza along the way, and you will come to a left turning signposted Firenze/San Gimignano (43km) /Volterra which is the direction you want to take, plus in that direction there is the hilltop town of San Miniato and also Siena. Just in case you are not already aware, ZTLs (limited traffic zones) are in operation in most towns and cities in Italy, some of which are camera enforced, here is a very helpful article: tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g187893-c140065/Tus…

mesh

Boston...
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5. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Thank you Mesh, good to know! I assume the SS439 is the more scenic, country route as opposed to the autostrada (highway) route? We would much prefer to take the scenic routes wherever possible.

Cheers!

South East England...
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6. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Yes the SS439 is more scenic once past Pontedera. Another nice drive from Lucca that we have done over the years is to the Garfagnana, driving up through the valley and on to the ski resort of Abetone, having lunch at La Casina di Enrice Zanni on Via Brennero. The drive up through the hills with fabulous scenery, fir trees and alpine style chalets is such a contrast to the medieval city of Lucca. Coming back we take the road to Modena then the signs to Lucca which takes you down the other side of the valley with different scenery and very narrow roads but very scenic all the same.

mesh

Edited: 10:54 am, April 16, 2013
Boston...
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7. Re: Volterra or Barga?

If you only had 6 or so hours from 4PM onwards to spend in either San Gimignano or Volterra, which one would you pick? We have some limited time to hang out for an evening and have dinner while we are in the area before heading back to our base in Lucca.

Cheers

FF
Milan, Italy
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8. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Definitely Volterra over San Gimignano. Do not miss the Etruscan Museum and the Pinacoteca, which holds one of the most amazing gems of Renaissance painting.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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9. Re: Volterra or Barga?

I would pick Volterra too.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Volterra or Barga?

Volterra. Very uncrowded but with great views and lots of sites. The Etruscan museum is neat. There's a pre-Roman Etruscan arch and a Roman theater. Shopping. A nice main plazza. And very few tourists. I don't really understand why it's not more popular.