Overwhelmed with Tuscany
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 23, 2012 12:04 PM Last Post By: Duster
Nov 17, 2012 10:10 PM
Overwhelmed with TuscanyI'm going to the Tuscany/Liguria area for a couple of weeks at the end of the month. I'm staying in La Spezia with a friend who lives there. I've been researching places to visit and I've gotten overwhelmed with the smaller towns to choose from. I'd love a bit of input from first hand experiences. As for what I'm looking for...art is one of my main interests, but I'll be spending time in Firenze so going from museum to museum isn't a main priority. Other than that, I'm mostly interested in walking around, beautiful scenery/architecture (photographer), and living cities that aren't just tourist shells. As well as visiting shops, and of course food & wine. That being said...
Cinque Terre (I know it's touristy, but to be so close and not go to somewhere so beautiful seems an absolute waste)
Petriolo or Saturnia hot springs (anyone been to both/either? Can't decide.)
San Gimignano (heard both sides for this one-- people say it's so nice after the tourists leave...I'm wondering since I'm going end of Nov/beginning of Dec, would it not be swamped with tourists? Or is it a pass?)
If anyone has any input that could sway me, I'd really appreciate it! Oh- and I'll be driving, so transit isn't an issue (and I'm thinking because of that, some of the smaller towns could be stopped at on the way to other places?).
Nov 18, 2012 1:38 AM
1All good possiblities.
If you are driving and have a base...why not just drive around and see what you find?
The most 'touristy' will be CT,San Gim.,Siena and Florence.
Personally I wouldn't miss Lucca or Volterra...but there are hundreds of other smaller,beautiful towns (with fewer tourists)in Tuscany.
Nov 18, 2012 2:51 AM
2Just be aware that many hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Cinque Terre close at the beginning of November. This time of year can be wet in that area and many of the walking paths between the villages may be closed.
Nov 18, 2012 4:39 AM
3I was there earlier in the year and found the perfect place. It's a small town called Tavarnelle Val di Pesa which has a really nice but cheap hostel, and lots of cute nice restaurants. you can easily get the bus to Florence or the bus (and then train) to Siena. I even walked to San Gim from there (although it took a couple of hours).
I've written about Tavarnelle Val di Pesa here on my blog so you can see some picture for yourself.
I know you said you were staying in la Spezi and have a car, but this could be a good base for a few days and you could just use your car to explore the surroundings and use the bus or walk the rest of the time.
Nov 18, 2012 8:39 AM
4Just a note of caution about the Cinque Terre, I met a couple a couple of weeks ago who had just been there and some of the main trails are closed due to slips. You could still visit Riomaggiore though, the largest village at the start of the CT, it has some nice restaurants, shops and scenery.
Nov 19, 2012 5:10 AM
5Don't miss Volterra, then drive to Maremma and once there go to Massa Marittima. You can drive to Siena from there, on a winding road in an almost empty landscape. Stop at the ruined San Galgano abbey during the trip.
I did it last July and it wasn't crowded at all.
You could also go south on the coast, visiting some lesser known sites like the cypress-lined road from San Guido to Bolgheri (there's a famous poem about that in Italian) or the charming Castiglione della Pescaia, a walled medieval town overlooking the sea, pinewood and the last remaining Maremma swamps. This area has been severely affected by flooding very recently, so you'd better check out.
Once in Siena, head for the Chianti countryside: Montaperti (place of a famous medieval battle), Castelnuovo Berardenga, San Gusmè, all the surrounding villages, all lived in, well kept, very beautiful.
It's better not to plan too much in Tuscany, just drive around and stop wherever you fancy.
Nov 20, 2012 5:39 PM
Nov 23, 2012 12:04 PM
7One clarification on the post from Dublin Girl......
Riomaggiore is actually one of the smallest of the five towns of the Cinque Terre. In actuality, Monterosso al Mare is the largest, and therefore has the greatest selection of Hotels, Restaurants and shops. However, keep in mind that many of the businesses in all of the towns close for the season in November, so it will be "quiet" in that area. Depending on the weather, the scenery may or may not be "pleasant". According to current information, the No. 2 trails are still "officially" closed and at this time of year the boats may not be operating (but the local trains run frequently).
As you'll have a car, it's important to note that parking may be an issue in some of the towns. Monterosso will probably be the easiest, but it may not be possible to get into Vernazza with a car, as repairs are still ongoing. For touring that area, my suggestion would be to park in the new car park across from the station in La Spezia and use the local trains.
A few comments on the locations in Tuscany....
Another location you could consider is Orvieto, which is actually in Umbria. Another very historic city, with a few interesting sights. The most notable is the Duomo which has incredible frescoes by Luca Signorelli in the small chapel. There's also St. Patrick's Well, which was a remarkable engineering feat for the time, having a double helix design wide enough to accommodate Donkeys carrying containers of water.
Edited by: Duster
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