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suggestions for Day Tours to Tuscany out of Florence

Discussion in 'European Timesharing' started by jme, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    Headed to Italy for first time in October with another couple.
    Rome 3 nights > Monterosso 2 nights > Florence 4 nights.

    While in Florence we have enough time to do a small group guided day tour to Tuscany, which I think will be a more relaxed way to see some sights without worrying about driving or meeting a deadline, plus we'll learn a few things.

    From what I've heard the best thing to do is visit a winery or two, but also include the towns of Siena and Gimignano.

    Anyone experienced something similar and have recommendations as to tour company, actual destinations, wineries, etc. ????

    THERE ARE SOOOOO MANY TOURS available that they seem to run together.
    Would like to book it beforehand. Thanks so much
     
  2. Talent312

    Talent312 Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We rented a car and stayed near San Gimignano, so can't suggest a tour company.
    But I'd suggest using a Gray Line affiliated agency, as they have the most options.
    -- see: https://www.grayline.com/things-to-do/italy/florence/
    You can check-out tour companies on Trip Advisor. Viator.com is also decent broker.

    When we did our own tour, we found a winery online that took reservations and fed us.
    Then we drove to Siena and returned to San Gimignano via Volterra.
    We used Rick Steves' guidebook. We know another couple who relied on his podcasts.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  3. dsexton

    dsexton TUG Member

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    I’m headed to Tuscany in 2 weeks. Staying in Greve. House owner highly recommended Daniele with “chiantitaxi”. Www.chiantitaxi.com. We have booked two days with them. I’m letting them choose wineries as I’ve found this works well in Napa. I will report back on my experience.
    Cheers!




     
  4. vacationtime1

    vacationtime1 TUG Member

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    San Gimignano is awesome, but it is even better if you can see it before the tour buses arrive in the morning or after they leave in the afternoon. It is absolutely worth it to arrange your schedule to make that happen; we were able to walk around this empty medieval town at night under moonlight.
     
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  5. elaine

    elaine TUG Member

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    We did Tuscany in 1 day tour with lunch at farm/winery and it was excellent.
    Booked thru viator.com.
    It’s not a small group, but still fantastic and a great price.
     
  6. dsmrp

    dsmrp TUG Member

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    This is probably farther afield than you'd want to go, but a co-worker really liked the hilltop town, Montepulciano. He's a foodie and said the wine and beef were great!
    It's SE of Siena, but we ran out of time to go to it, having chosen Siena and San Gimignano first.

    Gimignano is primarily a tourist shopping & eating place in medieval stone town;
    no one lives there. You can walk to some viewpoints and up one of the towers. One of the gelato shops there was wonderful, rated #1 in Italy maybe, several years in a row.
    In hindsight, we probably should have gone to Montepulciano or driven thru more of the Tuscan countryside. Next time :)
     
  7. lorenmd

    lorenmd TUG Member

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    where is the best place to rent a car? we were told get out of rome and then rent and drop off in florence but where out of rome? we prefer to drive ourselves and stumble on quaint places. we loved montepulciano and sienna and our little village of pergine where there are no tourists and they call themselves the artistic capital of europe.
     
  8. Talent312

    Talent312 Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    You could take the train to Orvieto. Per Kayak, there's a Hertz near the station.
    I've rented in both Rome & Florence. Leaving Rome is a hassle, but doable.
    .
     
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  9. lorenmd

    lorenmd TUG Member

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    we are arriving oct 9 in rome x3 nights, florencex3 nights then monterossax3 nights. will you guys be around that same time?
     
  10. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    It's been 10 years but we used Rome in Limo for three private tour days (Pisa, San Gimignano, Florence, Rome and several areas of Sicily) when we were on a cruise ship. They were fabulous! https://www.romeinlimo.com
     
  11. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    Gosh we'll just miss you by a few days. First trip, can't wait....going with another couple.

    Rome 3 nights > Monterosso 2 nights > Florence 4 nights .....then 1 night near Rome airport before flying home. Flying in and out of Rome.....so are you flying out of Milan or Genoa, or somewhere closer to Monterosso, since you mention it last?

    Hope you have a fantastic trip, and hope the temps cool a bit....we want Fall weather, with sunny days......might get lucky on sunny days but temps look like mid-to-high 70s. Nevertheless, it's nothing a nice glass of wine & a little pasta can't fix.

    Best, Marty (jme) I live mostly on Marriott BBS........let me know about your trip !!!!!! It'll be fun to share.
     
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  12. amycurl

    amycurl TUG Member

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    Siena is my favorite town in Tuscany, followed closely by San Gimignano. You could easily spend a full day in either place (and I certainly have.) I mean, you need at least a couple of hours sitting in a cafe on Siena's campo just to people watch..... *sigh*

    I would definitely second this. We did it as a day trip from Florence, but found our own guide, and arrived just before lunch and stayed until just after it got dark. Perfection.

    We spent a week in Italy this summer, and didn't make it that far south. Just means we have to go back again at some point, right?!? Enjoy your trip! (And be sure to bring back olive oil!)
     
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  13. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    Matter of fact, the reason we're staying 4 nights in Florence is so we can do a day tour out of Florence
    into Tuscany, without feeling rushed, with plenty of time to devote to Florence itself -----
    specifically a day tour to Siena, San Gimignano, and a winery. It's already booked and it's one of the things
    I'm MOST excited about. That'll be one awesome day.
     
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  14. beejaybeeohio

    beejaybeeohio TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Question about how you are getting to Monterosso....we spent 3 nights there last October arriving by train from MXP. There is no need for a car in the Cinque Terre!

    And a word of caution about driving in Italy- 5 years ago we flew into Florence, rented a car and headed immediately to near Lucca, driving into the city there and into Pisa but making the HUGE mistake of driving inadvertently into ZTLs:
    https://www.italybeyondtheobvious.com/dont-mess-with-ztl-zones. We ended up with 100s of dollars in fines and, though we thought about ignoring them, decided to ante up when Lucca turned ours to a US collection agency! Luckily we were blissfully ignorant of what happened til we arrived home. After Lucca we spent several nights near San Gimi & traveled from there to Siena and Volterra. Then heading back to Florence we visited a winery near Montepulciano, dropped our rental car back at the Florence airport and took a cab to our apartment in the city.

    On both those trips we followed our time in Italy with cruises- in 2013 out of Venice which we reached via train from Florence and last year out of Civitavecchia (Rome's port) also via train from Monterosso. The Cinque Terre is very crowded so it is great you are staying there and can avoid the numerous day-trippers. If you have the chance, visit Portovenere which is the southernmost village that is not usually considered part of the Cinque Terre but can be reached by boat or train from Monterosso- uncrowded and different from the other 5 villages. If you do go there take the 1 hour 3-Island boat tour.
     
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  15. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    We will be taking trains exclusively between cities in Italy. No cars at all other than an occasional taxi (or city transport) if needed.
    We've driven all over England (17 days) and also all over Scotland (14 days) ---both times putting over 1000 miles on the car----
    but none for Italy. Just not needed, and we love the trains anyway.

    The day in Tuscany (Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti) we'll do a tour just so we can relax. Thanks
     
  16. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    As you and I have discussed before, we traveled by train exclusively around Italy in 2015. We moved every three days and brought only carry-on luggage. It was hard carrying our luggage up and down stairs in stations and lifting them onboard the trains (each train car seemed to be of a different design). But I'm proud that we accomplished it and that I made it through twenty-one days and two black tie events with only carry on luggage! :thumbup:

    On another trip, in 2008, we arrived in San Gimignano in the morning before the crowds and walked the main street which mainly had Italian pottery shops along the way. On our way back to our driver's car I spotted a narrow, tiny little jewelry shop and stepped in. The jewelry was hand made by the owner, who in my recollection was elderly at the time. Today I might not think so.:) I bought a pair of silver earrings that are unique and surprisingly modern. I've never found others like them. They are my absolute favorites. The owner/jeweler spoke only a few words of English. How I have loved those earrings and they always remind me of San Gimignano! That was in 2008. I doubt it is still there. Step off the main thoroughfare and you will find amazing photo opportunities! Sweet place, Tuscany!

    Glad we've been to Cinque Terre. Doubt I would go again! I do envy you going to Amalfi as we have not been there. Yet!

    Have a great trip!
     
  17. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    It's been ten years, but people did live in San Gimignano then. We wandered back alleys and streets and came across many people going about their lives living in the village.
     
  18. lorenmd

    lorenmd TUG Member

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    which one did you book. there are so many and we just want to book a small relaxing tour that takes us to the small towns and wineries. we don't need to see pisa and we've been to sienna several times.
     
  19. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    We just returned from our Italy trip this past Thursday evening.
    It was beyond outstanding! Pristine weather, only one partially-overcast afternoon with 15 minutes of drizzle---
    otherwise sunny blue skies and fairly cool (it cooled off after we arrived, very lucky).

    10 nights total: Rome 3 > Monterosso 2 > Florence 4 > Rome 1.
    TRAINS from city to city. I love trains. To me it's like riding Disney World's Monorail.

    Everything was great.....accommodations, food, sights, tours, trains, walking,
    taxis, all the people...everything.
    Began at Rome Marriott's Autograph Hotel, Palazzo Naiadi.

    During the whole trip we saw and did lots of wonderful things, such as museums (Borghese, Ufizzi, Vatican) housing works by Bernini (Pieta),
    Da Vinci, Bellini, Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel ceiling & David), Rodin (small version of "The Thinker" at Vatican), Rubens, Raphael, Botticelli (birth of Venus), Bellini, etc, etc., toured well-known sights like the Vatican and Florence's Duomo, Scala Sancta (Holy Steps), Ponte Vecchio (shops, plus bust of Cellini with "love locks" affixed to surrounding gate), private tour of Colosseum and Forum, statues of David (inside and outside), Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, other popular city piazze, plus many other churches, cathedrals, and basilicas (toured Santa Croce where Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli are entombed)....also did lots of walks to experience the popular minor sights everywhere.....

    but our BEST DAY?

    We booked a full-day tour to Tuscany out of Florence with "I Just Drive", and the specific tour was called "Chianti's Best-Private", the same one that TUG member "cp73" booked on his trip to Italy last Fall (Thanks Chris for that and ALL your advice)
    Our driver was Leonardo (did you expect anyone else?)
    Could not have been better. We visited San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni,
    and a small hilltop winery/farm in Tuscany.

    We had a group of 8, and that was a good & comfortable number for us.
    We were already traveling with another couple who were hometown friends,
    and there were two additional, independent couples totaling 8 people.
    One couple was from Sacramento, the other from Philadelphia. The winery was our last stop....great tour with wine tasting and cheese, olive oil, breads, meats, and awesome wines. We all hit it off very well. Great looking bunch of girls, I tell you!
    It was a great day among great days.

    Upon our return to Florence everyone went over to our place for more wine and more fun----we had an amazing 2BR apartment in the center of Florence with a huge private terrace that could host a private party (and did). We sat around the terrace for about an hour, then walked to dinner, and absolutely had a blast.

    At dinner we sat outside at a great corner ristorante, and began collecting bottles and glasses as we dined, so to speak. The food was awesome---we began with several kinds of appetizers. My group of 4 had already dined there twice because it was so good. The wait staff recognized us each time we walked in, and we had excellent service.

    Everyone loved it, and we literally closed the place down.
    We laughed & talked, told stories, and finally exchanged contact information.
    No one wanted to leave. We vowed to get together again somewhere great, and I honestly believe we will.
    Might be a River Cruise, as that seemed to be what we all were looking forward to anyway.

    My last comment to the group, after standing up and clinking my glass,
    followed the lead of Humphrey Bogart (said to Ingrid Bergman) in
    the movie "Casablanca"......
    that is, "We had a wonderful time, we are now great friends, we hope to meet again, but IF we never see each other again,
    we'll always have FLORENCE".
    (Bogart said "We'll always have Paris" to Ingrid Bergman, but you get the picture.)

    We all teared up and said long emotional good-byes. What a fantastic day.

    Back to ROME, since all roads lead there....lol.
    ............As mentioned, for our first 3 nights in Rome we stayed at the
    Palazzo Naiadi Hotel (a Marriott Autograph Hotel) a few blocks
    from Roma Termini, Rome's major train station. Easily walkable.
    The hotel was absolutely fabulous and quite luxurious. Wonderful and friendly staff.
    We had 2 huge bedroom suites after receiving an amazing upgrade.

    The head concierge was Stefania Primavera ("Stefani"), and we all became fast friends with her. She had the widest and most genuine, happy smile I've ever seen.
    She's definitely the best concierge or hotel staff member I've ever encountered anywhere at anytime, anywhere in the world. She did a lot for us, even arranged a Private Colosseum Tour when everything was totally booked, and they
    picked us up at the hotel! She even walked us outside to the driver.

    Even after we checked out after 3 nights, she continued to keep up with us throughout our trip via email (phones), and lovingly welcomed us back to the hotel for our final night in Rome...When she saw us walk back through the revolving doors, without hesitating she called out my name and ran to greet us.
    Kudos to Stefania!

    After Rome we traveled to Monterosso (Cinque Terre) and used a 2BR Airbnb,
    and did the same in Florence.
    The 2BR in Monterosso was wonderful, but naturally smaller and had steep stairs, but not a problem as they all did.
    It was comfortable and very adequate....and obviously close to everything.

    The private apartment in Florence was everyone's favorite because of the charm----it was very large with tall decorated ceilings, and several special perks. The building was built in the 1600s, the owner said, but she had remodeled the interior in keeping with the restrictions. Small but nice kitchen, beyond adequate.
    WiFi, Netflix, the awesome terrace, tall double doors that opened to the terrace,
    and personal service by the owner Marie 24/7 (she is a former fashion designer).
    She came to sit with us when we first arrived, so that she could advise us on things and the wonderful neighborhood. On our last morning, a go-to taxi driver friend picked us up at our front door along the tiny narrow street where most taxis don't go. We'd stay again tomorrow! We already miss that place, and our new friends from the day tour were amazed at our luck in finding and booking it.

    I'm sure I'll be sharing a few great stories and pictures with my closest TUG friends over the next few weeks.
    If anyone wants to visit Italy and hasn't yet been, GO SOON!
    You're missing a treat, and it's not as expensive as you might think.
    Our Delta round-trip flights from East coast hometown Augusta > Atlanta > Rome were only $800 per person thru AAA.
    Flights were wonderful.
    We still had plentiful Marriott Rewards Points available, but will use them for other things soon......

    Ciao ciao everybody.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  20. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    Great trip report! Sounds fabulous! Io sognando di tornare in Italia! My Italian lessons begin again Tuesday at our Senior Center.
     
  21. mpizza

    mpizza TUG Member

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    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip report!

    Keeping notes for my next Italian adventure!

    Maria
     
  22. jme

    jme TUG Member

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    You're dreaming of returning to Italy?

    That's pretty good, Glynda. So, are you taking lessons or teaching?? LOL :)

    I'd love to take lessons....it's a beautifully rhythmical language, and I enjoyed listening to it for the past two weeks.
    I already talk with my hands, so maybe I'm half way there?
     
  23. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    Ha! Taking! I've been trying to learn for over a year. We only meet once a week and not over the summer. It's a beautiful language but they talk SO fast and they run their words together. Don't know that I'll ever get it short of a long immersion, which is what I'm dreaming of!
     

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