View Full Version : Tuscany in September - where to stay?
03-01-2011, 04:53 PM
Anyone have experience with going to Tuscany that time of year? We are a group of 7, 4 adults and 3 kids. There are so many places to choose from, looking to hear about experiences from those who have been there and can make recommendations.
03-01-2011, 05:06 PM
I was there in October 2009 and the weather was just perfect. It was harvest time so it was nice to see the hustle and bustle of bringing the grapes in for wine making. With all of the hype surrounding Tuscany I was fully expecting to be disappointed but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it really is.
I enjoyed the smaller non tourist towns best but they are all pretty nice. Pisa was the biggest let down. Recommend: San Casciano dei Bagni (find the natural hot springs) and Cetona.
03-01-2011, 06:14 PM
Keep this in mind - Venice is on the Adriatic and Florence is closer to the West coast (Livorno). You probably want to be about halfway between them so you can see both of them. If you stay near Cremona you can easily go to Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence & more.
They also say the northern areas near Como are just beautiful. You vcan even easily head north to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
There is a park called Cinque Terre near La Spezia. If you can stay in any of the towns along that stretch it would wonderful.
Montecatini also has hot springs. The Town of Lucca is also a very beautiful place.
I would consider renting in the country if it is cheaper and have a rental car to see the sites - there are so many in that part of Italy. Stay away from Genoa and the bigger cities. They are very busy. Look for a small town with a marketplace, etc.
03-01-2011, 06:16 PM
We went in September 2010 with 7 adults. It was late September so it was a little cool, but nice. We stayed in a very small community called Ripoli near the village of Monterchi. We stayed here;
Of the 2 villas on the site, we stayed at Torre del Cielo. It was truly fantastic. We made day trips to Tuscan villages, plus into neighboring Umbria. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
03-01-2011, 06:22 PM
GREAT replies - a reason I love this board so much
THANKS! Keep them coming :-)
03-01-2011, 06:34 PM
Reminds me of The Maestro on Seinfeld:
"You won't find a place to rent ... there's nothing available. It's booked SOLID."
I'm very envious of you, BTW. Sounds like heaven.
03-01-2011, 07:03 PM
We went the last week of September, which was the first week of the offseason. It was very affordable, from accommodations to food. And the food was really great.
03-01-2011, 07:46 PM
We stayed in a great little hotel in a small town called Piazze. The staff were friendly, there was a bar and a couple of restaurants we could walk to. Actually, it was a bar at night, but during the day it was a coffee shop so we'd walked down in the morning and grab an esspresso and we'd walk back at night for a Lemoncello.
On the edge of town was a local vintner who sold really decent table wine so we'd literally buy it by the case and walk it back to our hotel. We'd sit at the small tables out front and have a couple of glasses of wine as the sun was setting.
Take few days and visit the island of Elba off the coast. One of my favorite places on earth.
03-01-2011, 10:39 PM
You may find this (long thread) helpful;)
03-01-2011, 11:15 PM
Rent a villa. That's the way to go. :aok
03-02-2011, 12:26 AM
Well if you're thinking of getting a place there don't bother. There's really nothing available.
03-02-2011, 05:55 AM
I haven't stayed there but I eat there. Nice place, great food (not really remarkable in Italy), and the best Tuscan olive oil ever.
There's a bus stop down the road and it's a short (twisty) ride into Florence. From there you can take the train for day trips to Sienna, Pisa, and Lucca. And if the trains don't run (it's Italy, after all), well... so what? You're in Firenze! :D
[Edit] September is perfect in Tuscany. Enjoy.
03-02-2011, 05:58 AM
Stayed there last year. A few nights in Flourence, and a few nights in Sienna. I can't recomend these two places enough. PM me if you decide to stay there, the places we stayed...while hard to find, were fantastic.
03-02-2011, 07:36 AM
Florence is beautiful but so very crowded. My favorite city is Sienna -- and hands down the most amazing, surreal cathedral I've ever seen.
But the best time I had there was in a small city south of Florence called Arezzo. It's got all the old medieval churches and great places to eat and a fantastic huge square in the middle of town. Only it's not all that crowded.
It's where they shot that Roberto Benigni film, Life Is Beautiful.
03-02-2011, 07:48 AM
Great info - thanks so much.
Trying to sort out flights - 4 adults and 3 kids, it's expensive (1200 per). Anyone have a line on a cheaper airfare to Italy? Flying from either Phila or Newark NJ.
03-02-2011, 08:15 AM
That pretty much the same airfare I found (for researching an article) for going in late June. Still, I would consider booking sooner and not waiting. Fuel is going up and as flights get booked the price goes up.
I know a few of the top travel writers in the country, and they just told me the same thing - airfare to Europe WILL go up between now and summer.
But note that there can be a big difference between on season and off-season. You may find a big difference just by delaying your visit a few weeks, if possible.
BTW: if you have never been there you must see Venice - it is the highlight of Italy IMHO. I have spent many days there and it never grows old. Lucca is also a very well-known town to the Italians (a nearly perfectly preserved walled city). Florence is beautiful but I find it oddly over-rated (I am in the minority on that one). I found the Uffizi gallery to be boring. Coastal towns like Portovenere are fantastic, and as I said Cinque Terre is a span of five coastal cities. A train joins them, as do ferries, or you can walk the entire span along the coast. Just beautiful cliffs.,
03-02-2011, 08:30 AM
Well if you're thinking of getting a place there don't bother. There's really nothing available.
You have to talk to Poppy.
03-02-2011, 08:52 AM
You may find a big difference just by delaying your visit a few weeks, if possible.
I live just a couple hours north of Tuscany in Lugano, Switzerland. I would not suggest delaying your trip a few weeks! It starts cooling off so trips to the sea will not be nice...many very cool places to eat/see close down by mid September (Portofino, which is highly recoimmended, is one notable example)...days start growing short which means you have to cram more stuff into the daytime. The weather changes FAST in September so don't delay.
I would highly recommend renting a car for at least part of the time and driving until you see a cool spot and then find a cheap little pensione. They are very quaint, cheap and comfortable (usually) and it will dramatically enhance your stay by making you feel more like a local. Just learn some simple Italian so you can ask if a room is available...it's very simple and the locals will appreciate it. Many times I find the less planned stuff the best...it's like exploring and usually ends up with great family stories.
Don't expect a Chicago or New York style pizza or super-sized deli sandwiches. Enjoy the authentic thin pizza (try one al tonno con cippolle!!) and don't expect to find tins of Kraft pseudo-mozzarella on the table. Instead ask for olive oil (regular/normale and picante) and pour some on your pizza...YUM! Enjoy some rissotto al funghi (and maybe with oso buco or coniglio) and for sure ask for the parmigiano for the risotto and also be sure to have some gnocchi (al burro or bolgnese or con pomodoro). The seafood there is great but be prepared to see eyeballs and snake looking things...a fritta mista (all sorts of shrimp, calimari, mussels, fish fried up togther) is GREAT and common in that part of Italy.
I have a friend that rents his beautiful home up on the mountainside on Lake Como if you are interested, too. He lives in LA with his family and built this thing a couple years ago. Has EVERYTHING you'd need and is amazingly beautiful and surrounded by cool things to do...also only 15 minutes south of the Swiss border.
As others have said, stay away from larger cities like Genoa. Milan is a nightmare and, sorry to you Milanese out there, it's kinda ugly. The Duomo there in Milan is very cool but not worth the hassle. Florence is very cool but can be crowded and be prepared for your wife to have her butt pinched...not kidding at all.
Lucca, Portofino, all up and down the Cinque Terre, Como, Belaggio, along the Ventimiglia west of Genoa is beautiful and easy to find little places on the sea in Bordighera (half hour from Monte Carlo and Nice) and Sanremo. If you want to go the other direction (east toward Venice and then Austria) the Dolomites are, in my opinion, the most spectacular mountains in Europe (but, again, don't go too late or else too cold).
I could go on and on. PM me if you'd like to contact my buddy in LA for his home in Como or if you just want some more pointers. My wife, kids and I speak Italian (them fluently, me proficient) too so if you find yourself in a bind we can help. There are a few other TGPers from northern Italy too and I am sure they'd help.
03-02-2011, 09:44 AM
We went at the end of July and beginning of August and stayed in a small village called Frasini...about 20 minutes from Sienna and Masa Maritima...we ended up driving to the beach in Follonica the last week in July...I would recommend staying close to the beach if possible...
Come August 1st all the Italians head to the beach and you can't book any chairs or umbrellas for the entire month...I would imagine that September is ok...
This restaurant and town of Radicondoli is to die for...get there before sundown and try to get seated on theTerrace which is overlooking one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen...not too far from Sienna...
We also took a day trip to Pisa but I wasn't that impressed...
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