I think I would stay in Florence in an apartment for a week and really enjoy its amazing art heritage -- and would do day trips to Pisa and Siena and the Chianti road from there and perhaps do a day trip by car or tour to some of the smaller town south of there like Pienza and Montepulciano
I would then spend 3 days in Lucca
Another option would be to concentrate on the hill towns and base in the countryside near or on the edges of one of the towns -- be sure to get a place with good parking -- with this approach you could park on the outskirts of FLorence e.g. Porta Romana for day trips in -- but you miss much of what Florence has to offer
Another option would be a hotel just within the walls of Siena with parking so you could day trip from there but have the town evenings -- it is great evening town
Thanks for your input. Is it necessary to have a vehicle? It sounds like it can be a hassle driving in Italy. Thank you again for your thoughts.Edited: 27 January 2011, 23:16
We didn't have a car for the month we two ladies did around Italy. Bus and trains everywhere and booked at the station when we alighted for the next destination...no problems but it was then October..used the regional trains which are not so crowded, but a bit slower and cheaper.
We came down from the Italian Riviera and stayed 2 nights in Lucca B & B, 5 nights in Florence in an apartment near the bus and train station and 2 in Siena B & B. If you are not heavily into the arts and history, you could take off Florence and perhaps spend time in another Tuscan village which has public transport. However, be aware that the villages do not all have regular services and may not have a public transport service in the evening.
In Florence we did a bus trip for a day out to San Gimignano a hillside walled village. We had to have a change in buses at a village along the way.
If you had 5 days in Florence, you could go to Lucca for a day, a Tuscan village for a day and spend the rest of the time around the city. If you had 5 days in Siena, you could maybe get down into Umbria also...need to sus that one out.
If you are driving, you could stay in a villa or country accommodation and drive around the Tuscan hillside villages. Parking is usually below the village as cars cannot always go into old towns.
It all depends on just what you want to see and how you travel.
If you prefer not to drive, then basing in Florence in a self-catering apartment and then doing day trips out of Florence to Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, etc by train or bus works well. There is so much to see in Florence that having a day trip every other day and just enjoying Florence on the off day should keep you well fed, relaxed and rested.
We are spending 5 days in Florence in September and will do day trips to the Pisa/Lucca area in that manner, and then we are going to Piegaro on the Umbrian/Tuscan border where we will rent a car to see the back roads and hill towns of much of Tuscany and Umbria.
Thank you all for the information it has been very helpful.
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