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Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Dallas, Tx
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Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Would love your advise on this itinerary... we are basing in a few places because we want to see these places in the evenings - and not just during the day.

1. Train up from Rome pick up car in Orvieto in the am, drive to Civitia/Bagnoregio area to explore and then back to Orvieto for 1 nt. Also see the underground caves and enjoy the wonderful food of Orvieto that evening.

2. Drive to Montalcino- base for 3 nts/ go to Abby to hear chants and visit Fortezza for some wine.

3. Explore pienza in the morning, La Porta for lunch in Montichiello and then afternoon shopping in Montepulciano

4. Drive to Cortona for lunch and explore, then back to base for dinner

5. Drive up to Monte Oliveta and back to base (open afternoon to revisit fav village or maybe winery visit)

6. Drive up to Chianti region for car exploring and winery visit at Verazzano - if we are up for it drive to S.Gimigiano in the late afternoon for a look around and then head to Siena for 3 nts.

7. Turn car in the morning and explore siena on foot.

8. If we are up for it take bus to Florence in AM- explore, have lunch and return to siena.

9. Train to Lucca for 1 nt

10. Fly home from Pisa.

Would love any thoughts on this itinerary, What you would do, what you would skip if any, We will be traveling in November.

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Olympia, Washington
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1. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

It feels rushed to me, however everyone moves at their own pace. Remember in November you could run into more rain that would slow your driving times down, as well as siesta time in the afternoon may find you in a town with few shops open.

You may wish to keep the car and see San G. after Siena as it is on your route to Lucca. The important thing is you know what you want to see, and that is half the battle. You may want to figure out what you could jettison from your daily itinerary if the weather,siesta time (theirs or yours), health or better alternative gets in the way. Also, remember that DUI levels are .05 in Italy so you may want to have a designated driver or hire a car and driver to do the winery tours. Also remember the rule of thumb is that you lose half a day every time you move hotels/villas/apartments. Looks like a lovely trip, have fun!

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Kansas
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2. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Jujubeetravel,

Looks like a well thought out plan. This may help slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/hs_planning.htm

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3. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

It's a busy trip and as Mike rightly points out, you'll have at least a couple of days of rain (often heavy) in November and the days will be shorter. It's doable though.

Day 1: if it's pouring with rain, maybe give Bagnoregio / Civita a miss. I was there last year with friends on a what started as a nice day weather-wise and turned into a miserable one and it was grim. These are definitely two towns best seen in the sunshine.

Day 2: quite an easy day. Orvieto / Montalcino will be around 1.5 / 2 hrs leisurely drive. Consider maybe driving via Lago di Bolsena and the Via Cassia north via Acquapendente it could be quicker and is certainly very beautiful.

Day 3: a leisurely day. La Porta is closed on Mondays. The majority of shops won't be open in Montepulciano in the afternoon until after 4.30 ish.

Day 4: another relatively easy day, it's around a 1.5 hr (perhaps slightly less) drive to Cortona. If you're coming in early November, the Montepulciano vineyards may still be a riot of colour so it'll be a beautiful drive. Consider stopping at the lovely vineyard of Avignonesi as you drive right by the door if you approach Cortona on the road from Montepulciano Stazione, Valiano. La Grotta's good for lunch and their truffle pasta dishes are great value.

Day 5: An easy day. Monte Oliveto is barely 20 mins away, the cloisters are open from 09.15 - 12.00 and 15.15 - 17.00 in winter. Make sure you also see the ancient pharmacy and the beautiful choir stalls. This is a good place for lunch too though it will be very quiet in November. Consider stopping at Buonconvento en route (you drive right through it) and explore the old town hidden behind the walls. In the afternoon as you're over this way, maybe get lost (in the nicest sense of the word) up on Le Crete visiting the tiny villages of Montisi, Castelmuzio, etc Best done on a brightish day but even if it's wet and windy you'll see some amazing skies. It's a truly beautiful part of the region.

For winery visits it's best to book in winter as most are not open all day / all week, Avignonesi being one of the few exceptions.

Day 6: Another great day and on the face of it not too tiring though why not go to San Gim first and then your drive around the Chianti. I don't know Verazzano but check first whether you need to book. You'll love Siena in the evening, fingers crossed it's not raining.

Day 7: bliss

Day 8: I have no idea of the bus timings but I guess there's a non-stop service so that should take 1.5 hrs or thereabouts. If you've never been to Florence before I can see that's it tempting to squeeze in a few hours but you won't have time to do more than see the main sights from the outside.

Day 9: You've checked the train timetables and this is easy?

So, yes, it's not too tiring but do please come prepared for whatever the weather throws at you and be sure to include raincoats and waterproof shoes.

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Savannah, GA
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4. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Raincoats with zip-in liners and WATERPROOF shoes. It will rain! Can sometimes be surprisingly cold, due to damp. In fifteen years, I've only spent two completely rain-free days on November Italy jaunts.

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Dallas, Tx
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5. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Wow- Thanks for all your comments... bummer about the rain but thanks for managing my expectations for a trip this time of year... We will make due since out our air is booked.

Thanks for the tip on Civita/Bagnoregio- its been on and off my list for years and thought it would be good to see if its not too rainy... We'll have to go with a very flexible schedule as to other options if it rains.. Do you guys think its worth even seeing it or would you take it off and just enjoy the sights of Orvieto. (it will save a day in car rental too).

I thought stores started opening up by 3... wow 4;30 in Montepulciano... should I expect that time frame for Montalcino and Pienza as well? In montepulciano we were considering hanging out in a wine bar such as caffe polizano- for desert and great views and just chill out.

Thanks for the tip on la grotto- its been on the list but would love to try the truffle pasta.

Is Avignosesi - any know how much the tastings are there?

How bad is the rain- is it light- sometimes I enjoy a nice stroll in the rain with a good umbrella.

I can't wait I've waited a few years to make it back to Italy...

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Montepulciano, Italy
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6. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

If I were you, I would stay in Orvieto on a wet or even overcast day for the road from here across those bleak open uplands to Bagnoregio is pretty depressing. As I say, I speak from experience and my car load of visitors for whom Bagnoregio/Civita in the drizzle left an unpleasant taste after the delights of Orvieto. However, that said, it is November and everyone overlooks the fact that we do have real winter here - albeit relatively short - and Orvieto can be a grey place too but at least there are lots of indoor things to do and the bright lights of the shops. In summer a few stores appealling to tourists open all day but otherwise they close for a break during the afternoon to give the owners a rest as they remain open until 7 or 7.30. It's standard not to find most places open everywhere (outside of cities such as Florence and Siena) until 4 at the earliest, some food shops will be 5. In Montalcino and Pienza there are a couple of shops that might remain open all afternoon in November, especially on a weekend when the towns see visiting Italians but I wouldn't count on it. Note churches also often close for a lunch break too but cafes/bars will always be open. Cafe Poliziano in Montepulciano is a great place (fabulous cakes) as is la Fiaschetteria in Montalcino.

I'll tell you a story about the rain in November. We went to Venice last year on the train from Chiusi. We planned to take a cab to the station but it was raining so hard, our village cabbie refused to come out. So we drove down but our lane was so heavily flooded, we had to put on rubber Wellington boot (galoshes) in order to get to the car. In Chiusi, the streets were awash wih rain so rather than change into "town" shoes we had to keep our Wellington boots on and wear them all the way to Venice. But it was just as well for when we arrived there it was acqua alta so they came in very handy. Do please as the above poster says bring at least one pair of sturdy waterproof shoes. It rains here, often hard and that's why it's so gloriously green.

ps: check on the website for Avignonesi tastings for I don't know if there's a charge. We buy from there regularly so it's never come up.

Edited: 17 February 2011, 04:26
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7. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

The good thing about travel during off-season is that you feel like a local, and the locals treat you like royalty! They have time for you... appreciate you. I always travel in October. Never have had rain, so I'll pray for a dry November, for you! If it is not raining, then you must go to Civita di Bagnoreggio, but it is a spectacular little hike up to the town, so it would be no fun if it is raining. Plan for a beautiful autumn day, then have an alternate plan, if it rains! I save museum days for possible rain delays!

Enjoy!

Dallas, Tx
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8. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Thanks again for all your encouraging words... I'm keeping fingers crossed it won't be too rainy to visit Civita/Bagnoregio...I'd like to see this place...even if its a light drizzle we may still go. We like traveling off season because of less crowds and a better interaction with the locals. I'm not crazy about the rainy month but will go with the flow and make the most of in...if it means slipping into a nearby enoteca or cafe as it passes we are good to go with that... I am also a photographer so if it rains I will go out exploring for the best puddle reflections I can find and just enjoy being out in this beautiful part of the world. I loved italy my first visit and can't seem to get enough of it.

Thanks again everybody.

Julie

Montepulciano, Italy
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9. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

Oh yes, puddle reflections are fabulous, look for them everywhere including piazzas where you often see a duomo reflected in the water (I took some great pix last year in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence) or, more locally, country lanes where you'll see cypressi. I so agree about the the rain and the impact it has on our photographs. Note the colours of the old stone everywhere that comes out so beautifully as do old ochre stucco crumbling walls. I'll cross my fingers for you that we have an early cold snap for this could bring with it early morning mists in the valleys, which again are fantastic to photograph especially if you're high on a hill above them. It is great to travel out of season, so much so that I posted on the subject last winter for I had a houseful of guests in early December who reckoned it was their best visit ever, and some have been here half a dozen times before.

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10. Re: Is This Itinerary too rushed?

I think your plan is perfectly workable and fun. And I am usually the fussiest one about being over-scheduled. True, you have something planned for almost every day, but it does not look like to much on any day. For instance, days 2,3,4,5 are perfectly easy days, and also days 7,9.

I think you are good to go.