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11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Marlboro, New Jersey
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11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Planning a trip in December to Italy. I'll have 11 nights and I would like to focus on Florence and the Tuscany region. Excited for the food and truffles that time of year. Haven't booked air yet but thinking of arriving in Florence the morning of the 24th and leaving on the 4th. Just got back from Venice where I fell in love (but had very little time there) and would now like to add a couple of nights there as well. Is that wise?

My main focus on this trip is Tuscany. Always wanted to eat and drink through the region. Have no idea where to make my home base. I'll be traveling solo. I figure 3 nights at least in Florence. So much art to appreciate. Day trip to Pisa. Trying to plan so that I am also aware of Holidays and being places where everything won't be closed.

Need help deciding where to stay in Tuscany. One home base or move after 2-3 nights. Planning on renting a car once leaving Florence.

Am I crazy to want to add 2 nights in Venice (by train)?

Thanks for any help. Sometimes it really helps to get advice before booking airfare.

I should have given more info. In addition to wanting to spend time in Florence and as I said a side trip to Pisa. Areas of great interest in Tuscany include Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano, Lucca.

Would the hot springs be out of the question in December?

Would love to take a cooking class as well.

Would love see everything but focus on this trip will be appreciation of great food, wine and art.

Hope this helps in giving me advice.

Thanks in advance.

I moved this from Italy forum

Lexington, Kentucky
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1. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

We recently arrived in Venice, spent three nights there, and then took the train to Florence. In Florence we rented a car and drove to just outside Greve. We made day trips from Greve. Either in the rental car or by bus. We stayed at Vignamaggio and really enjoye it. Good luck!

Marlboro, New Jersey
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2. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Thank you I will look into Greve.

Marlboro, New Jersey
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3. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Still looking into Greve area. I checked on Vignamaggio and they are closed for the season.

Marlboro, New Jersey
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4. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Ok so here is where I am at:

Flights still deciding based on frequent flyer decisions. (May be finally leaving United after recent and ongoing terrible service, but waiting to see if Delta will match my status)

Flights will be (I think) Newark-Florence and then for the return Venice to Newark (airline to be decided) only direct flight from Newark to Italy is Milan (JFK is not an option for me)

My thought is to arrive Florence around noon Dec 24th, stay somewhere within 15 mins from Florence that provides shuttle service to Florence. First day see as many museums as possible before they close.

Day 2 do a 1/2 day trip to Pisa. This will be Christmas Day and from what I can find online attractions at Pisa are open.can anyone confirm???? Before and after tour wander Florence and Photograph (Christmas morning and evening.

Day 3 Florence (26th).

Day 4 morning hit any sites in Florence that were closed on prior days and then get rental car. Go to Lucca for the day on the way to Unknown home base for the next 5 nights.

Days 5- 8 explore tuscany

Still need a home base. Should be some place close to excellent dining for dinners (within 1/2 hours drive) Greve area perhaps? Thoughts? I think it should be more southern since I will have already explored Pisa and Lucca and would now like to see Siena do lots of wine tasting and perhaps visit hot springs.

This is also where I will be based for New Years Eve. Thoughts on where to spend it? I'll be solo. Fun traditional festivals that I should see?

Day 9 (Jan 1st) Check out and return car and catch train (yikes that sounds hectic, keep in mind this is New Years Day) and head for Venice for last three nights? (Or wait a day and only have two not full days in Venice although mist thungs I imagine are closed on New Years Day and might be a good day for travel if I get my tickets in advance)

Venice days 9-11

Fly home from Venice day 12 morning

Marlboro, New Jersey
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5. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

My bad Vignamaggio is not closed. Looked at one with a similar name. That could be a great base!

Montepulciano, Italy
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6. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

A few comments. Coming in December be prepared for dodgy weather – very cold, possibly very wet, foggy, possibly even light snow etc. Also crowds in the cities from 26th onwards, crowds of Italian tourists that is. Then: why stay 15 mins shuttle from Florence? What’s wrong with city centre so you can just walk out and sightsee? Someone else can help re Pisa but generally speaking in this country everywhere is closed Christmas Day, even churches in the morning (for Mass). 26th is a good day to explore Florence, you’ve checked the car rental places are open that day? (It’s a major public holiday here, Santo Stefano.) I love Vignamaggio but wouldn’t consider it for a base in winter. It’s a beautiful place but up in the hills and could be a bit grim if the weather’s bad plus you possibly wouldn’t want to drive out at night. Consider instead a town or village so that you do not have to drive out to dinner, which is best avoided. Unfamiliar country roads can be dangerous at night in the dark in winter and you shouldn’t risk driving even after one glass of wine for the law is strict here and tightly policed around Christmas. Greve would work but if you prefer somewhere further south both Pienza and Montepulciano are nice in December as they see sufficient visitors to give atmosphere without appearing crowded. Most places (rooms, restaurants, stores) will be open to capture the local holidaymakers as 26th December to 6th January is very popular period for Italians to vacation. Both Pienza and Montepulciano have big New Year’s Eve parties in the main piazza with a bonfire and fireworks. 1st Jan – can you drop your hired car for are the hire car places open?

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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7. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

I think you would be best to email the people at the Tower complex in Pisa. The official website does not indicate that it is closed on Christmas Day, but if you try to book tickets through an agent their calendars suggest it will be closed, so best to double check to be sure.

Please take the time to read the following round up of driving regulations paying particular attention to the ZTL system, drink drive limit and snow chain requirements at that time of year:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187893-c140065/Tusca…

Marlboro, New Jersey
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8. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

lastraniera Grazie mille!!!! You have really touched on all of my biggest concerns. First off many friends warned me not to stay in Florence city center because it feels claustrophobic. However none of these people have visited in December. My gut says I should stay in the city centre as well. A bit about me; first day I arrive I like to go go go so I can't even consider a nap. Early mornings are my favorite time to photograph a city and for both these reasons plus the fact that it will be 2 major holidays I will want to be close and not have to worry about shuttle times especially on Christmas and Santo Stefano. Pisa I found places online that would let me book for Christmas Day, but I sent an email direct to ask and am waiting to hear back.

Some other advice that pretty much everyone has given me is try to have one base. That is proving impossible for me since I am already staying in at least 2 places. Which brings me to your next excellent point...

CAR issues, Thank you again so glad I checked which car rental places are open on NYD first off I was able to find a rental car to be picked up on Sat the 27th at Borgognissanti and dropped off on New Year's Day at Peretola (only location open that day and opens later at 10:00) so that will work out. I think maybe it would be best to break up my stays. I am nervous enough with all the restrictions for driving I keep reading about (thanks peggypatch for the great info, I had been advised on another thread about that and the international permit as well) being on my own with terrible Italian (I'm working on it) although I will have a GPS, now add bad weather. I am a confident driver here in the US and during the day I'm ready for it! But I really don't want to drive at night and I LOVE the idea of staying in a small town or village!!!

So where to stay; I no longer think I should pick one place for 5 or 6 nights I agree about Vignamaggio so it is off the list. I also am starting to question how much time (if any) I spend in Venice. (That's why it's great to hash this out before being locked into airline tickets) So split my either 5 or 6 nights.

So after Florence and before heading south I am, like you suggested, looking for somewhere that is a village or small town. In another post (I posted first in Italy forum by mistake) someone suggested Montaione. Would you recommend that for 2-3 nights after Florence before heading south? Or Where would you suggest to explore Lucca, San Gimignano, Chianti areas. Someplace small town/ Village which would provide excellent dinners that I won't have to drive to????

Then head south. Love the idea of Pienza and Montepulciano and wow does that sound like the perfect New Year's Eve! These spots would be perfect for me to explore Cortona and Siena. Even Saturnia would be possible. (As I write this I continue to doubt having time for Venice)

How many nights each 2 or 3? With wine tasting, cooking class, truffle hunting?, and city trips should I drop Venice? Or Just reduce it to 2 nights?

Grazie mille for all you advice and help!!!

Edited: 22 July 2014, 19:01
Simcoe, Canada
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9. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Consider a castle stay while you are in Tuscany. We stayed at Castello delle Quattro Torra just outside of Siena and not up in the hills so driving out for supper at night would not be difficult. It was one of the highlights of our time in Tuscany.

Montepulciano, Italy
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10. Re: 11 nights in December Florence, Tuscany & Venice??

Your friends warning of Florence feeling claustrophobic possibly visited in high summer when it most certainly can be due to the unpleasant combination of crowds (streets are gridlocked) and heat / humidity. I myself found it suffocating last time I was there in the month of July, for example. But outside summer, even when it’s busy, I would still strongly recommend staying right in the centre, especially as there are so many options for hotel accommodation in all price brackets. Sounds as though you have got your car hire worked out, don’t forget to book your snow chains as well now as you have to carry them by law from 1st November to 15th April on most roads. Re splitting your time, if you travel light and don’t mind moving on every couple of days, consider one or two nights in Lucca and then a few in Siena. From Siena you can tour the Chianti, visit San Gimignano and you have the advantage of Siena city centre in the evening, which is so lovely - drinks in Il Campo, people watching on the main Corso, an amazing selection of restaurants to eat at later. Then move down to Pienza or Montepulciano for a taste of southern Tuscan village life. Siena is only 35 mins drive but Cortona is a bit more from Pienza (nearer 50). Personally, I have not doubts about Venice but prefer more than a couple of nights as I don’t think anything less than 4 or 5 really does it justice. However, winter is the best time to visit. We always go in November but one year I would love to be there for New Year, this is very much on my own must-do-one-day list.