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Siena as a base for 10 days

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Australia
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Siena as a base for 10 days

We are planning to spend the last 10 days of our Italy trip (our first) in Tuscany. We will have been in Florence for 4 nights in the earlier part of our trip. We have several dilemmas! The first:

Is it best to stay the whole time in Siena using it as a base - we will have a car for at least part of the time - or should we consider a second base town, maybe Lucca. We don't want to cram lots of things into our itinerary - rather a leisurely few day trips with relaxed evenings over a wine (or two).

And the second dilemma. Getting to FCO to fly home. Is the drive to FCO from Tuscany a bit of a stressful experience? Balance that against going back to say Florence and catching trains?

I feel this sounds like a lot of questions but this part of the trip is proving difficult to plan. Thanks

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

It is about 260 km from Siena to FCO airport, and the drive would take a bit over 3 hours, plus stops. It is an easy drive, as you are on roads of motorway standard the whole time.

Do not even think of driving into central Florence to return the car (or at any other time). Most of the central area is prohibited for visitors' cars, and it is easy to drive into this area accidentally and get hit with €100 fines months later.

Olympia, Washington
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2. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

There is so much to see in Tuscany, but you might want to position yourself to tour Tuscany and Umbria. (Lucca is a better day trip from Florence (by bus) than from Siena, I believe.) Having said that, we chose to book two weeks in Piegaro, a small walled town near Chuisi (a main train station between Florence and Rome) on the Tuscan/Umbrian border, in order to take day trips to more areas. It is about an hour's drive to Siena, but also about 45 minutes to Assisi and a half hour to Perugia, and a half hour south of Cortona. We did not want to fight the traffic and parking problems of Florence or Siena, but still have proximity to all the central Tuscan/Umbrian historical sites, wineries and arts centers. www.anticovetreria.net/ is the website of where we are staying and Colleen has a lot of info about day trips through Tuscany as well as Umbria. Hope this helps.

Edited: 16 January 2011, 05:24
Olympia, Washington
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3. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

Sorry, link is incorrect, should be www.anticavetreria.net/. Mike

Edited: 16 January 2011, 05:25
Australia
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4. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

Have heard the loud and clear warnings re driving in Florence Sydneynick so wasn't considering that. Had planned to pick the car up in Siena and return it there. We would then have to commute to Siena and then on to Rome and FCO. BUt if the drive to FCO was not too daunting this would be an obvious choice.

Have looked at that website Mike and it seems very useful. But we are attracted to immersing ourselves in the life of a bigger town where there would be much more to see and do when not tripping around the countryside - hence the appeal of Siena

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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5. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

Siena is a great base, a fabulous city, plenty to see and do and a different place in the evenings when the bulk of the crowds have gone. It is also ideally placed for easy access to many wonderful daytrips. Of course there is a ZTL in operation in Siena too, so you need to think about where to park, but it is small enough to choose a hotel on the edge of the city and still be able to stroll into the centre for meals etc.

The drive to Rome is simple enough, it is just the heavy traffic once you get near Rome that is a bit of a pain. If you don't fancy it, just return the car to Siena and get the train.

Adelaide
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6. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

I have just returned from a 3 week stay in Siena and this was my 3rd time staying there. There are heaps of amazing places to visit in Siena itself as well as the area around it. If you want to consider a driver to take you to Rome I can give you the contact for the guy I use, maybe get a price from him before you decide whether to drive. It may be less stressful and he is very reliable. If you want any specific info on Siena and surrounds let me know.

Bunbury, Western...
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7. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

Siena is a good choice...we did a week in Lucca and a week at an agriturismo about 12km from Siena. Lucca is a lovely town and great for day trips to CT, Pisa, Florence etc. but Siena is quite central to a lot of places. Personally I thought Lucca was better for restaurants/bars than Siena.

If you decide not to drive to Rome, consider dropping the car off in Chiusi, about 50 minute drive south of Siena and on the main train line to Rome. The hire car dropoffs are directly opposite the station and it is easy driving in Chiusi to the railway station. If you catch the train from Siena, you have to head back towards Florence first and change trains for Rome, as Siena is not on the main Florence-Rome line.

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8. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

Just to clarify, *some of* the rental offices in Chiusi are directly opposite the train station. Others are some distance away. I think one major company moved away from the station last year.

Before you make a booking, put the rental office address into maps.google.com and check the distance from the station.

Also, if you take the train from Siena, you do not have to travel via Florence. You can take a local train to Chiusi and change to a fast train there.

Edited: 30 January 2011, 06:44
Bunbury, Western...
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9. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

"Also, if you take the train from Siena, you do not have to travel via Florence. You can take a local train to Chiusi and change to a fast train there."

opps....sorry I wasn't aware of the local train.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Siena as a base for 10 days

I know about it because the route with a change at Chiusi is the one recommended by the Trenitalia web site for travel between Rome and Siena.