* In May 2012, I am traveling to Umbria with 5 friends. We range in age from 40-65 years old. We do not want to rent a car, and would prefer to stay in the center of a town that has the best access to public transportation (The towns we are considering are Perugia, Assisi or Spoletto).
* I have spent at least 20 hours researching on Trip Advisor, but I am not having much luck finding the answers to my specific questions. I'm hoping that some of you can offer sage advice for our group.
* My questions are:
1) Would it be better to rent a villa, or a large apartment, in one particular town that has very good access to public transportation, and use this as our base? If so, which town do you recommend?
2) Is it better to stay inside the walled town, or just outside the walled town?
3) How accessible, and close to your recommended town, is their train/bus station? Is it close enough to walk to?
4) If we use one town as our base, would it be better to: 1) Use trains and buses to travel to and from the various towns we want to visit each day, 2) Hire a driver with a van to take us around, or 3) Take a tour on a bus to some of the surrounding small villages? We are thinking that using public transportation will be cheaper, and less problematic than renting a car, but our group is not in complete agreement about this. We want to spend our money wisely. But, we will only be in Umbria for one week and many of us in the group want to avoid very long train rides each way, each day, when we travel to and from the different towns that we visit.
5) Instead of using one town as our base, would it be better to choose 3 or 4 different towns, and stay 1-2 nights at each town, so we only spend only a few hours traveling via public transportation every other day?
6) In your experience traveling around Umbria, would it be better for us to rent our own car to drive to the various small towns and villages? In comparison to the price of train and bus tickets, and paying for day bus tours, would this end up being the more affordable option? Or, if it were more expensive to rent a car, would it save us time traveling to and from the little towns of Umbria?
7) How reliable are the train and buss schedules? And, can you offer examples of how long would it take to travel between certain towns?
* Any advice that you can offer would be greatly appreciated, as it will help us to decide what would be best for our group for our upcoming vacation. We all traveled so well together in May 2010, when we visited the Amalfi coast. On that trip we stayed in Sant Agata di dui Golfi, in the hills above Sorrento. And from that town, relying on public transportation each day to take us to and from the various towns of the Amafi coast was very easy, affordable, time efficient, and enjoyable.
* Thank you all in advance for your advice.