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Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

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Lake Macquarie...
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Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Hello,

We will be travelling by train from Rome to Umbria (combination of 10 days in both Rome and the Sorrento region first)

We plan to hire a vehicle for all of Umbria and later to continue through Tuscany.

Is it best to get the train to Orvieto and then hire a car from Orvieto and then move on?

Where is it best to base ourselves for the 8 days (or maybe move accommodation twice)? We like the idea of farmhouses, maybe within contact to the owners and family.

Some towns which interest us are:

Narni, Spoleto, Norcia, Castalluccio, Montefalco, Spello, Todi, Venanzo,Gubbio, Chuisi (I know it is a lot for the 8 days!). We possibly like the idea of visiting only 2 - 3 small areas each day, because we don't want to just drive and drive!

Is 8 days doable? Thanking you in advance,

Chris

Comox Valley, Canada
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1. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Hi Chris, We just did a very similar trip though did 13 days in Umbria. :

Rome to Orvieto- 5 days (rented car from Hertz on day 5 then left Orvieto)

then Assisi 5 days

then Spoleto - 3 days.

It is hard to pick one central spot to base.... we liked the set up of 5 days in each of Orvieto and Assisi. All the main atractions, hill towns etc are within 30 to 90 minutes drive, yet we had beautiful towns/hotels to come home to.

8 days is very doable (we spent the first 5 solely in Orvieto where we did half days at language school). Our mistake was doing too much driving in the following days so ended up taking the car back a day early.

We took the train to Orvieto but others may suggest you get the car in Rome and drive up. We did not do this as we did not need the car until day 5.

A fantastic farm stay is at Le Mandrie di San Paolo nr Assisi. Loved the place: see my review on TA posted a few days ago.

Any more questions just ask away!

Glenn

Perth, Western...
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2. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Hello Chris, after reading your list of towns, we think the best base for you would be Montefalco. We have been there several times and it is really enchanting. Plus, Spello is 20 minutes far; Todi and Spoleto 30 minutes; Orvieto and Norcia 60 minutes; Gubbio and Castelluccio 90 minutes.

It is realistic to visit them all combining two each day leaving in the morning by 9 o'clock starting from the farest destinations, e.g.

1) Castelluccio, then Norcia ed eventually a first outllook to Spoleto.

2) Gubbio and then Spello on the way back.

3) Orvieto and then Todi on the way back.

When we stayed in Montefalco, choosed Villa Mustafa` loving the breakfast in the garden looking at the Gualdo Cattaneo tower in the horizon, and what breakfast!! Had boiled egg and bruschetta drizzled with their EVOO ples the homedade cakes and jams, yougurt and cereal, drinking tea or coffee without deadline.

Lake Macquarie...
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3. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Hello to Arcosdad and Aussies11.

Wow, what quick responses!!

I have a Central Italy map with highlighted towns that we wish to see and I think Montefalco seems perfect! I will check out accommodation in the next few days. My husband loves the idea of a farm house (previously mentioned), so I will source out your suggestions and other.

Could I just ask - we leave Sorrento by Circumvest. train to Naples and I think then onto Orvieto (not via Rome). Is it best to hire the vehicle at Orvieto and then drive to Montefalco?

I am just wondering about connection times for the trains and I also read on one Trip Advisor thread that "beware that the rental places close down from 12.30 - 1p.m and not open again until 4 p.m."

Would that mean to far for us to travel after our train trip? Would it be best to have one night in Orvieto?

Thank you again

Latina, Italy
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4. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

<<we leave Sorrento by Circumvest. train to Naples and I think then onto Orvieto (not via Rome).>>

All trains from Naples to Orvieto go via Rome. There are one or two through Intercity trains, otherwise you have to change at Roma Termini.

If you can avoid hiring the car in Rome it would be best.

See trenitalia website for train times and fares.

Perth, Western...
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5. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Orvieto has few car rental office in the area of the train station. If your train will arrive late in the afternoon, we would seriously consider to spent the evening and the night there as the cost for the hire doesn't change in terms of hours but only in terms of full day

and, you might have thicked already one box of your itinerary, or half.

Comox Valley, Canada
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6. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Chris, The Hertz office (only agency we saw) is right across the road from the Orvieto station . It is closed from 1-3 weekdays but stays open until 7. Depending on when you arrive into town you could pick up the car and head out. If this is your first drive in Italy and you are doing it at night, I wouldn't recommend it. Remember you will be driving the roundabouts on the "wrong side"!! Plus you will miss the scenery.

Not to overcomplicate, but you could also head to Spoleto on the train, rent the car and then head over to Montefalco. It is less than 30 klicks , much closer than from Orvieto. Spoleto is on the Ancona line out of Rome but regular trains available. The Hertz office is up a one way street about 200 M from the rail station in Spoleto. The journey from Rome to Orvieto or Sploeto is about the same I think 1:10 - 1:30 depending on stops.

We loved Montefalco...beautiful views and a great visitor office too. Ask for a copy of the excellent Regional Guide to the area...like a mini guide book in map form. another great resource is the touring club map of Umbria ...includes Town maps....great resource for driving and free.

Glenn

Lake Macquarie...
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7. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Thank you both again!

Can I first say that we are not regular travellers of public transport and generally hire a car (my husband is a great driver and doesn't mind doing the driving). However, on our first time in Italy, I would love him to relax more and be able to enjoy the scenery, that is why I am thinking of the train from Sorrento to Umbria. The rental car will be for our time in Umbria and Tuscany.

I am considering stopping overnight in Orvieto and hiring the next day (pointed out to me that rental cars are from day to day) but what temps me more is getting closer to Montefalco! (Thank you for your suggestion to head for Spoleto).

I have looked on line and there is a train that goes to Foligno (line from Rome/Ancona ) then buses run to Montefalco (fairly irregular I should imagine).

Considering our experience in using the trains, am I making this all too difficult for us, considering that we would be leaving Sorrento around 8.30 a.m.? I really value the comments made here, thank you again.

Takapuna, New...
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8. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

We spend some time in Umbria in 2011 with a car, based in Perugia (because of Umbria Jazz) and found it to be a beautiful old Etruscan town. We did a day trip to Assisi and Gubbio. We stayed in the heart of the historic centre, the main square IV November beside Fontana Maggiore, in an apartment with a magnificent view. On arrival, we parked outside the apartment to unload. then parked in the public car park and came up into the historic centre using the elevators through a system of caverns Rocca Paolina). The apartment manager said that if we had let her know we were arriving by car she could have arranged a park in an enclosed building beside the apartment.

resortfontanamaggiore.com/eng/default.aspx

Perth, Western...
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9. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

Hello Glenn, one of us has born and grew up in Spoleto and we regularly stop and stay there few days every time we fly to Italy. We have never known about a car rental point fairly near the Spoleto train station (like in Terni for example).

If there is a newly opened office since the October 2011, could you please tell us exatly the address? Thank you

Joe

Liguria, Italy
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10. Re: Best base town for Umbria 8 day vacation

warners1,

Staying overnight in Orvieto is a fine idea, but you also have the possibility of renting a car in Foligno, which is about a 20 minute drive from Montefalco. You also have the possibility of picking up a car in Chiusi, so if you want to see that town, that also might be an option to pick up your rental car there.

Montefalco is a lovely town with beautiful wine but driving around central Umbria is so easy, you can really pick any number of places, and staying in a farm is also a great idea. Be aware that the town of Assisi is jam-packed with visitors.

Days will be getting much longer in June, with the sun not setting until 8pm. Therefore, you can pick up a rental car between 4 and 6pm and still have a lot of daylight for driving to where you are spending the night. What you don't want to do is take a train from Sorrento and arrive someplace when the car rental offices are closed for lunch and you are stuck with your luggage until they re-open.

Many of the hilltowns of Umbria are very steep -- Gubbio and Spello being two of the steepest. Montefalco is also a very steep town. Combining lots of steep hill climbing in a single day can be fatiguing, especially once the weather starts turning very warm (which it most likely will by the second week in June).

Most everything in Umbria closes from 1pm to 4pm. Therefore, when you are planning day trips, put the American clock aside and try to plan things with the Italian clock in mind. Italy does not have a 9-5 "day", and many people make the mistake of starting out a 9am to "day trip" to distant towns only to find them starting to close down by the time they have arrived and found parking, and climbed up the hill to see them -- and it can be rather boring.

Instead of getting in the car in the morning and driving to your most distant target hilltown, planning to see another on the way back, consider going to the near one first thing in the morning, then driving on to the second in time for a 1.30 lunch. That way, you'll be enjoying the second hilltown when it is starting to come back to life and everything will be open until 7.30.

While it is true that on your first day of driving, it is good to arrive at your b&b or hotel before dark so it is easier to find, once you are there and doing day trips, you will find it fairly easy to drive at night in Umbria. I wouldn't make myself the prisoner of doing day trips in a 9-5 framework so you are leaving interesting places every afternoon just as towns you wanted to visit are being enjoyed by the locals.

However, if you decide to stay at a farm (a wonderful idea), it is best to pick one that also has a restaurant attached so you can enjoy wine without needing to drive after.