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What to do in Tuscany

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well folks,

I'll be travelling to Tuscany for approx. 2 weeks in early May. Will be spending the first weekend in Florence, then staying in a villa approx. 20 minutes from Sienna for a week, then have 5 days "unscheduled", departing from Florence on the 5th day.

I've never been to Italy before, so am looking for suggestions on things to do! Specifically:

-Any thoughts on where to stay in Florence? I'm looking for something relatively inexpensive (<100 euro/night hopefully)

-Any suggestions on restaurants to visit in Florence/Siena/San Gimignano or elsewhere in Tuscany? I'm expecting food to be rather expensive, and I don't mind splurging for a few melas - but if you know of any excellent places that are more affordable, I would love to know.

-Where to shop? Are there any particular items of clothing or brands/stores that I *must* pay a visit to? I've heard that the leather goods in Tuscany are particularly nice. My style leans more toward SW&D than MC, but I'd be open to stores in either "category."

Thanks in advance for you input!
post #2 of 22
I'd suggest getting an as-private-as-you-can-afford tour of the Uffizi.
post #3 of 22
I was in Italy in November, it is beautiful.

I didn't go to Florence, so I can't help you there, but I did go to Siena and a few other small cities between Siena and Florence.

In Siena, eat at Osteria le Logge. It's just outside of the Campo (don't eat at any place on the campo) and the food is truly excellent. It's not unreasonably priced at all, though I'm from NYC so my price points may be skewed. I also at at 2 other stellar restaurants, but I forget their names. One is a small place owned by 2 brothers that churned out excellent food at cheap prices. The other way well off the beaten path and was one of the real mom and pop places. The roast chicken at the last place was incredible.

Always load up on un cafe before you start the day (it's an espresso shot). Or capuccino if you're more mellow. Both are usually 70 eurocent or 90 eurocent, respectively. I don't understand how Starbucks can get away with charging $4 for something vastly inferior.

Florence is better than Siena for clothes, Siena is all about the experience and the culture. Be sure to visit the Duomo (the zebra church) and climb the steps to whatever that belltower is called on the campo. And take a wine tour, there's plenty of options for 35-90 euro per person, all inclusive.
post #4 of 22
Check venere.com for hotels in all price ranges.
post #5 of 22
For your 5 unscheduled days, consider a trip to the Cinqueterre
post #6 of 22
^ +1, beautiful area, great hiking if you're into that. Train ride along the coast is spectacular.
post #7 of 22
hotelscombined.com collects together all hotels site offers, including venere, iirc.
post #8 of 22
Tuscany is pretty cliché. Nobody says "I'm going to Lazio" but for some reason they say they're going to Toscano...

Anyway, there's a lot to do in Firenze. It's my favorite city in Italy. Just have fun there and explore. Don't go where tourists go -- get off the beaten path a bit and go where locals go. Luckily the language isn't a problem when I travel, but most Italians will be able to understand you in big cities like Firenze.
post #9 of 22
If you have a car, or access to a car, take a day or two and go to Montalcino. One of the best Italian wines, in my opinion, is the Brunello di Montalcino. The whole area is about wine and food. Several very good restaurants in the city center. Several vineyards also have cottages for a very nice experience. I used it as a way to wind down between Florence and Rome last time I was in Italy.

^ just an FYI in case anyone doesn't know - Firenze = Florence
post #10 of 22
jst - who's the little guy in your avatar? Our boys have the same outfit in white

btw, I'm always really surprised when I see members registered for so long with so few posts...
post #11 of 22
its my son - by far my fav picture.

Well, for the last 4 years or so I have been so busy at work, I've really only perused postings, not adding or asking much. Now, well I've got a bit more down time until credit loosens up again.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post
Tuscany is pretty cliché. Nobody says "I'm going to Lazio" but for some reason they say they're going to Toscano... Anyway, there's a lot to do in Firenze. It's my favorite city in Italy. Just have fun there and explore. Don't go where tourists go -- get off the beaten path a bit and go where locals go. Luckily the language isn't a problem when I travel, but most Italians will be able to understand you in big cities like Firenze.
Big +1 to the last part. I spent a day in Siena, was lovely. Toscana was nice, however, I found Marche and Umbria to be very beautiful.
post #13 of 22
I think not been cliche is too cliche.
post #14 of 22
You could really go down to Rome if you wanted to. It's only a two hour train ride from Florence if you take Eurostar. I found Florence to be a bit too English speaking for my liking. If you decide to go to Rome I can let you know of a couple of things.
post #15 of 22
If you're into wine and don't want to rent a car, there are tour companies that will take you to a vineyard. We visited Castello di Verrazzano and I think it was only about an hour or so from Florence. The tour company was called Grape Adventures. Your hotel should be able to hook you up.

In Florence, I would recommend any of the Antinori restaurants. We had a great dinner at Cantinetta Antinori and bar snacks at Procacci. Of course, the gelato in Italy is legendary, but we found this place called Vestri in Florence that was among the best I've ever had.

Also, there are the designer outlets in Leccio ( http://www.guidebook.se/?p=329 ). Again, you can either drive or take an arranged shuttle there. It's really close to Florence. I was there in late September last year and the prices weren't all that great, but I did score some things at Loro Piana that made the trip worthwhile.

Buon viaggio!
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