Home base in Florence or Siena?

Hey all, I wanted to get your input as far as making Siena the home-base to a 3-night stay in Tuscany versus Florence. I actually studied in Siena for a few months a long time ago, and if my memory serves me right it is a good place to unwind and get away from the 'busyness' of sightseeing (if you want to) and just take in the culture more than anything. Florence, although not as busy as Rome, still is considered "bustling" in many respects. And I would think makes a lot more sense if you're a "doer" in terms of visiting all the sites and museums. My wife has never been to Siena but has been to Florence (it's also been a long time for her). She's more along the lines of wanting to see all the major sites/museums (checklist mentality). I think my time in Siena has me at a bias though :) Obviously, we'd do a day-trip (or two) to Florence if we were in Siena. Or a day-trip to Siena from Florence. I'm just trying to figure out what would make more sense in terms of staying in one location though. The other option, but I was trying to avoid if at all possible (to reduce the amount of shuffling) was to do two nights in Florence and one night in Siena before heading down to Rome.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Jeremy: Sorry your time in the area is so limited, as you could easily spend a week there. Florence has so much to see, and your train will go thru there. It'd be better if you were staying in Florence, and take a bus trip to Siena for the day. If you had more time, I'd suggest taking in San Gimignano and especially Volterra.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3310 posts

When I first read the title I thought you were going to be there for a week or more. Three days is not much. Unless you have already seen Florence and plan to devote little time there, Chances are you will spend 2 of those 3 days visiting Florence and one visiting Siena. If that is the case it makes no sense to stay in Siena and do Florence in two separate day trips from Siena. I would stay in Florence and day trip to Siena one of the 3 days. I wouldn't split the night stays either. The process of packing unpacking checking in and out of hotels takes longer than the 70 minutes bus ride from Florence to Siena.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Thanks guys! Sounds like Florence it is then. I was up in the air about the best way to get to rome Rome (i.e. leaving from Florence vs Siena) but now it's clearer. Plus, the hotel I'm tentatively at in Rome is close to Termini, so it would make more sense just to take the train from Firenze SMN it seems. I'm thinking, in terms of the day trip to Siena, it might be best to do that on the 2nd full day in Tuscany (as I'll have 3 full days)? Oops, I just realized I put 3 nights above. It would be more like 4 nights and 3 full days. I'm thinking that's probably better to do if we want to squeeze Siena in, compared to doing 3 nights (2 full days). I figure we'll be running around a good amount in Rome for the 3 full days we're there after.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3310 posts

3 full days for Rome 2 full days for Florence
1 day trip to Siena from Florence (from early AM to late PM). That's what you should do. Check the bus or train schedules so that you don't miss the last one from Siena, otherwise taking a taxi from Siena to Florence is going to cost you a pretty penny.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Jeremy: As you leave FCO Airport , I hope you don't have a very early a.m. flight out. Early a.m. flights often require taxi rides. FCO's not nearly as efficient of an airport as it could be. Getting thru security can be time consuming. Mid day flights are better when you're coming out of the city center. Check out RonInRome.com for his suggestions on getting to the airport.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

David, the flight out of FCO leaves at 10:50am, so not too early. I remember last time I flew out of Rome it was a 7am or 8am flight, and we did end up taking a taxi... As far as Siena, we'll probably sandwich that in between our time at Florence.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Hmm, looks like there's a couple of super economy trains leaving from SMN->Termini during off-times: 3/20 - FRECCIARGENTO 1.5~ hr ride leaving 9:38pm and arriving in Rome at 11:05pm or 3/21 - Regional Intercity 581 2.5~ hr ride leaving 5:50am and arriving in Rome at 8:23am Both are 9 euro a person, which seems really good. I'm guessing super economy is no different than economy 2nd class (it's just that they a certain # of seats for this) - is that right? I'm still not 100% on hotels but am considering staying around Termini either way - just not sure if it's better to arrive there the previous night or the next day in the morning (or even later on 3/21). Any other suggestions on where in Rome to stay (I've read that around Trastevere and Vatican are nice)? The past times I visited, I stayed around Termini as well. Should I just pony up and pay 10-20 more euro for another train leaving later in the morning or earlier in the evening?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

Jeremy, the trains aren't super-economy, economy, or base. The tickets are. The trains - the type of equipment - don't change. The cheapest tickets, in the shortest supply, are the super-economy. Then up 10 Euros or so there are the economy. And when they're all gone you're back to the base price. You may look back at the trains you saw yesterday and see the price is higher. When you can commit - be absolutely sure you make the ones you reserve because you don't get your money back except at the base level - you need to act. They will disappear. Spend more money and go on a "better" time train? Nobody here can answer that for you. Only you know your circumstances and budget; only you know how you will do with early trains and missing breakfast, etc.

Posted by Jeremy
Irvine, CA, United States
107 posts

Thanks Nigel. At this point I'm just trying to decide if it makes more sense to stay around Termini as opposed to going "deeper" into Rome and staying in Trastevere or near the Pantheon, etc. I recall it being relatively convenient staying around Termini, and I would presume so especially if we're only there for four nights. It seems like Trastavere (and for a longer period i.e. a week+) would be a better option for a fuller "immersion" experience, no?

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2822 posts

I dislike the Termini area quite a bit, and would stay almost anywhere else (I know other posters here disagree). I love the Pantheon and Trastevere areas; yes, Trastevere is more of a "Roman immersion."

Posted by jeff
naches, wa, usa
182 posts

siena probably my most favorite city next to florence. i think you have to base in florence, then road trip to siena or san gimigano. regardless you are in heaven. have fun be safe,