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Italy Wine Region

Hi everyone,
Wanted to hear your thoughts. My husband and I are going to Italy for our 30th birthdays in September and want to explore wineyards/wine tastings. We have been to Italy a few times but only Rome. We were thinking Florence/Venice/Amalfi/Tuscany. We have about 12 days. What is the best way to structure our itinerary? Any tips would be great!
Thanks,
marissa

Posted by
792 posts

Visiting the Tuscany/Chianti region requires a car. Your other locations do not. Where are you flying in to?

Posted by
1567 posts

If you stick with all four locations in 12 days, you won't have a lot of time for vineyard visits. I'd pare it down, regardless of the wine part--but you might consider what type of wine you like to help you pinpoint.

Posted by
10 posts

We love visiting vineyards, have to research more. What part would you cut out? I figured it was too much in that timeframe.

Posted by
11700 posts

Marissa, how many total nights, not days, will you have in Italy?

I'd cut the Amalfi as it's your outlier but is there anything else you're interested in besides wineries? You will not want a car in Florence, and there are a number of day trips from there which can be easily done by train.

Posted by
1567 posts

Make a list and detail what you want to do for each place and within your time frame. Does it look realistic or make you feel tired just reading it? First decide how much time you want in Florence and Venice--that is a bit easier to determine for cities before branching out to more rural areas and small towns. Next, look at open jaw flights to see what gives you the most bang for your buck. I would give the AC no fewer than 4 days because it is a pain to get there (thank goodness--it would be intolerable if it was one iota easier to get there).
You can explore wine anywhere, but Tuscany might be slightly more amenable to that than the AC (however, I actually like the whites of the AC better than Tuscan reds--that's why I urge personalizing!). However, early-mid September is pretty great for the AC in terms of weather, crowds beginning to thin.

Posted by
498 posts

There is a lot of wine to Tuscany besides Chianti, that at least makes it an interesting place to try many different styles and expressions of red wine. You might be able to see some of Venice and some of Florence, but it would be whirlwind... so I'd forget about Amalfi.

Posted by
1054 posts

If you have a car around Tuscany skip Chianti and head further south to Montalcino for some Brunello or a little further to the village of Montefalco for the Sagratino wine (ages just as well as the Brunello), or before Venice stop north of Verona for the Amarone wines. And a little west of the Amalfi coast is Taurasi made from the Aglianico grape. Italy is not just 1 wine region. Each area you're visiting has it's own that you can visit and try.

Posted by
869 posts

I would actually cut Venice. Then you could land in Florence and recover from jet lag there for three nights. Then pick up a car and move on to an agriturismo (we're staying here next year http://www.agriturismopoderecunina.com) I also prefer the wines in this region. You could stay at this agriturismo for four nights and do a cooking class, tour the hilltowns of Montalcino, montepulciano, pienza, etc. Then drive to Orvieto for a night (or just stop here for lunch on your way down to the Amalfi Coast). Their white wine is delicious and famous. Then drive down to the Amalfi Coast and spend the remainder of your time there. They have a lot of wine in this area too. http://www.winetouramalficoast.com/
We always like to stay in Ravello and do day trips from there. Capri and or Positano are great day trips. We usually stay at Punta Civita or Villa San Cosma, but next year we are booking this place http://www.lagiuliana.com/ravello_bed_breakfast/ravello_bed_breakfast_price.html
The Amalfi Coast is just so stunning and beautiful. Venice is too but in a very different way.

Posted by
904 posts

Dump the Amalfi Coast this trip and take it in next.

Fly into Venice. Visit the city, at least 2 full days, plus 1/2 in and 1/2 day out (3 nights minimum). Then to the Veneto wine country, check it out here: https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/the-veneto-region-home-of-venice-and-some-of-the-most-prevalent-wines/

Then to Florence, 2 days, Duomo, Academia, Borgello, Ponte Vechio, Uffizi (a 2 hour tour if interested, self guides 1 hour if not). Then to Piazzale Michelangelo. Pitti Palace, Palazzo Vechio, and Bobili Gardens also available.

Then car to San Gimignano or similar to try vernaccia and sangiovese. You could hit 2-3 differnt palces (that is stay nights in different places) as you head down toward Rome.,, OR, head up toward the barolo and barbera country around Asti and Alba (good places to stay). Then fly out of MIlan.

Amalfi is just to far away for a 12 day trip.

Posted by
823 posts

Marissa,

Florence IS Tuscany. If you want to visit the Tuscan countryside in-depth and for multiple days, then yes, a car is probably warranted but not strictly required. Many of Tuscany's charming hill towns are easily and efficiently reached by train and/or bus. If you are staying in a city center, skip the car because parking is a huge hassle and many of the cities/towns have traffic zones and violations can be really expensive. If you do decide to rent a car, do research all the ins and outs of driving in Italy from the need to have an International Driving Permit to ZTL and traffic fines.

As other commenters have suggested, I would drop the Amalfi area as it's just too much on an outlier. If you have your heart set on Venice, so be it. It's just a 2 hour train ride from Florence and you could fly open-jaw in order to alleviate the need to backtrack. However, If Venice isn't high on your priority list, then you can easily fill up 12 days in and around Florence.

If you want to engross yourself in Italian rural life/wine scene, opt for a stay at an agriturismo (farmhouse B&B) and make occasional trips (by public transport) into Florence or other tourist centers. For all practical purposes, this will require a car but I would plan on taking a train or bus into the cities.

If, on the other hand, you plan on concentrating on the cultural and historic sites with only occasional forays into the countryside, I would find an apartment (or two) in a city (or two) and then plan on day trips into the countryside.

Posted by
486 posts

I just wanted to add that many European countries have very strict laws on drinking and driving. I don't know the specifics for Italy, but I would be very careful about going to a bunch of wineries and then driving. It might be better to have a different plan such as hiring a driver for the day or using public transportation.

Posted by
11613 posts

Not on your list but if you want serious vineyards and beautiful countryside, try the Colli Euganei, near Padova. Home of prosecco. Many great reds, too. Lake Garda is not far away, either. The agriturismo that my friends and I keep returning to is Le Volpi, outside of Baone.

Posted by
5602 posts

Marissa, you might want to read this trip report from Forum member Julie, who just went on an anniversary trip herself. She and her husband went to the Tuscan countryside and then Rome.

You could switch out Florence (and maybe Venice) for Rome, and do the countryside like they did. I agree with most posters that the Amalfi coast is a bridge too far for this trip unless you make it your main destination.

Anyway, read Julie's report about her experience and see what you think!

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/italy-april-2017-trip-report

Posted by
20718 posts

We spent a week in an agritourisno outside of Florence with a car. Visiting wineries requires more structure than doing the same in CA and the US. Almost all of the wineries require a reservation and a fee. A couple of times when we had extra time we were turned away without a reservation. We tried to hit about three wineries a day. There was a good article in Wine Spectator a couple of years ago that list a number of prime wineries to visit in Tuscany. It was great guide and we hit most of them. I am sure you can google the article. Some of the better wineries can be difficult to find so a good GPS is needed.

Posted by
33 posts

I must say my experience has been the exact opposite of Frank's above. On multiple occasions we've pulled up to wineries without any reservation and received a warm welcome and great tour and tasting. Keep in mind that most of the wineries in Chianti Classico are farms and the farmers are happy to show off their operation and talk shop. Sometimes get to meet the kids and dog. Sometimes no one is around and you have to move on to the next property down the road. We generally visit the smaller wineries around Castellina, the big operations might in fact require a reservation.

I'd cut both the AC and Venice from your itinerary. AC is too far and Venice is (to put it nicely) underwhelming. Visit Florence, stay at an agriturismo in Chianti, stop in Siena, see Rome; that's a great trip.

Posted by
31055 posts

marissa,

I agree with others that with a VERY short 12 days to work with, skipping the Amalfi Coast and Venice would be prudent. There are enough wineries to visit in Tuscany, Umbria and the Valpolicella area near Lago di Garda.

After reading your post, the first thought that came to mind is that winery visits and rental cars are not a good combination, as the penalties for impaired driving are severe. A brief excerpt from Wikipedia....

"From 0.05% to 0.08% (€500-2000 fine, 3–6 months license suspension), from 0.08% to 0.15% (aggravated, €800-3200 fine, 6–12 months license suspension, up to 6 months imprisonment), over 0.15% (aggravated, €1500-6000 fine, 1–2 years license suspension, 6 to 12 months imprisonment, vehicle seizure and confiscation)"

If you're planning on sampling the wares, you might be better to base in Florence or Siena, and take tours of the wineries. I believe there are some listed in the RS Italy guidebook.

It's also important to note that for driving in Italy, each driver listed on the rental form must have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are valid for one year, and easily obtained at any CAA/AAA office (two Passport-sized photos required, which may be provided by the issuing office). Failure to produce an IDP if requested can result in fines on the spot!

You may also want to have a look at some of the other posts here concerning the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato (limited traffic) areas that are becoming increasingly prevalent in many Italian towns & cities especially Florence, which is almost saturated with automated ZTL cameras. EACH PASS through one of the automated Cameras will result in a €100+ ticket, which you won't know about until several months after you return home! This website provides more information - http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/driving/traffic_cameras_speeding.htm

Posted by
5602 posts

I disagree that Venice is underwhelming. Yes, it's packed with people -- but it is utterly singular in its beauty.

Posted by
10 posts

This is great everyone. Thank you. We have decided to, like some suggested, cut the Amalfi coast, as it is a lot for this trip.

We would like to focus on Florence, Tuscan countryside, and maybe Venice. Do you recommend airports to fly in and out of? The only thing is that because we are heading to another country after our only choices with airports to fly out of are Rome and Milan. Does this work with any itinerary?

Thanks in advance SO much!

Posted by
5602 posts

Why not fly into Milan, take the train over to Venice, spend a few days, then train back to Florence, spend a few days, pick up a rental car on your way out of Florence, go to the Tuscan countryside, spend a few days, and then drive down to Rome to return the rental car and fly out? You don't have to ever go into the city, just follow the GPS to the airport. Easy-peasy.

Posted by
1666 posts

I imagine you were referring to the best known wine region (Tuscany), but you might have fun looking up all the different wine regions Italy has to offer, from Sicily in the south to the Piedmont in the north.

winefolly.com/review/italian-wine-regions-map/

Posted by
10 posts

Hi everyone. Thanks again. So we decided to fly into Venice, spend 2-3 nights there (what does everyone think?) and then take train to Florence. Was planning on doing the day in Florence and then driving to Tuscan countryside. Should we do one day or two days/one night in Florence? Then we will drive to countryside. We are looking to be based in a town and then take day trips. We did this last year in Provence and stayed in St. Remy and we are looking for something very similar. Any ideas? From Tuscan countryside, we will then drive to Rome to fly out of Rome.

Thoughts?

Posted by
1666 posts

Was planning on doing the day in Florence and then driving to Tuscan countryside. Should we do one day or two days/one night in Florence? Then we will drive to countryside. We are looking to be based in a town and then take day trips.

Actually, I think it would be better to do two days/two nights in Florence. Pick up your car after breakfast after spending the second night and drive to your base in the Tuscan countryside.

We stayed in Greve, which is ~18km south of Florence. It made for a great base for us, but we did a day trip to Florence. I highly recommend Castillo di Verrazzano. However, since you would have visited Florence, you might want to look at something near San Gimignano. That would put you in easy reach of not only there, but also Volterra and Siena. If you chose, even Pisa and Lucca would be fairly close. To give you an idea, from San Gimignano, it's 50 minutes to Siena, 90 minutes north to Lucca and 90 minutes south to Montepulciano.

Posted by
5602 posts

Marissa, you might put your Venice question in another thread . . . it will probably draw more attention that way (I don't have any expertise there, having been only once, nearly 25 years ago,myself!)

Glad that your trip is beginning to take shape!

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks! I have made another thread. This is great. Thinking about Montepulciano as a base for being in the countryside for 4-5 days. Would people recommend this? Looking forward a scenic elegant town that is not bustling but has restaurants, shops, etc.

Posted by
33 posts

We really like Castellina. Try Villa Capovento, it's really good. Very nice place in the heart of the Chianti wine region. I have maximum respect for the family that runs Villa Capovento.