My husband and I are planning a 2 week trip to Florence and the Tuscany area. We will be renting a car as we want to see as much of the area as possible. I need some direction on where to base ourselves. We would prefer a B&B or villa, possibly an agriturismo, that has food and wine. Would love to have an opportunity to take some cooking classes too. We simply want to immerse ourselves in the culture and enjoy!
Do you have a guide book? Tuscany is a large area, so there is not one answer. I would read up and see what area appeals to you the most before getting too far ahead of yourselves.
Thank you and yes, I have been reading Rick Steves Italy guide, specifically the "Heart of Tuscany" section. That general area is the area I am thinking about. I just wanted to hear from those that have loved staying in and around the area and can recommend an excellent place to make our home base.
Prepare to have a wonderful adventure!
Based on your interests, look at staying in an agriturismo either near Siena or near Florence. We stayed at Castello di Verrazzano, which is just outside Greve. They have incredible food and wine. If you want to take cooking classes, you could scoot into Greve and take classes from Mama Lorena at La Cantina.
Another advantage of Verrazzano is that Greve is on the bus line to Florence. This way you don't have to drive in the city. Even though we had a car, we were encouraged to take the bus. We had a great time on the bus and I'm glad I didn't have to deal with a car in town. We do this on other travels, commuting into town from a nearby B&B or agriturismo.
If you want to spend more than one day in Florence, I suggest you still keep your agriturismo, commute in early, then stay overnight, returning the evening of the second day.
From Verrazzano we were able to wander all over Tuscany, as far south as Montepulciano and as far northwest as Volterra. We only had a little more than a week. With more time, Lucca would not have been too far for a day trip.
I found Google maps to be a great help. I'd choose an agriturismo, B&B or villa of interest, then get driving directions to everything we wanted to see. This gave me a great idea of what was within reach.
What time of the year do you plan to go? We went in December and it was great. Everything was open and the crowds were small. I suggest at least the shoulder season and avoid summer if at all possible.
DougMac ~ Thank you so much for your information. We are planning a trip for November 2019. Like you, we prefer the cooler weather and not the large crowds. We were in Florence this past November, but just for a day so we know we need to get back and see more of Florence and the region.
We love Orvieto as a base. There are several Agriturismi in the area. The local Orvieto Classico vino bianco is excellent. Lots to do in this ancient town and around the area with tons of Roman & Etruscan ruins to explore. Be sure to research the small towns of Pitigliano, Savona, & Sorano. Fantastic ancient villages nearby. Along with nearby Civita di Banoregio. Orvieto is located near the extreme south of Tuscany (technically in Umbria). You may want to stay farther north. Siena is fantastic, also a good base to explore the area. We find Firenze a little too crowded, although the food there is very good. If you love wine, visit Montalcino for the Brunello and Montepulciano for the Super Tuscan. Then there's the Chianti region. I could go on and on. You basically cant go wrong.
Thank you, Ray - very much appreciated.
Sounds like a great plan.
We stayed at a great agriturismo near San Quirico D'orcia: http://www.agriturismopoderecunina.com/
Great people, great place, in the heart of what I personaly consider the most "tuscan" region of Tuscany.
We didn't take but the do also give cooking lessons.
This place is probably too much south to visit Florence. Maybe think of renting 2 different places? One towards the north and another one southern?
Have a fantastic trip. I've been twice to Tuscany, 14 days total, and I could go back every year...
For me this is the closest to heaven I've experienced. :-)
Firenze makes a great base also, there are a lot of B&B's in that area, and tons a day tour options .
Tours by Roberto has a great list of joinable one day tours, and a private B & B . They are mostly based out of the Siena area.
My wife prefers to stay in a village or small town, within walking distance of restaurants. I've never based in the northern part of Tuscany but it's not a bad idea to split your time with one week in the Chinati area, the other in the Val d'Orcia.
I would not base in Florence with a car. Barberino, Greve and Panzano are all on a bus route into Florence and allow easy access into the countryside. In the south, anywhere from Pienza to Cetona. My main tip for driving is to stay off the main north-south highway, stick to the side roads for some nice scenery.
Hi Jane! No matter where you go in Tuscany, you are going to have a fantastic time! One of my favorite places to stay is the Montepulciano/Pienza area. This area is very picturesque and is the Tuscany that most people envision. It not surprising that this is why so many movies were filmed in this area!
As for the food, only one word, AMAZING! There is not a shortage of restaurants that you will continue to dream about! One of my favorites is in Pienza where you can dine outside overlooking the Val d'Orcia. Montepulciano also has many restaurants that will have you instantly planning your next trip to come back! If you need any suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me.
This area is also in the heart of eine country. Vineyards and wineries are like Starbucks here - they are everywhere! These is no shortage of amazing places to tour and sample/purchase excellent wines.
As for a homebase to stay, I would suggest Fonte Martino guest house in Montepulciano. Private with only 3 rooms but excellent location.
Enjoy your trip - you will have an amazing time!
Thank you all so very much! Since you offered Charmedhawk - I may reach out to you as I do my planning. Again, many thanks to all.
Anytime! Have fun planning and a wonderful trip!