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Towns in Tuscany this February

Hello, this is my first posting on Rick Steves, although I have been reading the forums for a while. I am an older single traveler who has been to Italy several times throughout my life, mostly in larger cities. I am planning on going to Tuscany in February, as I like travelling in cooler weather when there is less tourism.

Does anyone have suggestions of towns that I could use as a great home base? I will have a rental car, so there are no restrictions on where I can go. I would also appreciate any suggestions on places to stay.

Thanks for your advice.

Posted by
1511 posts

ntagg35 - You could use Lucca, Cortona, Greve, or Pienza as a great home base to explore the region. Are you planning to to stay in an agriturismo (farm house) or hotel?

Posted by
1648 posts

Welcome to the forum!
We too like traveling off season and had a wonderful stay in Tuscany December 2015.

Have you driven in Italy before? I won't go through all the standard talks unless you are a first time driver, though we had absolutely no problems. My only concern would be the weather. You should get snow chains when you rent, but be sure to check. We saw signs reminding drivers that having snow chains are mandatory in Tuscany during the winter months.

Here is what worked for us. We stayed at Castillo di Verrazzano, which is just outside Greve. If you are a wine drinker, this can be a great idea. Verrazzano wines are well regarded. We enjoyed their food and wine pairing for lunch and we also had dinner there. By staying at the winery, we didn't have to leave the grounds to get to our room, therefore we avoided drinking and driving.

Verrazzano was well located for our explorations. It's on the famed SR222, the Chiantigiana road that will take you through charming villages like Radda and nearby Gaiole. Also, Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra were an easy day trip. If we had another week, we would have ventured north to Lucca, south to Montepulciano and even east to Assisi.

If you can, be sure to have lunch or dinner at La Cantina in Greve. It's popular with the locals, we were the only tourists there. They have great pizza!

Posted by
9 posts

Hi RJean – thank you for your suggestions. I am completely open to any type of accommodation. Being retired, I do want something a little more upscale.

Hi DougMac – thank you! I have been coming to Italy for the past 40+ years, but as I mentioned, I have mostly stayed in larger cities. Being older, I am over the crowds and looking for a more peaceful setting. I have driven many times and know all about snow chairs (hope I won’t need them) and having an international driver’s license. Thank you, though.
Thank you for your suggestions. I plan on spending some time today looking at them. Very much appreciated.

Posted by
9388 posts

We went to an agriturismo near Montepulciano one year in February. It was a delightful time to tour Tuscany but our apartment was so cold! The electric radiators could not chase the cold of a 40 year old building with thick stone walls! Only when we hovered in front of a roaring fire were we comfortable but that heat did not invade the bedroom so we slept in our clothes. Soooo, be sure to get a place with good heating and bring your long underwear and a good coat!

Posted by
82 posts

Hi ntagg35,

It sounds like you have had many wonderful times in Italy. I’m going to suggest Montepulciano, which has become one of our favorite places to use as a base while in Italy. We have been travelling there since 2014 and there is something that keeps bringing us back to this wonderful place.

Since you will have a car, I can suggest our two favorite places to stay while there. The first is an apartment in town (http://www.charminghomesmontepulciano.com). There is close by pay parking, but you will have to walk to the apartment. The owner is really nice and the apartment is spacious. The second place is a bed and breakfast just at the base of town (https://www.fontemartino.com). This is a newer place and the owners are wonderful. The rooms are well decorated and they have all the modern amenities.

As far as restaurants go, you will have a difficult time choosing. I would suggest La Grotta for finer dining or L’Altro Cantuccio for more casual, but modern dining.

Let me know if you have any other questions about Montepulciano. Have a great time!

Posted by
1696 posts

If your primary interest is exploring Tuscany, and especially the scenic countryside around the Val D'Orcia, then either Montepulciano or Pienza would be good choices.
Something to consider is the availability of parking at or near your accommodation, along with the relative ease of getting out and about for day trip explorations. For that reason staying within the walls of any of the hill towns can be problematic.
Based on the recommendation of some other posters we booked this place near Montepulciano for 5 nights during our own trip last June: http://www.montorio.com/. It really is terrific and off-season rates are very reasonable. Parking is free and it was a snap getting on the road every morning for our own day trips. The apartments are self-catering and there's a market just across the road for basic supplies should you choose to save money and prepare some of your meals in. Ristorante La Grotta, which someone else mentioned, is just up the street and across from the San Biagio church - an easy, level, walk from the apartments. If you're reasonably fit you can walk up the hill into the town (maybe a half mile) for lunch or dinner.
Nearby La Foce https://www.lafoce.com/en/ offers classy accommodations set within one of the prettiest gardens in Italy. Didn't stay there but they looked pretty nice from the outside and you can't beat the location.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi N_Kingdon – thanks for the ZTL info, but as I mentioned, I am very experienced with driving in Italy. I really appreciate the Val d’Orcia travel guide link. This is exactly what I am looking for.

Hi Laurel – Thank you for the great advice. I will be checking into the heating options of wherever I decide to stay. I want to explore hill towns, but want to make sure my old bones stay warm at night!

Hi TJ – Thank you for suggesting Montepulciano as well as the accommodations and restaurants. Everything sounds delightful and I will be looking into your suggestions.

Hi Robert – Thank you for your suggestions. Based on what you and some of the other replies suggested, the Montepulciano and Pienza area will be my focus for now. I like to think that I am pretty fit, but do know my limits. I will look into your suggestions.

Thank you everyone for your quick replies and suggestions. I will keep you posted on what I decide.

Posted by
5545 posts

We tend to always stay in the Chianti region so Siena would be a good base if that region interests you.

Posted by
16743 posts

Right outside the wall of Volterra, B&B La Primavera takes single travelers for 50 euros/night, and is a homey location promising heating and free parking.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you everyone for all your suggestions. After much online research, I decided to call a few of the accommodation suggestions for more details. Once I spoke with the owners of Fonte Martino, I decided I will be staying there while in Montepulciano. They were very friendly and assured me that their new suites are very modern and I will not have any issues with heat. Also, there will not be any issues with parking, which was a concern of mine if I were to stay within Montepulciano.

I am in the process of purchasing my tickets and finalizing my plans. I hope to stay a week in Montepulciano and then a week in Venice, where I have stayed many times. Once I return, I will let everyone know my thoughts from this trip.

Posted by
9 posts

After requesting advice and receiving some wonderful suggestions in this forum, I had the pleasure of staying at Fonte Martino in Montepulciano for several days in February and completely recommend staying here if you are going to visit Tuscany. The world has changed a bit since then, but I would suggest this bed and breakfast be on the top of your visit list when travel resumes. I have also posted my review on the Rick Steves Italy Reviews Forum.

Although I have been travelling to Italy for over 40 years, I generally have visited larger cities. Because I was travelling in February, I was a bit apprehensive about staying in an older farmhouse and wanted to ensure I had reliable heat. I called and talked to the boys who own Fonte Martino and they were very understanding of my concerns and assured me that they completely renovated the main house adding new system and that the external guest suites were newly built and just completed in April 2019. After that discussion, I decided to reserve with them.

When I arrived, both David and Toby were waiting to warmly greet me. Let me just say, the moment I stepped out of the car and saw the property and view, I knew I chose the right place. The boys carried my bags for me and on the way to my room, gave a bit of a tour of their gardens and property. They had such a calming manner and are very easy to speak with.

When we arrived at the room, I was again impressed with the accommodations. The room was very warm, inviting, and quite spacious. The décor was modern and stylish, unlike any other place I have stay in the past. Instead of being dark and full of older antique furniture, it was very bright and open. There was a sitting area with a couch and coffee table, which was separated from the bedroom by a fireplace. There was a queen-sized wrought-iron bed, which was one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in while travelling. The bathroom was large and included a walk-in shower and dual sinks. The room also included a walk-in closet, minifridge with complimentary waters, coffee maker with assorted coffees and teas, and even a complimentary bottle of organic wine for me to enjoy.

The boys put out a feast each morning for breakfast. They explained they made everything fresh onsite each morning and during the warmer months, use produce they grow organically onsite. The selection was impressive and the quiche of the day was always a treat.

After breakfast, I would leave to explore the area and when I would return to my room, it looked just as it did when I first arrived. The waters and coffee were restocked. The bed was perfect. An they even left a few of the breakfast pastries under a glass dome as an evening treat for me.

During my stay, David and Toby made me feel as if I was part of their family. Again, being in my 70s and being a solo traveler, I did have some concerns which completely disappeared. The two of them make Fonte Martino very special.

I have done a lot of research before choosing Fonte Martino and would suggest that anyone who wants to visit Tuscany to stay there (https://www.fontemartino.com). I am already planning my return to see them again next year.

Important Note: I would suggest having a rental car when visiting.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi there,

For our honeymoon last May, we did wine tasting in Tuscany, you as a solo traveler would like to avoid the crowds and busy city center of Florence, the name of the company is https://www.florencewinetour.com/, by the way, check the availability first, but I am pretty sure that they are one of few companies who run the tour all year long.

Cheers

Posted by
4501 posts

ntagg,

Please elaborate and let us know which towns you visited during your time in Tuscany.

Which towns became your favorite and why?

I’d also appreciate recommendations for places to eat in all the towns you visited.

Thanks!

Posted by
9 posts

Hello Priscilla – during my visit in February, I focused my stay to in and around Montepulciano. I visited Pienza, Montalcino, Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia, and Montefollonico. Those towns are much smaller than Montepulciano and all were enjoyable.

As for restaurants, my favorite was L’Altro Cantuccio In Montepulciano, but Osteria Porta di Bacco and La Grotta, both also in Montepulciano, were close 2nds. In Montefollonico, I liked Ristorante 13 Gobbi. They have a pasta dish there where they toss hot pasta in a wheel of parmesan cheese and it was delicious! And for Pienza, I enjoyed La Terrazza Del Chiostro, which has a beautiful view of the Val d'Orcia from their gardens. During warmer weather, you can dine in their gardens; however, because I was there in February, I enjoyed the ambiance inside their restaurant.

The boys from Fonte Martino made all the restaurant suggestions and reservations for me, which I very much appreciated.