Umbria itinerary question

My husband, 16-year old son and I are traveling to Italy in July. We start our trip with 3 nights, 2 1/2 days in Florence. We then have 6 nights, before we head to Cinque Terre for 4 nights and then onto Venice. We are very interested in Siena, Orvieto and Assisi and would like to stay somewhere in Umbria. Right now, I am thinking we'll take the bus from Florence to Siena, where we will spend 2 nights (maybe 1?), then pick up a rental car, and head to Orvieto for a day trip. After spending the day in Orvieto, we would drive east and stay somewhere for 4 nights and do day trips to Assisi and other spots. We are interested in Todi, Gubbio, Spoleto and Mount Sibbilini, although we are flexible and can adjust our days trips based on where we are staying. It looks like there is a hot air balloon event occurring in Todi, while we are there, which could be nice. Would love some feedback on the following: Should we take one night off Siena and add it to the Umbria portion? Does it make sense to stay in an agriturismo for these days, versus basing ourselves in a town or city? . . . any thoughts on a good basecamp area? Is there any benefit to spending 2 nights on the Orvieto side of Umbria and then 2 nights further east (Gubbio, Assisi, etc.), or does it just make better sense to hunker down in one place?
When we leave the Umbria area and head toward Cinque Terre, where is the best place to return our car? Can we drive straight up and over to La Spezia or should we plan to return it in Pisa? Thanks for any advice!

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

Siena can be visited in a day. Staying for one night is ok. Two might be overkill, but of course it depends on personal preferences. I would go there from Florence early (70 min by bus), visit Siena all day, sleep in Siena, and next morning rent a car and head out. You can stay anywhere in Umbria, but I would choose one spot only because checking in and out of hotels is a time waster. Umbria is a small region and for ex. from Orvieto to Gubbio is just over 2 hours max. by car. It's better to have one base and day trip from there. Agriturismo or town accommodations is a matter of personal preference. With a car both can be feasible. If you choose town accommodations, make sure it's in a portion of town where you can drive in. Many historical centers, including in some small towns, are closed to traffic.
For the Cinque Terre is probably best to return your rental car in Spezia. Nearly all trains to Cinque Terre originate from Spezia. Driving to Spezia is easy, the freeway will drop right near the port, where many rental car agencies are located, as soon as you hit town. You'll need a taxi from the rental agency to the station (about 2 miles). Returning in Pisa will require you to return at the airport. I think all rental agencies are there only.

Posted by Margo
baltimore, MD, USA
9 posts

Thanks for the advice Roberto--this is very helpful.

Posted by marie
west Chester, PA
37 posts

Margo, why are you staying in Florence, then going to CT then back to Venice? you are really backtracking. If you fly into Florence, immediately train over to CT and then work east. You will be wasting time going back and forth. And if you are driving, do not drive into Florence, not only will that be a significant waste of time, the ZTL zones carry huge fines if you accidentally pass into
one of the lanes. Agriturismos are usually out in the country and you definitely will need a car, but realize that some of the "roads" are not paved, no lighting at night and no signs!! you need to figure out what you want to see and then go from there. Hope this helps

Posted by Lexma
Denver
536 posts

Taking one night off Siena - Not sure; all of your options are good. And it depends on how you feel about one-night stays. Definitely pick only one location in Umbria. We stayed in Spello, and it worked for us in terms of location. It's a very small town. (We stayed in Gubbio on a previous trip, but that's out of the way from most other places.) We prefer to stay in towns, though as pointed out, it's really a matter of personal preference. We like to go to cafes and people-watch, and walk around before and after dinner, which is much easier to do if you're staying in a town.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2504 posts

Spello is only a few kilometers from Assisi so it will
be a good base for driving. A nice half-day can be spent in Trevi, on a hilltop not far from Spello.