We are staying several nights in Siena and planning a day trip to both Volterra and San Gimignano and have a rental car. Which one would be better to visit first? How much time should we allow for each? Any preference for lunch?
Q&A: 1. Makes no difference. 2. If you are doing everything in a day, then 1/2 day each.
3. If you go to a sit down restaurant in Italy, 2-3 hours will be gone just for lunch. Nothing wrong with that, but I want you to be aware of Italy's somewhat slower pace of lunches. There are plenty of restaurant choices in the area, just ask around or consult Trip Advisor.
Were there in May, spend a full day in each.
They are both very small towns. But both charming. It all depends on what you want to do in each. Volterra has some wonderful Roman ruins outside the city walls, and a great Etruscan museum. Shop for Alabaster here..there is a "factory" just down the main road before you start the climb up to the hilltop town. Out side of walking down the maze of streets and the wonderful town gates and a stop in the main piazza, you'll have seen most of it. San Gimignano has the towers. There is one (as I remember) that you can climb, great opportunity to take some wonderful photos of the roof tops of the town and the beautiful surrounding countryside. San Gim has more tourists shops....I bought a poppy decorated table cloth there, some other gals bought some ceramics. Noticed lots of buses of tourists at San Gim, not so much at Volterra. I'd recommend 1/2 day at each, but start at San Gim first to beat the tourist buses....get there by 9AM to walk around and get your barrings...then head over to Volterra for the afternoon and early evening. As far as eating there....I will always recommend getting off the main streets/piazza and find a small place to eat. I don't remember ever having a bad meal in Italy (except the WORST pizza of my life in Assisi last fall just ONE really bad meal- and I should have know...it was on the main street and everything was in English)
Much good advice above. We liked Volterra much more than San Gimignano. Volterra is more "real" to me.l As to lunch, it does not HAVE to take 2-3 hours...nor does dinner. If you are in a group of 6 or 8 people, things naturally take longer, and you can certainly sit a tavolafor as long as you like, but even a great lunch should only take 90 minutes if you want it to.
Great information all. I know it's a little rushed but we will do 1/2 day each. Thank you!
Sally, this is a little off the topic of your question, but we have a Rick Steves meet up the 3rd Sat of each month at 1030 at One World. We would love for you to join us! Darcy, who is the main organizer is out of town, but look for her to post a notice soon!