Going to Tuscany in June with family, my kids are in their 20s. Looking at renting a Villa for one week in a central location and driving around from there. We want to go to Florence, Pisa, Chianti. Any recommendations on what city to stay in? Would Siena be a good choice? thanks!
Barbara here's a link to a thread on this subject that could give you some ideas: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm?topic=96777 This was just posted in January so answers are relevant.
Barbara: Our favorite headquarters village in that area is Panzano - a small hill town in the heart of the Chianti district - exactly between Florence and Siena. There are scads of great hilltop villages and towns nearby - great wineries and restaurants - breathtaking vistas. Panzano has the cutest little market on Sunday mornings - a couple nice coffee shops (Caffe La Curva is our favorite), a fantastic enoteca with great casual food (Enoteca Baldi) and Italy's most famous butcher - Dario Cecchini. Plus - our favorite villa. It is Il Palagio (www.infochianti.com). It is a beautiful and immaculate estate - lovely rooms - beautiful views and a helpful (and English speaking) owner. We like it so much we are heading back for our third visit in 2014. Have fun.
Barbara, For driving in Italy, be sure that EACH driver has the compulsory International Drivers' Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce an I.D.P. if requested can result in fines on the spot! Also, you'll need to very careful to avoid the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato areas, which exist in many towns in Tuscany (and especially in Florence). Expensive fines will be the end result, which you won't know about until several months after you return home. Regarding which town to stay in, Siena is a good choice. It's a larger town, so there are lots of good restaurants and other facilities. Staying in a Villa or Agriturismo is one type of holiday experience, but with two kids in their 20's, there likely won't be a lot for them to do in the evenings (you'll know whether that will be an issue for them). In a larger town, they'll be able to wander about and enjoy the activities in the Piazzas, etc. There always seems to be lots of activity in Il Campo in the evenings. You could also look at Montepulciano, Montalcino, San Gimignano or other towns in the area. You might find it helpful to stop by your local Library to see if they have a copy of the Italy Guidebook, as it has good descriptions of the towns in that area. Cheers!
Siena is a wonderful, unique city with much to do and it would be my recommendation.
You might also try the Slow Travel website and forum. Sounds like this request is right up their alley.
We LOVE Siena! But it is 30 miles from Florence, so might not be the most convenient for getting to the places you mentioned. I'd get a map and look at something closest to the main places you want to see. Good luck!
With kids in their 20's I would stay in Florence. You won't even need a car, except for the day you want to tour the. Chianti. If you do rent a car, do so only for the time necessary to visit the countryside and preferably choose accommodations with parking, preferably just outside the ZTL. I'll tell you where if you decide to take that route. You don't need a car for Pisa or Siena or Lucca. They are accessible via train or bus from Florence.
We've spent months in Italy and Siena remains our most favorite place. But when you visit Florence, take the bus so you don't have to find a parking spot.
We went to Tuscany last fall. We stayed in Castellina in Chianti (which was a great centrally located point for what we did). We loved Siena - the Duomo and Plaza are absolutely must see. We also visited Montelpuciano, Florence, Volterra, San Gimignano and Greve. Siena was my personal favorite. For a smaller town - Volterra was incomparable.
Maybe stay in an apt in Florence? You can take the train or bus to those other locations. You'd need a car/bus/tour to get to the Chianti area, though...Siena is one of my favorite places, so that would be an OK place to plant yourselves. No drinking and driving there, though :-( I still vote for the Florence apt. But...it would make a HUGE difference if I knew why you wanted to see all of these places! If you want to see 'David' then split, staying in Florence would make no sense...