Florence, Tuscany late June early July; advice please

My niece and her husband will be in Italy at the end of the month for their honeymoon. Any must see wineries, restaurants, sites, museums? I told them about Saturnia hot springs and Felsina.

Here’s their itinerary thus far (I may have some of the details slightly wrong):


3 Night in Florence - B&B Isola d’Arno

2 Nights Monterigionni Monterigionni - Borgo de’ Brandi
Visit Siena

3 Nights Pienza Val d’Orcia - Santa Maria di Pienza
visits to Saturnia hot springs, Lucca and Pisa

Cheers, and thanks!

Warren

I would suggest looking at the many threads on Tuscany for recommendations. A must-go for bistecca alla Fiorentina is Buca Lapi, but make sure to call ahead and make a reservation.

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Il Palio is in Siena on July 2nd. Bucket list worthy item

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Hi Warren
If they like to cook then checking out Locanda Demantra cooking school and restaurant in Montalcino could be a lot of fun for them and its also very good food. Check out post #10 on my trip report. https://wineimport.discoursehosting.net/t/italy-trip-report-positano-rome-montalcino-florence/173548/1
Looks like Montalcino is about 1 hour by car from where their staying.

It also has highlights of our 2nd visit to Florence. Having done both the Duomo in Sienna and Florence I would recommend to tour the one in Sienna. We enjoyed that one quite a bit more.

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I hope they both love the heat and are very tolerant of it when travelling / sightseeing etc. At that time of year I’d strongly recommend them adapting to the traditional Italian cycle of active in the morning, disappear somewhere cool over lunch and re-emerge for the later afternoon / early evening passeggiata.

Monterigionni certainly puts them in easy reach of Siena, and even if they have a car, I’d suggest investigating the bus/pullman route into Siena, as these drop you right in the centre (the train stations are usual a bit of a way out of town, and that’s true with Siena). The other obvious tourist attraction there is San Gimignano, but it is now very obvious, so might feel overtly touristy, where Monterigionni almost certainly won’t. As an alternative, they’re in prime position to try a couple of Chianti wineries. There appear to be at least one in Monterigionni itself, so if it’s more the experience of a winery visit, that might be a good choice and walkable. If looking for more prestigious places, maybe Fonterutoli or Castellare di Castellina are local enough?

Lucca/Pisa as a day trip from southern Tuscany sounds like a logistically bad option - perhaps they have that planned from Firenze? If they do go to Pisa I strongly recommend not taking the direct walk from either station to the Field of Miracles. It paints Pisa in an awful light, that shone by the hordes of tourists that turn that into a dirty / disgusting experience, marked with rip-off places milking the ignorant tourists. Instead arrive at the main train station, but walk towards and up *corso italia / borgo stretto / via oberdan, before swinging a 90 degree left to approach the field of miracles. This cuts out the majority of the tat, and gets them to see the real city. There’s a nice open air morning market after you cross the river, and last time we went there was a good covered one just before the river in an old bank. Absolutely avoid eating or buying anything within a stone’s throw of the leaning tower, though the nearby slightly hidden botanical gardens are pleasant (and cooling).

For Pienza, Montepulciano isn’t a huge distance away and likewise I’d suggest looking at Bus/Pullman routes to see if that can get them there. The bus station is the easiest arrival point, as it gives a longer but gentler walk up into Montepulciano… and a similar gentle slope back. FWIW I reckon that pool at the agriturismo will be so appealing that the desire to travel too far will fade, with local exploration and always returning for a swim.

  • I’ve realised in a couple of other posts recently I’ve been lazy and not checked the road names… and have been saying via Roma [wow.gif] that’s the road to AVOID! blush Sorry.
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We are just back from Tuscany/Umbria and it is very hot and dry there already. June/July will be scorching. Highly recommend pre-booking lunch and dinners as well as any museums, wine tastings, etc. Lots of travelers and spots are limited due to COvid, labor, etc.

A few things:
For Saturnia - prebook the club at Thermes as it gives you access to the algae pool and spa at the resort as well as all of the pools. Have lunch at the resort and not the pool bistro for better options. The natural springs were packed on a Monday afternoon.

In Florence - gelato at Le Streghe (try the buontalenti or Bergamotto - I had both), lunch at Pitti e Gola but email and reserve an outdoor table in advance. Shannon set it up for us and Sabrina and her team did an amazing truffle lunch. They have older bottles available and my nephew said the 1980 Selvipiana CCR was his favorite of the trip. The Uffizi was wall to wall people and they took temperatures before entering. We had a fun time shopping at Officina & Farmacia Santa Maria Novella - worth a stop just for the flower displays, etc. Oltrano is fun for shopping.

Pienza - just nearby but hard to get to without a car, arrange a tasting and lunch at Podere Il Casale. Michael, Robin, and Claudia provide an amazing experience that was one of the highlights of our trip. The view of Val d’Orcia from the farm is unrivaled. In Pienza, Rossellini (try the pecorino gelato - I double dipped with mango) or Fredo for gelato and lots of really cute shops for clothing, decor, or cheese.

Enjoy!

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Another museum tip. Book tours dont just show up and pay the extra for the “skip the line” tour option. I found most through Trip Advisor. The are only in Florence a few days and the time/expense of getting there is significant. Seven years ago i took my son on a trip to Europe. We did Berlin, Prague, Rome, Montalcino, Siena, Florence and Paris in under 2 weeks never spending more than 2 nights anywhere. I made a top 5 bucket list for every city and by paying extra for tours we hit 3 to 5 of them in each city.

Also in every city abroad if you google Free Walking Tours in XXXX you will find great free formal tours given mostly by students. The tours are free and they work for tips so they have to be good, friendly and helpful or they dont get paid. We did a few of those first thing in the mornings

Can’t you just book Uffizxi tickets online that skip the queue without taking the your. That’s what I’ve done.

That’s what we did as well. Booked a time online - took the printout to an office across from the Uffizi to pick up our tickets and then proceed straight through security, etc. no tour needed, you can wander on your own at your leisure.

Best price is buying direct from the museum, not through a third party. For most museums in Florence, you can buy tickets here: https://www.b-ticket.com/b-Ticket/uffizi/default_eng.aspx.html

I love the Bargello museum as well, I find the Uffizzi amazing but exhausting.

In Florence, Calcio Storico is starting up now and ends on June 24th….
Apparently an incredibly fun time to be there esp on the 24th, parades, partying etc.
I wanted to go this year but will opt for next year

https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-events/calcio-storico-fiorentino.html

I’ve only seen videos. I’m not sure whether it’s sport as a proxy for war, or war as a proxy for sport.
2016 video below

Apparently the games were started as a disincentive to keep out Roman soldiers. The matches were a favorite of Napoleon and he would attend them for many years.
I think it’s pretty cool how each team is a different representative of the numerous churches around Florence. A must see for me…although the hard to acquire tickets can only be purchased in person in Florence the day they become available.

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In Florence, a highlight were the gardens at Villa di Castello and Villa La Petraia just outside the city. I would go to Lucca from here too.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_di_Castello

In the Tuscan countryside we loved Ristorante Albergaccio in Castellina. In Siena, Wednesday is market day, located in the Fortezza Medicea. Would also recommend Cortona. When I go again, I’d probably stay within walking distance of Montefioralle.

Near Pienza Val d’Orcia (and Saturnia) I would recommend Sorano and the Etruscan Road San Rocco and some of the Etruscan necropolis(i) around the area. Pitigliano was a nice stop too. Not too far from there is Civita di Bagnoregio.

I would skip Pisa.

We attended one of the semi-final matches in 2017. You need to be in town when tickets go on sale and they sell out quickly. The match was insane. Like a cross between MMA and Aussie football. Our match ended early with a forfeit by the Azzurri after one of their “players” attacked a referee. Seemed like the entire Florence police department took the field to restore order.

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Toxic masculinity distilled into a “sport”.

I recently posted a bunch of restaurant recommendations for Florence in this thread: https://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=189401

Salute! [cheers.gif]

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Re-visited my long time favorite Trattoria Mario in Firenze today

http://www.trattoriamario.com/index-en.html

This is a great down to earth traditional florentine trattoria, not a Michelin starred place tho

We had Bistecca alla Fiorentina and even our accompanying rather critical chef friends were full of praise

Fun fact were the Campogiovanni and Argiano BdM I saw in the cellar
(second time we got one of the special places in the wine store cellar)

We had no wine tho, it was lunch time and we drive back to Liguria in the evening

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Thank you all for this. A group of us are visiting Florence in mid September and value all the contributions above.
Will share our feedback when we return.

Any thoughts on winery visits?
Would love to visit Montevetrine but their contact info seems pretty hush hush. Lining up Felsina and potentially Monsanto.
Looking at Poggio di Sotto as well (a couple we are traveling with aren’t wine nerds so may balk at the cost).

Santé

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Isole Olena looks like its about an hour away. I haven’t been but they would be one of my top choices.
In Florence a must visit is to this Enoteca. It’s been posted about a bunch but don’t think I saw it in this thread http://pittigolaecantina.com/

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