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Where to Base in Tuscany

#1
Trying to decide whether to base in Siena or split up our six nights in Tuscany between Montepulciano and San Gimignano. We’re traveling with another couple and they would like to base in Siena and my husband and I are leaning towards the split so we can perhaps venture back into town for dinner, etc. We will be renting a car.
 
#2
Siena does give plenty of options for day trips, including bus trips if you want to leave the car alone for a day.

What about Siena and Montepulciano as the two bases, by way of compromise? We did both on a prior trip and the experience is different enough that you'll enjoy the contrast.

Montepulciano is great to stroll around, very welcoming for wine tasting and has a nice cosy feel. Siena is bigger, and whilst the Piazza del Campo and main pedestrianised streets around it are touristy, the city is more than that. Both are hilly, with Montepulciano shorter but more brutal, whilst Siena can hide the rise and fall a little more.

Would you consider taking a taxi from the airport to Montepulciano, having a couple of days there to get over the flight, then hire a car to go to somewhere near Siena for the remaining 4 days?

FWIW we stayed in apartments that would be no more than a €10 taxi ride from Siena, and even despite my love for local transport, this made a nice compromise of being outside, but with no concern about getting a taxi back. I can't say I'd recommend the apartments - a little too modern / purpose built / campsite for our tastes, but I daresay there are better alternatives within ~5 km of the city.
 
#3
Siena does give plenty of options for day trips, including bus trips if you want to leave the car alone for a day.

What about Siena and Montepulciano as the two bases, by way of compromise? We did both on a prior trip and the experience is different enough that you'll enjoy the contrast.

Montepulciano is great to stroll around, very welcoming for wine tasting and has a nice cosy feel. Siena is bigger, and whilst the Piazza del Campo and main pedestrianised streets around it are touristy, the city is more than that. Both are hilly, with Montepulciano shorter but more brutal, whilst Siena can hide the rise and fall a little more.

Would you consider taking a taxi from the airport to Montepulciano, having a couple of days there to get over the flight, then hire a car to go to somewhere near Siena for the remaining 4 days?

FWIW we stayed in apartments that would be no more than a €10 taxi ride from Siena, and even despite my love for local transport, this made a nice compromise of being outside, but with no concern about getting a taxi back. I can't say I'd recommend the apartments - a little too modern / purpose built / campsite for our tastes, but I daresay there are better alternatives within ~5 km of the city.
 
#4
Thanks so much for the info. I'm looking at places in Siena now. We're traveling with another couple who are older much older than us and they mentioned how they usually didn't do dinner on these trips. However, my husband and I love to do dinner and drink wine. Just want to keep everyone happy. We've traveled with them before and all is good!
 
#5
HammerJ - Sienna is certainly a must see destination. Try to stay within the city walls (difficult with a car - but can park outside the walls). Same thoughts on Lucca - which imo is the best food town in Tuscany. My fav morning routine is to find a local wine shop and choose the bottle of wine for that night. The best food is usually in the small family trattorias. Plan on eating later, much later that what is usual in the US.
 
#6
HammerJ - Sienna is certainly a must see destination. Try to stay within the city walls (difficult with a car - but can park outside the walls). Same thoughts on Lucca - which imo is the best food town in Tuscany. My fav morning routine is to find a local wine shop and choose the bottle of wine for that night. The best food is usually in the small family trattorias. Plan on eating later, much later that what is usual in the US.
 
#7
Thank you. I'll do a search for staying within the walls. We've been to Siena but that was 14 years ago on a tour. No issue with parking outside the walls since that seems to be the norm. I've heard Lucca is nice so maybe we'll take a day trip there too!
 
#10
Great review of Tuscany. Thank you!
We had the same dilemma and decided to have two bases, one in Montalcino and one in Castellina. That decision worked very well for us because we were able to see such a variety of areas and towns and it cut down on the driving time. On another trip, we did stay inside the walls of Siena at Palazzo Ravizza where we were able to park our car and walk to the center of Siena. We loved it there, and they had quite a nice restaurant...and beautiful views from our room.
 
#11
We had the same dilemma and decided to have two bases, one in Montalcino and one in Castellina. That decision worked very well for us because we were able to see such a variety of areas and towns and it cut down on the driving time. On another trip, we did stay inside the walls of Siena at Palazzo Ravizza where we were able to park our car and walk to the center of Siena. We loved it there, and they had quite a nice restaurant...and beautiful views from our room.
Thank you for your reply and makes sense. We decided to each find 3 or our favorite places and meet back again to discuss. The other couple mentioned possibly staying somewhere in between Siena and Montepulcino. So my search continues.
 
#12
You're talking and keeping an open mind, so I reckon you'll find a lovely compromise.

As an aside, we went on holiday with some friends 3-4 years ago, and we ended up with a compromise of 3 locations, one ostensibly chosen by them, one a clear shared interest and another ostensibly chosen by us. We very much enjoyed the place they had put forward, but we were really worried that our choice wouldn't work for them... but we guessed badly wrong, as they loved it (I must admit it blew all of us away, on what was a first visit for all of us)
 
#13
You're talking and keeping an open mind, so I reckon you'll find a lovely compromise.

As an aside, we went on holiday with some friends 3-4 years ago, and we ended up with a compromise of 3 locations, one ostensibly chosen by them, one a clear shared interest and another ostensibly chosen by us. We very much enjoyed the place they had put forward, but we were really worried that our choice wouldn't work for them... but we guessed badly wrong, as they loved it (I must admit it blew all of us away, on what was a first visit for all of us)
HO
You're talking and keeping an open mind, so I reckon you'll find a lovely compromise.

As an aside, we went on holiday with some friends 3-4 years ago, and we ended up with a compromise of 3 locations, one ostensibly chosen by them, one a clear shared interest and another ostensibly chosen by us. We very much enjoyed the place they had put forward, but we were really worried that our choice wouldn't work for them... but we guessed badly wrong, as they loved it (I must admit it blew all of us away, on what was a first visit for all of us)
I think I hit reply too many times. LOL Yeah, usually if you're traveling with friends you have the same interests which makes it easier. Our friends just don't see the need to switch locations. They've driven thru Tuscany before so I'm going to honor that. We've been, but on a tour. I'm doing my last search of Siena then sending them our findings. Places will book up fast.
 
#14
IMO the reality is both options should be able to work fine. I might go 3+3, only because we quite like to explore a place we stay at thoroughly, so the 2 locations forces us to be more adventurous. In 6 days we'd probably spend 3-5 days at base and 1-3 day trips. If you'd likely take more day trips, then I can see that logic for a single base.... as long as you're not pounding the same road again and again.
 
#15
Personally, I prefer to use San Quirico d'Orcia as a base. It is a small, sleepy, walled hill town. There is no real reason for tourists to go there. Which is why it is a perfect base! It doesn't see the crowds that neighboring towns get, so it makes for a very tranquil place to stay. It has good restaurants, wine shops, and a craft brewery. Both Pienza and Montalcino are 15 minutes away and Montepulciano is under a 1/2 hour. So it makes for a great central base to explore these areas.
 
#16
>>Personally, I prefer to use San Quirico d'Orcia as a base<<

Tony, please be judicious in sharing San Quirico d'Orcia...the last thing we need is to encourage too many tourists. ;)

As quiet and relaxed as the village is now, the difference between now and the way it was in1994 when I first visited is striking....
 
#17
Personally, I prefer to use San Quirico d'Orcia as a base. It is a small, sleepy, walled hill town. There is no real reason for tourists to go there. Which is why it is a perfect base! It doesn't see the crowds that neighboring towns get, so it makes for a very tranquil place to stay. It has good restaurants, wine shops, and a craft brewery. Both Pienza and Montalcino are 15 minutes away and Montepulciano is under a 1/2 hour. So it makes for a great central base to explore these areas.
Yes, we're definitely going to stop in San Quirico d'Orcia. I looked at Azienda Agricola Podere Scannelli yesterday for a possible base place.
 
#18
>>Personally, I prefer to use San Quirico d'Orcia as a base<<

Tony, please be judicious in sharing San Quirico d'Orcia...the last thing we need is to encourage too many tourists. ;)

As quiet and relaxed as the village is now, the difference between now and the way it was in1994 when I first visited is striking....
I totally understand that!!! We live in a small beach town in Florida and don't want the word to get out either. LOL I won't tell anyone!
 
#19
I love Montepulciano. We spent two weeks there in 2014, and daytripped into Siena. Here is a trip report I wrote about that time, and here is my review of the apartment where we stayed.
I'm with Roz. Love, Love Montepulciano. We always stay in the countryside, a few minutes from Montepulciano, however. We have stayed in the same place for a week every single year, and then move on to Lake Como, followed by Venice, for several nights each. Perfect trip for us. You will need a car, however.
 
#20
>>Personally, I prefer to use San Quirico d'Orcia as a base<<

Tony, please be judicious in sharing San Quirico d'Orcia...the last thing we need is to encourage too many tourists. ;)

As quiet and relaxed as the village is now, the difference between now and the way it was in1994 when I first visited is striking....
I agree with you Jim. Love that little town, and the quietness.
 

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