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A Sample Slow Travel Itinerary

Pauline Kenny

A sample itinerary for someone's first trip to Italy. This plan combines seeing some of the major sites and spending time in the Tuscan countryside.

Fly into Florence, spend a few nights there, spend a week in a countryside vacation rental, then spend a few nights in Rome and fly home from there. Details are given below.

Arrive in Florence

Fly into Florence. Your flight from the US will be overnight and you will have to change planes in Europe to get a flight to Florence. You will arrive in Florence around noon. It is tiring to change planes in Europe, after a long overseas flight, but it is the easiest way to get to Florence.

Leave the US on a Tuesday, so that you arrive in Florence on Wednesday. Spend three nights in a hotel in Florence. This lets you have a few days to recover from jet lag before you have to start driving and you get to spend three nights in an incredible city. Stay right in the historic center so that you can walk to most of the sites and easily get back to your hotel during the day for a rest.

Note: Most vacation rentals are Saturday to Saturday. That is why I recommend arriving on Wednesday in Florence. When you leave on Saturday, you can go straight to your vacation rental.

A Week in Tuscany

On Saturday morning, take a taxi from your hotel to the rental car agency to pickup your rental car. Pick up your car at an in town location to avoid the surcharge added for an airport pickup. Be sure to get good driving directions for getting out of Florence.

Drive to your vacation rental. Pick a town or area to visit on the way to your vacation rental. Plan to check in as early as possible so that you will have time to go to the local shops for groceries. Usually 4pm is the earliest check in time. Most local shops close between 7:30 and 8:00pm and are closed all day Sunday. You will probably need some basics (bottled water, coffee, olive oil, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.) and enough food for meals until Monday when the shops reopen.

Select a vacation rental either in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena or in the area south of Siena, the Montepulciano - Pienza - Montalcino belt. These areas are ideal for the first time Italy visitor. There are lots of great small towns, many restaurants and lots of caffes and delis.

On Sunday all the stores in many small towns are closed giving them a "vacant" feeling. This is a good opportunity to spend part of the day relaxing at your vacation rental. Plan to have a Sunday lunch somewhere, followed by a leisurely drive through the countryside.

During the week, spend a day exploring the towns near your vacation rental. These may not be major towns, but you will enjoy getting to know the towns within easy driving distance in "your" area. On your next trip you may stay in a different area. Spend a day in Siena, a day in the Chianti region (Castellina, Greve and Radda are easy to see in a day) and a day in Umbria (Assisi, Spello, or Spoleto). That leaves one extra day to see one or two other towns (Arezzo, Cortona, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano).

Depart From Rome

On the next Saturday, drive to the Rome airport and return your car. Get a taxi from the airport to your hotel. Or return your car in Tuscany and take the train to Rome; Chiusi is the best drop off point on the train line to Rome. You now have three full days in Rome.

Your flight home will leave Tuesday morning. Take a taxi from your hotel to the airport. You will get back to North America late on Tuesday. That lets you take Wednesday off work to recover, then work Thursday and Friday, and have the weekend to recover some more.

Conclusions

With this plan you are taking 12 days off work - just over 2 weeks. You don't have to drive as soon as you arrive, you begin in a major city which is still fairly manageable (easier to deal with and drive your rental car out of than, say, Rome or Naples), you drop your rental car off in an easy to reach location, and you get to spend some time in both Florence and Rome as well as a week in Tuscany. Perfect!!

Resources

Slow Travel Italy - Instructions - Driving: Picking up and dropping off rental cars at Rome Airport (FCO)

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