Any recommendations for our trip to Florence/Tuscany/Umbria this May?
February 18, 2020 6:41 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I will be traveling to Italy for our anniversary at the end of May. I would love to hear about your favorite restaurants, vineyards, hotels, tour guides or anything else you recommend in Florence or throughout Tuscany or Umbria. We’re starting in Florence, then renting a car a driving around Tuscany and/or Umbria for 5 days. Currently considering: Pienza, Greve, Chianti, but nothing is locked in yet. We’ve both traveled in a Italy before but it’s been a long time. What should be on our list? Thanks!
posted by brbmaroon to Travel & Transportation around Italy (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry I forgot to say; this trip is a celebration and we will be splurging a little. I want your dream trip!
posted by brbmaroon at 6:53 PM on February 18, 2020

By chance, my wife and I stayed one night at the Agriturismo Fattoria La Goccia. We wanted to see some stuff in Orvieto, and it was on AirBnB and cheap and available. We ate one of the best meals of our life - the people who ran it were so kind and delightful and fascinating. They make their own cheese, and cooked us an incredible meal (and made it vegetarian per our request). It's not a fancy place, just a really Good one. If you speak a bit of Italian it would probably be helpful, but not strictly necessary. If you're driving, I recommend getting there before dark (poorly lit winding mountain paths).

Bomarzo is a weird and fun and interesting place to visit. It's a 15th century monster sculpture garden.

We had an amazing day at the Bagni San Filippo mineral baths. A beautiful and relaxing place.

Feel free to memail me for details.
posted by taltalim at 7:01 PM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

The family and I really enjoyed our stay in the quiet little walled town of Amelia in the province of Terni in Umbria. It's allegedly the oldest town in Umbria. There's not much to do there but it does have a couple good restaurants and cafes, a small but interesting archaeological museum with some local Etruscan artifacts and Roman cisterns, a pretty cathedral, and lots of nice windy, narrow streets. It's well-situated for day trips to Civita di Bagnoregio, Orvieto, Assisi, and Perugia, all of which are recommended. We stayed in an AirBNB apartment. All the people we met were friendly. It's not touristy at all.
posted by majorsteel at 8:36 PM on February 18, 2020

San Gimignano is extremely touristy, but honestly a must-see. Likewise Siena.

I preferred the other side of the Val d'Arno to Chianti overall though - two towns that I found very beautiful, but low-key relative to Florence etc were Arezzo (beautiful, while simultanously feeling like people live there) and Cortona (hill town on the Umbrian border - and much like Arezzo).

Might be off-route, but Lucca is a delight. Don't bother with Pisa IMO.

Been too long since I last visited for restaurant recommendations. Don't miss a panino con porchetta in the Mercato Centrale in Florence though.
posted by bifter at 5:29 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I loved, loved Hotel Morandi alla Crocetta - a former convent with rooms full of antiques, frescoes and traditional arts. It was so nice on a hot day to walk into such cool sanctuary - hushed halls, thick walls, gentle service. The staff were incredibly gracious and everything felt deluxe yet understated, at not a crazy price.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:16 AM on February 19, 2020

While in Florence, I highly recommend visiting the Boboli Gardens. Located on the other side of the Arno, it feels completely removed from the bustling streets, while also being an integral and invaluable part of the city. Bring your walking shoes and some lunch -- The Gardens are no simple walk in the park :) Afterward, you'll definitely have deserved some gelato, which Florence has an abundance of. This place is rather good.

Mercato Centrale in Florence is a great spot to visit too! The second floor hosts a variety of food vendors, while the downstairs is a glorious, never-ending grocery heaven. You can find vine-ripe tomatoes, limoncello, and even pasta shaped like tiny penises. It's fabulous.

Chianti is lovely -- the Agriturismo route is a great option. We stayed at a olive vineyard where our hosts let us sample their olive oil. Magical, truly :)
posted by NewShoo at 6:50 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

We mostly found our own way around Italy, but in Tuscany we did Tours by Roberto, which was wonderful. I guess we got lucky because we ended up with Roberto to ourselves. He showed us some truly amazing spots, driving around the Clay Hills in his van.
posted by bitslayer at 11:36 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time in Florence. There’s a LOT to see. We stayed 5 full days and it wasn’t enough.
posted by Neekee at 6:20 AM on February 20, 2020

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