Friday, June 3, 2011

Under the Tuscan Sun - Figline Valdarno, Italy

We are using Figline Valdarno as a base camp for exploring everything Tuscany has to offer.

Where we will sleep

Norcenni Girasole Club (Campsite)
How long? 9 nights
How much? €28 per night (2 adults, small tent, 1 motorbike)
Check in? 12 noon, but we’ll be arriving around 2pm from Rome, which is 3 hours away
Check out? 12 noon, but we’re off to Cannes via Monaco, all up a 5.5 hour drive so we’ll be leaving around 6am to get a decent spell in Monaco for lunch.
Why we chose it? €252 total. It's huge! Swimming pools (plural!), located in Chianti between Florence and Siena and near Greve and San Gimignano.

What we want to see

Once again we are using Figline Valdarno, in Tuscany, as a base to explore from.


From Figline Valdarno, Florence is €13 petrol/taxes return or €24 return (for 2) on the shuttle – so if you have a rental, it's definitely cheaper to make it there on your own.

Gelateria Vivoli - The most famous Gelateria (Gelato shop) in Florence, although also one of the most expensive. YUM.

Leather Markets and Mercato Centrale food market near San Lorenzo church

Accademia - The home of Michelangelo's David. Via Ricasoli, 58-60113/R, 50122 Firenze. There is a fake outside, but to see David in his intended perspective, you need to go inside.
€6.50 Admission, cash only
Opening Hours - Tue-Sun 8.15am-6.50pm, Closed Monday.

Duomo - Florence's Cathedral, the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.
€8 Admission
Opening Hours - 8.30am-7pm Sun-Fri, 8.30am-5.40pm Saturdays.

Uffizi Gallery - Home to some of the most important works of the Renaissance including works by da Vinci, Botticelli, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Pierro della Francesca and Caravaggio.
€6.50 Admission, cash only
Opening Hours - Tue-Sun 8.15am-6.50pm, Closed Monday.

Trattoria I Fratellini - A simple sandwich shop, but very highly recommended and only €2.50 a sandwich. Check out the menu! Via dei Cimatori, 38-red, 50122 Firenze.

Giotto's Belltower - The best views in Florence.
€6 admission
Opening Hours - 8.30am-7.30pm


Campo dei Miracoli - including the Cathedral, Baptistry and the all important Leaning Tower. The Cathedral looks cool and the Baptistry looks OK, but of course it's the Leaning Tower we are going to see - I don't think we'll go inside though, it's quite expensive.
€2 admission to the Cathedral, €5 admission to the Baptistry and €15 admission to the Leaning Tower.

Gelateria De'Coltelli - the De'Coltelli family are regarded as the inventors of modern Ice Cream. Need I say more? Address - Lungarno Pacinotti 23


Piazza del Campo - including the Siena Duomo
€3 admission
Opening hours 9am-7.30pm in the Summer

Evening stroll along via Banchi di Sopra and via di Citta - the evening stroll or passeggiata is an art form in Italy and apparently this is the place to do it.

Fortezza Market - At the foot of Siena's Fortezza Medicea - head upwards!
Opening times - Wednesday Mornings only (and into the afternoon)


Greve in Chianti - Courtney saw Greve on a travel show - or more specifically, a salami shop in Greve. We're going to go exploring, there are heaps of castles around this little town too.

San Gimignano - a walled medieval town in Chianti, perfect for exploring

Cinque Terre - An area of the Italian Riviera, near La Spezia, renowned for hiking trails and amazing views. A work colleague visited here on his own European adventure and before that I hadn't heard of it at all. Since then though, several people have mentioned Cinque Terre so it's on our reserve list. There are day tours from Figline Valdarno (through our campground) for €69 each but that's quite expensive so we'll see.

There's also a wine and olive oil tour we can book through our camp ground. It's on every Tuesday from 12.30-7pm and costs €28 each, so we'll see how we go.

What we are expecting

I'm expecting to fall in love. I'm expecting diversity between all the towns we visit but also a linking commonality. I'm expecting a feeling of age and tradition, and a population set in their well-tested ways. I'm expecting open spaces and massive crops. I'm expecting rolling hills. I'm expecting a little bit of Under the Tuscan Sun (the movie, because the book was rubbish). Foolish, I know. I expect I will need to slow myself down, because by using one town as a base, it will be easy to get overwhelmed by all the possible day trips.