Basing in Chianti or Valdorcia?
You’ve made it for Tuscany and are now ready to plan your trip to Italy at its best!
Especially if it’s the first time you’re coming to Italy, you wonder: Where is the best place to stay as a base in Tuscany? Where is the best location to explore the region? It’s not easy a decision as Tuscany is vast and offers many charming and varied destinations all worth to discover! Most areas of Tuscany are scenically surrounded by countless vineyards and olive groves in a idyllic countryside, perfect for a great stay in a rustic farmhouse, a charming B&B, or a luxury villa with pool and fantastic view.
Particularly the Chianti area, between Florence and Siena, and the Val d’Orcia area, south of Siena, are incredibly beautiful and full of splendid vistas.
Chianti, enchanting countryside, scenic castles, and fine wines
Chianti, so famous for its scenic landscape and great wines, is all vineyards, forests, and castles. Thanks to its strategic location between Florence and Siena, it can be a great base to start exploring Tuscany’s most popular sights. Here I speak about making Chianti your home base and what to visit from there. I would suggest this area of Tuscany for its central location in the region and the possibility to reach main art towns very conveniently.
Of the many delightful villages of Chianti, Castellina in Chianti is probably the most charming. This tiny medieval village, still encircled by its medieval walls and dominated by a fortress, retains a special atmosphere; its covered walkway, Via delle Volte, is enchanting! Its location in the heart of the Chianti region, is the ideal start for your trip into the area.
Palazzo Squarcialupi, a nice 3 star hotel in the village’s center, can be a great choice, though the area is full of lovely farmhouses and fabulous medieval castles, like Castello di Meleto.
Val d’Orcia, undulating hills, never-ending views, great food and wine
The Val d’Orcia, natural and protected area in the countryside south of Siena, is quite different from Chianti, still amazing but in a different way. This is probably the most beautiful part of Tuscany for unique landscape made of isolated farmhouses, castles, soft undulating hills, solitary cypress trees, never-ending views, and stunning medieval hill towns like Bagno Vignoni, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Monticchiello and Pienza; this last one of the most beautiful hill towns of Italy.
All the area is famous all around the world for its fine wines, notably the Brunello of Montalcino, and the Nobile of Montepulciano, not to mention its delicious food and local specialties. The countryside here is impressive, there’s a lot to see and do, its enchanting hill towns are perched on top of steep hills like in a fairytale…
I recommend staying in Pienza and its surrounding hills, or in the characteristic thermal village of Bagno Vignoni. Pienza is simply breathtaking, and its pecorino cheese is superb! The area is full of amazing country villas and chic farmhouses like Villa Mia or Villa Romantica… a dream!
Near Pienza is the small village of Bagno Vignoni, one of the most romantic places to stay in Italy; a characteristic borgo with fantastic thermal baths and an amazing square with an ancient Renaissance pool at its center. At one corner of the piazza, is the charming B&B La Locanda del Loggiato that offers great breakfasts and lovely views of the square.
The Val d’Orcia is actually a great base to move further south of Tuscany to visit some of the most spectacular and impressive hill towns of Italy: Pitigliano, Sorano and Sovana, just have a look at the pics 🙂
Staying long? split your stay between Chianti and Valdorcia!
If you’re staying in Tuscany for a week or more, I suggest splitting your stay in 2, and base some days in Chianti and the rest in Val d’Orcia; this is great as you’ll have the possibility to visit a lot of Tuscany, from north to south, including many of its lesser known and surprising off the beaten track destinations, authentic gems!
Hello ! I am thinking of visiting Florence for the first time in March BUT have always longed to see Tuscany ! can we combine the two without a car ? I love photography so some of your photos make me think ..go to Tuscany and forget Florence !
We only have a week so need to plan .
If no car then it’s a train or bus I suppose? is Lucca a typically Tuscan place or Montecatini ? Or do we need to go further South ?
If we stayed in Florence ..is it easy to use public transport and do day trips to these wonderful places ?
How long do we need in Florence to see the sights ? I don’t need all the art galleries !!
Hi Heather! Thanks for contacting me 🙂
Yes! You can combine Florence and Tuscany without a car! You just need to base in Florence’s town center and use it as your base to explore the region. Thanks to its central location in Tuscany, Florence is well served by public transports; the bus station and the train station (Florence Santa Maria Novella) are in the city center. I speak right about making Florence your home base in Tuscany in this article of the blog, while here you can find a list of the best day trips you can make from there using either train or bus. You can reach amazing sights in the countryside like San Gimignano or the villages of Chianti.
If you have in mind the scenic countryside when you say “typically Tuscan”, then I would recommend to go also further south. Lucca is beautiful, and I actually include it the list of the trips to make from Florence, while I would skip Montecatini.
The most scenic and typically Tuscan landscape is to be found in Chianti (that you can reach by bus from Florence), and particularly in the fabulous Val d’Orcia south of Siena. So you may stay most of your stay in Florence and the rest move to Siena, and from Siena reach the wonderful villages of the Val d’Orcia by bus: Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano. Check here for bus schedules.
Of course the best way to travel the Tuscan countryside would be to rent a car, as that will save time and let you stop where you wish to take pics.
Also have a look at the best day trips to make from Siena.
Get back to me for any other help needed,
Ciao from Florence!
Greetings from Dubai!
My girlfriend and I are planning a Tuscany trip and have 7 nights to spend and we wish to cover Florence, Chianti, Siena and Cinque Terra. We are going to be in Florence (2 nights) and then thinking of living in a Vineyard/Tuscan farm (3 nights) where we could get a little rest and do some wine tours and tasting, olive oil making process, horse back riding etc. After which we would like to head to Cinque Terra and spend 2 nights there. Appreciate your inputs on where do we stay (Budget of approx 200 – 250 Euro per night) so it is easier to do a day trip etc if needed and also head to Cinque Terra too (2 nights – is it worth to stay?) and since we are thinking of avoiding a rental vehicle. Unless your advise would be to definitely get one?
Thanks in advance for your assistance.
Thanks for contacting me! Dubai? Wonderful:-)
Sounds like you will pass a great week in Italy! All the destinations you mention are amazing. The Cinque Terre are worth staying! The 5 small fishing villages facing the sea are lovely are very characteristic, while the views over the blue sea are breathtaking. I actually include the Cinque Terre in this suggested tour of Italy.
To be honest, moving by car is the best option, also because some destinations in Tuscany are not very well served by public transportation. This being said, however, you could stay in Florence for more nights and do your day trips from there without the need of a vehicle. Florence enjoys a central location in the region and from there you can take lots of fantastic day trips, in addition to reaching the Cinque Terre by train.
In regards to Vineyard/Tuscan farm where to have a little rest and do some wine tours, I recommend the beautiful Villa Bordoni, located in Chianti, amid the scenic countryside between Florence and Siena. The villa is a great base to explore Tuscany’s best destinations. Here you can taste fine wines from the villa’s cellar, enjoy their cooking courses, relax or enjoy some activities.
Let me know if I can help with more suggestions,
Enjoy your weekend,