We will be traveling to Italy for the first time this summer, 2013. We plan to spend 5 days in Rome and 5 days in Tuscany. I have reserved the Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort in Barga. It looks like a great property, but am wondering if it is too remote to use as our "base" for daily trips to Florence, Parma, Bologna, Siena, etc. If you've stayed at this property and could give some personal feedback, that woud be great. Also, if you used the services of a local driver/guide, that would be appreciated as well. Thanks!
Fred has stayed at this property: http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/photoAlbums/1353
Perhaps you could ask him these questions via the photo album link.
We will be staying in the property at the end of May.
This will give you a good idea of the distances / time involved between the cities http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/
Personally I don't think it would be the ideal base to see all those cities.
You would be spending quite a bit of time driving.
For example driving from Barga to Siena is around 100 miles and a 2.5 hours drive.
Barga to Bologna 120 miles and not far shy of a 3 hour drive.
We have previously seen the main cities of the area: Florence, Siena, Bologna & Pisa.
On that occassion we used the trains.
On this trip we will be using a car and visiting the Chianti region.
I have found some good information from this site: http://www.discovertuscany.com/
Stayed at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort in Barga last November - see photos page on "Insiders" for local scenes. Don't know if you're driving or arriving by train, but no train service to Barga. Would suggest you email hotel for best directions there as GPS you might rent at car rental doesn't have good directions, but if you use it, enter: Via Giovanni Pascoli, Barga, Lucca. Feel free to email Pamella Cimzia - firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance, and tell General Manager, Georges Midleje I recommended Renaissance! Hotel Number - 39-0583-7691. Regarding travel in area, Lucca is old town some 45 minutes from Barga; Pisa 1 hour +, if interested in seeing/touching the Tower (not much else there). My suggestion would be to visit San Gimignano and perhaps Sienna, possibly Montepulciano (full day's journey round trip). Another "nearby" tour from Barga would be Cinque Terre, but you can't drive into the coastal town . You can take day train from L Spezia to these small towns, and all are signposted along motorway from Pisa (in direction of Genova). Short trip to town of Barga (shown on photo page) across the valley would be well worth your time.
We just returned from our trip to Italy, which I referenced in my original message from January. The Renaissance Hotel near Barga was so special!! It was a highlight of the trip. We flew in to Rome and rented a car. It took us about 4.5 hours to get to the hotel in Barga. (We live in Texas so we are quite used to driving distances!) It was an eventful drive once we were beyond Florence--but it was a beautiful drive! The hotel is located approx 30 minutes north of Lucca. You must, must must get a GPS to make traveling easier in this area! We used the hotel as a base to travel over to Florence on 2 separate days for tours (approx 1.5 hour drive each way!) We also enjoyed exploring Barga and Lucca and also made a day trip to the Cinqua Terra--we drove to La Spezia and took the train into Monterossa. Lovely!! There is so much to see and experience in this beautiful country. Tuscany is breathtaking. We enjoyed getting off the main highway and driving through all the back roads (used Rick Steve's book as a guide). After 5 days we drove back down to Rome, turned in the rental car and used our hotel shuttle (a Hilton property) to get around for 4 days. Rome was a very busy place compared to our quiet hilltop hideaway in Barga! I would recommend the hotel in every way--the restaurant food and wine were fresh and delicious. While our room was small (it is Europe!), it made good use of the space and the bed was very comfortable. Concierge staff was exceptionally helpful and pleasant. We will have wonderful memories of our time in Italy!
I'll weigh in on the GPS for directions. I have used Verizon's VZ Navigator on my phone the last three times we have rented cars in Italy and have found it to be completely reliable as well as simple to use without having to rent anything new to learn while driving in a foreign country.
We also are looking at the Renaissance near Barga for early next year, so I'll be interested in seeing what others have to say as well as what's already been written.
We stayed there at the end of May. The hotel is very nice. We had a nice room on the 6th floor overlooking the valley. What a beautiful sight that was to wake up to. There was a small balcony with 2 chairs to admire the view.
The indoor pool / jacuzzi was good.
The staff were all very helpful and friendly.
We had issues with our sat nav initially in the area. It seemed to constantly want to take us on small windy narrow roads.
The locals drive very fast on these narrow windy roads, be careful.
Lucca was very nice and certainly worth a visit. It was about a 45 minute drive from the hotel.
The concierge gave us a map of the city and told us where to park also.
Keep an eye out for these ZTL areas in all of the cities: Tuscany: Navigating the ZTL in Florence - TripAdvisor
Other than the AutoStrada most roads in Italy are small windy narrow roads, but you haven't lived an almost died until you enjoy the Amalfi Coast roads, WOW!!!
Thank for the intel on the hotel, it just may be the place we're seeking.
Yes the majority are small and windy.
But some are worse than others.
For example there are two roads to Lucca from the hotel, the sat nav was desperate to want us to experience the narrower of the two.
We were told though by the concierge the other road is better, and we were most grateful for that advice.
It was a pleasant and relaxing drive!
As I said before I thought all the staff we came across were friendly and helpful.
I will get down to Amalfi coast at some stage to experience these roads.
Hi Fred - just booked a week at the resort in July with my wife for our anniversary and can't wait. Love reading what you guys have previously discussed on here, it is extremely helpful! I do have a couple questions though if you wouldn't mind answering.
- I used points for the trip, but could only book a room with "no view". Do you have any idea if they would upgrade to a room with a view (I'm platinum)? Your photos are amazing and want that experience as well.
- Did the hotel have any bikes to borrow or rent to ride around the valley or into Barga?
I am planning on reaching out to the hotel staff as well, so thanks for the information.
Thanks for the help!
PS. Just found this site and love it!
Ya know I didn't even look to rent bikes while we where there, but here is another thread that you might find helpful as well as some names at the hotel to contact to inquire about upgrades, bikes etc.
I'm sure ssindc and others like Fred will be able to give you great tips and so will I as details come back.
Two quick supplemental answers
diddyankton - I think I might been one who most recently introduced "Insiders" to Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco near Barga, Italy, after my wife and I returned from our 50th wedding anniversary there. The management was so nice - even baked a cake for us (above) - and asked me to help promote the facility, which I have done. Therefore, I would suggest you even contact the general manager, George Midleje , email@example.com and tell him I suggested you ask about a high floor on front (newly-modeled section) with view of Barga. Hopefully, he will remember me and accommodate your request.
Great picture Fred and an incredible accomplishment, 50 years and counting....Congrats.
And yes, George is a wonderful GM. Upon our arrival he knew who we were from Insiders (how I have no idea) and was more than gracious, also sent us up to the room an wonderful bottle of wine as well as a list of restaurants in Barga and surrounding towns.
IAHFLYR - I copied George on message I sent to you, so he knew you were coming to Ciocco. At his request, I've also sent news about Ciocco to a number of N.A. companies who might be searching for place for corporate retreat. Glad you enjoyed your stay.
Thank you for your detailed account on Il ciocco. I will most likely go there three days as part of my honey moon.
Do you know if George is still GM at il ciocco, I'd like to contact him and see if they have any special packages for honeymooners. I also wondered if it is very likely to get a room upgrade or whether i should pay for one in advance.
It would be a pity to miss out on the beautiful views, but at the same time, i can only book a standard room via my marriott rewards points.
That's why i would like to get in touch with George.
Thank you very much, appreciate your help,
Don't know if this will help, but you might try email to George - firstname.lastname@example.org - He's the general manager, and might remember us if you mention that Fred Schumpert from US, who stayed there on 50 th anniversary, recommended to you to contact him.
They might do the same, but he arranged for in-room bottle of wine, cheese & crackers, and balcony room with view of valley in the newly-renovated section of hotel. He asked me about promoting Ciocco in N.A., which I've been doing -
Here's hoping you'll receive same treatment! * Make sure you advise it's your honeymoon!
HI IAHFLYR Do The hotel offers free Breakfast for gold members Just let me know. I am planning an stay there and whant to know if I have to choose a package . Thanks in advance
Glad to hear! My son and his family recently stayed at Ciocco and loved every minute of it - the hotel was very gracious to them, for which I'm thankful.
We plan to stay weekend at Ciocco on our next trip to Italy.
As reminder to others who might be interested in this fabulous place, here's my initial post from 2012:
You are gonna love it.... We are (super) jealous!!!!
Photos and links and info here: Italy, Tuscany - Il Ciocco, Barga, Cinque Terre, Florence, Lucca, Pisa
To be clear, it is remote (but worth it), but we drove (which was an experience) and successfully did a number of day trips....