|Subject: Re: Tuscany itinerary|
Check out the website for Hotel Salivoli http://www.salivolpi.it to see if it meets your needs. It might even be warm enough to use the pool, if it's open. It's located in Castellina in Chianti. We usually rent a farmhouse/apartment, so I can't recommend any city accommodations, but this hotel is only about 20 minutes from
Siena (depending on how you drive!).
For the days in Tuscany, I would definitely see Siena, Montalcino, and San Gimignano. We stayed for two weeks one summer south of Siena and never made it to Montepulciano, but
spent several afternoons in Montalcino so my son could play in the park and explore the castle grounds to his heart's content.
After missing San Gimignano on several previous trips, mostly due to timing and parking issues, I was happy to have finally seen and enjoyed an afternoon there. The parking issue has been partially solved by more parking lots being built in recent years - finalmente!
Driving through the countryside and stopping when the mood strikes is one of the joys of travelling by car. I'm always ready to stop and relax at ancient monasteries, churches and castles.
You ARE on the right track. I think dropping the car in La Spezia and skipping Cortona are both good decisions for the limited time that you have. Having a good guidebook of the countryside and following signs leading to off-the-path places to explore should ensure a relaxing time!
Buon viaggio! Kristy S.F.