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Cinque Terre + Pisa day trip from Florence

Cinque Terre + Pisa day trip from Florence

Old Feb 16th, 2022, 05:30 PM
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Cinque Terre + Pisa day trip from Florence

We will be in Florence for a few days at the end of April/beginning of May. We were contemplating a day trip to Pisa + Cinque Terre. We will be renting a car for at least one day for our trip to Montepulciano and Pienza, so am wondering if we should keep the car an extra day for this day trip. This might also work well by having a car for an extra day in the event that it ends up raining in Cinque Terre, then we can do a day trip elsewhere.

Drive from Florence to Pisa - check out the leaning tower of Pisa (I've seen it before but hubby hasn't and it's on his bucket list, plus we think our 4 year old would love it). Don't plan to do anything else there.
Then perhaps drive from Pisa to La Spezia and leave the car there and take regional trains into Cinque Terre.

Few questions regarding this:
1. Is this a wise idea or is it better to just take a train from Florence to Pisa to La Spezia and back. I feel like having a car will give us more flexibility on timing
2. How is the drive? Are the roads super windy? My daughter gets motion sickness so if the roads are very windy then we probably might have to stick to the train
3. If we drove back later in the evening perhaps around 8:00pm to go back to Florence, would it be safe?
4. If we only visited one village in Cinque terre (and did a boat ride), which village should we visit and maximize our time in? Or do you think we could throw in two villages?

Another consideration is taking the train from Florence to Pisa (spend a couple of hours there) then heading to Cinque Terre, but spending the night in La Spezia. Then the next day head to Parma via train and spend some time there

Thanks!

Last edited by viranpooja; Feb 16th, 2022 at 06:20 PM.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 11:01 PM
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It depends on how many people there are and if cost is very significant to you. I'd use the trains for both these journeys as getting rid of a car is many Italian towns is a PIA.

I've never thought of doing a crash-by on Pisa and then 5-Terre. I guess it is possible but I'm not sure of the times of opening of the buildings in the Pisa hot spot around the tour is, but there is no reason why you shouldn't leave the 5-Terre late after a full day there and travel back on the train as the sun sets or even later.
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Old Feb 16th, 2022, 11:20 PM
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Pisa is easy by train from Florence. Assuming you're near the Florence main station and you're willing to take the time to walk from the Pisa station to the tower. From memory the train is 50-60 minutes one way. The walk with a child will take awhile. That means both the return trip even if you're just doing a selfie in front of the tower takes up the morning.

If the above sounds bad the one way train ride from Florence to Riomaggiore is 3 or more hours. That means you'll be spending the whole day on the train.

The drive isn't much better.

I can't imagine trying to combine the two stops with a child. I can't imagine doing it with most adults.

If you really want to see those stops doing a day trip to Pisa and a at least an overnight in the Cinque Terre.

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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 07:39 AM
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thank you so much for your replies

It is just myself, my husband and my daughter. The main village I would want to visit in CT would be Manarola (first priority) and Vanerezza (second priority).Here is our plan (noting we have been to Italy a few times before):

Day 1 - flight to Rome
Day 2 - arrive Rome in the morning, spend afternoon/evening in Rome (half day)
Day 3 - Rome full day
Day 4 - Rome full day with an evening high speed train to Florence
Day 5 - Florence full day
Day 6 - rent car - day trip Montepulciano and Pienza full day
Day 7 - pending
Day 8 - pending during the day, but late evening we would like to take a train from wherever we are to Varenna/Lake Como
Day 9 - Lake Como
Day 10 - Lake Como
Day 11 - Lake Como in the morning, Milan in the afternoon/evening (all we want to see here is the Duomo)
Day 12 - Fly out from Milan back to USA

So we have Day 7 and 8 pending and it looks like fitting Cinque Terre is possible especially with a night halt in La Spezia, but perhaps too much traveling - I guess we just skip CT and head to Parma + Bologna. We love scenery (hence the stop in Lake Como) and we love food (hence Italy in general).
Thoughts?

As much as we would like to spend more days in the Tuscany countryside - our daughter gets motion sickness on windy roads and we are afraid that going from our Florence base to the countryside often will make her miserable

We have thought about Lucca and Sienna but just want to do something different to Florence/Rome
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 07:40 AM
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Italy Itinerary help

Here is our plan (noting we have been to Italy a few times before):

Day 1 - flight to Rome
Day 2 - arrive Rome in the morning, spend afternoon/evening in Rome (half day)
Day 3 - Rome full day
Day 4 - Rome full day with an evening high speed train to Florence
Day 5 - Florence full day
Day 6 - rent car - day trip Montepulciano and Pienza full day
Day 7 - pending
Day 8 - pending during the day, but late evening we would like to take a train from wherever we are to Varenna/Lake Como
Day 9 - Lake Como
Day 10 - Lake Como
Day 11 - Lake Como in the morning, Milan in the afternoon/evening (all we want to see here is the Duomo)
Day 12 - Fly out from Milan back to USA

So we have Day 7 and 8 pending and it looks like fitting Cinque Terre is possible, but perhaps too much traveling or we just skip CT and head to Parma + Bologna. We love scenery (hence the stop in Lake Como) and we love food (hence Italy in general).
Thoughts?

As much as we would like to spend more days in the Tuscany countryside - our daughter gets motion sickness on windy roads and we are afraid that going from our Florence base to the countryside often will make her miserable

We have thought about Lucca and Sienna but just want to do something different to Florence/Rome
Another idea would be to cut out Lake Como completely and do Cinque Terre/Genoa and then fly out from Milan (our flight is already booked from Milan) What are everyone's thoughts on Lake Como vs. Cinque Terre for the first week of May time frame? Weather wise, and in general?

Last edited by viranpooja; Feb 17th, 2022 at 08:36 AM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:13 AM
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Motion sickness. As you come off the motorway you will see the roads into Tuscany proper can be very wiggly so you've chosen good towns to visit as St Gim etc are a long way in. I think 5-Terre is best seen from the sea (woops) or when hiking the trails but they take time. I think I'd avoid those places and focus on Pisa, Lucca and possibly Pistoia also on the train line. All three ar good visits with the chance to eat well in all of them.
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Motion sickness. As you come off the motorway you will see the roads into Tuscany proper can be very wiggly so you've chosen good towns to visit as St Gim etc are a long way in. I think 5-Terre is best seen from the sea (woops) or when hiking the trails but they take time. I think I'd avoid those places and focus on Pisa, Lucca and possibly Pistoia also on the train line. All three ar good visits with the chance to eat well in all of them.
Thanks for confirming that we made the right choice with Montepulciano and Pienza. San Gimignano and Siena were definitely up on our list but we will just have to go back in the future either when she outgrows her motion sickness or when hubby and I go alone
I think we might skip the other places and just head to Bologna/Parma in that case. That appeals to us more because of the food scene compared to Lucca and Pistoia
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:34 AM
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Up to you, just a suggestion, Lucca is pretty impressive.

Don't get too fooled by the marketing as well, food is important in Italy and while you are right certain products around Bologna are impressive so are some around Florence. The important thing is the culture of expecting food to be delicious. For me the best food is from Puglia or Sicily but what do I know. Would I put a Tuscan wine up against a wine from the Po valley (oh yes).
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:36 AM
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Another idea would be to cut out Lake Como completely and do Cinque Terre/Genoa and then fly out from Milan (our flight is already booked from Milan)

What are everyone's thoughts on Lake Como vs. Cinque Terre for the first week of May time frame? Weather wise, and in general?
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:46 AM
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What time of year? Summer?

Have you been to any of these places before... particularly Florence? If you haven't previously spent time in Florence and seen the main sights, one full day there could be very hectic. If the one day is a Sunday or Monday, you might not be able to see every main sight you were hoping to visit.

It's not clear whether you plan to make day trips by car from Florence or plan to stay in a town or two in the countryside before heading to Lake Como.

If your thoughts on the Val d'Orcia include only Pienza, Montepulciano and perhaps other nearby town or two, you won't drive any winding roads.

Getting from the Val d'Orcia area to Lake Como, either by train or car, will take the better part of a day. Substituting the CT for the Val d'Orcia area might make more sense with the time you have. You wouldn't need or want a car. You could also visit Parma and Bologna without a car. But I personally wouldn't visit the CT in summer because of the crowds, and, depending on the month, I wouldn't enjoy Bologna/Parma because of the high temps.
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 08:59 AM
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"... we are afraid that going from our Florence base to the countryside often will make her miserable..."

That sounds like you were thinking of making day trips from Florence over a couple of days. That wouldn't be my preference. You have to make sure you don't violate the Florence limited traffic zone (ZTL) as you drive out and back, and you'd be dealing with the daily traffic around the perimeter of the city. If you don't want to be driving back into Florence in the dark, you'd have to cut short your sightseeing days. It would be better to drive to a base town in the countryside and make excursions from there. All of the small Tuscany towns have their own ZTLs, so you'll need to know what the signage looks like.

https://italybeyondtheobvious.com/do...ith-ztl-zones/
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 09:09 AM
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I've asked the Moderators to combine your two threads.

Your Day 6 (day trip from Florence to Montepulciano and Pienza) involves at least 4 hours of driving, mostly on a fairly boring highway. Ugh.
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 09:15 AM
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Your two threads have been merged to keep the discussion together in one place
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 09:27 AM
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Genova is a marmite choice, the old centre reminds me of Marrakesh, there are walls, there are tiny alleys but a lot of the alleys tend to have tourist tat on them, you have to get off the tourist trail to find more attractive/natural areas. I certainly can suggest a lot of towns/cities in the Po valley which are far more attractive

I'd say Como is as attractive as 5-Terre especially when you take into account movement sickness. But don't leave our Padua (Padova), Mantua (Mandova), Ferrara, Verona etc across the Po down to Ravenna
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 10:15 AM
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Have you traveled abroad at this pace with your 4 yo before?
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Up to you, just a suggestion, Lucca is pretty impressive.

Don't get too fooled by the marketing as well, food is important in Italy and while you are right certain products around Bologna are impressive so are some around Florence. The important thing is the culture of expecting food to be delicious. For me the best food is from Puglia or Sicily but what do I know. Would I put a Tuscan wine up against a wine from the Po valley (oh yes).
Honestly, I know we can't go wrong with food ANY WHERE in Italy lol! We had some amazing food in Sicily!
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
What time of year? Summer?

Have you been to any of these places before... particularly Florence? If you haven't previously spent time in Florence and seen the main sights, one full day there could be very hectic. If the one day is a Sunday or Monday, you might not be able to see every main sight you were hoping to visit.

It's not clear whether you plan to make day trips by car from Florence or plan to stay in a town or two in the countryside before heading to Lake Como.

If your thoughts on the Val d'Orcia include only Pienza, Montepulciano and perhaps other nearby town or two, you won't drive any winding roads.

Getting from the Val d'Orcia area to Lake Como, either by train or car, will take the better part of a day. Substituting the CT for the Val d'Orcia area might make more sense with the time you have. You wouldn't need or want a car. You could also visit Parma and Bologna without a car. But I personally wouldn't visit the CT in summer because of the crowds, and, depending on the month, I wouldn't enjoy Bologna/Parma because of the high temps.

Hi Jean! Thank you so much for your help in merging the two accounts together. I didn't even know that was possible!
So when we are in Rome, we will stay in Rome - already booked our stay there.
For the rest of the time, the plan is to stay in Florence until we move onto Lake Como

We will be doing everything by train except for Montepulciano/Pienza. That is the only time either we will rent a car or take a tour.

As for CT vs. Lake Como - it would be the first week of May. Not sure if that counts as early summer or late spring.

So here's the plan with the night stay in BOLD

Day 1 - flight to Rome PLANE
Day 2 - arrive Rome in the morning, spend afternoon/evening in Rome (half day) ROME
Day 3 - Rome full day ROME
Day 4 - Rome full day with an evening high speed train to Florence FLORENCE
Day 5 - Florence full day FLORENCE
Day 6 - rent car - day trip Montepulciano and Pienza full day FLORENCE
Day 7 - pending
Day 8 - pending during the day, but late evening we would like to take a train from wherever we are to Varenna/Lake Como VARENNA
Day 9 - Lake Como VARENNA
Day 10 - Lake Como VARENNA
Day 11 - Lake Como in the morning, Milan in the afternoon/evening (all we want to see here is the Duomo) MILAN by the airport most likely
Day 12 - Fly out from Milan back to USA
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mjs View Post
Have you traveled abroad at this pace with your 4 yo before?
Yes, we have traveled with her to Iceland and Canada at this pace when she was 1 and 2 respectively. Then the pandemic hit so we have stayed within the states. She's quite flexible - got her trained from an early age
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 05:30 PM
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As I mentioned in post #12 above, about half of Day 6 would be spent driving. If you want an early start, you'd need to rent the car the night before and find/pay for overnight parking. Rental offices in the city don't open until 8:00 a.m. If you want to extend the day as long as possible, you'd probably want to return the car on Day 7 which means another night of parking. (No rental offices open after 7:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. Sunday.) Alternatively, you could forget the car and go to Siena or Lucca or Montecatini Terme, etc., for the day. There are lots of options from Florence. Or spend a day and night in Orvieto on your way from Rome to Florence.
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Old Feb 17th, 2022, 07:29 PM
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Lucca is really lovely and has a carousel in one of the park like squares, perfect for your daughter. On the Main Street, which is sometimes crowded and busy, don’t know if it is still there, but there used to be a fabulous toy store. We bought a gorgeous bunny that looked so real, just like the Velveteen rabbit. There was also a beautiful place with leather purses at reasonable prices. The area where the old Roman amphitheater once stood is very interesting. We had some great food there. You could also walk the walls with your child. It would work well to combine Pisa and Lucca.

Just a heads up. It is usually fine, but we got stuck in traffic once returning to Florence from Pisa and I was so sorry not to have taken the train.
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