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Day Trip; Florence to Siena

Old Oct 30th, 2004, 03:33 PM
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Day Trip; Florence to Siena

Is a day trip from Florence to Siena a good idea? It looks like about 1 1/2 hours each direction by train. Any other altenative ways to get to Siena without renting a car? Can we experience enough in five to six hours to at least get the flavor of Siena? Any advice will be appreciated!
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Old Oct 30th, 2004, 04:55 PM
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bigcorky, you can also take the bus to Siena, and the bus would put you closer to the top, which is where you want to be, because Siena is a medieval hill-town. If you take the train the walk into town would be further.

We spent 3 nights in Florence and 1 night in Siena. I loved Siena...very very different from Florence. I was really glad we spent the night there. But if you want to do it as a day-trip 5 or 6 hours in Siena would be long enough to walk around the pedestrian only section of Siena, see the famous square where they have the horse race once a year, go into the church, which is very unique inside, it's striped!

Staying the night is fun because you can see Siena in the morning and the evening when the day-trippers are gone. Also it's interesting to see how the changing sunlight casts everything in different colors at different times of day.

Everybody tried to talk me out of that 1 night stay because they said it would be annoying to pack and unpack. But I knew I would love Siena and it was worth it. I travelled with my family of 5 and I planned the trip. With 5 people it's hard to fit in everything that everyone else wants to do.

I hired a driver to drive us between Florence and Siena going the scenic route through the Chianti region. It was wonderful to get out of the city and see countryside. We stopped at a memorable country trattoria for lunch and stopped to see an Etruscan tomb...not much to see but our driver, a licensed guide, is very knowledgeable in archaeology and history of the region and he made it interesting.
Old Oct 30th, 2004, 05:06 PM
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Yes, it's a great idea. I agree with everything Melissajoy just said. But if it works out best for you to do a daytrip then that's fine too. Last summer I was spending 6 nights in Florence and did Siena as a day trip on the bus. Very easy, only took a bit over an hour each way, was very cheap (I think €13 roundtrip). While I agaree about spending the night in towns like Siena, it just didn't work out for me, and it was still worth doing as a day trip.

There are bus stops on both sides of the train station in Florence and the one to Siena is to the right as you exit the front of the train station. It's across the street and about a half block down. Buses run very frequently and once you get to Siena it's about a 10 minute walk to the main square.
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Old Oct 30th, 2004, 10:08 PM
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Ditto everything Melissajoy and Isabel said. I love Siena. Several years ago, I spent a night in Siena and was glad I did - had a marvelous dinner, then enjoyed an evening concert in an old church. But it's certainly well worth doing as a day trip as well.

If I remember correctly, there's both an express bus, and a local bus, between Florence and Siena. Make sure to take the express. And the bus is faster and more convenient than the train, from everything I've read.
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Old Oct 30th, 2004, 10:12 PM
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Many thanks for the informational and speedy replies! A few more questions: 1) How is Siena different from Florence; 2) What was the cost to hire a driver; 3) If doing just a day trip, would you recommend arriving in the morning in Siena or later? Thanks so much. It is so much more effective to get ijnformation this way than trying to decipher a guidebook!
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 07:30 AM
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How is Siena different from Florence?
Siena is mostly medieval; Florence is mostly Renaissance. Siena is a hill town; Florence lies on a plain.

How much does a driver cost?
I have no idea, having traveled from Florence to Siena either by car or by bus. A car and driver might well be worth it for a group of five people; I would suggest that it would probably be somewhat expensive for one or two people.

Would you recommend arriving in the morning in Siena?
Depending on your interests, there is either a great deal -- in addition to the medieval streets and the Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico, the Cathedral and the Libreria Piccolomini, the Cathedral museum, the Baptistery, the Pinacoteca and a number of churches -- or very little to see in Siena. Personally, I would leave Florence early in order to have most of the day in Siena with enough time for a leisurely lunch.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 08:31 AM
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Hi bc,

I think that the bus is more convenient than the train for a day in Siena.

The SITA bus station in Florence is across the street from the Florence SMN train station on Via Santa Caterina da Siena.

Bus schedules are at

Click on Toscana, Click on Orari, click on the first "Chianti e Val di Pesa"

You want bus no. 350
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 12:06 PM
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Hi bigcorky: Here's my personal-experience answer to your question of how Siena and Florence are different.

First, keep in mind that I was there in February several years ago, meaning it was off-season, and therefore, neither place was crowded with tourists. (That might be one of the reasons I loved both places so much.) Still, Siena was far less busy than Florence. Florence is a city - a relatively smaller and compact one (at least in the historical area) but a city nonetheless - very bustling. I loved Florence, but it's nice to go to Siena for a change of pace and scenery.

Siena, for me, was much more laid back. It is far smaller, for one thing, than Florence. And about the only museum-and-church visiting I did there were the main ones in the Campo. For me, it was much more about just meandering through the medieval streets (which were mostly pedestrian only), soaking up the atmosphere and gazing at the beautiful surrounding Tuscan countryside. I got out to a park (forgot the name now) outside of the main town center and watched the sun setting over Siena - one of the most beautiful sights of my life - everything glowing in a golden "burnt siena" color.

I think if you have the time, it would be a shame to go to the area and not experience at least one Tuscan hill town. And Siena (so far) is my favorite of those.

I would recommend getting there in the morning - just so if you like it you've got the option of spending more time there. If you find you don't like it, you can always decide to leave earlier.

I've no experience renting a car and driver, so can't help you out there. I took the bus - very inexpensive and easy experience.

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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 03:52 PM
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We have yet to see Siena. We rented a car, the four of us for a day. We paid 120 E for the car and set out from Florence to Siena. Our intentions were to spend an hour or two and then go on to the Banfi winery where we had reservations for lunch.
We could not find out way out to the main road of Siena toward the winery. When we finally did find the road towards Grosetto, there was a major accident with a fatality. The road was detoured. When we thought we found the detour, there was another policeman telling us we could not go that way either. It ended up we did not see Siena or the winery and instead just spent a whole lot of money for a car ride in the countryside. Next time we will either hire a driver or take a tour through the area. It was a frustrating day but every trip has a thing or two. What I did see of Siena has me wanting to go back.
We did stop and have a coffee at the beginning of the town. The little cafe had a hole where you had to place your feet and then squat. Quite interesting.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2004, 12:29 AM
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How is Siena different from Florence? They are TOTALLY different.

Florence feels more like a modern city with modern problems like traffic and polution. Of course there are also some very old beautiful buildings in that "modern" city. And some ancient art! When we were there in June 2004, Florence was very crowded...even at 11:00 pm at night the Ponte Vecchio bridge was full of people. We happened to be in florence during the Pitti Uomo, a major international fashion show, and also during the days of a traditional ball game, calcio storico, and fireworks, part of a local celebration. This made everything more crowded. I found the crowds, traffic, and smog unpleasant.

Siena looks and feels medieval. In the center of Siena traffic isn't allowed, so you can enjoy walking through streets that really have a medieval look and feel about them. Siena is on a hill and surrounded by a wall...from some places you can enjoy a view out over the wall of Siena out into the gorgeous green Tuscan hillsides. It is a very unique thing to find a city which has decided NOT to allow traffic in its central core! This makes everything feel more peaceful.

(In Florence, you feel like you are in a city and nature is far away, unless you are strolling through the Boboli gardens at the Pitti Palace.)

Like many cities, Florence has streets with tall buildings which can give you that claustrophobic big city you're surrounded by concrete.

Siena is one of those unique medieval towns which feels like it has survived intact and unchanging for generations, as if you have gone back in history. (I am talking about the part of Siena which visitors enjoy, surrounding the famous main square where they hold the Palio horse races...)

Old Nov 4th, 2004, 07:47 PM
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Many thanks for the thoughtful and very informtive replies! I am looking forward to visiting both Florence and Siena and feel much better prepared.
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