Day trips from Florence

Old Apr 1st, 2006, 05:21 AM
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Day trips from Florence

We're planning a trip to Florence in September:
6 nights/5 days plus Bologna on the 7th day (for a 6:00 flight the next morning).

We would like to include a couple of day trips. Definitely Siena/San Gim: I'm thinking morning to Siena, then to San Gim late afternoon and head back to Florence after dinner.

I was investigating bus schedules and, on a whim, checked rental car rates. Pick up Florence-city 8am, return Florence-city 10pm on the same day....Nova quoted me 45 euros.

At that rate, it's really tempting to avoid all the bus transers. Do experienced travellers agree? Or would we be better off avoiding parking, etc. in Siena and San G?

And: what would be another good day trip? Fun town to stroll around, do some shopping, historical/architectural appeal, have a fabulous long lunch, etc. Would love to see Assisi or Montepulciano. Would they be reasonable day trips by bus/train?
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 06:00 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Jeanne,

Taking the buses to Siena/San G will about the same price as your car.

Orvieto is also a nice town to visit.

See www.trenitalia.com for train schedules.

Have a nice visit.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 06:24 AM
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Montepulciano is better by car since it is not far off the main highway south and the train station is far from the main town; you would have to take a taxi or less-than-frequent bus to access the town from the train station.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 09:55 AM
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Those two answers seem to have concentrated my mind. It would make sense to use the good transportation available for Siena/San G. and use the car day to visit Montepulciano or other hilltown(s) not so readily accessible by bus.

This is exactly why I love Fodors!
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 10:04 AM
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Another option is a day trip by train to Lucca. The old town is surrounded by intact walls. You can circumnavigate the town on foor or bike. Nice little town.
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 02:30 PM
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Lucca is definitely an option.

I really would like to see the southern Tuscany area, though.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 06:45 AM
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OK, in typical fashion, we're re-thinking this. What about this option?

We originally incl 6 nights in Florence, with day trip to Siena/San G., then train to Bologna for our last night. Also a one-day car rental for trip to Montepulciano, returning to Florence same night.

Now we're thinking why not use the car instead of taking the train to Bologna? Here's the new consideration:

--5 nights Florence (Incl day trip to San G.)
--6th day pick up car, stop in Siena, drive on to La Traverse in Pienza for 1 night.
--Next day, see a little of Pienza and Montepulciano, then drive to Bologna to turn in the car late afternoon.

Granted, this is a short trip. But it would give us that much-wished-for "taste of Tuscany".

Does it sound like too much?

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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 07:37 AM
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Hi there!
You might find it difficult to fit in both Siena and San Gim. in one day. You might consider taking a bus trip -- there are plenty of travel agencies across the street from the main train station in Florence that will give you a day trip direct to Siena and San Gim. No advance reservation is required. There is also a tourist information office across the street next to the large church (Santa Maria Novella) and they can point you in the right direction.
Have fun!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 07:51 AM
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I think your new plan sounds great, including the overnight in Pienza.

I've never done SG by public transportation, but I think your original idea of doing Siena for a day and then heading to SG in the LATE afternoon is a very good one, assuming you can make the connections work and still get back to Florence. The only problem with those package tours is you'll be arriving in SG with the other couple of hundred bus tours during the day and rubbing elbow to elbow with the masses. If you can do the trip on your own to arrive at say 4 in the afternoon -- you'll like SG infinitely more.
 
Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 09:25 AM
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Hi JB,

Re your new itinerary.

I suggest dropping a night from Florence.

Bus to Siena for an overnight.

Pick up a car and visit San G on the way to Pienza.

Check www.viamichelin.com for San G/Pienza route. You can take the scenic byways (edged in green) and avoid going via Siena.

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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 09:39 AM
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I suggest traveling east earlier in order to see Ravenna. It's a spectacular sight, far greater than anything available outside of Firenze in Tuscany, and easily reached by train from Bologna.

I would make your sixth night dinner in Bolgona -- since it is one of the great gastrominic capitals of Italy, a morning train to Ravenna for 6th day, return to Bologna for dinner the same night, and flight out the next morning.

By the way, for "fun town to stroll around, do some shopping, historical/architectural appeal, have a fabulous long lunch, etc.", Bologna is hard to beat.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 11:14 AM
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Oh my, so many options.
Just when I thought it was getting easier!

Thanks for all the suggestions.
Ira, we kind of like your idea, either staying in Siena or San G. But both Siena and San G. have limited car availability.

We'll work on it and come back here. Thanks again.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Ness: The Bologna/Ravenna option sounds good, too...and a lot easier.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Ness:
In Bologna, we have to catch a 6:10am flight. Should we pick a hotel near the airport even though that would mean cab or train to and from the city center?
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:37 PM
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I've never flown out of the airport in Bologna, but Bologna is such a business oriented town, I suspect all the hotels are prepared to help you with your flight, so I would stay in the Centro Storico. If you find a hotel you like, book it, because Bologna is one of those towns where hotels fill up in the blink of an eye.

What you need to double check (as always these days) is WHICH Bolognese airport we are talking about. The name of the main one escapes me. The other is Forli, and I think it is a considerable distance from Bologna. If you are flying from Forli, I would suggest looking into keeping your car and driving directly to Ravenna. Spend night Six in Ravenna, and night 7 in Forli.

If you are leaving from the main airport in Bologna, drop your car off in Bologna.

Finally, if you are not renting a car, I would spend night 6 in Bologna, train to Ravenna, leave your luggage at the train station (confirm it has a drop-off), tour the sites, take a train to Forli -- although double check it is serviced by train.

whew.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 01:39 PM
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Just to be clear, if you are leaving from the main airport in Bologna, drop of your rental if you have one in Bologna, spend the night there, visit Ravenna, return to Bologna to sleep before early morning flight.

Of course, you can also drop of your car in Firenze, but I don't see the point. I don't think it would be any more economical, but check the rates.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 03:40 PM
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type in your exact title and put it in the search field at the top of this page and you'll find lots of suggestions.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 05:32 PM
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ness:
Our airport is BLQ. I googled it and it's only 6km from Bologna. I think we'll look for a hotel in central Bologna and work with them to arrange an early cab or shuttle.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 05:35 PM
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Yes. I agree with that idea. I'm sure you won't miss your flight and you'll have the pleasure of the centro storico.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 06:27 PM
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Having seen San Gimignano for the first time, a couple of weeks ago -- and having kinda liked it, too -- I would not, however, counsel anyone to make extraordinary efforts to visit it, if other equally attractive places lay closer to your path.

San Gimignano is a bit remote -- it sits amidst hills that are a bit hard to drive. I admit it's striking but equally or more striking are Volterra, Certaldo, Colle val d'Elsa.

Siena is another matter: A great and beautiful city, very much worthy of a detour.
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