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Day trips from Florence to smaller Tuscan towns

Day trips from Florence to smaller Tuscan towns

Jan 31st, 2010, 12:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Day trips from Florence to smaller Tuscan towns

We're (my wife & I) planning on staying in Florence for 6 or 7 nights at the end of May & early June. We want to see Florence but also know we'd like to visit smaller Tuscan towns. We're in our 50's, very active and athletic. We can walk/hike for many miles and also spend hours biking.

What 's a way to leave Florence, get out in the country to visit other Tuscan towns easily?

Are there walking tours available and worthwhile?

How about bike tours?

What towns are the best day trips from Florence? By train or bus? I think I've decided to avoid car rental.
stevefahrner is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 02:14 PM
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The best day trip from Florence is Siena by far. The second best is Pizza. The worst is Luca. It's like a dull subrb of Florence.

BTW Staying in Florence 6-7 days is crazy. Unless you are absolte museum fanatic, it's really not all that great and doesn't even begin to compare with Rome, Florence or even Milan.
lmhornet is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 02:16 PM
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"Unless you are absolte museum fanatic, it's really not all that great and doesn't even begin to compare with Rome, Florence or even Milan."

Meant Rome, Venice or even Milan."
lmhornet is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 02:24 PM
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I'd have to agree with hornet--Florence is good for 2-3 days tops--it's very stressful and way too busy. You could see the Uffizi, the Accademia, the market around San Lorenzo, the Ponte Vecchio, eat a good meal and be done in a day. Even better is to stay in a smaller town and go to Florence for a day trip or one overnight.
Maybe a place in or near Montepulciano or Cortona would fit the bill, then you could venture out and explore more of the Tuscan walled towns each day.
DonnaD44 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 02:38 PM
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I was in florence in august and we did day trips to pisa and sienna and san gimignano. sienna and san gimignano can both be done in one trip.
we also managed squeezing in Cinque Terra on a very long day trip. Personally, its a must see. its simply beautiful. you can break your 6 day florence trip and spend a couple days in cinque terra too. if i remember correctly its a 2 hour train ride from pisa.
travelinB is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 02:41 PM
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hornet is wrong about Lucca (note: it's not "Luca")!! It's not dull. It's got fantastic walls all around the centro storico (historic center) that are so wide at the top that they are a park, with paths, little play areas for kids, etc. They are fun to walk around -- several miles -- or bike. It's very laid-back and the center is mostly pedestrian-only streets and lots of neat piazzas where you can have a coffee or lunch al fresco and watch Italian life.

I wonder about the qualifications of someone who tells you a good day trip is to "Pizza".

Florence is a different experience, and you have to learn to get into it. It could be done in 3 days, and many do, but once again there are many places tucked away in the Oltrarno, (other side of the Arno river) that are intriguing. And it's not so crowded and crazy in the early mornings and evenings when the day-trippers are gone.

You can also get to Bologna in 45 minutes, which is famous for its food. It has miles of downtown streets covered by arcades.
charnees is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 03:02 PM
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There are walking tours of Florence, although in 10 visits, I've yet to take them. Google it and there are several possibilities. A walk up to Piazza Michelangelo is very rewarding--try to time the sunset. BTW-I strongly disagree with those who suggest Florence is only worthy of a short stay. I'm not aware of any biking tours of the city

Daytrips--Bus to Siena but don't try to combine with San Gimignano as you will shortchange Siena. Easy trip. San Gimignano requires a bus to Poggibonsi and then another to S. G.---easily done and a worthy, if well touristed site. Pisa is an easy train trip. Its also possible to hire a guide to go into Chianti area and other southern Tuscany areas.

If you want to see smaller Tuscan towns, you would do well to consider staying further south with a car--an "active, athletic" type will have no problem driving--its actually fun! Good luck and perhaps we'll see you--we're flying back in May 28! Paul
macanimals is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 03:34 PM
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There are a ton of bike tours - both in and around Florence. I will try to post some URLs for you tomorrow. Alternatively you can rent bikes from the very reputable http://www.florencebybike.it/ and make your own tours. There are marked bike paths all over the city -
InFlorence is offline  
Jan 31st, 2010, 07:47 PM
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Six or seven nights in Florence would be heaven for me. We've been to Florence several times and still find things to see and do both in the city and as easy day trips to smaller towns by train.

A good friend of mine did a one-day bike tour in Chianti last year and had a great time. But watch the weather forecast. I think her trip was in mid-June, and it was a little too hot for her.

Jean is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 12:49 AM
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Here is another bike tour site: http://tuscany-biketours.com/

I know I have another flyer around too for something that is just in town - if I can find it I'll post it!
InFlorence is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 08:32 AM
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Hi Steve,

As many people have mentioned, Florence is busy and can be overwhelming for many, but it can be a good central base.

Your interests are hiking and biking and want to see some countryside, so here is a thought.

The train and bus systems in Italy are great. Trains toward Lucca, Pisa and Cinque Terra and bus south toward Siena, Greve and the Chianti towns.

There are many many hiking and biking tours. I have heard that this company does both are good: http://www.smallvineyardstravel.com/tours.html
There also must be some self hiking books out there, because last fall we met a various Briish people hiking from Panzano to Volpia and then to Radda.

Given you interests you should seriously consider seeing Cinque Terre and maybe stop in Lucca. Siena is also wonderful.
jnjfraz is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Last year our trip was Stresa,Lucca,Siena,Bologna and Milan
and a day trip (20 minutes on train) to Pisa from Lucca.
We had 3 nights in each place. Florence is the train hub and
we found ourselves going back to Florence to change trains
several times. It was not a problem, but depending on your
choice of places it might be just as easy to stay in Florence
and take day trips. Check the train schedules to see what works best for you.
By the way, this was our second trip to Lucca because we
enjoy it so much.
Happy travels!!!!
violetduck is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 03:50 PM
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Thanks for your great advice. The other destination after Florence is Rome. Right now we're arriving on Wednesday from Florence (or Sienna) and staying Weds night, Thurs, Friday. Flying back to Chicago on Saturday.

Should I stay an extra day in Rome rather than Florence/Sienna?

My son and his wife were in Cinque Terre last year for part of their honeymoon. Also spent time in Florence & Sienna. They loved Cinque Terre. I was going to save it for another trip.
stevefahrner is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 04:12 PM
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If you haven't been to Rome before, you'll likely find that two days there isn't nearly enough. But it's really your choice to decide between that day spent in the countryside or used as an additional day in a big, bustling city. It depends on your interests and the kind of trip you want to have.
Jean is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 04:16 PM
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hi steve,

we spent 6 nights in Florence, and did 1 and 1/2 days' trips in that time, a whole day by bus to sienna and a half day by bus to Fiesole.

That was about the right balance for us, because we had already spent a week in Rome earlier that year.

however, if I understand you correctly, you have 6-7 days in Florence and 3 nights in Rome. I would seriously consider reducing your time in Florence by 2 nights and adding them to Rome - which would give you 4 nights in Florence and 5 in Rome which IMHO is a much better balance.

you could also stagger your journey from florence to Rome by spending 3 nights in Florence, a night in Sienna [lovely in the evening after all the coach parties and tour groups have disappeared, and then onto Rome.

the only disadvantage is that the train station in Sienna is a little bit out of the main centre, whereas the bus stop in very central indeed.

i agree about leaving the CT to another trip - when you could easily spend a bit more time in Florence if you wanted to.
annhig is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 04:39 PM
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I agree with the others. Unless you're huge Renaissance art fans and love going to museums, that's too much time in Florence and not enough in Rome. I think 4 nights in Florence with 2 days exploring the Tuscan hilltowns and 5 nights in Rome would be much better. So much to see and do in Rome.

Siena is worth at least a full half day side trip. Many of the other hilltowns are fun to explore also, but there is a certain similarity to them, meaning I wouldn't worry about trying to cram a bunch in. On a short visit, they'll tend to look alike.

There's a guy who gives tours in and around Florence who's terrific and reasonably priced: Lucca Garapa of hillsandroads.com Do a search here and I think you'll find rave reviews. We hired him for a couple of days based on the reviews here and he was better than advertized. Unlike many guides who give private tours, he is both driver and tour guide which saves money. (Other companies tend to have a driver plus a guide.) He lives outside of Florence and can drive you to the towns and give you tours, take you to wine tastings, etc. If you don't know where or what you want to do, he can suggest an itinerary. He can also drive you from Florence to Rome and make stops along the way in various towns in Umbria, such as Orvieto. That's what we did. We weren't interested in renting a car and thanks to Lucca, we were able to visit some of the charming Umbria towns closer to Rome, such as Orvieto. It was a splurge over the cost of the train but we were very glad we did it.

We used the following tour company in Florence and enjoyed their all in one day tour: http://www.italy.artviva.com/locatio..._tuscany_italy (We were only there for 2 days.)
dcd is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 03:40 PM
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Spent a week in Florence last summer - and didn't have to resort to museums for amusement for the whole time.
An afternoon trip on the local bus to Fiesole is an easy excursion out of town.
We took the SITA bus to Greve for a lunch in the town square and a walk (up!) to Montefioralle afterwards.
The 500 Touring Club do an outing with a difference to a small villa/winery - self drive in a vintage Fiat 500 (in convoy).
SeeDee is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 04:44 PM
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Thanks so much for the generous advice. I agree we should stay at least one extra night & day in Rome.

Here's my current itinerary: 6 nights Florence; with a few day trips; or 4 nights Florence & 2 nights Sienna. 4 nights Rome

Anybody have opinions on this itinerary? My thought on staying in Sienna 2 nights is I know I want to visit, I could rent a car there one day, & it's on the way back to Rome.
stevefahrner is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 11:23 PM
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The 4,2,4 would be my choice. Even if you decide on 4 nights
in Florence you would probably still have time for a day trip.
Staying in Siena would make a good transistion between Florence and Rome, much more relaxing. Also, Siena is just a not to miss place.
The train seems the perfect way to travel for the places you
have scheduled so far.
violetduck is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 08:24 PM
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Ditto on the 4-2-4; there's plenty to do in Florence other than museums (and even then, there are many that are NOT purely Renaissance art-related!). You may also want to get out of central Florence once or twice, without necessarily doing a full day trip - Fiesole (as has already been mentioned) and a nice walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo followed by a leisurely visit to the lovely San Miniato al Monte church directly behind it come immediately to mind. Both can be done spontaneously and on your own.

If you don't have much luggage, the bus from Florence to Siena and from Siena to Rome is very convenient (particularly Florence-Siena, since the Siena bus station is way more conveniently located than the train station!)

I know you said you're likely NOT to rent a car, but you may want to consider renting a car from Florence to Siena and dropping it off in Rome. Yes, I know you can't drive in Siena city center, and it'll be more expensive than the bus and train, but a car allows for more freedom (and you can stay at any number of smaller towns around Siena).

Have a great trip!
fatamagistra is offline  

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