Day Trips near Florence

Feb 5th, 2019, 07:18 PM
  #1  
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Day Trips near Florence

Will be traveling to Florence with hubby in May for 10 days (really only 8 days on the ground).. Would like ideas for day trips from Florence. Also looking into possibly going to Cinque Terra overnight if possible, but would need lodging and transportation help.
Any great suggestions? We love to wander small towns and out of the way places. We need to do a few museums in Florence but don’t want to spend all our time inside when the countryside is so beautiful.
family_travelers is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 08:52 PM
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In the fall, we spent a couple weeks in the Italian Riviera including Cinque Terre and Florence/Bologna.

For the first part, we were based in Rapallo, visited 20 places and were able to visit CT in one day. Here is our trip report:

Rapallo/Cinque Terre/20 Places/8 Nights Sept/Oct

We based in Florence and Bologna for the second week, and liked Bologna a lot more, found things to do on the quieter side of Florence (we hated the crowds even in the fall) and we did a day trip to Siena, which was a bit more peaceful. Here is the report for that segment:

Florence or Bologna? 7 nights early October

Although we had a car for the first segment, it was largely parked and unnecessary. Rail worked well for all of it. If you have plans to do more of Tuscany, you may find a car to be helpful.
whitehall is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 08:03 AM
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I prefer day trips to involve about an hour's travel in each direction, so for me options from Florence would be:

By train:

Bologna
Ferrara
Arezzo
Lucca
Pisa
Montecatini Terme
Certaldo

By bus:

Fiesole
Siena
San Gimignano

There are also guided day tours by bus or car/driver that include exploring Chianti and a visit to a winery or a cooking class.

Before you get too wedded to the idea of an overnight somewhere in the Cinque Terre, you should look for lodging. And then hope that the weather is good on the day you have pre-selected. The train journey between Florence and the CT is 2.5 to 3 hours depending on where you go, which is a lot of time to 'lose' in a short trip.
Jean is online now  
Feb 6th, 2019, 08:09 AM
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You can look at train timetables:

https://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

Use "Firenze" for Florence.
Jean is online now  
Feb 6th, 2019, 10:03 AM
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To jean's Fiesole, Siena, and San Gimignano, I would add Pisa. If I had to choose one, it would be Siena. However, I think you will have plenty to do in Florence itself if you like art and churches.

Unless I am misremembering, we trained to Cinque Terre and visited 2 of the 5 villages as a day trip. The trails were closed for repair--we had planned to hike from one end to the other.

As a time-savings, I would cut out overnighting any other place--8 days isn't a lot. Have you looked into wine-tasting tours? Someone else doing the driving is highly recommended!
TDudette is online now  
Feb 7th, 2019, 09:31 AM
  #6  
 
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Two of the four lower trails in the Cinque Terre have been closed for eight years now, due to the risk of landslides. The other two lower trails are sometimes closed for shorter periods, for the same reason. The upper trails (where there's not much land uphill to slide) are usually open, but they are more of a challenge. I wouldn't go for an overnight. You'd spend a good chunk of the first day getting there, and a good chunk of the next day getting back. If you want to hike, you would need at least two nights.

May is high season in Tuscany, and in the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre towns can be insanely crowded by day trippers. Florence is also usually very crowded in May. I basically agree with those who recommend spending the entire time in Florence, or at most splitting the time with one other place.
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Feb 7th, 2019, 10:51 AM
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My DH and I made Pisa a base for one of our trips and I am probably in the minority of loving the place. The Duomo inside is fabulous. We happened to be there when a tour was going on. Just a short walk away from Leaning Tower, the tourists disappear and there are some nice places to eat. Reservations were required to climb up the Leaning Tower but the views are neat. Even with asthma, I was able to do it.

Fiesole (say Fee Aye Zo Lay) is a quick bus ride from Florence. If the day is clear, gorgeous views. Google for the convent. I met a Florence artist who said he likes to paint in Fiesole.

San Gimignano has very interesting towers, wonderful views and a church with murals that reminded me, albeit on a smaller scale, of those in Montreale in Sicily.

Siena's Piazza del Campo is gorgeous. Google the Palio race. The Duomo is fabulous. When we visited by train, we had to take a taxi to Piazza del Campo as it was too far for us to walk. It took us almost 1/2 hour to walk back down, fwiw.

Again, if I had to choose 1, it would be Siena. Others can add to what I wrote.
TDudette is online now  
Feb 7th, 2019, 12:14 PM
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Going to CTerre for a day could be hard to get a hotel for 1 day, especially if on weekend.
PalenQ is online now  
Feb 7th, 2019, 12:46 PM
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I believe May IS a good time to go to CT (generally good weather and crowds nothing like June or even worse July. We heard that our choice of late September would make hiking very difficult and crowded. It was not. Some of the towns were crowded, especially Vernazza, but that was very dependent on the time of day (and the short window for many tour buses and cruise ship passengers. )

Depending on your travel style, you CAN see all of these very small towns in a very long day (since at least 4 hours of rail time is required to do the round trip to Florence to LaSpezia). We did it (per our trip report mentioned above) from Rapallo, which is closer, had a little time in LaSpezia, and hiked the open lower trails between the three northern towns. We also enjoyed food and drink in several different spots. We did enjoy perfect weather, and I would cancel if the weather did not look promising.

In your case, I would consider staying one night (and a quick look on booking.com shows availability for one night stays in May) and enjoy one of these charming towns after the crowds leave. The CT train runs with subway-like frequency in each direction, so you could go wherever you want and double back if necessary with ease.
whitehall is offline  
Feb 7th, 2019, 01:43 PM
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I asked a similar question in the Rick Steves Facebook group, and someone shared this tour (Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, plus a Tuscan winery):

https://www.walkaboutflorence.com/to...t-tuscany-tour

It looks great, so we booked it for our trip next month. I therefore can't vouch for it personally, but I researched it and saw that it has a 5-star average ratiing (15,000 reviews) on TripAdvisor. Looks like they offer a number of other guided tours also.
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Feb 8th, 2019, 06:46 AM
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If I were to take a day tour from Florence, it would be a tour of the countryside or small towns and rural villages, places that are difficult to reach without a car. Siena, Pisa, and S. Gimignano are easily reached by train or bus, and trying to see all in one day, plus a winery, would be a hurried blur.

My daughter took a wine and gastronomy tour from Florence, and enjoyed it. I don't know the name, but she has no basis of comparison with other tours, anyway. I would look for small groups, a restricted area (maybe just Chianti) and a relaxed schedule.

For tours, TripAdvisor ratings are not very reliable.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 8th, 2019, 08:17 AM
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"someone shared this tour (Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, plus a Tuscan winery):"

In a day? Seems incredibly rapid to me, even if you were jogging through the cities.
To give you some idea - you are probably looking at at least 5 hours just driving. Florence -> Pisa is an hour both ways, Florence to Siena likewise. SG is probably a half hour detour off the Florence Siena route.
Siena to Pisa is probably 2 hours if you go via SG and Volterra, although there may be a slightly quicker route. So even given a long day, and a fast driver - you're not likely to see very much.
willit is offline  
Feb 8th, 2019, 09:27 AM
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I think that Pistoia is underrated as a small Renaissance city.
Michael is online now  
Feb 9th, 2019, 05:05 AM
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I've heard that Pistoia is well worth a visit. We still haven't managed to get there.
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Feb 9th, 2019, 06:14 AM
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It depends how you want your day trips to be meaning get more for your time or take your time in one place. Pisa in my opinion is only worth a half day and I've been twice. If I could have added Lucca from there I would have. My plans didn't allow it. Siena I did on my own by taking the bus. I spent a good part of my day there.

If you take a tour, you do get the most for your time. I like taking them but it didn't work for my most recent trip. I was staying 1 night in Pisa so why also go on a tour.

Last edited by sassy27; Feb 9th, 2019 at 06:41 AM.
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Feb 9th, 2019, 06:17 AM
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Very easy to visit Pisa, Lucca, Prato and Pistoia by train as a day trip from Florence, all have ancient city centres and only Pisa could be corwded.
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Feb 9th, 2019, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by willit View Post
"someone shared this tour (Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa, plus a Tuscan winery):"

In a day? Seems incredibly rapid to me, even if you were jogging through the cities.
To give you some idea - you are probably looking at at least 5 hours just driving. Florence -> Pisa is an hour both ways, Florence to Siena likewise. SG is probably a half hour detour off the Florence Siena route.
Siena to Pisa is probably 2 hours if you go via SG and Volterra, although there may be a slightly quicker route. So even given a long day, and a fast driver - you're not likely to see very much.
It may not be The Fodorite Way, but this trip works for us and our specific needs. All travelers are different, so there’s no “right” way to travel. I wish more people in this otherwise very valuable forum would remember that.

Maybe this tour would also work for the OP—or maybe not—what’s the harm in suggesting it? Even if most Fodors sophisticates pooh-pooh it?
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Feb 9th, 2019, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by RaymondLuxuryYacht View Post


It may not be The Fodorite Way, but this trip works for us and our specific needs. All travelers are different, so there’s no “right” way to travel. I wish more people in this otherwise very valuable forum would remember that.

Maybe this tour would also work for the OP—or maybe not—what’s the harm in suggesting it? Even if most Fodors sophisticates pooh-pooh it?
It obviously is possible if you are touring by car since that is what you did in a day, but the OP asked about transportation to Cinque Terre which seems to deny the use of a car; choices based on public transportation make more sense.
Michael is online now  
Feb 9th, 2019, 09:19 AM
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I certainly meant individual day trips for the ones I mentioned. Fiesole and Pisa could be combined.
TDudette is online now  
Feb 9th, 2019, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RaymondLuxuryYacht View Post


It may not be The Fodorite Way, but this trip works for us and our specific needs.

I hope it does, but as you've not done it yet I don't really think you are in any sort of position to judge.


Originally Posted by RaymondLuxuryYacht View Post
All travelers are different, so there’s no “right” way to travel. I wish more people in this otherwise very valuable forum would remember that.
That anybody is suggesting otherwise is merely your perception. I am only pointing out the logistics of a trip that will spend approximately half the total time driving between destinations.
The outlier on this tour is Pisa - If it were San Gimignano, Siena and a vineyard, then it would be realistic. The fact that you need to drive around three hours extra to include Pisa, which then presumably only allows you to have a quick look at the "Campo dei Miracoli", have your photo taken holding up the tower, and back in the coach seems a very strange way to spend time to me.
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