Florence museum and driving questions

Old Jul 18th, 2016, 05:36 AM
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Florence museum and driving questions

Hello, this is my first post on Fodor's Forum!

Short intro:

My husband-to-be and I are doing Cinque Terre - Southern Tuscany trip for our honeymoon this September. First we will go to Cinque Terre for 4 nights and then we will stay in an agriturismo in Crete Senesi for a week. After Cinque Terre we will go by train to Florence, rent a car there (as it will be a Sunday, Florence airport was basically the only place for car rental) and go south. The main things we want from our trip is to see the countryside, drive around, maybe rent bikes for a day, do some hiking.

My questions:

1. It is possible for us to have a few hours in Florence on 4 September (arriving 09:35). I read that we could book tickets to Academia or Uffizi to avoid lines, but 4 September is the first Sunday of the month and so the museums are free! I was wondering if any of you have been in Florence on the first Sunday of the month, are the lines huge? Would it be possible to get into Academia or would we basically waste the whole time in the lines?

2. How long does it take to get your car at the rental (in our case, Hertz)? I read that it might take "a long time", but I have no idea what it means. An hour, 2 hours?

3. Google maps say that it is an up to 2 hour drive from Florence airport to our agriturismo (very close to Buonconvento). Since I do not drive much, should I add an extra hour or two? Is the road easy and clear or is it easy to get lost? From the map, it does seem pretty straightforward...

Thanks in advance for the help!
Ieva is offline  
Old Jul 18th, 2016, 06:48 AM
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queue can be long, I've seen it bad on Sunday but Sept will help, get there as early as you can and it should be less than an hour

Pick up, I never book direct ( I find a broker kicks ass when stuff goes wrong) and of course it depends on other flights in, but Sunday should be quiet as no business people turning up and needing a car

2 hours feels about right to Buonconvento. I did it the other way last year and though our passenger was panicing the timing was as per google.
bilboburgler is offline  
Old Jul 18th, 2016, 08:48 AM
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A problem with your plan is that many alternatives to the Ufizzi or Academia (like Santa Croce or S Maria Novella) are closed to casual visitors on Sunday mornings.

Personally, I can only think of one thing horrider than being stuck in a Florence museum queue on a hot summer morning (September is definitely summer) - and that's going through Florence and not seeing some of its outstanding works of art.

In your shoes, I'd choose a museum that charges every day. I'd select the Palazzo Medici Ricciardi, and make a beeline for the Magi chapel. An alternative (actually if I really were in your shoes, an additio to the Magi Chapel) might be the 1030 Plainsong Mass at the Duomo. Churches don't allow casual visitors on Sunday mornings, but they're completely open to people siting respectfully in their pews during their services.

The Botticellis etc aren't THAT different on a wall from what they look like on the web or in an art book. The reality of Florence's glorious murals, or a well-sung service, can only be appreciated in situ.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Jul 18th, 2016, 11:58 AM
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You could buy museum tickets online ahead of time. That way you can skip the long general admission lines and use the shorter line for reserved tickets. You may still have to wait, but not as long.

Lee Ann
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 01:41 PM
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Repeating ElendilPickle, if you buy timed entry tickets in advance, you skip the lines. But the museums will be crowded on the free Sunday, and September is still high season.

Personally, I'd wouldn't enjoy this sort of day. It starts early (6:30-ish?) with two train connections, then you deal with the luggage at the Florence station, walk through crowded museums and piazzas, try to fit in lunch somehow, bus or taxi to airport, go through the car rental process, finally drive 2 hours to lodging. And for all this, you won't see much of Florence.

Instead, I'd go to the Pisa Airport and leisurely drive through Tuscany to the lodging destination. Get a car that will hold your luggage out of view, and you won't have to touch your bags again until you reach your lodging. Volterra and San Gimignano would be easy stops along the way, and the scenery is beautiful in that area.

I don't know your interests, but I'll just point out that there is a wonderful abbey worth visiting just a few kilometers NE of Buonconvento. Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Beautiful frescoes and architecture, a small museum and a store selling items made in the abbey. If you go, plan your visit because the grounds close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. There is a restaurant at the entrance that remains open.


Jean is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2016, 08:13 AM
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I agree with Jean. Take the train from CT to Pisa Centrale. From there it's a few minutes by transport to the Pisa airport where you can pick up your car (Volterra and San G are both great stops).

Since you have a week in Buonconvento, visit Florence on another day (making reservations for the museums in advance although I've never needed them for David in the late afternoons). You can drive to Florence or drive to Siena and catch the train (parking under the mall across from the train station) or take the rapid bus.

FWIW - I would drop a night or two from CT and add a night to Florence.

>>>Since I do not drive much, should I add an extra hour or two? Is the road easy and clear or is it easy to get lost? <<<<

If you don't pick up in Pisa and decide to pick up in Florence, you can take either the highway towards Siena (divided highway and would be fastest) or you can take the Chianti Road (222) through Chianti stopping a few places in route (Greve? Panzano?Castellina?, etc.).
kybourbon is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2016, 08:36 AM
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Yes the abbey is fine near Buonconvento and was once the 5th most important place in Christianity.
bilboburgler is offline  
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