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Florence or San Gimignano/Siena for the day?

Florence or San Gimignano/Siena for the day?

Old Mar 28th, 2008, 06:31 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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Florence or San Gimignano/Siena for the day?

We are going on a cruise in early May and one of our ports is Livorno, Italy. My husband and I always take one of the shore excursions offered by the ship (I know it usually costs more, etc). From Livorno, we can't decide whether to do the all day trip to Florence or do an all day trip which goes to San Gimignano and Siena. We both really love the outdoors and the "country" atmosphere, but I don't want to miss out on the chance to see Florence. My husband is not really into museums, but we cannot decide which way to go. I wish we could do both, but no luck. In the fall 2007, we were in Rome for 4 days, before joining a cruise, and had a great time seeing the city all on our own. So we like "city" stuff too. If we did go to Florence, I would prefer to "do it on our own", but my husband would prefer a guided tour, etc. Any suggestions? Thanks for any advice about whether to go to the "country" or the "city".
flowerlover is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Hi FlowerLover,

If I were you, I'd visit Florence.

The last time I was in Italy, I visited Siena and San Gimignano as daytrips from Florence, and even though I spent a day in each, I felt that it wasn't enough. I mean, it sure was enough to stroll around the historic centers, but that was it, so I can't imagine doing both in a day.

Florence is small and you can definitely do it on your own. National Geographic Traveler: Florence & Tuscany features a self-guided walk that includes the highlights of Florence's historic center. I did it and I liked it a lot.

Enjoy your trip,

Castellanese is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2008, 09:45 PM
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Since you just have the one day, I'd go to Florence, not try to visit two cities.

Florence is lovely in early May, and the tourists aren't really there yet en masse. You can just wander the town on your own tour, and not visit museums, if your husband doesn't want to. Or you could make a reservation at the Accademia (sp?) to see David, because it's pretty amazing.
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 04:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,565
Hi F,

Do not buy the ship's excursion.

Take the train from Livorno Centrale to Florence SMN and spend the day on your own.

Train schedules at:


Train to Florence SMN:
The Luggage Office is to your left as you leave the train.

From Piazza d' Stazione, walk up via Nazionale to via d'Ariento and the Mercato Centrale, wander through.

Take any street going NE to Via Degli Alfani and go right to the Accademia for The David.

Take via Ricasoli SE to the Duomo, the Baptistry and the Opera Museum (Originals of the bronzes on the doors)

From the Campanile, take via Calzaiuoli S (do some window shopping) to the Piazza d' Signoria. Look around, take a break.

Continue S to the Uffizi. Visit.

From the Uffizi, walk W along the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio.

(You can walk up to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens if there is time. Great views of Florence from the top of the Gardens)

If you have time, walk E along the S bank of the river to Ponte alle grazie and cross over to visit Santa Croce.

If not, go W along the Arno from Ponte Vecchio to Ponte S. Trinita and go right. Go left on Via d'Spada to via d'Fossi and go right to Santa Maria Novella. Look around.

SMN is across the square from the train station.

If you have time, take the no. 7 bus (you can find it at the SMN train station) up to Fiesole (0:20 hr 1E) to watch the sunset from the terrace of the Bar Bleu.

Be sure to have lots of gelato (in a cup, not a cone), take some wine breaks and a light lunch.

Train schedules, prices and tickets are at http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html
Call center from outside Italy is 39-06-68475475

Bus routes are at http://www.ataf.net/
Buy your ticket before you get on the bus. Stamp it in the yellow box on the bus.

Uffizi and Academia Museum Reservations
The easiest and cheapest way is to call Florence 1010987 (dial around number), 011 (U.S. international access code) 39 (Italy's country code) then 055-294-883 8:30-18:30 M-F and 8:30-12:00 Sat. Florence time. There is a long listing of press 1 for this and 2 for that--press 4 for bookings. You will get an English speaking operator and in 2-3 minutes YOU CAN RESERVE FOR BOTH. This is through the reservation service at the Uffizi and costs beyond the normal entry fee only about 3 euro for the service. This is MUCH cheaper than the commercial booking services.

You will not be charged for the reservations unless you use them.

Have a nice visit.

ira is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 05:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Another vote for Florence. I would try to include the Uffizi even though your husband isn't "into museums" but if you decide against that you will still have an incredible visit. I recommend climbing the dome of the Duomo

Another great place to look out over the city (besides the view from Fiesole mentioned by Ira) is the Piazzale Michelangelo
Vttraveler is online now  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Hi Ira, why do you suggest having the gelato in a cup not a cone? I've never heard that suggestion before. thanks Cathie
cathies is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 06:27 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 200
a little hard to choose between Siena and Firenze, but I would drop San Gimignano. I think IŽd go for F, but as mentioned, go by yourselves, easy, no problem with trains. And icecreamcups ? why not ? often offered in Norway as an option, especially if you sit down. Enjoy !
rjsol is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 06:41 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Another vote for Florence. Even if your husband isn't into museums, seeing David is a great experience and shouldn't be missed, IMO.
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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi C,

>Hi Ira, why do you suggest having the gelato in a cup not a cone?

That's how Florentines do it.

If you're out taking your evening stroll with a cone of gelato, it could get messy kissing people on both cheeks.

ira is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 08:56 PM
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Thank you very much to everyone's replies. So far, it sounds like Florence is winning. And thanks to "ira" for your specifics as to a self tour. Sounds really great. Do most of you think the train would be the best way to go? The ship does offer a Florence trip "on your own" which costs $88 per person, and basically covers just the transportation there and back from Livorno. Does that sound like a decent price? Again thanks to all of you for your great advice. I'll be glad to hear more too. "Flowerlover"
flowerlover is offline  
Old Mar 29th, 2008, 09:09 PM
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$88 is probably close to what you'd pay, if you were to buy the tickets yourself at the station. Maybe it's worth the peace of mind to just buy the tickets onboard your cruise ship and not have to deal with it yourself.

It's certainly not difficult to do, though, if you want to handle it yourself. But it can be a hassle figuring out the machines, language barrier, etc.

Old Mar 31st, 2008, 01:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 11,026
Thank you Ira! I will make sure that we have our gelato in a cup. You painted a lovely image of those elegant Italians out for a stroll. We are going to be in Florence in May and are looking forward to it very much! I received an email from our travel agent this morning reminding me that it's only 45 sleeps until we leave!!
cathies is offline  
Old Mar 31st, 2008, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 396
Ditto on Florence. I have spent time in all 3 cities and eventhough I love San G, like Siena and love Florence---there is too much to Florence to miss and a day is perfect. Make sure you see the Duomo and the Michaelangelos...and maybe go on the hillside and look over the city. Also fabulous shopping on the bridge.
wordsmith is offline  
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