Seeing Florence

Old Dec 5th, 2014, 09:23 AM
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Seeing Florence

We have three nights. Land in Milan and train to Florence and stay three nights before we head to Rome.

My question, is it best to base ourselves in Florence and head out to Pisa/Lucca for the day or stay somewhere like Siena and do some day trips?

Thanks in advance!
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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"Best" depends on what kind of experience the people traveling most want. Also, whether or not you have a rental car can make a difference as to which is the better "base."

It is very difficult to made a dent into seeing the major artistic and historic sights of Florence in anything less than 3 or 4 days, especially if one day is spent out of town. However, many people are only interested in see a very small handful of famous artworks in Florence, and perhaps visiting the markets, and would much prefer to be in the more medieval-looking Siena than the more formally beautiful Renaissance Florence.

If you don't have a car in Siena, it is not easy to do a lot of the most popular Tuscan day trips (although it is easy to get to Florence for a day trip). If you have car in Florence, it can really be a millstone around your neck.

One more tip: Check out the actual amount of time it will take you to go by train from Malpensa airport to Siena, allowing for train or bus connections. Depending on how long your travel time to Italy is, you might want to call it quits in Florence, at least for the first night.
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 10:46 AM
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tbrenk - i had a look at the trenitalia.it website, and there are hourly trains from Milan to Florence, taking about an hour and forty minutes; to get to Siena you have to change in Florence and then the next leg to Siena takes about the same again. So with the time spent in Florence changing trains, if you caught the 10.15 from Milan, you'd be in Florence for noon; you wouldn't get to Siena until 1.45.

Personally, after an overnight transatlantic flight, i would rather just get on the train and get off at my destination, not try to change trains etc. there is plenty to see in Florence for 2 ½ days [which is the maximum you'll have if you arrive at Milan in the morning], but if you really only just want a taste, on the third day you could get the bus to Siena and spend a day and night there, travelling onto Rome the following morning. the difficulty with this plan is that there are no direct trains from Siena to Rome and with changes, it would take you about 4 hours. In such a short trip, that's quite a long time out of your holiday. Florence to Rome on the fast trains takes about 1 ½ hours.

In such a tight time-scale I don't suggest bothering with Pisa or Lucca but the beauty of train travel in Italy is that you don't need to decide now - you can just hop on the train if you decide while you in Florence that that's what you want to do.
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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I agree. In such a short trip I would not bother with Lucca or Pisa. Focus entirely on Florence and take a bus to Siena for a half day if you want. With 3 days total for this area, you will hardly scratch the surface of what these 2 wonderful places have to offer.

Any way you could catch a connecting flight from Milan to Florence? It's been about 12 years since I've been in Italy... But flying direct to Florence might be a little quicker since you are already at the airport after flying over. And with only 3 days for Florence, every minute will count.
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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With an 8:25 AM arrival flight into Milan, what is a safe train time to book?
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 01:25 PM
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If you book a train for a safe time, you'll probably waste a lot of time in the station waiting for that safe train. I would book the train to Florence at the airport train station, when you can take the first train leaving. It will probably cost more than reserving in advance, but on a short trip time is worth more than money, in my opinion.
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Old Dec 5th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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I lived in Florence for six months and still missed out on so much. I think 3 days is perfect to get a great taste. If you're not consumed with the idea of seeing all of Firenze's main sights, then go for a day trip to Siena. However, I think once you get to Florence you'll likely want to stay there the full time but you never know
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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Florence is my second favorite city in Europe (after Paris). There is so much to see and do there that 3 days will only scratch the surface. I would go direcly from Milan to Florence by train, stay in Florence for the entire time and only consider a day trip when you see what Florence has to offer.

Enjoy your time there.
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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Without a car, it would be best to stay in Florence. You can easily visit Pisa/Lucca by train or Siena by bus (bus drops at the center, train is further out).

You can't easily reach Pisa/Lucca on public transport from Siena. A once daily bus to Pisa takes 3 hours and train might be a bit shorter, but would require connections.

With only 3 nights, you really only have 2 sightseeing days.

>>>With an 8:25 AM arrival flight into Milan, what is a safe train time to book?
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Old Dec 6th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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We loved Florence. We stayed on the other side of Pont de Vecchio in an apartment down the street from the Palace. One day we did a Vespa tour in the Chianti region. I can't recall which company we booked through, but it was one of our favorite activities we took part in when in Florence. We started out in the morning finished up around 5pm. We rode through the region stopping at a deli, small villages and vineyards where we had lunch and dinner and of course wine. To tend our trip we stopped for Gelato. We also booked a cooking class through viator.com in Florence with a tour of their indoor market.
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