November 20, 2011, 10:48 PM
Florence / tuscany navigation from rome...help!!
I am visiting Italy for the first time, I have 3 nights, lodging in Rome, but would LOVE to see one city in each day (Rome, Florence, Venice). I checked out few Day tours to Florence, for the "same price" of an organized Tour (which takes 3 hours each way to Florence from Rome with Motorcoach), I can take the Eurotrain (the fast one) to Florence in 1 1/2 hours, and catch a hop on / hop off bus Tour of Florence and be free to see WHAT I WANT opposed to a Tour guide showing me what they want. Question is: As soon as I get off the Fast train station in Florence, how do I get to the Hop on / Hop off Bus in Florence? Do you advise this is a good idea for someone that doesn't know the city at all? I like the Idea of arriving Florence 1 1/2 hours opposed to 3 1/2 hours EACH WAY by motor bus. I'm not that interested in entering many sites, just would love to see it from the outside and snap photos, which is why I figured the Hop on / off bus would be the ideal thing to do. Please tell me what you think and what I should do.
Also, would love one day in Tuscany too (from Rome) any suggestions with the fast train?? Is it something I can see while in Florence for the day? I understand it gets dark pretty quickly in January (winter months) so I'm trying to head back to Rome in fast train before it gets dark. please share your suggestions. Many blessings~
November 22, 2011, 12:36 AM
Wow, you want to see 3 cities in 3 days? Italy is PACKED with things to see, distances might not be that great but there is so much history and art to see that you'll practically see very little. It gets dark around 5pm already, in January it will be very similar so your day will be quite short.
If you only have 3 days in Italy, I highly recommend you spend all three of them in Rome. This because I think you'd get more out of your trip, enjoying what you do see rather than trying to just say you went somewhere but saw nothing. Most tours that include all three cities take at least 7 days and even that is doing it really fast...
Having said that, if you're set on seeing all three cities, first thing I recommend if for you move and spend each night in each city rather than backtrack to Rome. Otherwise, you'll waste a good portion of the day in trains. Neither Florence nor Venice are "day trips" from Rome. The hop on/hop off bus in Florence could definitely be a good way to see the city from above and you can get on the bus directly from outside the Santa Maria Novella train station! Florence's historical center is small -- the hop on/hop off bus actually does not take you by the main sights in the historical center (think cathedral or palazzo vecchio) because it is closed to traffic -- so the best way to see these sights is to walk from the train station - in less than 15 minutes, you are in front of the cathedral.
Tuscany is the entire region of which Florence is the capital, so by coming to Florence you're already in Tuscany! From Florence you could take the train to Pisa and see the Leaning Tower That is one of the top sights in the region, another is Siena. There is so much to see and do, that is why you really need more time!!
November 22, 2011, 05:23 AM
Rome, florence, venice...3 nights please help!
Thank you for your input, it is deeply appreciated! I researched the distance btwn Rome and Venice by taking the eurostar fast speed train (approx. 2 hours 38 min. Each way) And to experience the gondola ride, or a tour throught the canal.... what do you think? Im not really a night person, club person, i don't drink, not an art or history fanatic, nor do i have interest in entering many of the sites. My satisfaction comes from visiting the highlights of this country rich with its beauty and culture (I know what's the next question than whats the purpose to visit?) Rome: hop on /off busand visit major landmarks. Florence: taking a 12 hour organized group Tour by motorcoach. I really love the country life and that is why I wanted to experience Tuscany. Venice: take fast train early in morning to try to enjoy whatever I can before it gets dark, then head back. There goes my itenanary for 3 days...what do you think? Your opinion is valued and appreciated, if there is anything I should take to account as other than safety please let me know. Anything that would apply to my trip. Thank you and God bless!
P.S. do they have public bathroom access in Italy or is it an issue like France?
November 22, 2011, 11:51 AM
Don't worry - it is your time and your itinerary, you can surely follow the plan you've set - I'm not saying your itinerary isn't possible to do, that is surely not my intention. Since you asked for help in figuring out whether the bus would be the best way to see the city, I am also trying to bring to your attention factors you should consider for the plan you have in mind. I am also assuming this is the first time you're in Italy and that it is likely you don't/can't come back in the near future which is the reason you're trying to see as much as you can in the limited time you have.
From my own personal experience, when I first came to Italy distance between each of the cities seemed so short compared to distances back home (California). But I quickly realized that in Italy relatively small spaces hold treasures every where you look. So seeing everything from a bus might just give you a "blur" of what is out there and you'll end up seeing general views of what is out there but seeing very little in the end.
Try to imagine this: ride past the Colosseum in Rome in a bus, then actually walking by it, standing right below. The Roman Forum is right next to it but you won't be able to see it from the bus, since it is only open to pedestrians. You can ride around the Vatican but walking into the center of St. Peters Square can only be done on foot, regardless if you decide to go into St. Peter's or not. The size, shape and beauty of the monuments themselves, even if you aren't an art lover or history fanatic will be part of the experience that Italy offers.
The same goes for Florence - the historical center is practically off limits to buses since the area between the Duomo and Via Tornabuoni became closed to traffic. The bus used to pass right in front of the cathedral, now you can't do it. Now it goes around the center, never into it.
In Venice, you can go down the Grand Canal and admire the beauty of the city and its many palaces but the most beautiful of all, St. Marks Square, requires you to walk into it. I definitely recommend you don't miss going into this cathedral or the wonder of its small narrow streets that can quickly make you get lost.
All of this takes time so what I was proposing earlier is to spend a day in Rome, sleep there, then head to Florence, spend the day there, sleep in Florence then head on to Venice (save over an hour getting there), enjoy the city, sleep in Venice and then return to Rome. Of course, if your itinerary permits you to get back to Rome in time for your departure. Given the limited time you have in each place, saving 2-3 hours of travel back to Rome means you have 2-3 more hours to savor each location. Each of these cities is magnificent at sunset and once the sun goes down all the monuments are lit up. Even if you're not interested in night life, being out and about once it gets dark is beautiful.
You'll see the Tuscan countryside from the train as you travel from Rome to Florence. But if you're in Florence, you could do a 12 hour tour of Tuscany such as this one (Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour) because it starts in Florence. Look into it, you might be able to get it in and is definitely worth it!
There are public bathrooms but they aren't everywhere.... the easiest is just to head into a coffee shop, buy something, anything and ask to use the restroom (many are reserved for patrons so by buying something you gain the right to use it). In any case, this map with the public restrooms in Florence should be helpful when you're here .
I am sure whatever you end up doing in your 3 days, you'll love what you do see of Italy and will somehow you'll make it possible to come back again to spend a little more time in each place