September 22, 2015, 09:03 PM
Buses & Trains Xmas/New Years Day
My husband and I are planning to be in Siena on New Years Eve, and then we need to travel back to Florence on New Years Day in order to catch a very early morning flight home on the 2nd.
I have read a couple of articles saying that bus service is running but is very spotty on holidays. Do you know if we will have trouble finding our way from Siena to Florence on New Years Day?
Any advice on travelling in Tuscany without a car over the holiday season in general would be appreciated. We are starting in Rome on December 23rd, and will then make our way into Tuscany after a few days, and then fly back to the US on Jan 2nd. We hope to see some other places like Chianti, Montalcino, and Montepulciano.
Thanks in advance for your help!
September 23, 2015, 11:31 AM
Travel for New Years
It's not that the public transport is "spotty" (though that can happen even here in Tuscany ;-) ) but the first of January is a HOLIDAY in Italy - which means you need to look at the time table for FESTIVI and not FERIALE.
BUT having said that, there are a few days when the public transport does not provide...public transport. And though it varies from company to company normally those days include the 25 of Dec as well as the 1st of Jan. So again it's not that it is spotty, it's just not available.
Your options could be to hire a driver (called NCC), and make a day out of exploring Siena, Chianti and before they drop you off in Florence. Or you could look into a private tour, though many people don't work on holidays - you might be able to organize something (and it would probably be much more economical then a private driver.)
September 24, 2015, 03:34 PM
In particular, on January 1st, the two bus lines (the ordinary slow one and the faster one) that run between Siena and Florence DO NOT RUN AT ALL.
You can see that from the schedule on their site, at the bottom of page 3 that I link here
Always check "festivo" for the holiday schedule, which also includes Sundays while Saturdays are usually considered "feriale" or a working weekday. The timetable says some run on the 1st of May, while others don't run on specific holidays and lists which ones in the footnote (see the ones marked V1 at the top of the columns?):
the footnote read "except on Christmas, New Year's Day (Jan 1), Easter and May 1st."
Which means NO buses on the festivo schedule run on those days.
You can't assume ALL buses don't run on these holidays, as the buses WITHIN Siena do run on Christmas Day and January 1st, just following the "festivo" timetables.
Trains do run on December 25 from Rome, so you can travel on that day to Florence. If you are in Tuscany already by then, assume it is better to not travel on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and plan to stay put wherever you are. You can arrange for a private tours as Donna suggesed, but as it is someone's day off, they will make you pay through the toes. There ARE several group tours that run between Christmas and New Year's (but none on Jan 1): you have to check the calendar for each of the ones that seem interesting to you to see the dates they have: http://www.partner.viator.com/en/835.../to/02-01-2016
I suggest therefore to plan your days so that you move around up until the 31st and then spend New Year's Eve in Florence: there are fireworks and music in the main squares that you can enjoy! I assume you are flying out of Florence on the 2nd, so it makes sense to just be here on the night of the 31st and enjoy the town on Jan 1. If you haven't made reservations for your base yet, do so! They are busy holiday times and lots of people vacation so if you want to stay in one place and use it as a base, then reserve soon otherwise you risk not finding one place available for the whole time. Don't wait until the last minute.
Keep in mind that all the other places you mention - Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano - are best visited with a car in general but can still be done without one, just need some planning. I would recommend considering 2 bases: you could divide your days between using Siena as a base to see Siena and these areas and just use a transfer service (such as this one) to get there instead of bus, then end up in Florence as your base for the last few days of your trip and be in Florence on Jan 1 already.