January 11, 2009, 11:07 PM
We are thinking of travelling (in June) from Florence to Lucca, staying over night (maybe 2 nights) in Lucca, then visiting Pisa (maybe overnight), and returning to Florence . I've been advised that it's not worth it to rent a car in Florence, because it would be useless in Lucca. I'm also not inclined to drive as we're visiting Italy for the first time, and I don't really want to hop in a car at the airport after a 12 hour flight and drive in an unfamiliar country for the first time.
If anyone has any comments on this itinerary or suggestions on the best way to travel (train from Lucca to Pisa? bus?), I'd love to hear it!
January 13, 2009, 06:31 PM
recommend using train from Florence to Lucca and Pisa
For your first visit to Italy, I totally agree you should not consider driving at all! It will take some time to get used to the country and its "different-ness" - I just got back from spending the holidays in California, and there is definitely a different approach to driving here in Italy!
You should spend your vacation enjoying sightseeing and relaxing and not worry about all of the details driving would entail.
Plus, as you've been told, a car is useless not only in Lucca but in Florence as well as all of the main sights are within a short distance in the historical center. If you need to go a bit further out, the public bus system, ATAF, usually works quite well.
You can easily move from Florence to Lucca and then to Pisa by train. The main train stations in all three towns are all within walking distance of the main sights. The trains operating between Florence, Pisa and Lucca are mostly all "regional" so they make several stops along the way, taking a bit longer than you would in a car but the travel is stress-free!
All offer mostly only second-class fares which tend to be very affordable - if I remember correctly, the fare between Florence and Pisa, for example, is less than 10 euros one way and should be similar or less between the other legs of your trip.
The train ride from Florence to Lucca usually takes a little less than an hour and a half, making several stops along the way, including in Prato, Pistoia, Montecatini Terme, Pescia and Lucca.
The train ride from Lucca to Pisa takes half an hour, while the ride from Pisa to Florence takes about an hour.
Check out what you want to interested in seeing in Lucca - two days definitely should give you abundant time to see the main sights without being in a hurry. A day in Pisa should also be sufficient - most of the sights and interesting museums are around the Leaning Tower. In addition to the tower, cathedral and baptistery, I highly recommend visiting the Camposanto right next to the Cathedral for the truly amazing fresco cycle called "The Triumph of Death"!
Go to http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/
at the top you'll see a small link to the "English" version of the site.
The search function works pretty well, giving you information on the stations, timetable and details of the stops. You can't buy these tickets online, but that is never a problem here. Just buy them at the station at one of the self-service kiosks or desk before hopping on your train.
For these trips I wouldn't recommend the bus just because it would make more stops along the way and thus make the trip longer. But if you're also planning on seeing some parts of Chianti, then bus is definitely the way to go as the train lines practically go around the area and not through it.
If you have any further questions, I'll try to answer them as best as I can!
Hope you are enjoying planning your first trip to Tuscany!
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