July 21, 2012, 12:02 AM
Mini Tuscan adventure
My partner and I are flying into Pisa early on a Thursday and we are considering starting our long weekend in Florence for either 1 or 2 nights and the considering our next destination as Livorno (1 night) and then onto Pisa for 1 night....
We will be getting around by train and want to explore both Pisa and Florence and spend another day by the coast enjoying some of the Italian August sun somewhere. After lots of google searches we are looking for personal recommendations from those well travelled who have done similar trips. (We fly out of Pisa at 2pm on a Monday so we are looking to stay in Pisa for our last night.)
We would be so gratefull for any recommendations you can offer to help us with our research and to plan our mini adventure of Tuscany.
July 24, 2012, 01:00 AM
beach recommendations in Livorno
It sounds like you're going to have a great mini adventure in just four days in Tuscany. I like your itinerary, it will cover a good amount in such a short time
I'll comment on the Livorno and beach part - the coast is really clear and nice in that area, just know that the beaches are mostly pebblely (not sure that's a real word LOL! ). Mostly smooth stones, but be prepared, not sandy.... sandy is further north toward the Versilia or further south around Piombino and then on in Maremma. It still a great area to enjoy the coast and sun!
So as for beaches.....
There is basically one rocky beach in Livorno you can actually walk to (or take the bus) just south of the Naval Academy:
The rest are heading south, little by little, along the coast and are near Livorno.... you can get to all of these with bus #1 from Piazza Duomo or along Via Grande in the direction of "Miramare" so you won't have a problem moving around without a car. The bus basically runs parallel to the coast, so you can get off, explore, continue along the line.
Here's the schedule for the summer: http://www.atl.livorno.it/Orario Estivo/feriale/Urbano Livorno feriale.pdf
the first pages are already for bus #1.
Here are some of the beaches:
La Rotonda - in Ardenza
Scoglio della Ballerina - in Antignano
Cabianca - in Antignano
To all of these beaches, the bus ride is 25 minutes or less.... so they aren't far at all.
Castiglioncello is also a very nice town, but a bit further south than Livorno - you can get there by train and then walk a few blocks to the rocky beach. I remember you need water shoes in this area as you do end walking over a lot of rocks to get in and out of the water.
Have you already booked accommodation? Recommend you use www.tuscanyaccommodation.com to get started, gives you a good idea of what is available. When we were in Livorno last fall, we actually stayed at Hotel Gennarino which is right in front of the Naval Academy and really liked it. It was walking distance to the Terrazza Mascagni and a bit further from downtown, but we walked there too! All the houses in the area are in this Liberty style with "medieval" tower elements, it was pretty neat .
Hope these suggestions are useful -- hope you have lots of fun!! Feel free to post any other questions!
August 14, 2012, 02:54 PM
Re: Mini Tuscan adventure
Thank you so much for your information, has been so helpful.
I have seen that a bus from Livorno to Vada (the photos I have seen of Vada look amazing) is 50 minutes or the train is 24minutes.
Would this be possible for a day trip? We have booked our hotel in Livorno but after lots of searching have been a little put off the beach. So were thinking of traveling further south to Vada.
Also if you could offer some advice with trains. I have seen that a journey from Livorno to Vada is 3Euros per person, whats the best way to buy train tickets, are returns available or travel cards. (We will be getting the train from Pisa to Florence once day, Then Florence to Livorno, Livorno to Vada, Vada to Livorno, Livorno to Lucca (possibly), Lucca to Pisa.
I found the http://www.trenitalia.com website quite difficult to work out as the ticket types are still in Italian.
August 14, 2012, 09:52 PM
Buy train tickets only once you're here in Tuscany
The Tuscan seacoast was just recognized as having the top clean beaches in all of Italy, along with Sardinia. Since Livorno is a main port, of course the beaches are not many but most of the differences between beaches along the coast have to do with the beach itself - sandy, pebbly, rocky, etc.... but I saw there are people getting into the water in Livorno, to the south of the port, and that it looked clean.... just there was no sand, it was a bunch of rocks! People still got in, so it totally depends on personal preference!
As for train vs bus, the big difference I see is that the train station is about 2 km away from the main road in Vada which I think is where the bus would drop you off.... so a little bit more to walk to get to the beach! You decide which one you prefer to take.
As for the trains - yes, the official site isn't that great to work with, but consider that all travel within Tuscany (and all you're planning is within Tuscany) is considered "regional" which means these are all trains with no assigned seating and tickets are sold without a specific train in mind valid for 2 months from the time of purchase. You just need to "validate" it or stamp it in the yellow machines at the train station before you head out to your platform and get on.
So don't even try to buy tickets online, aside from there being no need, the site is too confusing and there are too many parts not translated (including the buying process which I think would not let you buy regional tickets in any case). So just wait until you get here, go to the station and state your destination......... even if you're making 3 train changes, you get one ticket valid for the whole trip. The website is just useful to get the timetables ahead of time, so you know when trains travel and can decide which are the best ones to take. Take notes of all your train changes, the train ticket won't state any of them and the ticket seller will not tell you, it is assumed you know! At each station, if you have to change trains, you look for the one you want to catch on the departure screens and get on - validate your ticket only at the first station and show it to any train personnel who ask for it on the train.
Hope this information is helpful in planning your day trips!!
August 15, 2012, 02:21 PM
Re: Mini Tuscan adventure
Thank you again for your reply!!
We will definitely try the beaches in Livorno because even with the pebbles they still look beautiful.
I was hoping it would be the case that it was easier at the station to buy the tickets!!
The bus seems like the best option as it leaves from outside our hotel - hopefully we get to see more of the journey and i assume buses are cheaper than the train.
I hear the weather in Italy is very warm right now. It will be a refreshing change to the UK!
August 23, 2012, 01:06 PM
enjoy your time in Tuscany! :)
It is pretty warm in Italy right now, maybe too much of a difference from the cooler temps in the UK. But the beach and coast are perfect for warm weather so you should be fine! Florence had the distinction of having the highest temp on record for Italy yesterday, so we're hoping you bring along some cool temps with you!