November 23, 2014, 01:44 PM
Early research prior to 2015 visit
My partner and I have decided to visit Tuscany next September (2015). It is really her choice as she always expressed a desire to visit the area.
We are going to drive down from Kent, with an overnight stop at Bourg En Bresse, both ways. This does not concern me as I used to drive to Milan & Turin in a 44T truck fairly regularly.
I have already booked accommodation in Cascina for 5 nights but I suppose what i am looking for is a relaxing itinerary.
I think we will take the train to Pisa for one day? Or is a whole day too much?
My partner would like to visit a mountain village with charm and scenery........San Gimignano perhaps?
Drive to Florence for the day?...........I am very open to suggestions. My only experience of Italy in the past has been that of industrial estates and similar areas. I have never been as a tourist.
Thank you all in anticipation.
Paul T. (Charing Kent)
November 28, 2014, 09:58 AM
I think you will both enjoy Tuscany very much and enjoy a relaxing 5 days.
Cascina is very close to Pisa, you can certainly take the train there as well as to Florence to avoid driving into any of the limited traffic zones which are off-limits to non residents or those who don't have special permits.
Cascina itself isn't really a tourist spot, so you'll get a chance to experience more authentic Italian life, but the fact that it is close to Pisa and the train line will be useful.
If you want to experience Italy slowly and enjoy some art, history and culture, I'd suggest giving Pisa the whole day instead of doing it in a rush. Italy really isn't supposed to be a checklist to check things off of but many people do it that way. That goes for Pisa, as well - most just stop, see the tower and take off. But consider going UP the tower, with its incline it is a very special, unique experience.
The whole piazza around the Leaning Tower has a lot of history and interesting things to do, from the cathedral to the baptistery to the Camposanto with its magnificent frescoes (which were saved after the place was bombed in WW2). The museum of the cathedral (opera del duomo) is also interesting but at that point you might just wish to spend some time outdoors. A walk from the train station to the Piazza dei Miracoli will already have been a good way to see the main sights in Pisa, but make sure to pass along the Arno and see the small Church of Santa Maria della Spina right alongside the river. There are other museums in the city, ones with modern art exhibits (Palazzo Blu).
If you feel you aren't interested in spending the whole day there, you can get back on the train at the San Rossore station (closer to the Piazza dei Miracoli) and continue on to Lucca. Lucca is a walled town, with thick, walkable walls from the 16th century that still surround the historical center. It is very close to Pisa, so you can end up doing both on the same day.
You'll also have your car, so I definitely suggest heading to San Gimignano and to Volterra to see more beautiful scenery and charm. Along the way (or on a different day) you might also stop in San Miniato and Certaldo. Finally, Siena is a definite must stop. It is still very much a medieval city, with lots of red bricks everywhere.
So we have one day in Pisa and Lucca, another in Florence, another in San Gimignano and Volterra and another in Siena..... almost full schedule already ;-)
A drive between Siena and Florence through Chianti on the last day would also mean wine country + great views + hilltop villages.
I've given you lots of suggestions but definitely cut back and enjoy any part of it that you like for longer and just think you could always come back again!
November 29, 2014, 12:19 PM
Early research prior to 2015 visit
Thank you so very much for your reply, together with it's excellent content.
We now have a working itinerary and will probably work quite closely to it. I hadn't thought of climbing the tower as my knees are not as strong as they were but I am told by a work colleague that they are not too steep. I hope to give it a go........will we have enough time to do the complete sight given that the ticket allocated is only for 30 mins?
We now have something concrete to work with and once again, many,many thanks
Paul & Anne x
December 1, 2014, 12:17 PM
Yes, the steps of the tower are not steep at all... and climbing a leaning building is a very uinque, one of a kind experience - you'll see the steps are worn out from climbing up, all people stepping in the same spot for that very reason for centuries! There are also levels, I've climbed it once and remember there is at least one point when you step from the inside to the outside and are allowed to stop and take a break. There are 293 steps total.
The ticket for the tower is separate from the rest of the monuments, so the 30 min are only for the tower. It is enough - the tower is quite small itself, you have the steps to the top, the bells, the view: the experience I recommend is doing the climb itself and enjoying the view, you do get a bit up there. I highly recommend it at least once in our lifetime ;-).
You can also visit the cathedral with that same ticket, no time constraints... but I'd also suggest visiting the Camposanto and the Baptistery. There is a ticket for the amount of monuments extra you want to visit, from 1 through 4, you choose how many. The cathedral doesn't count as it is free - the 4 you can buy entrance to are the Camposanto, the Baptistery, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo and the Museum of the Sinopie (or sinoper - they are the underpaintings of the frescoes you find in the Camposanto). If you give yourself only half a day, I think you'll have enough with those without doing an overload.
December 5, 2014, 06:45 PM
once again...............thank you very much Lourdes xx With what you have said and with my bad knee....we ought to do a whole day. Take you to lunch?
Paul & Anne xx
December 12, 2014, 03:16 PM
That would be a real pleasure, just let me know when you're in town ;-)
You should definitely take the time and enjoy what you see and do, it will be more pleasurable.
Hope you have fun planning any remaining details and, despite all that, remain flexible with your schedule and just go with what you feel like doing once you're here