November 23, 2016, 05:44 PM
Long Weekend Break to Florence and Abetone
I am planning a long weekend (4 - 5 days) break for my partner and I to visit Tuscany in mid January. We are in our mid 20s and from London and want to explore Florence and see all it has to offer, both loving architecture, italian food and culture. We both enjoy skiing too, despite being novices, and hope to spend a day or two skiing in Abetone to get out of the city.
I've read a lot of reviews and tripadvisor comments and am unsure whether January is a good time to visit. I'm not sure how much snow will be in abetone and also whether most places in FLorence will be closed. I am also confused as where are good places to stay in FLorence/Abetone and how to get about. Some advice would be greatly appreciated!
November 28, 2016, 12:33 PM
Closed in January??
Don't worry about places being closed in January - there is just too much going on in Tuscany for that to happen!
If you are talking about visiting vineyards and are concerned they won't be open - then I suggest you call before hand, many of them don't keep regular office hours in the winter, but they will open up with an appointment. Read thru these articles for some ideas of where to visit for wine and cheese visits: https://www.chianti.com/wine-tasting/
Abetone already has snow, so it is definitely a great possibility! It is only a short trip up to the mountains, and there are buses that leave from Pistoia that will take you straight to the slopes. Though, I have driven several times when I went skiing and it is a good clean road. You will find rental equipment and accommodations up near the slopes as well.
November 28, 2016, 05:14 PM
Thank you Donna,
I hadn't even thought about visiting any vineyards, but I will definitely look into that as we have always wanted to go tasting!
I am thinking about hiring a car for the week as that will give us the flexibility to visit Abetone for more than one day, and also go other places such as Pisa and Pistoia. Either t hat or we get a hotel in Abetone one half of the stay and in Florence the other half.
November 29, 2016, 08:34 AM
If you're interested in skiing, then January is perfect!
I would agree staying in Abetone or near by (take a look at Borgo Isora for example, if you want an apartment rather than a hotel) and using that as a base for a few days would be a very good option. Less driving to Pisa/Lucca/Pistoia. A car is a must once you're not staying in town, will make moving around easier.
While there are less visitors overall to Tuscany during winter, the region never ever closes down. There are many local residents - and many visitors every year - enjoying all the sights with less crowds ;-). The only places I know do close down for the "season" are generally on the seaside, at the beach. There will be places open for residents, but lots of the places that only serve visitors do take time off during winter and then work the rest of the year.
November 30, 2016, 04:27 PM
The flights are booked! We arrive at Galileo Galilei in Pisa around mid day on a Sunday mid January for one week, with our return flight booked the following Sunday evening.
What are my transfer options to get from the air port to Abetone? I am going to book a hotel in Abetone for 3 or 4 nights so we can ski, and then the the rest in Florence.
I mentioned hiring a car but I think I will wait until we get to Florence and maybe just hire it for a day if we want to go exploring. But we are more likely to spend the days walking around Florence seeing the architecture and local culture, and then catch a bus to a vineyard for some tasting. The idea of hiring a car is nice and gives freedom, but also complicates it and adds extra expense.
December 1, 2016, 08:28 AM
Only problem with this plan so far is that transport options to Abetone are not ideal from Pisa, they are a bit better from Florence.
So some options are:
- you can first do Florence and then Abetone, since it is easier to get to Abetone from Florence
- plan carefully transport from Pisa to Abetone by train/bus OR
- consider getting the car in Pisa and then returning it upon arrival in Florence, as you don't need it at all in Florence!
By bus from Pisa, you should first go to Lucca and then on to Pistoia by train. From there catch bus to Abetone.
From Florence, you'd also catch a train to Pistoia and then a train (there is a bus from Florence to Abetone from mid-December to February but depending on your dates in January, not sure it is an option since last year it ran only on weekends - http://www.copitspa.it/Bacheca/Alleg...2020151217.pdf )
In either case, from Pistoia you'd need a bus: this older thread still has valid info since the main line is still bus #54 - http://www.discovertuscany.com/forum...e-abetone.html
If it seems too complicated, then I'd suggest the car for those few days in Abetone, considering day trips while you have the car.... then return the car once you're in Florence. No car in Florence means no extra expense, no worries about parking, no worries about driving into the limited-traffic area (the whole downtown is off-limits to you) so my recommendation is always - NO CAR IN FLORENCE
December 12, 2016, 12:19 PM
I had a look at the transport options and have decided that a hire car will be the best option. The transfer from Pisa to Abetone on the Sunday would be 6 hours and doesn't leave till 6PM when our flight arrives mid-day!
I looked into hiring a car at Pisa for a few days and then dropping it off at Florence, but there was a €60 addition charge for the one way drop off. So, I have hired a car for the full week! That means we can drive from Abetone to Florence anytime on the Wednesday and just park the car up somewhere near where we are staying (near Piazza de' Pitti) and then drive back to Pisa a few days later.
You mentioned that there are a few complications when driving into Florence. Could you recommend a safe parking area that we can park the car for the stay near our accommodation that will avoid these confusions. Once in Florence we wont be using the car, except for maybe driving out of town to visit a nearby vineyard (recommendations) and to drive back to Pisa for our return flight.
Also, I have a full UK Driving Licence and am 26, do I need any other form of documents to bring with me? I have heard of a International Driving Permit but I'm not sure if that applies as the UK licence is supposedly valid in all EU countries.
December 27, 2016, 01:38 PM
Yes, definitely car hire is best option from Pisa and for moving around Abetone and doing day trips.
As far as having the car in Florence and the additional dropoff charge for returning the car rental in Florence, just consider that the average daily car parking in Florence is around 25-30 euros in private garage and higher in the public parking area off Porta Romana that only offers hourly parking. If you are going to spend more than 60 euros in parking, returning it ahead of time would make sense.
You could plan for a day of the car in Florence, planning any day trips the very first day you're in Florence to limit parking expenses and THEN returning it. Taking train back to Pisa (or bus shuttle from SMN to Pisa airport).
For wine tastings, take a look at https://www.chianti.com/wine/chianti-winetasting.html -- I would suggest Viticcio just outside of Greve in Chianti or Dianella near Vinci (closer to you as far as Abetone area goes) or Torre a Cona (closest to Florence).
For all, once you know the day, call and book the visit to make sure it is convenient to you. At this time of year, the "usual visit hours" are off and all is by booking date and time (no extra charge for booking).
You also have to be very careful with the ZTL in that Porta Romana area --- unless you use a private garage, never go in beyond the gates at Porta Romana towards Palazzo Pitti. It is ZTL and fines are around 200 euro. Make sure to read this: https://www.visitflorence.com/touris...-ztl-zone.html
You can see info on parking areas here: http://www.visitflorence.com/florenc...-florence.html
and mapping the area, I see two private garages that are close (search for these on google):
Garage Porta Romana & Garage Santa Trinita
but I can't see cost and don't know exactly where you are staying at to say which one is more convenient/closer.
Consider outside of Porta Romana, there is street parking where you can leave the car -- but make sure you pay in advance enough for every day (keeping in mind street parking between 8pm and 7am is free) but it is hard to find, lots of locals have parking dilemmas on a daily basis. You'll see it by the way they park in every single available corner there is, particularly at night.
As far as license, the UK is still EU country so I would think it is sufficient -- if you have the EU flag/symbol on your license, it should! ;-) This confirms it: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad You would only need the Int'l Driving License to accompany it if you drive into non-EU countries.
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