Driving Sites Between Firenze & da Vinci Airport
Day 1 is OK; parking at San Gimignano may delay you (consider Volterra as an alternate). Day 2: we would consider Pienza instead of one of those listed. We stayed at Bagno Vignone (hot springs). There are also free hot springs further along S2 (I can no longer provide location, but here you need your own towel and gear).Day 3:Omit. We recommend that you save the Assisi area for another trip (northeast of Rome starting or ending with a night in Tivoli). Day 3): Orvieto and on to Tarquinia , its Etruscan tombs and museum. 4) It is an easy drive to the daVinci via A12, about 80 km.! We have driven at a slower pace through the area at least 4 times and it is all worth seeing. Of course if you have never been there, Orvieto and Siena are the big stops. Assisi is a difficult stop on a fast schedule. The more you spend for lodging and eating and parking, the happier will be your trip. Does your fourth day include flying out and if so , at what time?!Related to:
- Family Travel
Getting around Tuscany
If you want to really explore Tuscany then you need a car. Sure, you can get to the main towns, and many of the smaller ones, by train or bus, but to really get off the beaten path car is the way to go.
I had always been hesitant to hire a car in Italy, and on past trips we had always travelled by train and bus. But in Sep 2006 we felt ready to brave driving alongside those crazy drivers I had read about. It was not too scary as we were not visiting any big cities, though I must admit that driving in the teaming rain on the truck-infested autostrada wasn't my idea of fun....however being able to really get off the beaten track in Tuscany was so worth it.
On this trip, our first Tuscan night was spent in the very north of Tuscany in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The only way to get there was by car, and I specifically chose this accommodation because of that fact.
The scenes that we saw while driving around Tuscany were some of the highlights of our trip (besides the wine!!). It is so convenient to be able to stop anywhere and take your photo of vineyard filled valleys....the type that you see from the train window and wish you could have a closer look.
We hired our car from Europcar (who we have now used several times), and would recommend them. Rates are competitive and always include unlimited kilometres.Related to:
- Road Trip
Renting a Car in Tuscany?
I was worried about driving in Italy previously but my fears proved unfoundedIf there is anywhere worth renting a car, Tuscany is definitely the place.
My opinion of whether you should rent a car in Tuscany:
Where you are going: If you are only going to Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and San Gimignano, then perhaps you don't need a car. These places are covered very conveniently by frequent buses and trains. This means you don't have to read the maps, learn the roads, find a place to park, filling up the gas tank, etc, etc. On the other hand, if you want to and have the time to go to smaller towns (Montalcino, Montepulciano, Chianti), vineyards, or out of the way destinations, and you like to change your plans on the fly (we went from Lucca to Livorno at the last minute and saw a beautiful sunset), then you should rent a car.
How many days: If you only have a short window of a couple of days, then you should probably avoid renting a car as well. Remember it will take you time to get your car from the garage and drive to your destination, and then you have to return it at the end. That is valuable time that you could use sightseeing. On longer stays, the time spent to get your car becomes insignificant. Instead, you will find that without a car, you have to keep on rushing back to stations to meet the train or bus so what is effectively a 1 hour train ride becomes 1 1/2 hours.
If you rent, have a good map handy or GPS. A great map I used was the Toscana map by Touring Club Italiano (see picture attached) . Some other folding maps that specifically focus on a city like Florence also tells you which direction the one-ways go.
Driving in Florence and other cities was not too difficult aside from the one-way streets. Always look for the sign CENTRO if you are not sure where you are going. We didn't know which exit to get off for Florence, but by following the CENTRO sign, we were able to get into the city without a problem.
Rent a car is the way to see Tuscany
Renting a car allowed tremendous freedom to see a number of places in a relatively short time. We had the car for 5 days from Florence and was able to see Arrezo, Montalcino, Montapulciano, Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Livorno, Chianti, and stayed in a castle in a small village called Montenbenichi. Keys to renting and driving in Italy:
1. Plan in advance--your basic must see places and what roads to take;
2. Get a good Tuscany map for driving--I have not see GPS available for Italian cars yet. I used the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) Toscana regional map and found it perfect.
3. Be sure to learn how to drive a manual shift, unless you want to pay twice the amount for an automatic
4. Have an international drivers license--a must!
5. Stay in the slow (right) lane if you are not going that fast on the Autostrada. Some Italian drivers are very fast and will tailgate with their highbeams if you don't move out of the way.
6. Autostrada tolls are reasonable in my opinion. At the same time, some freeways are free and can get you there just as quickly.
7. Most petrol/gas stations are closed in the evening and holidays. However, they have automated machines (not always in English) that take credit cards and cash (be sure to have cash for the parking meters as well!)
8. Driving in a city such as Florence was not a bad experience. Signage is quite adequate. The only difficulty is to figure out the one-ways near the city center. In other cities, they all have the "centro" sign which is usually where the old town is.
Train From Siena to Firenze
We stayed 15 minutes outside Siena. In order to go to Florence we went by car to Siena's train station, where parking is not a major problem and we took the train to Firenze. There are trains every half an hour If i can recall corect and the scenery is fantastic. The train stops in Santa Maria Novella train station which is in the centre of Firenze. I think this is much better way to go to Florence than go by car because parking can be a really pain...
Make sure that you check the timetables for florence to Siena in the evening.Related to:
Where is Tuscany?
Tuscany, or in Italian Toscana, is a region in central Italy. It is bordered by Lazio to the south, Umbria to the east, Emilia-Romagna and Liguria to the north. The Tyrrhenian Sea is to the west.
On this map of Italy where you can see where exactly Tuscany is located.
Map of Tuscany
Here is a more detailed map of Tuscany. On the map I have indicated most places I have been to and which I have described in my must see tips.
Borgo a Mozzano
The streets in these beautiful Italian towns and villages can be very small, totally unsuitable and impossible for our modern car. Often you are required to park you car outside the town, and enter the village by foot. But one sort of transportation doesn't seem to have so much problem with these roads, and that is the piaggio. To me these piaggio's are so typical to rural Italy. They always make me smile and make me think back to the great time I had here.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
PISA - take bus Nr. 3 to see the famous tower
Busline No. 3 takes you from the train-station in Pisa within 5 minutes to 'Piazza dei Miracoli'
It certainly makes sense to take the bus, when you have just a short time in Pisa.
But when you walk, you will not miss the plenty of great little works of art at many places in the old town. The walk will take around 20 minutes.Related to:
- Road Trip
you name it ....
you name it, and it is possible
car, train, motorbike ..... unlimited possibilities
We went with our camper and traffic was not so bad...
When visiting the towns, we usually took public transportation and then walked. This way we did not have to worry about parking and safety - we would do it that way over again !
Rent a car
I would recommend to rent a car here, cause you will see most of the wonderful landscape while driving through........
We took our own car in 2001 and drove all the way down...... It´s ok, when you stay for more than two weeks, otherwise it´s quite a distance.....and you have to pay the motorways in Italy too..... So to rent a car might be the better alternative..
The streets in this region are all very well...but driving in Florence can be a nightmare!! Nothing for weak nerves!!!!!
Car was our way of doing it,...
Car was our way of doing it, and is definitely the best if you want to explore the countryside. Not the cheapest though. You can cut down on costs by choosing 'blue' roads (roads reserved for motor vehichles) instead of motorways. The 'blues' are free and practically just as fast as 'greens'.
All you need for your road-trip through Italy >
Plan your routeRelated to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
use the train to move florence-lucca-pisa-siena
train is the best way to explore cities in italy unless you have a car (but car parkins are very expensive)
there are many many trains on the livorno-pisa-florence line, almost every 15 minutes.
Take the small roads
If you leave the main roads, you will find villages off the beaten path, small villages, great vies, a lovely scenery, ... just Tuscany!Related to:
- Family Travel
We have stayed with this establishment many times. Initially, it was because they have free parking...more
This is a gentle warning to anyone using a vehicle on the road at the front of the hotel, who is not...more
We stayed at the hotel around Chrismas. The usual rates of about 190 Euro where reduced to 80 Euro....more
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