Driving and parking questions


New member

We are a family of 4 (two kids aged 7 and 12) and will be driving our own car into Italy this June. We plan a 5-night stay in Tuscany. I know it's not much, but we WILL come back another time, I'm sure :)

The plan is to stay at a campsite in the Viareggio area and do day- or half-day trips to Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, Florence and the Apuane Alps. Now the questions:

1. Thanks to this very helpful forum, I've already realized that for the Cinque Terre the realistic option is to park in La Spezia and take the train in. Is it my correct understanding that it's easy and inexpensive to park near La Spezia Centrale? Is there a car park adjacent to the station or I have to look for a spot in the streets?

2. In Apuane Alps, we are basically looking to park the car and take an easy to medium difficulty hike that would be circular and roughly between 2 and 4 hours long. Does anyone know of a particular location to head for?

3. Is it relatively easy (and inexpensive) to park within walking distance of the major sights in Lucca and Pisa? We don't mind walking at all, so it could even be a 20-30 min walk.

4. For the Florence day trip, I've decided against the train since it'll be a hassle anyway getting from the campsite to the departure station in Viareggio and parking there. Plus, even given the current petrol prices, it seems significantly cheaper to drive a team of 4 than to buy return train tickets. So I'm thinking of doing what we've done on many other occasions in other cities - drive to the outskirts, park, and take a bus into the centre. Does anyone know of a convenient spot to do this in Florence, coming from the west? Based purely on Google Maps satellite view, I was thinking of UCI Cinemas next to FI-PI-LI / Viale Etruria.

5. On the morning of departure, we will leave Viareggio and drive to Rome. Now, Google says it's only about 3.5 hour motorway drive, so we though we'd take a detour and drive through San Gimignano / Sienna area making a couple of stops along the way. Can you suggest particular towns/villages to stop and walk around in for an hour or two, where it's also relatively convenient to park?

I'd appreciate any help/advice and constructive criticism of our plans :)