Itinerary advice please

granlie

Member
I am new to this forum so forgive me if there is another post with similar questions/replies.
In June we plan to be in Tuscany (4) people and have allowed 6 nights here.
We will be travelling from La Spezia having spent the previous 5 nights visiting the cinque terre. Now we naturally want to spend time in Florence (perhaps get the car there). But want to have a base to stay. The Siena, Chianti, San R, Lucca areas have been recommended to visit.
Question is should we stop and see Lucca en route by train to Florence (without car) or should we re visit it later in our itinerary. We need to get the car in Florence I presume and return it to the Florence airport as we are to travel to Rome for 1 night before we depart?


I am alittle confused as to where we should start let alone where to stay. If you can help with ideas most appreciated.
 

DonnaDenise

Well-known member
Visiting Lucca en Route

Are you going to be traveling to Florence on the train with all of your luggage? - then absolutely no. Lucca is the kind of place that is best enjoyed on foot with time to roam and explore. I believe lugging around luggage will bog you down a bit.

Now if you could rent your car out of La Spezia, then absolutely stop at Lucca and Pisa before heading on to your place because this would allow you to comfortably settle maybe just a little bit more south in Tuscany so you can get a complete view of the area and you could spend your road time concentrate in other directions...no back tracking.

Buon Viaggio.
 

granlie

Member
A Blond Moment!

:confused:
Are you going to be traveling to Florence on the train with all of your luggage? - then absolutely no. Lucca is the kind of place that is best enjoyed on foot with time to roam and explore. I believe lugging around luggage will bog you down a bit.

Now if you could rent your car out of La Spezia, then absolutely stop at Lucca and Pisa before heading on to your place because this would allow you to comfortably settle maybe just a little bit more south in Tuscany so you can get a complete view of the area and you could spend your road time concentrate in other directions...no back tracking.

Buon Viaggio.

Donna
Thanks for replying. I am a dumb ..... I forgot about the luggage. You are quite right cant do sightseeing and lug cases - duh. I will talk with the others re hiring/driving from La Spezia, its about 1.30 hours isnt it to Lucca? We are going to be there in June which is the busy time hopefully though we dont have to stay on the motorways all the time. (we are also from NZ so we drive on the opposite side of the road to you guys, have to be careful). Do you recommend some where to base ourselves. Should we be near Florence or further sienna way? One of the travel sites said to spend 2x Florence, 1/2 day Pisa and 1/2 lucca, 1x Chianti and San Gimignano, 1x siena and Monteriggioni, 1x valdorcia (not sure where that is) = 6 days they also mentioned Arezzo and Cortona but that would have to be another day which we have not got. I wonder if its not too busy what do you think.
We love historic sites, art, wine, anything really especially immerse ourselves in the country. I am getting quite excited.

Buon Viaggio (Tena Koutou, tena koutou, katoua), which means I think the same as you said - good bye etc.
Julie W.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
Not contradicting what Donna has suggested, as Lucca's train station does not have a baggage deposit area but there IS a company that offers it right outside the station. So you CAN visit Lucca on your way to Florence. The luggage deposit is in the square in front of the station, to your left as you exit. Here's the link to the store that offers the service: http://www.touristcenterlucca.com/servizi_dettagli.php?quale=2

So you can take the train down from La Spezia, stop in Lucca, drop off luggage and enjoy several hours there (maybe all late morning, enjoy lunch and head on to Florence in the late afternoon/early evening). The same shop offers bike rentals, so I suggest renting bikes to go around the entire wall that surrounds the historical center of Lucca :)

Then as Donna suggested, you can head on to Florence -- if you've never been, I recommend staying a day or two in Florence, and then only after that picking up the car rental when you're ready to leave. I'd suggest the Chianti area as a great central location to stay in - you can drive around Chianti, go to Siena, San Gimignano, the Val d'Orcia. Of course, 3-4 days will barely be enough, but you should be able to fit in quite a bit, just remain flexible with plans.
Also recommend to not rent the car from the Florence airport - there are agencies in downtown Florence in the Borgo Ognissanti area which will be easier to get to when you pick up the car as well as when dropping off as the SMN train station is just a few blocks away.
Read our tips about car rental here: http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-car-rental/

For places to stay in Chianti, browse through here - anything you like, it is a very central area and not that big - you will not be far from anything: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/chianti/
For Florence, you could consider a small 2 bedroom apartment to share or a small B&B - take a look here: http://www.florenceaccommodation.com/
 

granlie

Member
Departure

Can I ask where are you actually flying out of to go back home?

Donna
We are flying out of Rome. We have 1 night there and 1 full day, leaving last thing at night for Dubai as a stopover (2) then home to NZ.
We have been to Rome before on a tour but it was only for 1 or 2 nights cant remember.
 

granlie

Member
OMG as the young folk say!

Not contradicting what Donna has suggested, as Lucca's train station does not have a baggage deposit area but there IS a company that offers it right outside the station. So you CAN visit Lucca on your way to Florence. The luggage deposit is in the square in front of the station, to your left as you exit. Here's the link to the store that offers the service: http://www.touristcenterlucca.com/servizi_dettagli.php?quale=2

So you can take the train down from La Spezia, stop in Lucca, drop off luggage and enjoy several hours there (maybe all late morning, enjoy lunch and head on to Florence in the late afternoon/early evening). The same shop offers bike rentals, so I suggest renting bikes to go around the entire wall that surrounds the historical center of Lucca :)

Then as Donna suggested, you can head on to Florence -- if you've never been, I recommend staying a day or two in Florence, and then only after that picking up the car rental when you're ready to leave. I'd suggest the Chianti area as a great central location to stay in - you can drive around Chianti, go to Siena, San Gimignano, the Val d'Orcia. Of course, 3-4 days will barely be enough, but you should be able to fit in quite a bit, just remain flexible with plans.
Also recommend to not rent the car from the Florence airport - there are agencies in downtown Florence in the Borgo Ognissanti area which will be easier to get to when you pick up the car as well as when dropping off as the SMN train station is just a few blocks away.
Read our tips about car rental here: http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-car-rental/

For places to stay in Chianti, browse through here - anything you like, it is a very central area and not that big - you will not be far from anything: http://www.tuscanyaccommodation.com/chianti/
For Florence, you could consider a small 2 bedroom apartment to share or a small B&B - take a look here: http://www.florenceaccommodation.com/

Lourdes, I am blown away with your helpful knowledge. Will definitely look into these sites.
Traffic in Lucca on a bike, is it busy so that I dont get run over/crash into somebody or is it ok.
If without bike is it manageable to walk around etc. I believe its referred to as a alternative to Venice.
Another thing, would it be as an alternative idea to be based in Chiani and commute to Florence?
We are organising still part 1 of our trip from the du midi canal to the Cinque Terre as it is going to lose us an extra day before hand. Also is 5 nights in the Cinque Terre too much? You nice people are more helpful/knowledgeable than the travel agent. I am not using her for my accommodation.
regards Julie
 

granlie

Member
Car rental

After some consideration we are now considering renting a car in perhaps Norbonne and travelling to Tuscany via Cinque Terre, which we will stay for 5 nights. So we could then drive to Lucca en route to perhaps Chianti or where ever our accommodation will be. That way we could spend time in Lucca and Pisa first so that we dont double back. Is that viable to do this in one day?
Also what shall we do with the car when in Florence, do we train into the city or is there parking. At one stage we were perhaps going to stay 2 nights in Florence, but is it better to base ourselves in one place near Florence.

Also it was suggested not to deposit the rental to the airport, but some of the rentals say for 1 way they must be returned there. I seek information here as it has been written that the airport is a nightmare.
 

Lourdes

The Tuscan Expert ;-)
Staff member
If you do rent and drive down, then have to return at the airport, don't worry, it is doable. At that point you might want to organize yourselves differently, maybe dropping off everyone with luggage close to the train station and then only one person dropping off the car - otherwise more people and luggage to get back downtown.... or just all head to airport and then take a taxi downtown (there is fixed charge of 20 euro plus 1 per piece of luggage). You might find these two links helpful:
http://www.visitflorence.com/moving-around-florence/by-taxi.html
http://www.visitflorence.com/getting-to-florence/by-air.html
There is also a shuttle from the airport to SMN station, you can definitely do that as long as you give yourself ample time to get from car rental parking back to airport and from there shuttle to downtown. Taxi would be faster. But at 6 euro per person, that's already 24 euro - so practically the same or little less than a taxi (depends on how much luggage you have).

Driving down, definitely spend the day between Lucca and Pisa - maybe the morning and lunch in Lucca, the afternoon in Pisa. Just once you know where you're heading for the night, let them know you'll do a late check-in, particularly if you choose a family-managed farmhouse to stay at as reception hours are limited - give yourself more time than you think you need, so you won't feel rushed.

On a day trip to Florence, from wherever you are staying but depending on how far out of Florence you are, you can either 1. drive to a train station nearby and ride that in into Florence 2. drive in and park at Piazzale Michelangelo and then walk down into the center or 3. park further out and then take bus or tram into the center - see this article for parking suggestions: http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-maps/parking-lots-in-florence.html
 

DonnaDenise

Well-known member
Time in CT

As beautiful as CT is, I would actually suggest you cut back a day or two there and invest them more Tuscany and exploring the countryside there. This way if you stay the two days in the city Florence (highly recommended) then you can spend a bit of extra time on the other destinations - - plus maybe some "downtime" at your base. Many people go through all the trouble to select this beautiful place to stay but then they are so busy travelling that they don't get any time to relax and enjoy it.

AND. It seems like you have some serious travelling to get home so you might want to chill a day in a romantic Tuscan setting before heading home. AND. June has been extremely warm in the last few years...almost down right hot so a place with a pool might be the perfect way to chill...think a glass of Tuscan wine and maybe an in house cooking lesson....

Buon Viaggio.
 

granlie

Member
TRANSPORTATION DECISIONS SOLVED? mmm

If you do rent and drive down, then have to return at the airport, don't worry, it is doable. At that point you might want to organize yourselves differently, maybe dropping off everyone with luggage close to the train station and then only one person dropping off the car - otherwise more people and luggage to get back downtown.... or just all head to airport and then take a taxi downtown (there is fixed charge of 20 euro plus 1 per piece of luggage). You might find these two links helpful:
http://www.visitflorence.com/moving-around-florence/by-taxi.html
http://www.visitflorence.com/getting-to-florence/by-air.html
There is also a shuttle from the airport to SMN station, you can definitely do that as long as you give yourself ample time to get from car rental parking back to airport and from there shuttle to downtown. Taxi would be faster. But at 6 euro per person, that's already 24 euro - so practically the same or little less than a taxi (depends on how much luggage you have).

Driving down, definitely spend the day between Lucca and Pisa - maybe the morning and lunch in Lucca, the afternoon in Pisa. Just once you know where you're heading for the night, let them know you'll do a late check-in, particularly if you choose a family-managed farmhouse to stay at as reception hours are limited - give yourself more time than you think you need, so you won't feel rushed.

On a day trip to Florence, from wherever you are staying but depending on how far out of Florence you are, you can either 1. drive to a train station nearby and ride that in into Florence 2. drive in and park at Piazzale Michelangelo and then walk down into the center or 3. park further out and then take bus or tram into the center - see this article for parking suggestions: http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-maps/parking-lots-in-florence.html

Lourdes
Thank you for your insider knowledge. The taxi luggage fee is useful to know here, we were challenged with that in London a few years ago. It will only take time to reach NZ.
We have been in a transportation dilemna last week to train/drive/fly my head was full of alternatives leading to confusion. The good news (I think), is that we have decided to train to Marseille, overnight and then train to La Spezia - long days but my husband wants to have the experience of the European train journeys which are recommended (mmm). Then when we leave the Cinque Terre we will pick up the rental car to journey on to Tuscany. The car will be full but the travel is not far so we can manage, flexibility outways any discomfort.
We hope to stay in the Chianti area, I want rural ish rather than a large town/city, havent started on this yet though.
The time frame here is tight but we will maybe need to prioritise what to visit?
The stay in the Cinque Terre is perhaps long but we will use this to see outside of the cinque terre ie Portovenre or ?
Anotherpossible transport alternative is to return the car to the Rome airport as we all fly out of there. I may have to get a shuttle etc to the airport as we are leaving later in the evening so giving us another nearly full day in the city.
Does this sound as if it is coming together.
 

granlie

Member
Down time

As beautiful as CT is, I would actually suggest you cut back a day or two there and invest them more Tuscany and exploring the countryside there. This way if you stay the two days in the city Florence (highly recommended) then you can spend a bit of extra time on the other destinations - - plus maybe some "downtime" at your base. Many people go through all the trouble to select this beautiful place to stay but then they are so busy travelling that they don't get any time to relax and enjoy it.

AND. It seems like you have some serious travelling to get home so you might want to chill a day in a romantic Tuscan setting before heading home. AND. June has been extremely warm in the last few years...almost down right hot so a place with a pool might be the perfect way to chill...think a glass of Tuscan wine and maybe an in house cooking lesson....

Buon Viaggio.

Donna
I agree we need to have some downtime, the cooking class sounds interesting. Even a wine tasting session would be rather enjoyable (we will have a sober driver). I mentioned to the others to shorten the CT but they are interested in travelling further afield while we are in the area. However it will be only visited by train or boat.
I think the killer of the journey will be from Nabonne to the CT, over 2 days.
I am also investigating an opportunity to have an italian dinner with a family. Evidently this is available?
Thank you very much for your suggestions.
 

granlie

Member
The ducks are lining up

Well this holiday organisation is like a long journey over mountains. However we have taken on board what you have said and found a day. We will have 7 nights in Tuscany now and will fly out directly from Rome.
Car is booked from Cinque Terre. Accommodation working on. Now next will be the itinerary, what places we should see and do.
thank you for all your help.
 
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