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Hoping to get some feedback. We are going to this port on our cruise. Never been to Italy and may never get back on a July Cruise. We have rome, Marseilles, Livorno, Corfu, Kotor, Naples and disembarking in Venice (staying for a few days).

We were planning on going to florence when in Livorno but would it be wise to see some countryside and take a tour of Tuscany? I listed our ports as we are planning on Visiting Rome, Corfu, Kotor, and staying in Venice.

Any thoughts. We are willing to pay for group excursions or do it ourself except we want the airconditioning vehicle to fall back on. Would Tuscany be "cooler" then Florence?

 

Thanks

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If you only have a day and think you may not get back, by all means see Florence. The history of the Renaissance is right before your eyes in Florence's buildings and art. (The city-states were where it was at, not the countryside, lovely as it is....)

 

Get advance tickets to see Michelangelo's David at the Accademia, but skip the Uffizi Gallery. Go into the Duomo (cathedral) and the Baptistery. Wander around outside the Palazzo Vecchio and look at the sculptures and the architecture (go in only if you have time), and of course see the Ponte Vecchio. 

 

If you stay in Florence, having an air-conditioned vehicle will do you little good, as the center of the city (where you will be) is pedestrian only....

 

If I was advising a friend, I'd say -- get to Florence by the quickest possible route and stay there as long as you can before heading back to the ship. 

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Concur with the above post - see Florence! You can book a r/t transfer from Livorno to Florence & DIY in the city - there are quite a few options (we used Tuscany by Taxi when we arrived via cruise ship -  http://www.tuscanybytaxi.it/). We got a group together on our roll call and split the cost between eight - worked out to about 45 euros per person. 

As stated above, the historical city center is a pedestrian area - you cannot tour via bus. If you want to DIY in Florence, Rick Steves has some free audio tours that you can download to your smartphone - his Renaissance Walk is really quite nice for first time visitors (https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/audio-tours).

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I usually agree with Cruisemom, but I have to say that Florence is not the only place to visit in Tuscany.  

 

1. I have been to Florence.  It was interesting but not my best day out because of the middle of the summer crowds.  

 

2. I have had a great wine tasting trip with Guido Bandinelli  that included a drive in the Tuscan countryside, a short stop in Gimignano, a visit to a vineyard and then going up the tower in Pisa.    That was a great day - a bit expensive for just four of us, but I will not forget it. 

 

3.  On another trip we visited Lucca using the train and much preferred it to the very crowded Florence experience.    I fell in love with Lucca.  

 

When it comes to visiting Tuscany in a day, you are never going to see everything and I think that you just need to have a good time when you stop in Livorno.    

Edited by ollienbertsmum
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It depends on what you like.  I loved the Uffizi and having a coffee on their terrace overlooking Florence, but perhaps a wine tasting in Tuscany May appeal.   But if you’ve never been to Florence, do go.

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We would agree that Florence is certainly not the only place to visit in Tuscany.  DW and I have spent months exploring Tuscany and enjoyed every minute (and will return in October).  However, the reality of cruisers is that you have very limited port time and must make choices.  For a first visit to the Port of Livorno, we agree with those who say go to Florence...and go there for your entire day.  It is one of the best tourist cities in the world with much to see and do.  If you later want to explore the "countryside" (to quote another post) then go to Tuscany for at least a week (several weeks is even better), rent a flat, stay in a hotel, etc.  During that longer visit rent yourself a car and spend long days exploring the region.   

 

Hank

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6 hours ago, Hlitner said:

We would agree that Florence is certainly not the only place to visit in Tuscany.  DW and I have spent months exploring Tuscany and enjoyed every minute (and will return in October).  However, the reality of cruisers is that you have very limited port time and must make choices.  For a first visit to the Port of Livorno, we agree with those who say go to Florence...and go there for your entire day.  It is one of the best tourist cities in the world with much to see and do.  If you later want to explore the "countryside" (to quote another post) then go to Tuscany for at least a week (several weeks is even better), rent a flat, stay in a hotel, etc.  During that longer visit rent yourself a car and spend long days exploring the region.   

 

Hank

 

This captures our feelings/recommendations almost perfectly.

 

We had the pleasure of spending several days in Florence about 4 years ago (alas, we got started traveling quite late), with some Italian friends.  They also took us to San Gimignano, which is definitely worth seeing, but probably *not* at the cost of missing one "cruise day" in Florence.

 

A tour or following a guide book will help a lot.  Much of what you'll probably want to see on a first trip is easily within walking distance.  Get tickets in advance or lines could waste a lot of time (or have a tour guide who can skip the main lines).

 

We loved the Uffizi, but if that's not quite top interest for you, then there is plenty else.

 

We are going back this May 🙂

 

Enjoy!

 

GC

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3 hours ago, GeezerCouple said:

 

This captures our feelings/recommendations almost perfectly.

 

We had the pleasure of spending several days in Florence about 4 years ago (alas, we got started traveling quite late), with some Italian friends.  They also took us to San Gimignano, which is definitely worth seeing, but probably *not* at the cost of missing one "cruise day" in Florence.

 

A tour or following a guide book will help a lot.  Much of what you'll probably want to see on a first trip is easily within walking distance.  Get tickets in advance or lines could waste a lot of time (or have a tour guide who can skip the main lines).

 

We loved the Uffizi, but if that's not quite top interest for you, then there is plenty else.

 

We are going back this May 🙂

 

Enjoy!

 

GC

We also like San Gimignano and plan to rent a furnished flat inside the walls for a few days in October.  But while day-trippers (cruisers) often visit this small town on a bus tour, the real magic of San Gimignano happens in the evening as the sun goes down, the streets are empty of all the day trippers, and those remaining start heading out for cocktails and dinner.  And then late at night, having finished dinner, walking the deserted streets is quite romantic.  The eerie shadows created by the street lights and walls are really neat.  On one visit we walked through the main street (we were the only souls in sight) and DW remarked that it probably looked nearly the same...hundreds of years ago.   A completely different feeling then being there during the daytime with hoards of tourists, tacky shops selling their "made in Asia" wares, etc.

 

Speaking of small towns another neat place to visit is Volterra.  And then there is the Chianti Road (S222) that snakes its way through the nearby wine area, Colle val d'elsa, Siena, etc.  Why do we mention this on a cruise blog?  To encourage fellow cruisers to expand their horizons and extend their cruise vacations with some land time.  Cruises are a wonderful way to travel but are not a substitute for spending multiple days or weeks in a region.

Hank

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9 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We also like San Gimignano and plan to rent a furnished flat inside the walls for a few days in October.  But while day-trippers (cruisers) often visit this small town on a bus tour, the real magic of San Gimignano happens in the evening as the sun goes down, the streets are empty of all the day trippers, and those remaining start heading out for cocktails and dinner.  And then late at night, having finished dinner, walking the deserted streets is quite romantic.  The eerie shadows created by the street lights and walls are really neat.  On one visit we walked through the main street (we were the only souls in sight) and DW remarked that it probably looked nearly the same...hundreds of years ago.   A completely different feeling then being there during the daytime with hoards of tourists, tacky shops selling their "made in Asia" wares, etc.

 

Speaking of small towns another neat place to visit is Volterra.  And then there is the Chianti Road (S222) that snakes its way through the nearby wine area, Colle val d'elsa, Siena, etc.  Why do we mention this on a cruise blog?  To encourage fellow cruisers to expand their horizons and extend their cruise vacations with some land time.  Cruises are a wonderful way to travel but are not a substitute for spending multiple days or weeks in a region.

Hank

 

What a lovely idea, to stay overnight for a few days in San Gimignano.

We've thought of doing that at Carcassonne, for the same reasons, but haven't quite decided.

 

Even in Venice, where we stay for about 5 days during a land-only trip, "after hours", when cruise passengers had mostly left as well as day trippers who were staying elsewhere... things were totally different, including right in St. Marks Sq.

We loved just wandering around in the evening.

 

As nice as it is to see the "big, famous places" (and it IS, don't get me wrong), it's really special to see other areas, or other times of day or year, etc.

 

We try to spend a few extra days before/after a cruise.  After all, we're already *there*...

Or travel nearby or even somewhere else on the way to/from.  It adds a lot.

 

GC

 

 

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I completely agree with Hank and GC.  My son and I spent some time in Florence last November and one day included an outing to San Gimignano. Though it wasn't "after hours" it might as well have been -- tourism in late November was not even a blip on the radar -- at least not on that foggy, early Sunday morning!  Even in Florence, the crowds were light.  

 

However, I would still recommend for a first-timer, and especially one planning a "once in a lifetime" trip, to see Florence first. But then, history and architecture weigh more heavily with me than scenery and landscapes.  I've been to wine tastings (and I love wine, don't get me wrong) but it doesn't seem like something "urgent" that I have to do on my one visit to Italy. Most of them seem very 'staged' to me.

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Add another vote to going to see Florence. We did a day trip there, off our pre cruise stay in Rome about a year ago. We downloaded several free walking tours, places to see and visit, for free, and we were prepared for everything and anything. Florence is just a wonderful city to just forget your cares and woes and just wander about and enjoy everything, from the narrow side streets to the glorious buildings.

On another note, we had a cruise stop in Livorno in December off an MSC cruise. We chose to go to Pisa and Lucca, but a word on this if you want transportation to Florence. At the port there are many, and I do mean many, taxi's and vans, and the like, all offering to take you where you might want to go, like Florence, Pisa, Lucca and others. I cannot say if their prices are good or not as we didn't use them, but I would assume they would be better than any private tour or ship's tour you would want to book. 

If you think this may be your one time to see Florence, go for it. You won't be sorry.

 

Cheers

Len

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On ‎2‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 9:21 AM, GeezerCouple said:

 

What a lovely idea, to stay overnight for a few days in San Gimignano.

We've thought of doing that at Carcassonne, for the same reasons, but haven't quite decided.

 

Even in Venice, where we stay for about 5 days during a land-only trip, "after hours", when cruise passengers had mostly left as well as day trippers who were staying elsewhere... things were totally different, including right in St. Marks Sq.

We loved just wandering around in the evening.

 

As nice as it is to see the "big, famous places" (and it IS, don't get me wrong), it's really special to see other areas, or other times of day or year, etc.

 

We try to spend a few extra days before/after a cruise.  After all, we're already *there*...

Or travel nearby or even somewhere else on the way to/from.  It adds a lot.

 

GC

 

 

We also like Carcassonne but are not so sure we would want to use it as a base for multiple day trips.  It is just a bit too isolated from other areas we would want to visit.   When we do multi-night stays in Europe, we generally take a very close look at the surrounding area in terms of what are options will be for day to day driving trips.     We also agree with you about Venice and have spent many nights in the city on both cruise and land/driving trips.  The entire atmosphere of Venice changes, after 5pm :).  One shocker for us was when we were on a cruise that spent two full days in Venice.  Relatively few passengers went into town in the evening as most seemed to prefer to dine on the ship and then head to bed.  We came back to the port a little after 10pm and decided to walk from the People Mover to our ship (a very long hike) since it was a beautiful evening.  We did not see any other passengers heading back to the ship, although there sure were a lot of crew going ashore :).   We have noticed this on other cruises that overnight in European cities.  Not sure why folks would spend the big bucks for a European cruise and then sped an overnight (or very late departure) on the ship....vs taking advantage of restaurants and other things ashore.   When we book a cruise with a late night (or overnight) in a port we quickly start thinking where we want to go (ashore) during the evening hours :).

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Agree as after dark the buildings in

St Marks gleam with golden windows as the orchestras play!  Magical! And walking thru the narrow alleys. Would not do solo though. 

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We did a amazing tour from there with papillon, got together with a few people from roll call, they provided a new Mercedes van with a totally great driver tour person, first stop was Pisa then Florence with stop at museum with David for those who wanted to see that which I would highly recommend, with skip the line entrance. Time for shopping and lunch, then we had choice of more time in Florence or a wine tasting in a local vineyard which we did , great tour. 

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