Okay all you wonderful people and your great advice, I need some again. We are staying four days post-cruise in Florence off Carnival Freedom in June. We are going to see Pisa while at Livorno, saving Florence for afterwards. We also want to spend two days seeing the beautiful Tuscan countryside. We will not be renting a car so will have to hire it done. We have priced some private tours, but by that point in our vacation, we will REALLY need to be watching prices. We want to see the villages of Siena and San Gimignano, at least, and probably more, like a winery, working farm? What would be a good way to do so inexpensively or is there no such thing?
San Gimignano can be reached by train (followed by a very short bus ride.) Sienna by car. I seem to recall that we took a bus from Florence the first time we went. Been to the chianti region by car, but there probably buses too.
Radiance of the Seas - Nov 2006
Legend of the Seas - Jun 2007
Costa Fortuna - Mar 2008
Legend of the Seas - Oct 2008
Celebrity Constellation - July 2009
MSC Orchestra - Jan 2009
Navigator of the Seas - March 2009
MSC Poesia - November 2009
Jewel of the Seas - June 2010
Thanks for the input. Once we get to San Gimignano, and never having been there before, I wonder how we would know what to do and see. Our walking is somewhat limited (nothing two Vicodin ES with some wine can't help), but I hate the thought of just being dumped there and then what? How does one find about a bus from Florence?
Grammabec, We applaud your spirt of adventure. The pervious post does tell you how you can get to San G (one of my wife's favorite towns) using train/bus. We normally have a rental car, which makes things a lot easier and faster, but we can sure respect anyone not wanting to drive in Italy. If you have walking problems, San G may not be a good idea. Although I would never want to discourage any traveler from going to this wonderful walled city, there is really no way to see the place without significant walking. From the cities entrance, you are talking about walking on an upslope for a good 1/3 of a mile to get to the Cistern which is the main square. They do operate a small bus for handicapped, but it does not run very often and although it can get you from the entrance up to the main square, you would still miss seeing most of the town. The situation is worse in Siena (home of my wife's patron Saint). Once inside the city walls of Siena (this city is a lot larger than San G) you can only get anywhere on foot, and Siena has some very steep streets. I have enjoyed your posts for a long time and really do not want to damper your hopes. But, the reality is that both San G and Siena involve significant walking (Siena would be worse than San G). On the other hand, Italian wine (and beer) can do a lot to ease the pain of a stroll. My wife has had some walking problems in the past year, but she manages by going slow and taking frequent "cafe breaks." As to inexpensively, the lousy dollar does nothing to help any of us save a dollar (or a Euro). You might try to find an organized group tour that keeps the prices under control. I really wish I could tell you an easy way to do this region without much walking, but you have picked two cities where there is no way to avoid walking.
Dear Hank and ftroute At first, when I read Hank's reply, and I love reading his posts (so informative), I was seriously ready to cancel our post-cruise trip to Florence as my heart is set on those two towns and others. The videos I've bought over the past two years have to have Tuscany in them, I have CD's with Italian music, photography books from the Tuscany region. This is our first and last trip to the ROMANCE region. But then I read ftroute's post and decided not to. We WILL go to those two towns and I'll just rest often (like your wife, Hank). Somewhere on these posts, a woman wrote about getting a ruptured Achilles tendon two wks. before her cruise to the Mediterannean and I saw how she did it. I KNOW I can do it. I'm not a whiner and I'm very determined. I KNOW I'll look forward to our days at sea, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime for us and I DO plan on wearing myself out. Thanks for all the input; I appreciate all of it.
Siena is not a village but a pretty good sized town. San G is much better visited in late afternoon after the tour bus's\groups have departed. You can use the all day bus pass (4e) to get up to Fiesole takes about 20 min or you can get a special ticket (7e) that lets you into museums up there - a great place to have an evening drink and watch the lights come on over Florence try the blu bar.
Oh my Goodness Grammabev! It would cost me some sleep to thing that you (or any other adventuress traveler) cancelled anything because of me. My goal here is to inform, not to ruin anyone's trip. After all, my DW and I practically worship travel. On the other hand, you need to go on your trip with "eyes open" as to potential problems, and thing through the solutions. My DW is also having more than her share of walking problems (bad knee, upcoming surgery on a bad ankle) and we are facing a 5 week trip to Europe. Will we cancel? No way. But, I suspect we will have to make some adjustments as the trip unfolds,,,but that is just being "flexible." Drink some more wine (beer is also good in the summer) and just take your time. When you get tired, you just stop and rest (hopefully where you can get another glass of wine) and you will do fine. The advantage of going on your own is that you can take your time, as opposed to group tours where you are always rushing to catch the bus. In your position I would still visit San G,,,assuming you can get on your feet. But, as expressed by NCO, you might want to reconsider Siena. I would class Siena as "very difficult" walking... You need to walk quite a distance just to get inside the walls, and than (I mentioned some of this previously) you will have to deal with some very steep slopes, and pretty long distances. Just play it "as it goes" and know your options. Tuscany has some wonderful country roads where you can simply drive through the countryside and stop in a few small villages. There is a small road that runs from Florence to designated as S222 also referred to as the Chianti Trail of something like that! Its a small two lane road that meanders through the Chianti region and passes through some small villages (many other small villages are within a mile either side of the route) and passes many vineyards. In fact, the entire region is dotted with delightful tiny villages where you can actually find parking in the center of the villages (unlike San G and Siena where you must park outside the walls and walk). As to NCO's comment about San G, I will do him/her one better. We have stayed outside San G (about 4 miles from town) several times at the Villa San Paolo. We often would have dinner in San G and would find ourselves walking back to our car late at night (around 11). The streets were deserted, and they have very old fashioned looking lights which cast an eerie glow and allow shadows to take over the town. We love to walk those empty streets (packed during the busy daytime) and imagine who else walked those same streets more than 1000 years ago. Egads! Now I am really upset we will not be there this summer!