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day trip to Florence from Lucca?

colette123

10+ Posts
still in the initial planning of a two week trip in May, (first time Italy) want to base one week in Rome and the second week Lucca. ( will probably rent a car for the Tuscany part of our trip.) Should we do a day trip from Lucca to Florence (by bus or train?) I think, being so close we should at least see Florence, my concern is that for just one day, it wouldn't be worth it? thoughts on this? I think we'd like to see it, but deep down, we both prefer countryside and quaint villages...
 

Mom83

100+ Posts
I think you might regret not visiting Florence for the day...you definitely could get a good feel for the city if you plan the day wisely. But, you may want to wait until you are in Lucca and see where a Florence visit fits into your schedule.
 

colette123

10+ Posts
Thank you Mom83. We will take a day to take an early train to Florence to spend the day and at least get a bit of a feel for it.
 

Penn251

10+ Posts
You can see a lot in Florence in one day (of course plenty left over for many more days too). That is true even though Florence has become insanely crowded over the last several years....making it almost unpleasant. Still, so many must sees in Florence that putting up with the crowds is worth it. The trip from Lucca and back the same day by train is very easy. Agree that you can plan at the last minute depending on what else you are doing. Even if you don't go though, there are many things in and around Lucca to keep you occupied and you can save Florence for another time.
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
We do day trips from Lucca to Florence every year, but admit that we are not going for museum experiences any more. If you do want to see the David or tour the Uffizi, be sure you have advance purchase tickets to do so. We usually take the train that leaves around 8:30 AM, which can be a little crowded, but seats generally available. The walk from SMN to the sights of Florence is a very easy transit. I always suggest to include the Opera del Duomo, across street from the church's apse -- some very beautiful works there. Also strongly recommend the baptistery, which is a separate ticket. If you are going at the beginning of May, the iris garden at Piazzale Michelangelo is a very beautiful side trip (can take bus from SMN to Piazzale). As above, far too many things to choose from -- enjoy the trip!!
 

Ian Sutton

500+ Posts
Hi Colette
Lucca a very good base (I always love basing somewhere that if we felt unenergetic one day, that merely staying there and having a wander around in the morning/evening would be enjoyable).

I've got a suggestion if you are going to day trip to Pisa. Try to avoid the usual tourist trail that goes from either train station directly to the Field of Miracles. Those routes are blighted by day-tripper tourism, mostly overpriced and/or tourist tat. The city itself is a 5-10 minute walk east from the leaning tower and is remarkably under-touristed given the hordes that descend on the leaning tower. Thus it is an easy and rewarding detour.

So the suggestion is to walk from Stazione Centrale to the pedestrianised Corso Italia, following it up to Ponte di Mezzo, then shuffling briefly north-west to to morning market around Piazza delle Vettovaglie area. Plenty of good value but tasty lunch places around here. From there, follow Borgo Stretto / via Oberdan north before eventually heading west along via Maffi to discover the Field of Miracles from a more pleasant entry, avoiding the worst of the tourist tat. Do not eat anywhere within a ~2 minute walk of the field of miracles (indeed treat pretty much all the famous Italian landmarks the same - places fat, dumb and happy on a steady flow of uncaring international tourists).

I always describe Pisa as BOTH an under the radar gem (the city) and a place blighted by mass tourism (the route to and in the vicinity of the Field of Miracles). The city has much appeal and some great churches in their very distinctive livery.

I'd also recommend the somewhat hidden Botanical gardens, pleasingly slightly unkempt, but a very nice antidote to the bustling tourism a stone's throw away. A nice place to relax.

There is more of the city beyond that to explore, but hopefully that's enough to show that Pisa isn't the grotty dump that the coach-tour / half day trip tourists describe (such people rarely actually see the city itself)

Regards
Ian
 

Alpinista

100+ Posts
Ian gives you some very good recommendations if traveling by train. I'll note that if you drive, the SS12 from Lucca to Pisa is a short drive and that there is parking very close to the Leaning Tower at Via Piave. We have always been able to park either at the lot, on the street before turning into the lot, or (at very worst) a block or so further down at the spaces on Via Ugo Rindi. As always, buying admission tickets in advance is strongly recommended for the Tower and Baptistery. There are several nice places to stop on the SS12 for pizza and/or gelato and there is a great spa at Bagni di Pisa if you have another day to treat yourself to some hedonism.
 

KathyH

New Member
Florence is definitely worth a visit, whether you have one day or one month. I've been twice - 4 days one trip and 8 days last year on a solo trip. I still have more to see, but I love Florence and plan to return. For a day trip from Lucca, try to leave as early as you can so you have as much time as possible in Florence. It's a walkable city, but have a map on your phone or hard copy so you can plan your sight seeing. Good luck, I hope you love it!
 

colette123

10+ Posts
You can see a lot in Florence in one day (of course plenty left over for many more days too). That is true even though Florence has become insanely crowded over the last several years....making it almost unpleasant. Still, so many must sees in Florence that putting up with the crowds is worth it. The trip from Lucca and back the same day by train is very easy. Agree that you can plan at the last minute depending on what else you are doing. Even if you don't go though, there are many things in and around Lucca to keep you occupied and you can save Florence for another time.
thank you so much. it is exactly what we will do.
 

colette123

10+ Posts
Hi Colette
Lucca a very good base (I always love basing somewhere that if we felt unenergetic one day, that merely staying there and having a wander around in the morning/evening would be enjoyable).

I've got a suggestion if you are going to day trip to Pisa. Try to avoid the usual tourist trail that goes from either train station directly to the Field of Miracles. Those routes are blighted by day-tripper tourism, mostly overpriced and/or tourist tat. The city itself is a 5-10 minute walk east from the leaning tower and is remarkably under-touristed given the hordes that descend on the leaning tower. Thus it is an easy and rewarding detour.

So the suggestion is to walk from Stazione Centrale to the pedestrianised Corso Italia, following it up to Ponte di Mezzo, then shuffling briefly north-west to to morning market around Piazza delle Vettovaglie area. Plenty of good value but tasty lunch places around here. From there, follow Borgo Stretto / via Oberdan north before eventually heading west along via Maffi to discover the Field of Miracles from a more pleasant entry, avoiding the worst of the tourist tat. Do not eat anywhere within a ~2 minute walk of the field of miracles (indeed treat pretty much all the famous Italian landmarks the same - places fat, dumb and happy on a steady flow of uncaring international tourists).

I always describe Pisa as BOTH an under the radar gem (the city) and a place blighted by mass tourism (the route to and in the vicinity of the Field of Miracles). The city has much appeal and some great churches in their very distinctive livery.

I'd also recommend the somewhat hidden Botanical gardens, pleasingly slightly unkempt, but a very nice antidote to the bustling tourism a stone's throw away. A nice place to relax.

There is more of the city beyond that to explore, but hopefully that's enough to show that Pisa isn't the grotty dump that the coach-tour / half day trip tourists describe (such people rarely actually see the city itself)

Regards
Ian
thanks Ian, such good info....off to print it...
 

colette123

10+ Posts
Ian gives you some very good recommendations if traveling by train. I'll note that if you drive, the SS12 from Lucca to Pisa is a short drive and that there is parking very close to the Leaning Tower at Via Piave. We have always been able to park either at the lot, on the street before turning into the lot, or (at very worst) a block or so further down at the spaces on Via Ugo Rindi. As always, buying admission tickets in advance is strongly recommended for the Tower and Baptistery. There are several nice places to stop on the SS12 for pizza and/or gelato and there is a great spa at Bagni di Pisa if you have another day to treat yourself to some hedonism.
thank you Alpinista, all this is very helpful and I am noting it all...
 

Pati

10+ Posts
I fell so in love with Florence that I’m staying for 6 weeks next fall. But I also have had the joy of driving to the villages of Tuscany and seeing a different one or two each day. Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Montalcino, Pienza...and more to me would be the better option than just one day in Florence. But that’s a very individual choice.
 

colette123

10+ Posts
I fell so in love with Florence that I’m staying for 6 weeks next fall. But I also have had the joy of driving to the villages of Tuscany and seeing a different one or two each day. Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Montalcino, Pienza...and more to me would be the better option than just one day in Florence. But that’s a very individual choice.
thanks Pati. ideally we'd have more time to do Florence, but I mostly want to do Tuscan villages...
 

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