Sunrise in Tuscany took our breath away. The colors of the sun there are somehow more fantastic. This photo nearly captures the beauty of watching the sunrise over the horizon. Incredible way to wake up in Tuscany to head on our adventure to Florence.
We had every intention to take the train like we did in Rome, however it was not nearly as easy in Livorno as it was in Civitavecchia. In Civitavecchia, we disembarked the cruise ship, boarded a free shuttle to the port entry, walked a short distance to the ticket office, purchased a ticket and then ran a few short blocks to the train station. (Running was our own glutton for punishment as we really wanted to be on the earlier train, of course it arrived fashionably late like a good Italian train).
Livorno, not as easy. We disembarked the cruise ship. There were ample taxis available plus shuttles for pre-arranged tours, but the shuttle to the bus station did not start until later. We had considered a taxi, but we did not know anyone and a taxi with just two people would have been prohibitively expensive. We paid and boarded the shuttle from the port to the bus station. When we got off at the bus station, we had to wait for a bus to take us to the train station.
Of course, there were even more taxi drivers here waiting to take you on a tour of Florence and Pisa. We waited a bit for the bus, but realized quickly that the bus to the train station was either a scam or not easy (we heard you had to walk a few blocks to catch the bus to the train, etc.)
Thankfully we had started chatting with a lovely family from North Carolina. Since they were 4 and we were 2, we were almost the 8 that they wanted us to be to arrange a cab. The taxis charged one rate for the ride and it was divided by the number of people – more people, less cost per person. We tried and ultimately failed to negotiate with one cab driver and another group scooped him up right in front of us.
At first we were a bit annoyed, but ultimately it worked out for the best as our cab driver was much nicer! And off we went towards Florence!
The ride to Florence was beautiful. It reminded us very much of wine country with rolling hills seen in the Bay Area in Napa and Sonoma.
Our taxi driver took us to the top of a hill to look out over Florence. It was a great way to get a perspective of the city before trying to tour around.
My husband had just one request while we were in Italy – he wanted to eat neapolitan style pizza. He had done his research on places in both Rome and Florence with the “best neopolitan-style” pizza, so he was entirely flexible as to which city. Since Florence was our final stop in Italy and we did not enjoy it in Rome, we made pizza our next stop.
The first place that he wanted to try (Gusta Pizza) was closed for vacations – just 2 days before!! Since we had walked a bit to try and find it, we opted to take a cab to the next place. We did end up at a chain, Rossopomodoro, but the pizza was delicious!
From there, we walked back towards the center of town making a detour thru a leather mart to purchase one of our few souvenirs – a beautiful leather belt and wallet for D.
Then of course we just had to try a gelato. We discovered yet another artisinal gelateria – Grom!
Gelato was the perfect way to end our visit in Florence. From there, we hooked back up with our taxi driver and the family from North Carolina to head to Pisa.
Our first impression was that we had split our day just right. Pisa did not have nearly as much to see as Florence. We spent most of our time in Pisa trying to take a photo that shows how much it leans in person. Photos make it look straight!
Before heading back to the cruise ship, we stopped to enjoy one last Italian cappuccino.
We really enjoyed the experience of meeting a family and sharing the day with them. It was another clear indicator to us that you really can have a fun-filled (and far less expensive!) day by putting together the shore excursions on your own. Certainly, you have to be fairly comfortable with traveling abroad.
In both Rome and Florence, we found the Knopf guides to be the perfect size to stick in your purse. We had used these guides before in London and Paris. They make adventuring in unknown cities much more fun than some of the larger guides, besides they are a cute orange color.