We passed through Volos on our way to Meteora. I was underwhelmed by Volos but Meteora Monasteries was well worth the $90 excursion cost. The ships excursion was well organized and the guide was well informed that spoke excellent English. The monasteries dramatic and are not to be missed. My only regret is that we did not have an opportunity to tour the Monastery where the James bond movie was filmed and instead spent time at a tourist trap at the end of the tour.
At this port we docked the day before we left because the wind prevented our arrival in Chios. This was fortuitous because this city was a shoppers dream. We walked off the ship and wonder the shopping area where we were amazed at the number of shops and the size of the shopping district. I have never seen anything like it. The next day we negotiated a cab ride to the ruins in Ephesus; $50 for 5 hours for 4 of us. The cab driver dropped us off at the park were Mary supposedly resided after Jesus was born but unless you are really into this sort of thing I would avoid the time and cost. It was over priced and seemed to be little more than a money making venture. Ephesus was much larger and more interesting although there is not a lot left of the town. Earthquakes and time have taken their toll although I still think it is worth a few hours to see it. Bring plenty of water if you are going in the summer because the is none and it is hot. I would get an audio guide at the entrance.
We caught one of the colorful buses from the dock to the center of town and walked back, downhill to the dock. The buses were only 1 Euro and included a round trip. This was one of our favorite ports and was a surprise to us. This is a walled city with fortifications and walls all along the port. We went to the a couple of the churches along the main pedestrian streets and went to the war museum. We had lunch at one of the very economical local restaurants on the way to the museum even though it was Sunday and many were closed. We wondered back to the ship through empty narrow streets because it was Sunday afternoon and I suppose everyone was at home. I can understand why this is consider a world heritage site. One could spend a few days here wondering the streets and seeing the sites.
We disembarked at LaSpezia and embarked at Livorno
These towns are jumping off points to Florence. We walked to the train station from the port in LaSpezia and had to take a bus from the station to the port at Livorno. The trains run frequently to and from Florence although we had to transfer at Pisa when going from LaSpezia but it was direct from Florence to Livorno. The trip is 1 to 2 hours on the train so we stayed in Florence at a nice place, Hotel Montreal, near the train station for 50 Euros.
Forence is hot in the summer so take plenty of water or plan on buying a lot of drinks. Florence is a place you could spend days exploring with the many museums and churches. We went to the Uffizi. Make sure you make a reservation well in advance because it is crowded in the summer and there are long lines but the museum was well worth it. The Duomo and Baptistery were amazing as well as the Medici's residence. One day is just not enough.
This is a great port to catch a train to Pompeii, Herculaneum or Naples or a bus or boat down the Amalfi coast. We heard that Capri was pretty but a tourist trap and did not waste our time going there.
The trains run about every 1/2 hour and are very cheap and efficient, however we heard that pickpockets frequent the stations. You can catch the same train to all three destinations for a few Euro's round trip. Pompeii is a short walk from the train station and I think this is true for Herculaneum. We went to Pompeii and spent a few hours wondering the streets. Pompeii is very large and requires a lot of walking. Take a lot of water if doing this in the summer. This trip is well worth it and is very interesting. It would be good to review some literature prior to going to better appreciate the site.