Florence (Livorno) Florence & Pisa Tour Excursion Reviews
This was remarkable. Through Cruise Critic’s Roll Call we advised that we had booked private tour of Pisa and Florence online through Joe Banana Italy Tour Sharing and had room for an additional six people. Soon the tour was full. We were met at the gangplank by Giovani, our driver, who had a very nice mini bus. Having spent some time working in the states Giovani spook perfect English, yet his knowledge of the area was impeccable. These private tours are half the price of what the shore excursions cost and the small mini vans can go places the big buses just can’t. Giovani, was very courteous and professional, but we also had a lot of laughs along the way. I can’t say enough good things about this company and it’s professionalism.
First he took us to Pisa. OK, so we were in Pisa for an hour and as a girlfriend put it… that was 55 minutes too long. One of the couples actually climbed the leaning tower, while the rest of us walked around the site, but they charged for everything, even to visit the cemetery!
Then it was on to Florence… wow! We first parked up on a hilltop overlooking beautiful Florence. We could see the Santa Croce, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and so much more. From there, Giovani took us to the Santa Croce and gave us an hour to explore. Then it was on to the Duomo, where we had another few hours to explore (the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the leather market, ect.), before we met up to go the Accademia to see Michael Angelo’s ‘David’! This is one town that I would definitely revisit in the future.
From there, very unexpectedly, on our way back to the ship, Giovani offered to drive us through the Chianti Region and took us to one of the winery’s, which also produced olive oil. It was another great stop to top off this remarkable 8 hour day!
The tour was great and we have a very good guide who told us a lot about the region. Enough time in Pisa to take a couple of pictures, but otherwise not much to do here. For florence, a basic map is supplied, but we got ready ahead of time by getting a detailed map and highlighting everything we wanted to see. We had a few hours there on our own, so we have time to visit the duomo and another Church, shop, have some gelato, pizza at the local market, and make evrystop on our map. The tour was Worth it just for the easy transit to and from the destinations.
We had the freedom to change our itinerary and we ended up going to Vinci on the way back to the ship. Hardly any tourists and totally charming. Highlight was Vinci and David.
The guide was confusing and her English was poor. Livorno is pretty far away from Pisa and Florence. Good for those who want to make themselves an idea to return some other time. Too bad it was pouring.
Both cities are beautiful with lots to see - too much for a short visit so you have to prioritise! Our driver pointed out the main things. If you can go up the tower it is amazing, and stay to hear the acoustics in the baptistry. They sing every half hour so you can hear the quality of the sound. You need to buy tickets at the booth rather than at the entrances to the buildings so find it first - it will save you lots of walking.
Wasn't my cup of tea. The leaning tower of Pisa leans. Okay. Big deal. I could see that on a postcard. Florence was better. Shops, restaurants, and historical churches. Great if you like leather goods.
This was an excellent tour and fantastic value for money. Although it was Pisa and Florence on your own you get a map and all the history of the main attractions before your guide leaves you. Also Florence is very compact so it is very easy to walk around.
We decided for an exceptionally convenient private tour for 4 persons, offered by Smart Cruise Tours (www.smartcruisetours.com/?), beating all the too expensive Princess shore excursions for the Livorno port of call: a wonderful Mercedes limo, with air conditioned, a good driver and guide at the same time, Mrs Myriam Buzzi, who told us a lot about the region, its geography, history and art.
We were picked up at the disembarking point, on the pier, at 8,30 and brought back at 17.30, after having visited Pisa and Florence.
After the first 30 minutes drive we were already in Pisa, in the Miracle Square, which ranks as one of the world's lovelist squares, where we could admire La Torre Pendente (The leaning Tower -there is an opportunity to climb the Tower, it takes 30 min), Pisa's majestic Romanesque Cathedral and the unusual round Baptistry.
We have continued for an hour drive to Florence, traveling through the beautiful countryside of Chianti (with stops along the way to admire and photograph the magnificent landscapes). The tour of Florence started with the wonderful Romanesque church of San Miniato al Monte, one of the oldest in this area and Michelangelo Square, where we could enjoy the most beautiful panorama of the city. The tour continued in the historical center, where we mostly walked, with stops at the beautiful Santa Croce Square, the Brunelleschi Dome, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio the bridge famous for its charming appearance and for the fabulous jewelry shops.
We could not visit the Academy of Fine Arts where the Michelangelo's David is, because it was Monday (closed!) nor the Uffizi Gallery, because lack of time.
There was quite a bus ride to get to Florence, we then went on an hour guided walk around the city followed by some free time then back on the bus to Pisa. We were there for about an hour which was enough to see the tower and walk back to the meeting point. They were both great places to see but this was a 10 hour trip and might be a bit much for some people!
Gives you enough time to see the important sights, but do not expect to see the insides of museums due to long lines.
We were given ample time in both places. The tour operator was great and pointed out the paces of interest along with a very detailed map.