I was always fascinating by the Tuscany Hill, the greens and the vertical trees named Italian Cypress or Tuscan Cypress. During the Tuscany Tours from Florence I have had while traveling in Tuscany I found out that those trees were used to delimited the houses or the estates of the riches during the medieval times.
One more interesting I found out during the day trip from Florence to Tuscany was the importance of the de Medici Family and how important and influential there were during those times; we always think that the riches of today have a lot of influence in our time recent history; but no the riches had been dominated the world since the medieval times.
Back to the day tour from Firenze now. I was undecided if I would go with a private tour (shared bus) or should I do it on my own. There are 2 factors to consider while choosing which option is better for you; actually only one: San Gimignano. But we will see at the end.
I have decided to book the tour From Florence: Pisa, Siena & San Gimignano Day Trip with without lunch (can book with lunch and will explain later why I have chosen without it) on GetYourGuide. I had a GetYourGuide Voucher which were due to expire soon so this was the perfect moment to do so.
Booking was made via the application and everything went very easy in terms of booking and confirmation. Plus having it booked on GetYourGuide App can be easily shown to the guide the next day and don’t need to print it. Actually printing is useless this days with all this apps and to be honest Ryanair should be sued by the EU if they keep ask people to print their boarding passes (if booking is made via a third party or not having installed their app in the phone).
The Pick Up @ Tuscany Tours from Florence
When I have made the booking it was written that the tour will be no bigger that 24 person so it would mean a small van not a big bus. The meeting place was in front of the McDonald’s close to Firenze Train station. Most of the people show up on time. And they were keep coming and keep coming. In the end there were around 49 persons and we went with a big bus! Well, this is not GYG fault rather the company how should have clearly specified the number of the person in the tour. The more persons the more delays will be while the free time will end.
In our case everything went well except at the end when one person failed to show up and the departure was delayed at least 25 minutes; it was getting cold in Pisa and some people were going to take the train back from Firenze to Rome and were on a tight schedule.
Being a bus bus it was not possible to park in that area (in the train station yes but maybe they were not allowed to park there) and we walk about 5 minutes to our bus and we were set off for the Tuscany Tours from Florence to Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano.
An important note before booking the tour; it’s a 12 hour day tour so take that into consideration. During the summer days when it’s quite hot and with all the walking can be a bit tiring.
Our guide, Laura was quite young but with more than 10 years experience in guiding in that area. Plus she was a local which is important in terms of the information she can offer during the tour
Florence to Siena by coach/car is 1h and 10 minutes only; most of the road on highway but passing throw very nice valleys, vineyards and great sceneries! We were giving earplugs as we were having a local guide included for our walking tour in Sienna. I liked this idea as it gives jobs to the local community as well in Sienna.
Visiting Siena @ Tuscany Tours from Florence
We arrived early in Sienna and our guide was already there. About 65 years old here english was amazing and the way she explained everything was fantastic; not too many dates but facts and interesting stories about Sienna and the fighting for between the Florentine family and the de Medici.
Our first stop was at Monte dei Paschi Bank; Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, the Monte dei Paschi bank, which has been operating continuously since 1472. Sienna was an important point on the pilgrimage route from Rome from England called Via Francigena (over 2000 km) and back then there were many small states, each one with their own currency and Sienna took advance of it and established the exchange bank which later become Monte dei Paschi Bank.
I was really impressed both by Siena as a city and by its people (at least the population inside the old city). I have rarely seem more well dressed locals, clean streets and almost everything was close to perfection. Having a rich bank which backs the city for hundreds of years does make a difference!
Next to visit was Piazza del Campo — the site of the Palio di Siena horse race and seeing cathedral’s exterior in Piazza del Duomo.This moment was the only one during the Siena tour when I did not pay attention to the guide as I was busy talking photos of the area and for my wife.
Then we headed on the narrow streets seeing the horse stalls which are only opened during the Palion and visit the Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral. Ticket price was included in the day tours from Florence and it’s 5 Euro.
The interior, like the exterior, is decorated with white and dark green (almost black) marble, a choice made to reflect the colors of the city of Siena.
Inside we visited the The Piccolomini Library (a bit on the rush as we are not allowed to stay and have to keep walking).
After the Duomo visit you were giving 30 minutes free time. To be honest I was expecting a bit more time; firstly it was still early in the morning and no need to rush to lunch.
Secondly, 30 minutes in Siena is not enough to have a nice stroll, have some snacks, enjoy a coffee and do a little shopping. For me, I have added Siena on the to do visit more next time while in Italy; maybe an overnight in the city.
Our next stop was the Farmhouse lunch at a winery estate in Chianti; well not for us. Lunch was separate quoted and did not selected. First, wine tasting was included and my wife being pregnant was not allowed to drink anymore. Plus I wanted to have more time in San Gimignano.
For my surprise out of 49 person on the bus only 4 person decided not to have the lunch. The second surprise was not we were not allowed on the restaurant premise (to take photos and so on) and we were taken by bus to San Gimignano. Our guide come with us and explain the pick off point and how not to get lost on the San Gimignano narrow streets on the way back.
Visiting San Gimignano @ Day Tours from Florence
We had in total more than 3h and 30 minutes to explore San Gimignano. Lunch time was about 3 hours; to be honest I think it was too much time taken from the trip and could have been added to Siena.
So we had a lot of time to explore San Gimignano by foot. The person who had the lunch had only 30 minutes more or less and I believe even if visitable you can not really enjoy this small medieval city.
San Gimignano as Siena was an important point on the Via Francigena route back in the roman times.
We have time to see most of the 13 of its original 70 towers, the largely intact 13th-century walls of the city and the Romanesque Knights Templars’ Church of San Iácopo.
Plus the Gelateria Dondoli which is known all over the world and visited by a large number of celebrities (including me!). Sergio Dondoli’s ice cream won the World Cup two times. Well, I have tried it and it was good but not as excellent as the one we had the day before in Florence: Gelateria La Carraia – to be honest one of the best ice creams I have ever had in Italy!
Visiting Pisa @ Day Trips from Florence
Around 4pm we have departed to our last stop of the Tuscany Tours from Florence: Pisa. Since the road is mostly not via highway the time to arrive is more than 1h and 20 minutes. Everybody was already tired a bit and most of the road the guide was quite as well letting us sleep and rest a bit.
In Pisa we had a free time of 1 hour. If you do visit the museum, the Pisa tower and other things around might do it on the rush. I decided not to go on the Leaning Tower Of Pisa or the Cathedral due the high price – 26$/person and for going up to a tower? And we decided not to go up.
The way back even if it was via highway it was another 1h and 30 minutes to arrive in Florence. We were a bit hungry as we did not find a good option to eat in San Gimignano and we headed for a great chinese shop in downtown Firenze.
Did the trip overall worth the money (62 Usd per person without lunch which was quoted separated 30$). Yes but depends and now let’s see the cost and the itinerary for 1 day trip from Florence to Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano by train and by bus.
You can book more day tours in Florence here.
3 City Itinerary by Bus & Train: Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano
Florence to Siena
How far is Florence to Siena
By car/bus is 78 km and it takes 1h and 10 minutes to arrive (traffic depending in Florence as Siena is not that crowded)
How to get from florence to Siena by Bus
Florence Bus Station is located on the other side of the Firenze Santa Novella Train Station (depending on your hotel location in Firenze can come with T1 or T2 or walking if staying in the historical center.
One ticket price is 7,8 Euro is your are going with the rapid bus 131R. There is a different bus 131O which takes 1h30 min and stops in 2 villages on the way: Poggibonsi and Colle Val d’Elsa. You can check the bus schedule here. Buses run every hour round trip.
A cheaper way, but there are not too many buses is via Flixbus. A bus departs Firenze (Villa Costanza) at 10am and arrives at Siena (Stazione FS) at 11am. Price (if ticket is booked in advance) cost from 4 Euro/person.
How to get from Florence to Siena by Train
By Train is much faster as the distance a bit more (85km) but it does take a bit longer compared with the bus to go by train from Florence to Siena. It’s an 1h and 30 minutes ride and prices start from 9,5 Euro/person. Trenitalia.com is the official website to buy the tickets.
If you are on a rush tickets can be bought directly at the counter and usually there are not sold out. But you can check for summer sale and have a even better price if traveling with family or with groups of friends.
Siena to San Gimignano Bus & Train
Tiemme Bus is the company which does this route and it takes 1h and 15 minutes.
This is the most tricky part of the 3 city itinerary and buses being more local do run. It’s easy to get a bus from Siena to San Gimignano as they run more often during the summer (in winter there are less). The problem is the bus from San Gimignano to Pisa as there is no direct one.
First you have to take the bus to Poggibonsi (local one) and there have to take the train in Empoli direction and stop to Pisa. It’s a 2 hour trip (train run every hour) but bus have to check exactly for better timing.
Pisa to Firenze Train
The easy way is by train. It’s an 1h journey and the price is 8,70 Euro/way.
You can travel by bus as well but the departure from Pisa is at the Airport.
Time by means of transportation: 5h.30 minutes
Price: (estimative): 45 Euro
2 City Itinerary by self Made: Siena & Pisa
If you are not planning to visit San Gimignano then there is no need to go on a tour. But San Gimignano has its own charm and it’s a has to be on your bucket list if you are visiting Tuscany.
I would chose this trip option to spend more time in Siena and to discover the downtown part of Pisa (the newly build part after the WW2) not only the Pisa Tower area.
I have analyzed the route and price before booking the tour and even if it was a bit cheaper it does worth it to go on a tour!