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Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

St. Louis, MO
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Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Our ship will stop in Livorno for one day and we can't decide whether to visit Lucca or Florence.

We have driven through parts of Tuscany once a few yrs. ago, and spent one day and a night in Siena. We enjoyed driving through the area, seeing the countryside. We have also been to Florence - just once, for one day, when on a cruise. We walked around the historic areas of the old city and visited the Uffizzi Gallery.

Florence has a lot to offer, but we were thinking of maybe going to Lucca, possible stopping for a quick look at the tower in Pisa along the way (though that isn't a priority). If we rented a car and drove to Lucca, would we find many interesting towns to stop in or just look at as we drove along to Lucca? Or perhaps there are some more charming towns near Lucca?

Any info. appreciated!

ould we be better off taking a train - or as I read on another thread, a train to Pisa and then a bus from there to Lucca? I don't suppose there would be time to visit Lucca for just a nice look around - say 2 hrs. - and then go to Florence and roam around a bit before having to head back to Livorno? (We'd have to be back on board our ship by about 4 p.m. or so.)

Suffolk
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1. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Hi thats such a tight period I am not sure you would be able to do Florence justice, and getting back to the ship might end being a bit frought if there are any delays with the trains, so you will find yourself leaving Florence early afternoon to make sure. Which is a pity as a first time visitor my advice would generally be Florence, however Lucca will reward you with its own charm. As a small city far from tourist orientated you get to see a little jewel, and have time to catch your breath, just. You will not have crowds of tourists. Take the train from Livorno to Pisa Cental and change for Lucca there. From Lucca station to the heart of the city is easy and a max 15mins with a very slow stroll. I don't think you will get much benefit other than being totally in control of your timing with a car and theres nothing especially to see in terms of must sees between Livorno,Pisa and Pisa. If you get time on the return run, jump off the train at Pisa San Rossore and take a walk to the tower, before making you way back to Pisa Central for the return to Livorno, but I think its too much. Tower aside theres not much in Pisa to warrant time there, I would settle for Lucca and take it as easy as time allows.

north carolina
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2. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

I endorse the above. There is little point in just popping into Florence for a few hours and then rushing out. Lucca is charming and can certainly entertain and relax you for a few hours.

St. Louis, MO
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3. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Well, we did see much of Florence the last time. Just didn't make it to the Accademia. Also, I checked and we don't have to be back on our ship until about 18:30 - 2 hrs. later than I thought. Still, I don't know if that is enough time???

Suffolk
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4. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

If you have seen Florence before then to my mind no question to opt for Lucca, and maybe try and fit the tower at Pisa in. It will be worthwhile.

north carolina
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5. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Great, so now you can walk the walls (maybe 45-60 minutes) and have a relaxing dining experience in Lucca.

St. Louis, MO
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6. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

I have another question for those of you who have been to Lucca. Does it resemble the town of Siena very much?

Suffolk
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7. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

No its nothing like Siena, the history is very different and despite the origins of the city going back to Roman times much of the beauty today comes thanks to the walls built principally to keep the Medici out and maintain the cities independence and freedom. A number of the principal buildings like those of Piazza Napoleone come from the time his sister ruled the city and of the Bourbones. Whist tourism is important to the city it is also its own industry and you will have proper shops, (touristy shops are there but quite limited), in my opinion far better than Siena, an antique quarter, and in general its much more laid back. Theres a couple of Palazzos (Pfanner, Mansi) to see, the Guinigi tower and museum. Much of the food in the better restaurants comes from the hills of the Garfagnana, and in Valgiano the city has its own winery that can stand up to the Chianti, Montalcinos and Montepulcianos from further south. Dont forget to pick up some olive oil either. Oh and unlike Siena,, walls apart,,its flat. If you are up to it grab a bike and make your way around the city and the walls.

new york
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8. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

DEar Suffolk and Roadgard,

I hope you don't mind me attaching another question onto this thread. You have made Lucca sound very enticing. My teenagers would love to bicycle around the walls.

We will be arriving in Pisa and had planned to head to Florence for 4 nights and then pick up rental car at florence airport drive to villa near Siena for 7 nights.

Do you think it worthwhile to change plans ...

1. take bus from Pisa to Lucca (flight arrives mid-day)

2. spend night in Lucca

3. go second day to Florence to spend 3 nights- which really means 2 full days.

or would we be better off to drive to Lucca during our week in Tuscany when we have the rental car.

Thanks for your help.

Suffolk
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9. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Dear Norskara on balance if this is the first trip I would probably say drive up during your week around Siena, its a hard call as if you are arriving on the transatlantic flight a short train ride to Lucca (20-25mins from Pisa central) and the more relaxed atmosphere of Lucca could just set you up for the holiday. But theres so much to do in Florence and as you have the second option I would hate to condense that too much. It is a bit of drive from Siena, but worth it.

north carolina
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10. Re: Lucca or Florence? Please help me decide! Many ?s.

Norskara,

I fear you are up against the eternal cursed conundrum: how to allocate a limited life. All of the time you spend in Florence will be wonderful, all of the time you spend in Lucca will be wonderful,

all of the time you spend in other areas of Tuscany will be wonderful. You must pick the right piece of chocolate for yourself, and rue the ones you did not select.

Best of luck, and remember the important thing is to be in Tuscany, don't worry about where you are not each day.