10 days from now I’ll have myself parked on a seat of a big jet plane, flying off to a place I’ve decided to leave you guessing. For now though tired and failing miserably at figuring out the perfect connection to my next great escape I have decided to take you to happy place instead.
A place where I get to relive old travel through words.
Tuscany: Where love married life and lived happily ever after.
Are you in love with travel? Is it a thing that makes you go giddy in your head, keeps you up at night and makes your heart beat faster? If so, a trip to this region is an absolute must! It’s a place where I lost my heart…. then found it and once I was in base I realized I had left back a big piece of it. This a place where love falls for life every single day and lives happily ever after.
Getting there: For starters where ever you fly in from around the world, landing into Rome would be the best option. Most international airlines fly into Rome Leonardo da Vinci or Fiumicino International airport. Get yourself a seat booked out on one of them and you should be good to go.
*My sincere advice would be to not fly into Pisa, Florence or any other airport close by unless your pressed for time. Getting to destination via flt would mean losing out on great eye-catching scenes through the drive.
Rent a car – Follow the car rentals signs at the airport which is a no brainer. Once you’re there you have plenty of choices to opt from. Try to book your transport online in advance though to get better deals. We booked ourselves a classic Fiat Cinquecento (500) at the counter and realized that we would have definitely saved a few euros if we had booked in advance. Compare car rentals at : http://www.rome-airport.info/rent-car.html
With travel time of 4 ½ hrs. the advantage of driving to destination is that it gives you the opportunity to pop into a little town on the way for lunch and start to truly experience ‘La Dolce Vita’. Trust me you will find many such places and I guarantee you will change plans to see sights and scenes that were not originally on the list.
*Note: The minimum age to rent is 21. A young driver fee is applicable to customers between 21-25 years of age. The young driver fee is 16.53 EUR per day per driver.
Buses: There are plenty of tourist buses that operate between these cities. Travel time is approximately 5 hrs. Definitely cheaper than renting a car but this means giving up on the freedom to make stops as and when you like. Eurolines: Buy tkts for a week to maximum of 1 month and travel as and when you like. More information can be found on – http://www.eurolines.it
Train: Trains to other cities start from Rome Termini
To get to this station opt for either:
Airport Train: (Ticket costs 11 euros and starts for platform 24. Tkts are available at the counter as well as the news stand. Note *Tickets sold at the departure platforms are more expensive. Get your ticket stamped in a yellow validation machine just before using it as they expire 90 minutes after being sold. Travel time – 30 min)
Bus: For bus line Terravision Tickets: euro 9 single or euro 15 return, 70 minutes ride , 5 stops & 7 services a day. For the blue regular – bus, the stop is located outdoors at ground level 100 meters left from arrivals (terminal’s B&C). Look for a blue sign and buy tkts at the Tabacheria( tobacco shop)
– First Stop
Now finally you’ve made up your mind and figured out how to get to there. If you’ve chosen to drive like we did then I say get into your sweet drive turn up that radio and get acquainted with some classic euro vision sounding music. Start practicing and picking up some Italian coz you will need it along the way.
Tip for the drive – Get out of the airport and get on to highway E80. Continue straight on passing the city of the Grossetto. This route is not entirely on the coast but still worth the drive. On your way about 20 minutes after you hit Grosseto, on your right sitting on a hilltop you will see a small village of Montepescali . Make a detour go up the hill and get introduced to some spectacular views. Views that your eyes will have to get used to.
Osteria Sotto le Logge – This place is like stumbling upon a diamond while digging for gold. It’s a small humble little ristorante with local men sitting outside making small talk combined with big hand gestures. The place boast of a stunning terrace protruding out into the valley with views of lush green hills. This chatty terraced restaurant also has an option of sitting indoors and makes it a must stop place for either lunch or aperitivo (as you will soon find out it’s never too early for a quick drink in Italy)
Post lunch we drove straight to Pisa to make most our day not drifting away from target. Now like most trips this one was a spur of the moment kind of one too. It was a get on the road and drive kind of one. With no prior booking once in Pisa our main concern was to find a place with free parking. After a few calls, stopping over and popping in to places to enquire rates for stay and parking we found the perfect place.
* Try not to book a place to stay near Pisa Centrale ( Main railway station) This area is far from the center and a bit doggy later in the day.
Hotel Goryki: Budget Hotel – reasonably cheap & centrally located. We parked our sweet little Fiat 500 right outside the building making ourselves feel very Pisan. The hotel sits in the center of the city and is yet tucked away quite in a back alley. Large windows breathe in fresh air, crisp sun and sounds of chirpy shopkeeper’s every morning. The shopping street is 100 m away and is full of bars, restaurants & well-known Cafe’s. The Hotel is decently priced and is kept clean. The owner lives in a building across the street but will guide you to your room and get you acquainted with facilities once you have checked in. Wi-Fi is available, only drawback was the room had really thin walls but it wasn’t much of a hassle as we were blessed with polite neighbors. Cost: ranges from 60 to 100 euros a night depending on season – http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/gorkij.en-us.
Hotel Di Stefano: Think cozy, comfy and pleasant and this place is just that. With a large terrace on the rooftop you can soak up some sun like a penguin and enjoy the weather. Breakfast is served in a beautiful hall that is located in a section of the hotel built-in the middle ages. Cost: ranges from 60 to 150 euros a night depending on season www.hoteldistefano.it
The Royal Victorian Hotel: As the name suggest the hotel is a complete antique piece of art. Highlight is the terrace with flower pots lying around sunbathing. Open undone exposed walls can be seen across this property. With garage parking available and bikes on hire this is a great place to stay. Cost: 100 – 150 euros depending on season. www.royalvictoria.it
Places to visit:
- Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Museo Dell ‘Opera Del Duomo
*Note you can buy tkts to all or any 3 of the sites you would like to visit. Buying tkts online will save you waiting in long lines and skipping mandatory tour timings. Find all the information on: www.opapisa.it.
My top places to eat and make merry
Sottobosco: This place is an absolute must. Very kitschy in nature this place is my absolute favorite and a must stop. Long wooden benches are filled with people waiting for colorful tables set on the street. Don’t panic that you won’t get any food. You’re in Italy and food here is taken very seriously. Advice you to wait patiently for you turn with a yummy glass of wine in hand. There’s lots to admire inside the restaurant so take your time to sneak around while you wait for a table. * great for a pre dinner drink http://www.sottoboscocafe.it
Osterio Del Porton Rossa: This restaurant is hidden past an alley way north of river Arno. It serves classic Pisan meat and fish dishes cooked with fresh ingredients from the region. The lunch served at 10 euros is a steal deal for delicious finger licking food. http://www.osteriadelportonrosso.com
Bazzel: One of the hip places in town this bar/café/nightclub is along the river. A great place to watch passerby’s with a well-mixed cocktail in hand and happy tunes playing in the back. The place is active on Twitter and gigs for the month are listed and tweeted about.
Salza: If you are not much of a partying and drinking person but instead need something sweet after dinner to give you a good night sleep then head out to salsa. With the best pastries in town stop by for dessert and a shot of espresso. * 100 m away from Hotel Goryki.
After all that site seeing and a heavy Pisan dinner I am sure you’ll be quite drained out. I beg you though to not head back to the hotel just yet. Take a walk by the river Arno to digest all the food or just sit by the river and admire the view. It’s truly therapeutic and feels like living inside a priced piece of art.
Next up we drive an 1 ½ hr. away from Pisa to travel to Florence. The capital of Tuscany and of course men’s fashion capital of the south. Be ready to be swoon away by elaborate medieval architecture guarded and protected by hunky dory men. This place will make you feel under dressed, poor and leave you wanting to shop for all the exquisite goodies staring at you from gigantic glass windows.
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