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Old 05-15-2012, 04:32 PM   #1
icehawkmom
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Viva Italia and Tower of Pisa

My family is heading to Italy this summer with the Viva Italia tour. We want to try to visit the Tower of Pisa. I know that the schedule shows a free afternoon at the Villa and a free afternoon/evening in Florence. Is there enough free time to take the train to Pisa and back? Anybody tried to do this? Which day do you recommend? I know on our trip to Peru the "free" afternoon was actually only about 2 hours. I would really like for my kids to climb the tower. We did this in 1988 and it was a highlight of our trip.
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:30 PM   #2
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The train from Florence to Pisa is easy and there are many. No need for advance tickets--just buy (and validate at the yellow machine that day). Most agents at the station speak English. The one thing you would need to do is pre-purchase timed tickets to climb the tower--about $20, I think. You can find them online--use the official website. It's a VERY easy 1/2 day trip.
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:54 PM   #3
icehawkmom
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I know it is an easy train trip, I am just uncertain which day will have enough free time to do it. I want to prebook the tickets to climb the tower and that requires some preplanning. If we could do this during our free time in Florence that would be great. I just need to make sure I will have enough time to make it back. I guess we could always find our own transportation back to the hotel if necessay. Anyone have advice that has done this tour? I would hate to purchase the tower tickets and then not be able to use them. They are for a specific time.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:35 PM   #4
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We're also doing Viva Italia this summer.
I think the free day at the Villa will have more free hours, but on our day to Florence, you'll already be right in Florence near the train station. There's also going to be an early and late bus back to the Villa that night.

I'd look into heading for Pisa as soon as our morning tour is over and try to be back for the late bus.

You'd probably have to hire a car & driver to hit Pisa on our free day.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:40 PM   #5
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And it's just the tower and the duomo that's there so you can get it done in one hour, two tops.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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October 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by icehawkmom View Post
My family is heading to Italy this summer with the Viva Italia tour. We want to try to visit the Tower of Pisa. I know that the schedule shows a free afternoon at the Villa and a free afternoon/evening in Florence. Is there enough free time to take the train to Pisa and back? Anybody tried to do this? Which day do you recommend? I know on our trip to Peru the "free" afternoon was actually only about 2 hours. I would really like for my kids to climb the tower. We did this in 1988 and it was a highlight of our trip.
I did the Viva Italia tour in October 2011. We had a group of 31; 25 did the trip to Pisa on the free afternoon when we were in Artimino. There was an extra charge but the group was big enough to utilize the bus that the entire group travelled from Rome to Artimino in. I did not feel that the free time in Florence was enough time to make it to Pisa and back besides there is a lot to see in Florence.

When is your trip? Hopefully Marco Vendramin will be one of your guides. I thought he was a very good guide. Have a good time.


Beachcat

Last edited by beachcat; 05-15-2012 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:47 PM   #7
icehawkmom
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Thanks so much for the information. I am glad to hear this has been done before. It seems a shame to be 1/2 hour away and not have my children see the tower. I thought it would be easier to do this on the free afternoon in Florence - just catch the train, but maybe there is more free time the afternoon in Artimino. May I ask how long the trip to Pisa and back took? Were you able to climb the tower? Maybe, I should try to arrange private transportation. Did the guides help arrange this for you ahead of time or did you just get a group organized last minute? I never thought about other people wanting to do the same thing.

We are going on the July 1 trip and I am just starting to realize how soon that is.
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Old 05-16-2012, 07:51 AM   #8
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My husband and I did the Viva trip this past September. We approached our guides while in Rome and asked about doing a side trip to Pisa on our free time day at the villa in Artimino.
They polled the other guests while we were on the bus and once they knew how many wanted to do the trip, they made arrangements for us.

We had about 12 people who wanted to do it. I think it cost about €25 each

We left after lunch and got back in time for dinner.

You need tickets to get into the Duomo, Baptistry and the Tower.
After you walk to the courtyard area, there is a ticket office on the right. You can pick to go in to either one two or all three. The ticket was €18 if memory serves me.

You'll want to spend every minute you can in Florence, so I'd suggest doing Pisa like we did.

You're going to love this trip.... We loved it so much we're doing it again !!!! In 7 days
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #9
tinkerbell10309
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We would have loved to visit Pisa while in Florence this past September but weren't able to do so. There were not enough in our group to warrant hiring a bus.

The Villa in Artimio is not near any transportation, it is up in the mountains away from everything. There is no rental car agency or bus/train station in the area. It took the tour bus driver about a half hour just to get down the narrow winding roads from the Villa to the main roads.

I don't know if there is enough time to do it while in Florence. If I remembered correctly the early bus left at 3 PM and the late bus left at 6 PM.

Hope your plans work out for you.
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Old 05-16-2012, 11:40 AM   #10
beachcat
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Pisa

Quote:
Originally Posted by icehawkmom View Post
Thanks so much for the information. I am glad to hear this has been done before. It seems a shame to be 1/2 hour away and not have my children see the tower. I thought it would be easier to do this on the free afternoon in Florence - just catch the train, but maybe there is more free time the afternoon in Artimino. May I ask how long the trip to Pisa and back took? Were you able to climb the tower? Maybe, I should try to arrange private transportation. Did the guides help arrange this for you ahead of time or did you just get a group organized last minute? I never thought about other people wanting to do the same thing.

We are going on the July 1 trip and I am just starting to realize how soon that is.
I don't think anyone in our group got to climb the tower because tickets were limited and needed to be purchased in advance. Our guides were going to arrange transport dependent on the number of people who wanted to go. Either a car, small bus or big bus. We were gone from Artimino for about 6 hours. I would definitely buy tickets in advance.

Have fun and say hello to Marco for me.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:40 PM   #11
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My tips on climbing the tower

Note that the Pisa train station is about 1 mile from the Tower. It's a nice walk, but you will need a map or a cab ride.

To climb the tower, buy your ticket on-line in advance for specific date and time.

Otherwise arrive in the morning, and try to buy your ticket ASAP. If you are lucky, tickets will still be available for times later in the day. Tour the church and museums while you wait.


-Paul
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:53 PM   #12
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We did a side trip to Pisa when we went 2 years ago. There was not enough time to go from Florence and you will have to use your free day from Artimino after your pasta making class. I doubt if enough people would be interested in giving up a day in Florence to see the leaning tower. The private bus ride was about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way and we were only in Pisa for about 2 hours total. One thing to keep in mind (unless things have changed) is that the ABD guides will help you set up the bus trip, but they cannot go on the trip with you, so you are on your own. It was definitely an adventure because the bus driver spoke 0% english and you had to navigate through Pisa on your own. Once you get there, there are 3 buildings to see - The Duomo, The Basillica, and The Leaning Tower. Other than that...it was just a line of cheesy tents selling cheap souvenirs. I don't want to make it sound like it's not worth it because we got there and back safely and our group that went had something to talk about, but it really is a long day and the town is really nothing to look at (other than the 3 buildings). It was basically drive for 2 hours in the rain, find our way to the buildings, take some pictures, find our way back to the bus, and then drive 2 hours back. Just be prepared!
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Old 05-16-2012, 05:59 PM   #13
icehawkmom
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I hadn't even thought about doing this side tour with others from the group. Just thought we would catch the train from Florence, climb the tower, and catch the train back to Florence to meet up with the rest of group. We have been to Florence before, and I hate to admit it, but didn't really enjoy it. Thought it would be great if our kids could climb the Tower of Pisa. We climbed it before the restoration and it was so much fun. However, back then you did this on your own not as part of an organized tour. I remember sitting at the top for about an hour and just hanging out with our feet over the side. I am afraid that it won't be as memorable this time with all the new rules. (Not that I would let my kids do that!) I think I will try to book the tickets for the Florence afternoon and take the train. If we don't make it back in time to take the bus back to the villa, it will probably be simple to catch a taxi back to the hotel. I am sure this will work as long as we tell our guides what we are doing and not to worry if we are missing for the bus trip back. Does this seem o.k. to those who have done this tour? I don't think Disney has anything else on the agenda for that evening and I know that the tower is open quite late.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:16 PM   #14
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Just be aware that the city of Florence is about an hour drive to the hotel in Artimio. Don't know if a taxi will be willing to make the one way trip since there is nothing at the hotel for him to get a return fare back to Florence. The hotel is in the mountains with nothing else around it, there is no town/city or stores - it's isolated.

My advise is to inquire before you leave Florence whether or not catching a taxi/ride back to the hotel is doable.

Our group of 8 thought about going the free day, but when we inquired it was extremely expensive (several hundred of dollars) to hire two drivers (they didn't have a vehicle large enough for all of us), and then spend all that time in the car just the see the tower. We too were told that there is nothing else to do in Pisa. So we decided not to go and had fun making pasta and touring the grounds.

If you go and are returning late make sure you grab something to eat before you head back to the hotel. The restaurant closes early if there are no patrons or reservations. Also, there is no room service at the hotel.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:20 PM   #15
tinkerbell10309
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BTW we did the Viva Italia tour this last September and just loved it!

The guides do a wonderful job and take care of everything for you.

Our only disappointment was how isolated the hotel in Artimio was. We are city folks and are used to having options for doing things in the evening. There is nothing there, not even a store.

Enjoy the trip, it is a wonderful experience.
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