I am visiting Florence for first time. We are 8 people in group ( inclu 1 child). I have 2 days in Florence. Can someone help me with planning a day trip. Is it advisable to hire vehicle and visit places like siena, San Gimignano, Pisa. Also can these places be done comfortably in one day. I find day tours (Euro 100) expensive.
Public transport in Italy is safe, comfortable, used by everyone and very reasonably-priced. See below for info on how to get to the places you mention.
Imo, there is absolutely no point in hiring a vehicle to visit just one or two of those places. But, if you want to whizz round all of them in just one day (a bit pointless, imo, because you'll only be ticking boxes) then a tour or hiring your own vehicle is probably the only feasible way.
1. It may not be possible to hire a self-drive vehicle which seats 8 people if you have only an ordinary driving licence (or even if you have the right licence but it is not an EU licence). Check this in advance by looking at car hire websites which serve Florence and, perhaps, contacting companies directly.
2. Unless you have an EU driving licence, Italian law requires you to carry a legal Italian translation of your licence. An International Driving Permit fulfils this requirement. You must get it before you leave your own country.
3. All the places you mention (and many more in Italy) have ZTLs (zona traffico limitata...restricted traffic zones). ZTLs usually cover the whole of the historical centre and only vehicles with permits are allowed to enter. It is not possible to obtain visitor permits other than for unloading & loading luggage...and the hotel must get that permit for you.
ZTLs are signed (in Italian, rarely in English) and usually monitored by CCTV cameras. Fines are automatic and the hire company will take them direct from your card, with added admin fees.
You can expect to spend quite some time trying to find parking spaces outside the ZTLs, and to pay for your parking.
4. Public transport: Siena
a) Pisa: Very easy indeed by frequent trains from Florence Santa Maria Novella station. Get off the train at Pisa Centrale station and either walk (25 mins or so), take a taxi or use the hop-on bus to get to the Leaning Tower etc.
Train times, details and fares in English on the official Italian railway website:
Use 'Firenze' in your search, not 'Florence'. No need to buy tickets online in advance. All ticket machines have English language options.
b) Siena has a railway station but it's a long walk from the historical centre (20+ minutes). Much better...and very easy.... to use the frequent express buses from Florence . Buses stop just outside the city walls. No need to buy tickets online in advance.
Timetables on http://www.tiemmespa.it/index.php/Viaggia-con-noi/Orari-e-linee/Siena/Urbano/Siena Click 'Mostra Alti' to find the timetable for the 131A & 131R express bus.
c) For San Gimignano you can either:
1) Take bus 130 from Siena (timetable on link above)
2) Take the train from Florence (or Pisa) to Poggibonsi and then catch bus 130 from there.
Buy your bus tickets from ticket offices or newsagents/Tabacchi (shops which are licensed to sell cigarettes etc). Italian bus drivers only very, very rarely sell tickets on the bus itself.
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