Sunday, 5 August 2018

10 THINGS TO KNOW: Tuscany, Italy

  1. Tuscany is a large region! HIRE A CAR to get yourself around - it will be worth it! The main highway between Pisa and Florence is not a toll road (yay) but go off that highway onto the autostrade and expect tolls.
  2. If you are budget conscious and want to use public transportation, there is a train that goes directly from Pisa to Florence. If you can, stay as close as you can to that train line and major train stations as public buses to those stations can be few and far between depending on what little Tuscan town you stay in. The train from San Romano (which is about half way between Florence and Pisa) costs less than 3 euros. Expect a little bit more from Florence to Pisa. Also expect a full train. 
  3. There are so many little places around Tuscany that are worth researching and visiting. We didn't get to visit much in this area but if we could have, we definitely would have. Some medieval cities, natural springs, little Tuscan towns... so many options! 
  4. The landscape is beautiful - even from the highways. Sunflower fields everywhere! Even if you're time limited in Tuscany, you will still see some amazing landscape.
  5. Pisa is... busy. You will not be able to escape it. So just don't. Accept it and join in with the typical Leaning Tower of Pisa poses! Still plan to go early as it's busy but not squashed against everyone busy. 
  6. If you are staying on a main road through some Tuscan towns, expect traffic noise... all the time. It's something we just didn't get used to - the worst being motorbikes. You can't feel all Under the Tuscan Sun if you're angry at the motorbikes going past.
  7. Summertime Tuscan heat is ridiculously hot. It reaches early to mid 30s but the humidity that comes with it... yeah, it's not fun. Expect sweat and perhaps look for accommodation that has air con!
  8. Florence is a beautiful city! But it's a walking city. So either be prepared to walk everywhere for the budget-friendly or hire a bike, scooter, segway, horse and carriage! The roads are wide and prepared for that kind of transport. If you can, visit Florence over a few days to really get it all in! It will be worth it.
  9. Florence's tram ticketing system needs work. They have ticket machines in some stations and some will work while others won't and the service of texting a number for a ticket (which is supposed to make it easier) did not work the entire time we tried to use it - we had an Italian number to text the number and it still didn't work. Then there are some tram stops that look like every other tram stop except they aren't in use and have no signs to state that. So be aware of that. There's no tips from us to help with the ticketing system - just hope you use a stop that has a working machine!
  10. Tuscany's rubbish system is different to any we had come across thus far. Each household seems to have the same allocated plastic rubbish bins for different types of rubbish (general, organic, plastic and paper) which are clearly marked and different colours. Each type of rubbish is picked up on different days during the week. All big plastic bins with your rubbish in it goes outside your door where they are emptied then the empty plastic bin is taken back inside to be used again - all except general rubbish which you can just leave out in a generic rubbish bag. A more complicated system than what we'd seen in Verona but it's great to see their efforts in recycling! (And if we didn't know what day it was for what rubbish because our schedule was in Italian and we always second guessed ourselves, we would just look outside and see what colour bin was outside... easy!)
Their different rubbish bins



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