Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

zebra

Who's done a Tuscan tour?

Recommended Posts

We would love to hear from anyone that has toured Tuscany (especially Siena and San Gimignano areas). What are some "must do's" and also what should we "give a miss" to? Please tell us your experiences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We toured Tuscany last week (NCL JEWEL) via private taxi/tour.We drove up into the Chianti region which was a spectacular drive and then to San Gimignano which was awesome.We spent 2 hours there before heading to Florence for the afternoon.A suggestion-check out the ship excursions to find out the major must-sees in each port and decide what you want to see.All of our drivers were wonderful tour guides and gave us the best advice as far as what not to miss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pat- If you don't mind me asking, did you obtain the driver at the pier or had you pre-arranged it. If so, would you recommend the company??? Also what was the price appx??

Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We went to San Gimignano and Siena during a port visit to Livorno in 2004 using http://www.papillonservice.com/. It was a magical day, and we highly recommend.

 

We also drove the scenic Chianti roads and had a "surprise" stop at Monteriggioni. It is a hill town where time has literally stood still. It was a very nice addition to the day. We stayed there about an hour. It's very small, so we just walked the streets. Some of my best photos are from this stop because it was practically deserted.

 

Then we went to Siena. Our driver had some maps for us and made some recommendations. If you go to Siena, seeing the cathedral would be my 1st priority if I were you. We also enjoyed the Civic Museum very much and of course wanted to see the main squares, especially the one that hosts the big festival where the horses run. We also ate lunch here, and I wish I had the name of the restaurant because it had the stone walls, etc. and was everything you would imagine a Tuscan restaurant to be.

 

Then we drove on to San Gimignano. Again, this is not really a place to go and do things but more a place to be. It is just stunning. There are chapels, etc. that you can go into, but the main idea is just to walk the beautiful cobblestone streets and enjoy the art galleries. We had such a great time that we decided to extend our 10-hour tour by 2 hours and just paid the driver extra.

 

If you need any additional information, I'll be glad to help.

 

:) Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

donna... thanks for all the wonderful information. Did you manage to do a winery, if so, is it worthwhile. (I come from the Wineland area of South Africa so I'm pretty "spoiled" with fabulous wineries!)

 

We are soooo looking forward to experiencing Tuscany and I know that this can hardly be accomplished in a one day tour but we certainly want to give it our best shot!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We didn't go to a winery--darn it! :)--but I can imagine that any of the private guides would be glad to arrange that for you. We thought it was a wonderful day trip and were surprised that we could do so much with our private driver (we had been to Tuscany on a ground trip a few years earlier). The ride in the car was very relaxing and scenic between the towns/villages too. I think the San Gimignano combination with Siena is really nice. Have you seen "Under the Tuscan Sun"? I love that movie, and it shows some good scenery of the area.

 

Have a great trip,

Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were staying in Rome last year and my DH collects wine so we spent a day just doing wineries with a driver and guide.We had to make arrangements for the small ones months in advance as they are not open to the public so to speak( and then we could not vist a few of them).the one big winery in the area is Banfi(like a Mondovi over here),and it may be easier to get into there than other's.However, you would be pushing it for the day if you want to see Seine and San G as well. I am sure if you book a private driver they can give all sorts of information.Enjoy your trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We went to San Gimignano and Siena during a port visit to Livorno in 2004 using http://www.papillonservice.com/. It was a magical day, and we highly recommend.

 

:) Donna

Donna,

I wrote to Papillion about their Chianti/San Gimignano tour, but have not heard back yet. Do you recall who your driver/guide was? Did they require a deposit or credit card up front to make the reservation?

 

Thanks :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our driver was Max, and we loved him, but he is no longer driving for Papillon. I wasn't too surprised to hear that because he's into race car driving and all kinds of activities in Italy. We were fond of him but are sure that Papillon has other great drivers.

 

I always received a quick reply from Papillon and don't know of any Italian holidays right now, so you might need to re-send your message. I know I've read many messages on the Baltics boards about e-mail issues with Russia and some of those passengers then came back and said that the messages were in their "bulk" or "spam" folder because the tour company address was not in their mailbox address list. I have an e-mail address for Papillon at info@papillonservice.com.

 

I think Papillon is now requiring a credit card to hold reservations but does not charge a deposit. I think some of the tour operators have to do this now to charge you just in the event of no-shows and, unlike one other tour operator, will not charge your if the ship is re-routed due to events beyond your control. I had no hesitation with giving them a cc number because of the recommendations on these boards, but I'm sure they'll work with you if you are not okay with that. I think more of the tour companies are doing that now because they've been burned by no-shows, which is really RUDE because now all the popular ones book up and have to turn passengers away.

 

Hope you have a great trip too.

 

:) Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Donna,

I did read some very good things about Max, sorry to hear that he is no longer with them :( Oh well..

 

I will send my request again. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Donna.... yes I 've seen "Under the Tuscan Sun" - and I've read her books. - how cool! I've always had a fascination with Tuscany.

How about shopping in the area? Anything specific it's noted for (other than wine)? We always love to shop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

locallady-At the port of Liverno there were several taxi's lined up.We did not pre-arrange.They seem to all be individually owned mini vans who do private tours much like the ship excursions for a much lower price.Our driver was Valeri who was born and raised in the Tuscan region.His fee for 8 people for the day was 400 euros.He took us through the Tuscan country side up to San Gimignano in the morning,Florence for shopping,Duomo,Ufizzi Gallery,Ponte Vecchio,and lunch in the afternoon and then to Pisa for an hour before heading back to the ship.Check the shore excursion prices and you will find that this a good value and much more comfortable way to see the sights.I would very much recommend Valerio and wish I still had his business card.We got lucky at each port finding very nice drivers who spoke good English.Don't be afraid to go from one to the next to find someone you will be able to communicate well with for the day.Also,try to negotiate the price if you feel it is too high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pat-

Thanks sooo much for your reply!! Maybe we just wait till be get to the port and "wing it".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Donna.... yes I 've seen "Under the Tuscan Sun" - and I've read her books. - how cool! I've always had a fascination with Tuscany.

How about shopping in the area? Anything specific it's noted for (other than wine)? We always love to shop.

Sorry I didn't see your post early today. It has been such fun walking down memory lane remembering our day in Tuscany while reading the questions on this thread. We're having a great time this weekend visiting with family and friends and hope you are too. :)

 

Ah, shopping. One of my favorite subjects. ;) We didn't have a lot of time for shopping that day, but I tried to do my part to support the local economy. :) There was a wonderful souvenir type of store in Monteriggioni that had beautiful calendars that were photos of Tuscany and other paper goods like bookmarks, etc. It sounds kind of trite, but the work was really beautiful. I'm sure those products are available elsewhere in Tuscany. In Siena, I saw many types of stores, and I bought a hand-painted bottle with a spout to pour olive oil (some people also keep these in the kitchen to hold dishwashing liquid). I also bought a couple of platters, and these were all in the traditional Italian pottery style (lemons, cobalt blue, etc.). The Siena cathedral gift shop was very nice and was similar to a museum gift shop with lots of nice books as well as religious artifacts (those gilded pictures of Mary, etc.). There was a good selection of stores in San Gimignano too, but I remember being especially surprised to see such an great selection of leather at very good prices. Our friends from our tour group bought some very nice luggage, and we bought some bags (briefcases, purses, wallets, belts). I saw some leather goods in Siena too. And we can't leave that area without buying some of the Florentine paper products and leather journals. We bought olive oil and similar items too in San Gimignano along with a small painting of Tuscany. I remember seeing some Murano glass, but you can imagine that the selection was not as vast as you would see in Venice, so we didn't buy any there. We also saw the silk ties that you see everywhere in Italy. I saw some leather jackets in Tuscany but don't think the selection could compete with what you would find in Florence. We bought some wine in San Gimignano. I may add to this later because I recall lots of bags that day and hope I remembered all of the goods.

 

So I guess in conclusion I would say that we saw a good representation of Italian goods in this area of Italy with prices comparable to other areas of Italy, and by that I mean that the goods are much lower than the prices you would pay in the U.S. I think you'll have a great time shopping in Tuscany during your tour.

 

:) Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oooooh Donna - I'm ready to leave now!!!!

 

We also like to buy Olive Oil at all our stops (Spain, Italy & Greece) also the Italian, French & Greek spices. The paper and leather products sound fabulous. We bought jackets and bags in Florence on our last trip to Italy.

 

Restaurants.... Do you know what the regoinal dish/es is? Did you have a memorable meal anywhere.

 

You have been a wealth of information - thanks so much!

Jackie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I wish I were going too! :) I usually look for a place to sit outside--we love doing that at home too--but during our tour to Siena and San Gimignano, our driver recommended a particular restaurant to us that didn't have outdoor seating. It had the stone walls, long tables where you sit family style, etc. I had some pasta swimming in olive oil that was yummy, and my husband had fish. I haven't had a bad meal in Italy--we usually try to find places that are full of locals--so don't have a particular dish to recommend to you, but I love the unique kinds of pasta they have there.

 

:) Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...