I think this is not a tough choice, but a personal one. We are in Livorno in September with two other couples, one person of which has been here before. The views on the boards that I saw was that Pisa could be skipped and was somewhat underwhelming. The only difficulty in missing Pisa was explaining to others why one missed this famous landmark. My friend who had been there echoed this sentiment, i.e., it was easier to go rathere than explain why spending more time in Florence was better. All that being said, my friends and I agreed that we would not shorten our time in Florence with so much to see there in order to do Pisa, but would stop on the way back to the ship if there happened to be time. Either way you can't go wrong. Do what will make you enjoy this trip the most.
For the first time you really need about a week in Florence, but if you can only spare a day, then by all means, use the whole day in Florence. Pisa is nice, but the trip there wouldn't be worth the time just to spend an hour or two.
If you really only have one day for Florence, hire a guide who will take you around to everything in the shortest amount of time and get you into places without having to wait in line (like to see David). You have to make some difficult choices, and a guide will help you see everything more efficiently.
I can recommend a wonderful guide who we used and is highly recommended by everyone who has had the pleasure of making her acquaintance.
If you only have time to read one book about Florence before you go, do yourself a big favor and read "The Stones of Florence" by Mary McCarthy. It will give you a great history of the city and make your visit so much more enjoyable. I know after one day in Florence, you will definitely want to go back for a much longer time. That's how my husband felt. Good luck!
Florence..without a question..besides the Tower in Pisa the city is overated...the best thing to do is make a quick stop in Pisa on the way back to Livorno..if you need any assitance in tours or drivers please let us know www.jandjservicesitaly.com
I would love the name of the guide in Florence. We will be there on Monday, September 29th. I am told that the museums are closed on Monday so I think we need a guide to take us to the next best sites.
When our ship arrived in Livorno in 2001 we had a choice of tours: Lucca/Pisa or the lovely Firenze. Our family group decided to split up, with Kim & I going to the former & our 2 daughters to Florence. It poured all day in both places. True, we probably could have worked it out so that we could see both. But we only had a limited number of hours in port, and it would have been a bit much for this tired old body.
Actually, everybody came out of it happy. The girls loved Florence, but regretted they didn't have nearly enough time to see it all. For our part, we loved both of the towns we visited. Lucca was charming and full of Tuscan historical sites. Pisa didn't offer much besides the Tower and the adjacent religious sites, but it was nonetheless quite fascinating. The Tower had been on my list of "places to see before I die", so I was far from disappointed to actually experience the rush one gets when standing in the midst of history. And we took some great photos. I'd loved to have seen Florence too, but I made my choice and haven't regretted it. Maybe next time.
I agree with some of the other replies that have suggested that you get a group to hire a private guide that can take you to Florence with a stop at Pisa on the way. You can see Pisa from the highway on the way to Florence, so it's a shame to get so close and miss it. If you have a private guide, you can see a lot more than you can on the ship's excursion. The more I travel, the more I hate those excursions. Sometimes they're a necessary evil, but avoid them if you have any option at all. On the shore excursions, you spend so much time loading and unloading the bus and can't even stop to admire a painting without getting herded along. If you don't want to spend two hours eating lunch and would rather admire the statue of David longer instead, you don't have that option.
You can probably hit Pisa on the way or on the way back and spend an hour or so if all you want to do see the Tower and take some pictures. Plan on a couple of hours if you want to go up in the tower. There is too much to see in Florence to see it all in one day even if you dedicate all day to it and then you would miss seeing Pisa altogether.
We were there in July off the Golden and did both Florence and then stopped for 90 minutes on the way back in Pisa. We didn't make it up the tower but did get pictures to prove we did make the stop.
Florence is fantastic but there is just so much to do and so little time. The lines were very long and even the streets were crowded when we were there. Try to see the "David" as it is worth seeing. There are several places where you can get great pictures of the whole city from the hills above it.
Enjoy whatever you decide to do and happy cruising.
We just came back from a Western Med cruise. At the Livorno port, we negotiated a deal with a cab driver who charged us 50 EUR per person (there were 5 of us and he had a minivan )to take us to Florence & then Pisa. He took us to Piazzale Michelangelo up on a hill first, where we got a fanastic view of Florence. Next stop was Palazzo Pitti. Then he dropped us off in Piazza della Repubblica. He parked his cab there while we went off walking on our own to explore the major sights. We left Florence at about 3 pm and drove to Pisa. Pisa is more than just the leaning tower & the cathedral. The old city & the university are both worth a visit. The whole trip was about 10 hours and was a much better deal than the cruise line's excursion.
Another option is going to Lucca. It is about a 45 minute drive from Liverno. It is a quaint little town surrounded by a wall. Many churches, shopping and restuarants/cafe's. This is about the only town I bought anything in while on our cruise. We also went to Monte Carlo, Mariselles, Barcelona and Genova. You can see the leaning tower of Pisa fairly well from the highway on the way to Lucca. We took the excursion through our cruise line; Raddison Seven Sea's.