We will be visiting Florence this summer, however this time we are taking our 2 teens with us. We are staying for 10 days in an apartment we've rented near Santa Croce and would like to take a couple of day trips. Personally I'd like to make Pisa, Assisi, Tuscany and maybe Volterra or Lucca day trips and was thinking of maybe turning them into 2 day trips. My questions is what would be more convenient renting a couple of scooters on 2 different occasions or renting a small car on 2 different occasions? Help!!
First of all riding a Vespa is not like riding a bicycle. If you have no experience riding motorcycles at home, Florence and Tuscany is not the place to start. Secondly if you rent a 50cc (a moped) you will need 4, because you can't have passengers if the motorcycle or Vespa is under 125cc. If you have a 125cc and u have a drivers' license and you are over 18 you can carry passengers. But a 125 still can't get on a freeway. You need a minimum of 150cc for that. Both 125cc and 150cc Vespa scooters are powerful and can reach 120 km/h or 75 mph. If you can't handle that power, the pavement in Italy is just as hard as in North America. The cost of renting a motorcycle or scooter of that type is not much less than a car. Two of them will definitely be more expensive. So I suggest you rent a car.
Pisa and Lucca should be visited by train (1 hr trip) because it's cheaper, just as fast and you can't drive inside either anyway (traffic restrictions). Siena should be visited by bus for the same reasons. You should rent a car for Volterra and San Gimignano and also for the Chianti. Assisi is not that close (180km or 110miles). The train is almost as fast as the car (2.5 hrs by train, maybe 15 min. less by car) and once in Assisi, you can't use the car, you have to park it outside the city walls (traffic restrictions again). In the end you might need a car for just one day or two (Chianti, Volterra and San Gimignano).
Please take Roberto's advice. Despite the traffic jams in big cities, cars don't have the domination in Italy that they have in the U.S. You need to think about the whole visit, and whether unscheduled detours and picknics in small villages are the objectives. If you are going to well-known cities, many with pedestrianized medieval centers, you need to to a careful travel analysis. Many Americans have never used public transportation in their lives and feel powerless without a car. I'd rather step out of the train station and be touristing now. Please use the search function here to learn about collision waivers in five individually priced tranches, one-way drop charges, window-smashing luggage theft, gas prices, unattended gas stations requiring chip-and-PIN, tight stalls and corridors in municipal parking, Rick's Bogus Traffic Wardens, fake blowout signals on the Autostrada, and more.
In fairness to you, I'm considering a one-way drive back from Naples to South of Rome this Spring, (NOT into Rome, but finally to the airport) because of our destinations. The rest of the trip is by public transportation and/or cabs.
RoninRome has a whole, humorous section on renting Vespas. Bottom line is, if you are not experience motorcycle riders, then Italy is not the place to learn.
A fond memory of Rome...rush hour traffic. A beautiful blonde in a miniskirt, high, high heels, coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other, riding a vespa!
Was that You, Claire?
I love this site!
@Nigel, I wish! She was chatting away on her phone and navigating quite well.
We thought bus might be the way to go but hate to miss all the spectacular views of Tuscany, so we might rent a car if we decide to venture into San Gim or Volterra. Last time we went down to Amalfi we did rent a scooter so we might do the same this time. I looked at the SITA bus schedule but it's a little confusing if you don't know the name of the stops in Sienna or Pisa. Does anyone happen to know what the names are? That would help a lot! Thanks :)
Pisa shall be done by train, not bus. The stop is a station called PISA CENTRALE.
Sita bus in Siena will stop on via Tozzi, neat the San Domenico basilica. You can always ask the driver or a fellow passenger when it's time to get off. And it will be at the end of the line anyway (capolinea).
As I said you need 4 scooters and you won't be able to drive on a freeway. From Florence to Siena (or even worse Pisa) it is a long long ride on a scooter (over 2 hours each way on regular highways). You won't be able to sit on your arse for two days after that trip.
If you decide to rent a car, a big word of warning: there are several areas of Florence where you are not allowed to drive ("Zona Traffico Limitato") although locals and taxis are allowed. The car rental companies are just on the edge of this zone. It is sometimes confusing and poorly marked. To make matters worse, it is very possible to drive in, then out, then in, then out, then in to the restricted zone, earning a fine each time. You won't find out you did it until you get a substantial bill after returning home.
Be very very careful, and get a clear map from the rental agency about the best way to get out of town and then back again.