Exploring Florence & Pisa: A Mediterranean Cruise Adventure
Embarking on a Mediterranean cruise is an experience of a lifetime, with enchanting destinations and iconic landmarks. One port stop that should not be missed on your itinerary is Livorno, Italy, which acts as a gateway to two of the country’s most treasured cities, Florence and Pisa. In this blog, we will delve into the popular landmarks, the best time to visit, what to wear, and compelling reasons to explore Florence & Pisa, influencing your decision to embark on a cruise that includes the port of Livorno, Italy.
Live or No! I’d like to play with names and as I was writing this, a quick magic happened. The words, to live or no sounds like Livorno or Livorno sounds like Live or No! The thought made my moment all geared up about this beautiful visit. The gateway to the Tuscany region and one of Italy’s oldest port cities, Livorno is a small but historically rich city. Best known for its red-hued Fortezza Nuova and the surrounding area known as ‘New Venice’ where you can take a boat ride through its charming canals. This is romantic and I’m a romantic at heart.
From Livorno you can visit Florence, the Renaissance city, and view Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo and the astonishing Uffizi Gallery. Pisa is also nearby, where you can visit the famous leaning tower and wander among the Gothic and Romanesque architecture. This time we chose to see the leaning tower. I heard you can help by holding it with your bare hands. The many tourists holding the Pisa tower made a difference. It still is leaning, never falling even after so many years! As Regal princess docks, we busy ourselves with breakfast before heading to the bus waiting, a few steps from the cruise ship.
You can get lost in awe when you arrive in Pisa. It’s a humongous area. You get excited and do not plan ahead and that really takes your already limited time being there. You can go up the leaning tower or take a peek inside the Cathedral.
What you will see:
1. Leaning Tower of Pisa: The symbol of Pisa, this iconic bell tower leans at a dramatic angle and is a must-visit for every traveler.
2. Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles): Explore the architectural wonders of the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the Monumental Cemetery in this UNESCO World Heritage site.
3. Pisa Botanical Gardens: Escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquility of these beautiful gardens surrounding the city’s walls.
I did my hand holding the leaning tower pose a few times and people really got creative. It is so fun watching everyone getting a piece of Pisa experience.
Next stop is Florence. We each were given a map. That sounds ancient, isn’t it? Well, not if you have no internet through your phone. You might as well be ancient for a day to enjoy Florence. Florence is full of life. Little corners, houses everywhere, business establishments scattered to lure tourists and so much going on. On the map, it guides you to the popular tourist spots you can go to. Now, if you are good at reading maps, you are good to go! However, for someone who is a digital nomad, maps are outdated. Did you get your wifi package on your phone? If not, you might stick with a map and scratch your head all day long. The good news is that wifi is more available now than it was. You can ditch the map and connect to wifi.
It was a great walk but fun to explore their culture.
A few must see in Florence:
1. Piazza del Duomo and Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiore): Marvel at the intricate architecture of this Gothic cathedral and climb the iconic Duomo’s dome for panoramic views of the city.
2. Uffizi Gallery: Home to one of the world’s most significant collections of Renaissance art, including masterpieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
3. Ponte Vecchio: Walk across the medieval stone bridge lined with charming shops and enjoy breathtaking views of the Arno River.
The Mediterranean weather can vary throughout the year, and it is essential to choose a time that suits your preferences. The best time to visit Florence & Pisa, Italy is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) seasons. Although it was early November when we were there, the weather was just right as long as you put on some layers. That is the magic trick when traveling. No need to carry those heavy coats! A few layers will be enough to keep you warm. During these months, the weather is pleasantly mild, with temperatures averaging in the mid-20s Celsius (70s Fahrenheit). The summer months can be quite hot, exceeding 30°C (86°F), and often crowded with tourists.
What to Wear:
When exploring Florence & Pisa, it is advisable to dress comfortably for walking long distances and climbing stairs in both cities. During the spring and fall, pack lightweight, breathable clothing like t-shirts, blouses, and trousers. Remember to bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. In summer, opt for lightweight and loose-fitting clothing to stay cool under the sun. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, as you’ll be covering a lot of ground while exploring these captivating cities.
Reasons to Visit Florence & Pisa:
- Rich Cultural Heritage: Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, offering an immense collection of art, architecture, and historical landmarks. Pisa, renowned for its leaning tower, has a captivating charm that takes you back in time.
- Architectural Marvels: The iconic landmarks in both cities, such as the Duomo in Florence and the Leaning Tower in Pisa, are architectural marvels that will leave you in awe.
- Gastronomic Delights: Explore the local cuisine, legendary wines, and delectable gelato in Florence & Pisa, indulging in the authentic flavors of Italy.
- Vibrant Street Life: The bustling markets, beautiful piazzas, and charming streets create a lively atmosphere, offering an immersion into Italian culture.
When visiting Livorno on a cruise:
It’s good to plan your day. Make a detailed itinerary in advance, including the landmarks you wish to visit, as time might be limited during a port stop. If you want a relaxed day, book a shore excursion. Consider booking guided shore excursions to maximize your time in Florence & Pisa, ensuring knowledgeable local guides and convenient transportation. Another thing to remember is respectful dress codes especially when visiting religious sites. Remember to dress modestly and cover shoulders and knees or you may not be allowed to enter in some places. Lastly, for someone like me who loves food, sample local cuisine. Try at least one thing. It’s the most authentic food you’ll ever taste. It is made in Livorno, Florence or Pisa! Try authentic Tuscan dishes and wines at local trattorias and osterias to fully immerse yourself in the culinary delights of the region as you travel along.
Now, if you are more adventurous, take advantage of public transportation. In Florence, the city center is easily accessible by foot. We walked for hours combined with laughter and foot pain afterwards. Fortunately, food is waiting as soon as we’re back on the cruise ship. Everything is ready from room to food to entertainment. This is the beauty of a cruise vacation. Unpack once and visit different places every port. For the 11-Day Grand Western Mediterranean Cruise, there was only 3 sea days and it was amazing!
In Pisa, a short bus or taxi ride from the port will take you to the main attractions. Make sure to come back in time before the ship closes the gangway.
Florence & Pisa offer an enchanting journey through Italy’s rich history, art, and architecture. From the iconic landmarks to the vibrant street life and gastronomic delights, these cities provide an unforgettable experience. You can visit Livorno as part of a cruise or a few days on land for a full immersion. Considering we were on a Mediterranean cruise that includes a port stop in Livorno, Italy, we wish to stay longer to be mesmerized by the treasures that await you in Florence & Pisa. At least, we got a taste of Livorno,the gateway to two of the country’s most treasured cities, Florence and Pisa.