Why don't they go to Capri and Pisa?
A friend of mine just shared his Italy itinerary - not sure as of yet who he's going with - but it got me comparing it to this Tauck trip. His goes to Capri and Pisa. Wondering why Tauck doesn't do both of these...but especially Pisa?? For years I've been pretty much committed to doing Tauck's small group Italy trip, but now may rethink this. Any suggestions from people who have been there?
I was wondering the same thing in 2015, but we worked around both issues by going early and using free time, and hiring guides. If you haven't noticed, Tauck is now offering a tour of Capri:
"On 2019 departures of Classic Italy, we’re offering an optional daytime sightseeing tour to the island of Capri on Day 1, including: a private transfer from Tauck’s hotel to the pier in Sorrento and back; transportation by hydrofoil from Sorrento to Capri and back; a tour of Capri by minibus and funicular, and a full day with an English-speaking local guide; visits to the island’s main towns of Anacapri & Capri; lunch; and a visit to the Blue Grotto (weather permitting), or alternate sightseeing.
Add $285 per person; for more information, ask at booking."
That is a fair deal and about what each of us paid for tickets for the ferry, around-island boat tour w/Blue Grotto stop and entry, and private guide for 8 hours for just the two of us.
We arranged for a car and driver to take us to Pisa during one of the free afternoons in Florence. We made the car arrangements and purchased tickets to climb the tower before leaving the US. Both Piazza dei Miracoli museums were undergoing renovation but we were able to visit the Duomo. Only 30 people are allowed to climb the tower at a time, and each group is given about 35 minutes, but you must get tickets ahead of time!!! Snooze you lose!
I can only guess why Tauck doesn't go to Pisa- limits placed on tours by the gov't? too hard to schedule the climb? too touristic? schedule already too full?? It may be for reasons similar to why the Ultimate Alps trip no longer goes to Neuschwanstein. Anyway, if you want, you can do both.
If you are considering another tour company, make sure you compare apples to apples- what is included? After-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums, meals, museum fees, etc. etc.,
We took our first Tauck trip in 2005, Classic Italy. That was the last year they included Pisa (just the leaning tower and the bascilica) in the itinerary. We, along with others on our trip, commented that we could have skipped Pisa. At that time it was a short stop in between San Gimignano and Viareggio. Parking the bus was hard and our stay was short. There was not enough time to climb the tower, as our stop was shorter than the wait time. So all you had time to really do was take the iconic photos and check it off your bucket list. The tower is surrounded by some of the tackiest trinket stalls you'll see anywhere (at least it was at that time), so it kind of spoiled the atmosphere. A lot of people thought that it would better to have more time in San Gimignano or Viareggio.
Basically, I think they took it out to make the day a little less hectic and because, as offered, it really wasn't worth it.
The vendors are still there, but are all outside the walls/gate to the Piazza dei Miracoli (field of miracles). We had no trouble just walking past them.
Again, our thought was, how can you to to Italy and not see the leaning tower!! It is kinda like visiting London and not seeing the famous towers there : ) Big Ben (tower), Tower Bridge, Tower of London : )
For more specifics, on the second day in Florence, we met our car and driver in front of the Brunelleschi hotel right after the morning tour and departed Florence around noon. I don't know if we skipped lunch or just grabbed a slice, but, we arrived in Pisa around 1:15 (1 hr 15 min. drive- all 4 lane highway). We already had tickets for a 1:45 climb, but first had to check our bags- NO BAGS ALLOWED in the tower. Then we strolled about a bit and took some photos, before getting in line at our designated time. Once everyone in our group of 20 - 30 had entered the room at the base of the tower, we received a 10 -15 min. briefing about the piazza, tower, duomo, etc. and then were released to climb. The climb didn't take long but that depends on your physical condition. It was strange- spiral stairway that undulated up and down since the tower leans- sometimes it seemed like we were walking uphill and sometimes walking downhill! There is not much to see while climbing. The view of the city, the piazza, duomo, etc. from the top was great, but we probably only spent about 15 - 20 minutes up there. After a quick descent, we strolled the grounds and visited the duomo (not the baptistry- not on our ticket- was supposed to be). The two museums on the piazza were closed and being renovated, though we wouldn't have had time to tour them anyway. We met our driver near the entrance for the trip back to Florence. The total time in Pisa was a tad under 3 hours. We arrived back in Florence between 5:00 - 5:30, which gave us enough time to tour the Duomo Museum. We already had the two day/4 building (Giotto's tower, Brunelleschi's dome (climb), crypt, Baptistry, Museum) tickets and we saved this one for our second day since the closing time wasn't until 7:00. Then we went to dinner.
There are a number of official looking websites selling Duomo Museum tickets in Florence. I can't vouch for any except for the official one: Il Grande Museo de Duomo
AlanS, I know it was a couple of years ago - who did you arrange your car and driver through? I agree, I've never been to Italy and how can I not see the Leaning Tower even if it is a tourist trap!
The details in my posts above still hold true- been looking at this stuff again for a friend. This is the URL of the official website of OPAPisa https://www.opapisa.it/en/ Go there to learn about the complex and buy tickets if your tour company doesn't get them for you (recommended because you can only buy tickets from two weeks prior to the day before your visit.). The Duomo museum is still closed for restoration.
We arranged transportation (and tickets) through Driverinitaly. They have a website, toll free US number and get good reviews on TripAdvisor.
This was our first Tauck tour, September 2016. We loved it. Since then, we have gone on two more wonderful land tours with Tauck (Ireland and Northern Italy), will be on our first river cruise with them in 7 weeks and have booked another for 2020. We arrived a day early for Classic Italy and considered going to Capri but since I suffer from motion sickness decided it might not be the best way to begin our vacation! One of the couples on our tour did tour Capri prior to the beginning of the tour but were unable to see the Blue Grotto because of rough seas. Although we would have loved to include a visit to Capri on our free day, we made the right decision for me!
We saw Pisa from the coach. This tour was two weeks filled with history, art and architecture, gorgeous scenery and delicious food. I personally do not feel by skipping a stop at Pisa we missed anything.