As much as I love the train system in Italy, one of the places I didn't explore as much as I wanted to in 2002 when I lived in Florence was Tuscany. I know, crazy, right? Since it's RIGHT THERE? I didn't see as much of it as I wanted because I was young and new to travel and didn't like to go places I couldn't get to on a train. A train was safer, you see, because it had one place to go, and was pretty difficult to mess up with. Buses, on the other hand, were tougher - there were different timetables and schedules, where to get the tickets was always somewhat of a mystery, and there were rarely the convenient audio reminders of which station you were about to get to.
Bus travel in Italy requires a little more effort than train travel, but the benefits of getting to go to the smaller towns and locations were great.
For our upcoming trip, I want to be more adventurous, and make better use of the bus system. So I've been doing a lot of research, which is something I'm very, very good at!
The towns we're talking about for this trip are Siena, San Gimignano, Florence, and possibly Volterra.
From my research, I've discovered the following:
- The bus ticket window/stop in Siena *should* be just north of the Campo, on Giardini La Lizza, located in an underpass. (I say should because I've never done buses out of Siena, only the train.)
- The bus ticket window/stop in Florence is located down the way from the train station. It's a rather large depot, because Florence has tons of buses coming in and out.
- Buses to San Gimignano from Siena are direct, take about an hour, and go through Poggibonsi.
- The bus trip to/from San Gimignano to Florence is about an hour and a half, and requires switching buses in Poggibonsi, however it's a very simple matter of crossing the street (literally) from one stop to the other.
- Bus timetables can be found on the San Gimignano website and also here.
- The bus trip from San Gimignano to Volterra seems a bit convoluted, with a transfer and about 2 hours of travel time, which is why I'm not sure we'll end up doing Volterra.
- It seems that the bus from Siena to San Gimignano costs about $8, and the bus from San Gimignano to Florence, about $10.
My reasoning for going to San Gimignano first is our luggage. I like to check in at our hotels first as often as possible, just because I have a huge fear of my luggage being lost or stolen, and I don't like carting it around to the sights. And though I try, I usually am not traveling light.
So, since the bus system to Volterra isn't so direct, it might not work out to do San Gimignano and Volterra in the same day. Which is probably better, since I tend to cram as much as possible into everything. Maybe we'll visit Poggibonsi or Colle di val d'Elsa instead. Maybe we'll just have a leisurely day in San Gimignano. It's likely that we would enjoy it more if we took things a bit slower. We'd definitely be following the Italian way of life a bit more closely!