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Pisa or Bologna for Florence?

Pisa or Bologna for Florence?

Old May 23, 17, 9:34 am
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Pisa or Bologna for Florence?

Hi All,
I've got a work trip coming up this summer to Tuscany (where I've never been), and I'm trying to figure out how to make the most of it.

It looks like I'll fly in one day, have a meeting the next day in Pisa, a meeting the following day about 1/5 hours south of Florence, and then fly back to the US. Given that Florence is (sort of) centrally located between my two meetings, I figured I'd plan to stay there for at least the first two nights. I need to fly OW, so my choices are to fly in/out of Pisa or Bologna. Flight timings on BA are relatively similar, and from my reading, it sounds like the time from each of those airports to Florence is roughly the same (assuming the bus from Pisa to Florence and the trains between Bologna Airport, city, and then Florence). Any thoughts on whether one of those airports is a better choice than the other for any reason?

Also, should I fly out of Bologna, I could conceivably spend the night there on my third night rather than Florence. Given that I'll only have my first afternoon/evening and then the next two evenings free, I'm guessing I should just stay in Florence to maximize my (little) time there. But if Bologna is worth an evening for dinner and gelato vs. spending the extra night in Florence, please let me know...

Thanks much -I appreciate any advice you might have.
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Old May 23, 17, 3:33 pm
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Originally Posted by whimsey View Post
Hi All,
I've got a work trip coming up this summer to Tuscany (where I've never been), and I'm trying to figure out how to make the most of it.

It looks like I'll fly in one day, have a meeting the next day in Pisa, a meeting the following day about 1/5 hours south of Florence, and then fly back to the US. Given that Florence is (sort of) centrally located between my two meetings, I figured I'd plan to stay there for at least the first two nights. I need to fly OW, so my choices are to fly in/out of Pisa or Bologna. Flight timings on BA are relatively similar, and from my reading, it sounds like the time from each of those airports to Florence is roughly the same (assuming the bus from Pisa to Florence and the trains between Bologna Airport, city, and then Florence). Any thoughts on whether one of those airports is a better choice than the other for any reason?

Also, should I fly out of Bologna, I could conceivably spend the night there on my third night rather than Florence. Given that I'll only have my first afternoon/evening and then the next two evenings free, I'm guessing I should just stay in Florence to maximize my (little) time there. But if Bologna is worth an evening for dinner and gelato vs. spending the extra night in Florence, please let me know...

Thanks much -I appreciate any advice you might have.
Its a little hard to answer. Are these two meetings 9-5, or just an hour or two? What is the city 1/5 hours south of Florence, and what does that mean? It's impossible to give reccomendations with these unknowns.

You arrive and have a jet lagged first evening. Then you have two days of meetings in two different cities, Pisa, and the unknown city some distance south of Florence. Then the next morning you fly out, but want to squeeze in visits to Florence and Bologna into this 2.5 day trip, in addition to being in Pisa and the unknown city during the day.

Florence to Pisa is an hour and a half by train. Florence to Bologna is also an hour and a half by train. Getting to the station, waiting for the train, getting back and forth to the hotel, figure two hours each way, or four hours of travel per day on a two and a half day trip.

If the meeting in Pisa ends at 5 and you have a meeting the next morning in the city to the South, it seems as if you just have time to get to the other city to be ready for the next morning's meeting. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't know how you can be in four cities in 2.5 days.
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Old May 23, 17, 5:20 pm
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Sorry for being vague. I'm expecting each of the meetings to last about four hours. The city south of Florence is Arezzo. I've been figuring travel times based on google maps and train schedules on the web, but please let me know if I'm trying to do too much. I can certainly stay in Pisa the first night and Arezzo the second, but have been assuming that since I'll be so close to Florence (relatively speaking) I should use whatever extra time I have to see things and enjoy the food there. Bologna only enters the picture if I'm flying out of their airport - as I mentioned, I'm stuck with OW coming in/going out of either Pisa or Bologna.
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Old May 24, 17, 5:02 am
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
Sorry for being vague. I'm expecting each of the meetings to last about four hours. The city south of Florence is Arezzo. I've been figuring travel times based on google maps and train schedules on the web, but please let me know if I'm trying to do too much. I can certainly stay in Pisa the first night and Arezzo the second, but have been assuming that since I'll be so close to Florence (relatively speaking) I should use whatever extra time I have to see things and enjoy the food there. Bologna only enters the picture if I'm flying out of their airport - as I mentioned, I'm stuck with OW coming in/going out of either Pisa or Bologna.

It's still difficult to say because your plans are vague. Is the meeting in Pisa going to be over at lunch time, so you can take the train to Florence, do some sightseeing, then take the train to Arezzo and prepare for the next day's meeting there? Or is the meeting in Pisa an afternoon one that will finish at 6 PM get to Arrezo? Or, is the meeting in Arrezo in the afternoon, in which case you can spend the second night in Florence and take a morning train to Arrezo in time for the meeting.

Without knowing your itinerary, it's guesswork. Is your returning flight to Boston in the early morning, or in the afternoon? Without knowing, it's hard to say where you should stay the last night.

I understand the desire to stay on OW because I do the same. You can get from Florence-to-London-Boston, but it's not easy because of the airport change in London. You can also use OW to Florence on Air Berlin, but it's also a pain. Depending on when your meeting ends in Arezzo, and what time your flight leaves, it might be best to just head up to Bologna. It's just to vague to say.
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Old May 24, 17, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
Sorry for being vague. I'm expecting each of the meetings to last about four hours. The city south of Florence is Arezzo. I've been figuring travel times based on google maps and train schedules on the web, but please let me know if I'm trying to do too much. I can certainly stay in Pisa the first night and Arezzo the second, but have been assuming that since I'll be so close to Florence (relatively speaking) I should use whatever extra time I have to see things and enjoy the food there. Bologna only enters the picture if I'm flying out of their airport - as I mentioned, I'm stuck with OW coming in/going out of either Pisa or Bologna.
I'd say base out of Florence and spend the most time there. FLR has Madrid/Iberia, if that works for you. BA does LCY-FLR/FLR-LCY, so BA at FLR probably doesn't work for you because it would involve the LHR-LCY/LCY-LHR headache shuffle.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:24 am
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
It's still difficult to say because your plans are vague. Is the meeting in Pisa going to be over at lunch time, so you can take the train to Florence, do some sightseeing, then take the train to Arezzo and prepare for the next day's meeting there? Or is the meeting in Pisa an afternoon one that will finish at 6 PM get to Arrezo? Or, is the meeting in Arrezo in the afternoon, in which case you can spend the second night in Florence and take a morning train to Arrezo in time for the meeting.
Thanks for your help. My itinerary is going to look something like this:
Day 1: arrive at either Pisa or Bologna airport around 11:30am. This is the day I'm anticipating doing some sightseeing. I know that I'll be jetlagged, but I (unfortunately) take the overnight TATL flights to Europe enough that my body has gotten used to being able to go for a day on a few hours of sleep.
Day 2: Meeting in Pisa in the morning, starting between 9 and 10 (I'll have some flexibility on the meeting times). Expecting it to end in the early afternoon, and would then have the rest of the day free.
Day 3: Meeting in Arezzo in the morning, starting between 9 and 10. Expecting it to end in the early afternoon, and then have the rest of the day free.
Day 4: Departure from Pisa or Bologna airports around 12:30pm.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:26 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
I'd say base out of Florence and spend the most time there. FLR has Madrid/Iberia, if that works for you. BA does LCY-FLR/FLR-LCY, so BA at FLR probably doesn't work for you because it would involve the LHR-LCY/LCY-LHR headache shuffle.
Thanks! Even beyond the LHR-LCY headache, my employer has certain routing for which they have negotiated rates and others that they don't. I'm allowed to fly in and out of Pisa or Bologna on OW, but they don't seem to allow any OW routings into/out of Florence.
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Old May 24, 17, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
Thanks for your help. My itinerary is going to look something like this:
Day 1: arrive at either Pisa or Bologna airport around 11:30am. This is the day I'm anticipating doing some sightseeing. I know that I'll be jetlagged, but I (unfortunately) take the overnight TATL flights to Europe enough that my body has gotten used to being able to go for a day on a few hours of sleep.
Day 2: Meeting in Pisa in the morning, starting between 9 and 10 (I'll have some flexibility on the meeting times). Expecting it to end in the early afternoon, and would then have the rest of the day free.
Day 3: Meeting in Arezzo in the morning, starting between 9 and 10. Expecting it to end in the early afternoon, and then have the rest of the day free.
Day 4: Departure from Pisa or Bologna airports around 12:30pm.
That leaves you some choices, I think you're going to have to pretty much eliminate a city.

You could land in Bologna and head into the city. I don't know what your luggage situation is. I'd only have a carry on. Store your luggage at the Bologna train station, do some sightseeing, and have lunch. You generally don't need reservations for lunch. Around 5 or 6, take the half hour train ride to Florence and check into a hotel. Walk around to see some sites, then have dinner in Florence (you'll need a reservation).

The next morning could be be tough. It's an hour train ride to Pisa, so you'll need to leave the hotel around 8 AM, which isn't easy after a late dinner. After the meeting in Pisa you can spend an hour or so looking around, then head back to Florence for more sight-seeing and lunch, but you'll probably want to sleep and have dinner in Arezzo. It's an hour away by train from Florence, sometimes longer depending on the train, so you don't want to make that trip early in the morning. It's too much to get up early in Florence and take 1+ hour train rides for 9AM meetings two days in a row.

After the meeting in Arezzo take the train back up to Florence, store your bag at the station, and explore Florence again, this time having lunch there. But you probably want to sleep in Bologna and fly out of there, so leave Florence in time for dinner in Bologna.

Some could argue to spend the last night in Florence and take the train to the Bologna airport for your 12:30 flight, but that's too stressful. You'd want to be at the airport around 10:30, and it's a 1.5 hour train ride. Any glitches with the train, and you miss your flight. Sleep in Bologna, and get to the airport relaxed.

This gives you 2 afternoons and an evening exploring Florence, lunch, dinner, and a hotel night in Florence. 1 day, and an evening exploring Bologna, lunch, dinner, and a hotel night in Bologna. Short shrift to Pisa and Arrezzo.

There are different variations you can do, but I'd play it something like that.
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Old May 24, 17, 12:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
That leaves you some choices, I think you're going to have to pretty much eliminate a city.

You could land in Bologna and head into the city. I don't know what your luggage situation is. I'd only have a carry on. Store your luggage at the Bologna train station, do some sightseeing, and have lunch. You generally don't need reservations for lunch. Around 5 or 6, take the half hour train ride to Florence and check into a hotel. Walk around to see some sites, then have dinner in Florence (you'll need a reservation).

The next morning could be be tough. It's an hour train ride to Pisa, so you'll need to leave the hotel around 8 AM, which isn't easy after a late dinner. After the meeting in Pisa you can spend an hour or so looking around, then head back to Florence for more sight-seeing and lunch, but you'll probably want to sleep and have dinner in Arezzo. It's an hour away by train from Florence, sometimes longer depending on the train, so you don't want to make that trip early in the morning. It's too much to get up early in Florence and take 1+ hour train rides for 9AM meetings two days in a row.

After the meeting in Arezzo take the train back up to Florence, store your bag at the station, and explore Florence again, this time having lunch there. But you probably want to sleep in Bologna and fly out of there, so leave Florence in time for dinner in Bologna.

Some could argue to spend the last night in Florence and take the train to the Bologna airport for your 12:30 flight, but that's too stressful. You'd want to be at the airport around 10:30, and it's a 1.5 hour train ride. Any glitches with the train, and you miss your flight. Sleep in Bologna, and get to the airport relaxed.

This gives you 2 afternoons and an evening exploring Florence, lunch, dinner, and a hotel night in Florence. 1 day, and an evening exploring Bologna, lunch, dinner, and a hotel night in Bologna. Short shrift to Pisa and Arrezzo.

There are different variations you can do, but I'd play it something like that.
thanks very much-- that is the sort of itinerary I was imagining. I appreciate your advice, and I'm glad to see there is a way to make good use of my non-work time, as I don't know when I'll get back to Italy again. I'm good with late nights and early mornings for a week- I do that regularly on my work trips, and then sleep it off when I get home. For the last night, I assume reservations would be required for a nice dinner in Bologna just as in Florence?
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Old May 24, 17, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by whimsey21 View Post
thanks very much-- that is the sort of itinerary I was imagining. I appreciate your advice, and I'm glad to see there is a way to make good use of my non-work time, as I don't know when I'll get back to Italy again. I'm good with late nights and early mornings for a week- I do that regularly on my work trips, and then sleep it off when I get home. For the last night, I assume reservations would be required for a nice dinner in Bologna just as in Florence?
Yes, definitely would obtain a reservation for dinner in both places.
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Old May 27, 17, 8:33 am
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BLQ is a better airport if you need to reroute or things go wrong, but PSA is a bit closer to Florence. I would not fly in/out of FLR for business on a tight itinerary (I mean the whole thing, not just flights), given that a little bit of fog can screw up your flights. I like FLR a lot, but for instance, last time through fog canceled my departure and they moved the flight to BLQ - had to hike up there, overnight in CDG, etc. I'm not dealing with that crap on a tight business trip, but on vacation, it's not as bad.

Looking at your itinerary, though, you have a meeting in Pisa, but not in Bologna. For the amount of time you're there, flying into PSA would give you more down time, since you can spend your arrival evening in Pisa, do your meetings the next day, then head to Florence or Arezzo. I'd make it easy and just cut Bologna out of this trip.
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Old May 27, 17, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by PWMTrav View Post
BLQ is a better airport if you need to reroute or things go wrong, but PSA is a bit closer to Florence. I would not fly in/out of FLR for business on a tight itinerary (I mean the whole thing, not just flights), given that a little bit of fog can screw up your flights. I like FLR a lot, but for instance, last time through fog canceled my departure and they moved the flight to BLQ - had to hike up there, overnight in CDG, etc. I'm not dealing with that crap on a tight business trip, but on vacation, it's not as bad.

Looking at your itinerary, though, you have a meeting in Pisa, but not in Bologna. For the amount of time you're there, flying into PSA would give you more down time, since you can spend your arrival evening in Pisa, do your meetings the next day, then head to Florence or Arezzo. I'd make it easy and just cut Bologna out of this trip.
That's certainly an option. I'm not in favor of trying to squeeze in a lot of cities in a short trip, but that seems to be what the OP wants to do. I'd personally just go to the meeting in Pisa, go to the meeting in Arezza, then back to Pisa so I'm near the airport. The OP seems to want to squeeze it all in, and says he's up to the task. Pisa, if it didn't have the Leaning Tower that has become famous, wouldn't have much to recommend it, and he can go to Piazza dei Miracoli and see it in an hour. Then, while it has some things to offer, it cannot compare with Bologna. Pisa is in some ways a small version of Florence, and is Tuscan. Bologna is in Emilia Romagna, and is completely different from Florence. It's another country. The food is different, the architecture is different. It's not just another part of Tuscany. Bologna, Modena, Parma, are completely different from Tuscany. The itinerary I suggested is not convenient, but it does allow him to get a bit of Pisa, Florence, Arezzo, and then get out of Tuscany and get a taste of Emilia Romagna in Bologna, and completely different cooking and architecture. The distance between the airport in Pisa to Florence, and the airport in Bologna to Florence is about the same, roughly 50 miles. There's just a few miles difference, depending on where you are going. They both take about an hour and fifteen minutes by train or taxi, so that's not much of a factor.
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Old May 27, 17, 10:53 am
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Is Arezza really only 1/5 hour = 12 minutes south of Florence?

Pisa and Florence are close. In fact, on one point, they used the same airport. I think of Bologna as being much farther away, even though the train times might be similar. As Perche pointed out, they're really different regions and cultures, including food and wine.

My advice would be to stay in Tuscany on this short trip. Don't try to do too much and allow some time in case things go wrong.

Since the purpose of the trip is business, I think the OP should be concerned with maximizing his/her effectiveness for the business aspect of the trip and not focus on tourism and other personal activities. I would fly into Pisa, go to a hotel in Pisa, and spend the remainder of the arrival day gently exploring Pisa a bit, but do not attempt to do everything. In the summer, there will be lines and crowds. After the meeting, go to Arezzo, check into a hotel, and again relax and gently explore that city a bit. After the meeting ends the next day, you could go to Florence (can you stay over the weekend to extend the business trip at your own expense?), but it would certainly be safer to stay close to the airport before a morning flight.
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Old May 27, 17, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Is Arezza really only 1/5 hour = 12 minutes south of Florence?

Pisa and Florence are close. In fact, on one point, they used the same airport. I think of Bologna as being much farther away, even though the train times might be similar. As Perche pointed out, they're really different regions and cultures, including food and wine.

My advice would be to stay in Tuscany on this short trip. Don't try to do too much and allow some time in case things go wrong.

Since the purpose of the trip is business, I think the OP should be concerned with maximizing his/her effectiveness for the business aspect of the trip and not focus on tourism and other personal activities. I would fly into Pisa, go to a hotel in Pisa, and spend the remainder of the arrival day gently exploring Pisa a bit, but do not attempt to do everything. In the summer, there will be lines and crowds. After the meeting, go to Arezzo, check into a hotel, and again relax and gently explore that city a bit. After the meeting ends the next day, you could go to Florence (can you stay over the weekend to extend the business trip at your own expense?), but it would certainly be safer to stay close to the airport before a morning flight.
That's exactly what I'd do. However, the OP seems determined to move around, and rest when he gets home. That's his choice, but I agree with you, I can't travel that way, squeezing in city after city, and then believing that you have actually visited that city when you were only there for hours.
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Old May 28, 17, 7:21 am
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Hi all,
I know that the itinerary I was proposing is quite hectic - I had actually started with the plan of flying into Pisa and staying there for the night, and then moving on. After looking into what there is to see in Pisa, I decided that I might end up making a trip over to Florence as well, given that it is hard to imagine being so close without taking a look (Florence has great PR here in the States). Once I had made that connection, I figured I'd simplify my life by just staying in one place through the trip and commuting to my meetings. I've found in my own travelling that the disruption of changing hotels every day is more of a pain than commuting on the train for an hour to/from a meeting-- I'm used to the latter, as I have a 1 hour each way commute to work when I'm at home. I tend to use the train time to focus myself on the upcoming meeting and what I plan to do/say.
Also-- please don't think that I'm going to leave "believing that you have actually visited that city when you were only there for hours." I'm fully cognizant that it would take many days in each of these locations to even see them in part; I'm more looking to get a flavor for each place, see a sight or two, and have some good meals and gelato. I often use these work visits as "scouting trips" for future family vacations, to help determine which places my kids would enjoy visiting more or less, since we have very limited vacation time and so many places we'd like to go as a family. I also can't extend my time on this particular trip, as I have to be back for family stuff...

Anyhow, that said, I do understand what you're saying, and given that you're all very experienced travelers, I'm rethinking my plans. If I go with the more relaxed approach you are suggesting (fly into Pisa, night there, next night in Arezzo), I'm still wondering about the last night. I did some research on my options out of both Pisa and Bologna, and within the constraints of the flights i'm allowed to take, Bologna gives me many more options for getting home if something goes wrong with my planned departure flight. As such, i'm torn between staying that last night in Florence (to stay in Tuscany, as suggested by MSPeconomist) or to go straight up to Bologna and stay there, to be closer to the airport so there's no risk of issues in the morning. Several of you have suggested staying near the airport - are there particular risks with train delays and such in Italy, or is this just the general "things sometimes go wrong when travelling" concern that might be alleviated by extra buffer time in the morning?
Thanks for your thoughts!
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