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I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Livorno Ship Tour: Pisa and A Taste Of Tuscany

When my cruise on the Norwegian Epic stopped in Livorno I decided to do the tour called: Pisa and A Taste of Tuscany.  Although the port of Livorno is primarily known for servicing Florence, Florence is actually an hour to two from the port.  Having been to Florence previously I decided to do something different. Pisa and Tuscany!

This is one of those big group tours from the cruise line and when I say big group I mean that there were multiple busses doing the same tour, so we're talking about over 200 people on this tour.  But, compared to some other big bus tours I have taken, this one didn't feel quite as heardy or touristy as I've experienced in the past.

We had an early meeting in a dining room, though not nearly as early as some of the other tours that left the ship this day, 8:30 am.  Sailing alone I had hoped to meet some people on excursions, it turned out I had already met several people who were on my tour and was on a bus with 3 of them.

The first part of the tour went to Pisa, on the way our tour guide spoke about the region of Tuscany. Once we arrived we parked in a bus parking area we took a 5-10 minute walk to the tower and then got some information about the leaning tower and the other buildings.  Then we got some free time, I think we had an hour before our meeting time, plenty of time to take photos and do some shopping or have a drink at one of the local street vendors.  I will talk about the Pisa in the next few weeks, but I will say that if you got rid of the hordes of tourists, this would be a nice place to visit.

After Pisa we went to a winery for a tour and lunch.  This winery had a stunning setting - it had that old, fancy farm feel and was nestled within the surrounding hills.  We got a quick tour, which was just fine with me since I've been on winery tours in the past.  If you want an in-depth tour of a winery, this is not it. Though the staff was very friendly and answered any questions asked.  We also learned a little bit about making olive oil.

After that we had lunch, lunch was served in tents outside, which we had perfect weather for.  There were some smaller tents (see the photos) that were heavenly.  However, we were in a much larger tent that fit several busses of guests.  This was a nice setting, but not as dreamy as the smaller tents. But the food was fabulous and we were given suggestions on which wines to drink with each course.  I personally didn't like any of the wines, they were too dry for me.  But, they had the best balsamic vinegar ever! The olive oil was also very good. We were given the opportunity to purchase the olive oil and vinegar as well as a few other items. The lunch was a couple different courses of light foods - pasta, meats, breads.

After that we returned to the ship with a little time to enjoy the ship before all the full day tours returned to the ship.  This tour only took about 5 and a half to 6 hours.  I thought it was a very nice tour for anyone who wants to have an experience other then Florence.  While I do try to avoid some of the big group tours, they tend to have a much less authentic feel, this was one of the better big group tours I have taken with a cruise line.  It also allowed me to save my energy for the next day in Rome!

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