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Tuscany from Pisa

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Mouth of the Arno

Having sailed happily enough from Caparaia (great) to Livorno, where we got stuck for a couple of days - not so great - and then set off for Pisa with a comfortable weather forecast. Snag, the further north we sailed the stronger it got, and straight onshore. It is also shallow so waves get steep very quickly. By the time we reached Pisa Marina, it was blowing F5 and the seas were around 2m. We confirm that you should only consider entering the marina in calm weather. It is hard to think of a worse designed entrance.

This left me with two choices: turn back to Livorno and face mutiny on board, or attempt the Arno estuary. We opted for the second. (See above). If you try the same; stick to the port side of the channel - there is a bit more water. We were to starboard with a notional 2m over the sandbar - a scary experience with our 1.65m draft. We headed for Boccadarno Boat Services run by the charming Danilo and used it as a base for a trip home and for touring Tuscany when we returned.

A cruising yacht can become a hotel room/BNB appartment in addition to the pure pleasure of sailing and visiting new harbours, and so it was for us. From Boccadarno, we went to the airport and hired a car for a few days and visited Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Sienna, and Pisa itself. Almost all the famous Tuscan town are closed to cars so for Florence we returned the hire car and took a bus to get there and a train to return.

We are not travel authors so will not try to be. What we can say is that if any reader is thinking of such a trip, go right ahead! Mooring fees on the Arno are less than a hotel night. For no particular reason that we can identify, we loved Lucca, were underwhelmed by San Gimignano (much too touristy for us), enjoyed Volterra very much thanks to Danilo telling us to go there, and were totally overwhelmed by the beauty of Sienna. Its cathedral alone is worth a trip from the other end of earth.

We stayed for almost a week in Florence but ended up ambiguous in our feelings. Yes there are places of outstanding cultural interest, but both the Pitti Palace and the Uffizzi gallery felt overwhelming as well as enriching, particularly the Pitti - pictures shown sometimes four high is just too much for us. The Palazzo Vecchio - above all the ceilings - was however a great joy. Even in the short week that we were there, we did not "do" everything that we wanted, but the undying memory is of Sienna.

We both hope that others will find the time to do something similar.

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