Meeting Your Trip in PISA or EMPOLI

On this page, you will find information about meeting your trip in PISA. Topics include...

We suggest that you print these pages out, and bring a copy with you to your trip.

When and Where:
In Pisa, on Sunday morning at 9a, at our “usual hotel” (the one on the trip's hotel list), even if you are staying somewhere else.  Your Coordinator will materialize at breakfast by then.  Pisa is a mid-sized city just east of the Mediterranean, a 3-hour ride north of Rome by express train.


At the Empoli station, between 11a and noon, also on Sunday.
Empoli is a small town at the midpoint of the Florence-to-Pisa rail line.   If this is where you are joining the trip (and you have made your own travel arrangements to get there), be sure that we understand that this is your plan.  Arrangments must be made to send your bike there.   This alternate meeting is discussed below, in a separate note.   You will generally meet the trip in Empoli if you are arriving via a Saturday overnight sleeper train, or travelling directly to the trip from elsewhere in Italy on Sunday morning.

Included in Your Access Package, if you subscribed to it:
A train ticket to Pisa or Empoli, as well as a detailed timetable of the train for which you are reserved, if any.

If you are arriving via Pisa, a hotel room in Pisa is also included.  If you are arriving via an overnight train, a couchette berth is included on board the train (or a sleeper berth if you chose to upgrade).

Travel Documents will have been sent to you in advance, unless you are arriving via Paris, in which case they will be supplied by our Paris office.  You will receive either a train ticket, or a railpass with accompanying explanation regarding its use, and a schedule for the train that you have reserved.

Getting to the Trip
The following routings are described.  You may follow the link to jump directly to yours, or just scroll down.

Information on getting to your hotel from the Pisa station is offered at the start of the next section, “Practical Information.”

If you are meeting the trip in Empoli instead of Pisa, information on that meet is offered below.

From Rome

Getting into the City from Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
A shuttle train (the “Leonardo Express”) runs every half hour to the main “Termini” rail station, making the trip in half an hour.
This is a non-stop service, originating at the airport, terminating at the “Termini” station, and with no intermediate stops... designed to be “jet-lag friendly” (in other words, hard to screw up).   Price is 17€ (2014), and the train is spacious, designed to handle passengers with luggage.

If you want to get fancy, or are going elsewhere in the city, a cheaper train (half the price) designed for the locals (poorly signed, makes lots of confusing and badly-labeled stops, gets crowded with rush hour commuters...) departs the airport every 15 minutes.  It is generally bound for “Roma Tiburtina,” but sometimes travels on past Rome, towards Fara or Orte.  If you are connecting to Pisa, you can ride this train to the 8th stop, Roma Osteinse (which is not the final stop for the train):  a 30-minute trip.  To help you identify your stop, the two previous ones are Via Bonelli, and Roma Trastevere, respectively 8” and 4” prior to arrival at Ostiense.  If you fall asleep and miss Ostiense, the following two stops are Roma Toscolana and Roma Tiburtina.  If you find yourself at one of those, get off, and catch the every-15-minute service back in the other direction.

Travelling from Rome to Pisa
Once you reach Termini (or Ostiense), catch the next train to Pisa.  Expresses currently (2014) depart Termini roughtly every two hours, generally 3 minutes before every even hour, with last trains at 4:57p and 6:27p.  Expresses in the 10a and 4p hours stop also at Ostiense.

In addition, locals depart shortly after every even hour (last train in the 8p hour), taking 4 hours to make the run. 

All express trains require that you reserve seats.

If a seat reservation is required, it will be available until just minutes before departure, provided you can get through the ferocious queues at the ticket windows.  Or, you may book your ticket though us, including a reserved seat.  Different fares offer different levels of flexibility:  we recommend a long connection or a flexible ticket if you are connecting off of a plane.

To help you locate the next departing train on the departure monitors:  they all have one of Pisa, Turin (“Torino”), Genova, Savona or Ventimiglia as their final destination.  Journey time on an express is a shade over 3 hours.  

If you just miss a train, take the following local, or ask at information if a quicker service is available via a connection in Florence. This route takes no longer, but it costs more, and the train change is a pain....

From Milan
A frequent bus service runs from Linate) to Milano Centrale station.  We suggest taking this, especially if you are at Malpensa, since the trip from Malpensa is quite a long one, and thus expensive by taxi.  We do not recommend the tempting airport train, which runs to its own city-center terminal, and not to the main railway station.

From Milan “Centrale” station, take the next train to Pisa.  Here are the useful direct trains on this line, currently (2014) scheduled at 8h10a, 13h10, 16h05, 17h05, 18h05 and 19h05.   All but the 17h05 require that you reserve a seat in order to ride.  This can be done through us, or in the station until minutes prior to departure, provided that space is available, and you can get through the ticket line.  Journey time is roughly 4 hours.

Otherwise, faster (and more expensive) trains run via a connection in Florence, every hour (journey time about 3 hours). 

From Florence
The Florence airport is small, and not many people arrive here via air.  If you do, the airport is reasonably close to the town, and served by a city bus which runs to the main station (called S.M.N., or Santa Maria Novella) every 20 - 30 minutes.

Trains from Florence to Pisa Centrale are frequent, 2 or 3 per hour, and tickets are not train-specific.  They can be used on any train without formality.  Journey time is a bit over an hour, up to an hour and a half if you catch a local.  Use caution, as most trains continue beyond Pisa Centrale, to the Pisa Airport, to Livorno, or elsewhere.  Pay attention after the first hour of the ride, and get off when you come to a huge station with 10 or 15 tracks.  That will be Pisa Centrale.

From Nice, Switzerland, or Elsewhere via Daylight Train
Trains from Nice require a connection at the French / Italian border, and another in Genova.  Daylight trains from other points require a connection in either Milan or Florence.  If you are coming from another point than Rome or Milan via daylight train, and set up your travel through us, you will presumably have received a detailed schedule for the trip, showing connection points.

From Paris, or from Elsewhere via Overnight Train
The overnight trains from Paris, Munich, Vienna... require reservations.  They offer accommodations of various sorts on board, up to and including private cabins.  The Paris train also offers a dining car.  It departs Paris (Gare de Bercy) the evening before your trip meeting, at about 8p (consult your ticket for the exact departure time).  Your tickets will be waiting for you in our Paris office.

Assuming you take this train on Saturday night, you will meet your trip on Sunday in Empoli, instead of going all the way to Pisa.  Information on this alternate meet is offered at the bottom of this sheet.

Arriving Pisa by Plane
The Pisa airport is just minutes from the city center.  There is a cheap train — a euro or two, ticket bought from a machine, change required — but which runs irregularly, and you can wait a while for one to come.  It takes about 5 minutes to make the trip once it does, and the downtown “Centrale” station is the first stop for all trains departing the airport. 

A taxi would probably run 15€ with a tip.

Practical Information in Pisa

Finding Your Hotel.
Our usual hotel is across the street from the main (“Centrale”) station.  Exit the front of the station, following the broad avenue that leads away from it.  In the first block, a covered passage leads off to the left.  The hotel, Albergo La Pace, is in this passage, on your left.  Be sure to give the name “Blue Marble” when you check in:  the hotel should have a rooming list.  Your trip’s Coordinator generally arrives late this evening, and can be called upon in case of emergency.

Albergo La Pace
Via Gramsci,14 (Galleria B)
56125 Pisa, ITALIA
Tel. (39) (050) 293 51 or 488 63.  Fax (39) (050) 502 266.

Arriving in Pisa with Your Bike
Ask (politely) at reception where to stow it.  They usually store it in a hallway on the ground floor.

Combatting Jet Lag
Trips starting with our Tuscany itinerary assemble on Sunday morning, but if you arrive via a Saturday train we will have reserved a hotel room for you.  If you have just landed from North America, we strongly suggest that you not use that hotel room, at least until 11p or so, since even a short nap when you arrive will ensure that you are wide awake and raring to go between 2 and 6a for the next couple of days.

Getting Advance Information on Tomorrow's Ride, Contacting Your Coordinator
Tomorrow’s route sheets (the daily documents we distribute to describe that day's route) will be available this evening if we arranged your hotel room in Pisa.  They will hopefully be placed in your room’s mailbox at reception by your harried, but smiling, Coordinator.  He will typically spend the night at the trip's “usual” hotel, and you can leave a note for him there if you need to reach him in advance for any reason.

Laundry can be found in Pisa (for those who may be coming from other journeys). The nearest is out the station door, turn right, and its a few blocks along on the left. Another, near the Duomo (103 Via Santa Maria), is open usually from 8am - 10pm. Next laundry is in Siena.

Internet can be found near the laundry, or there is an internet corner in our usual hotel.

What to do With Your Time in Pisa
Pisa is not the prettiest of towns, though it has a cheerful bustle to it if you arrive before the stores close.  It is, of course, famous for its leaning tower, part of a remarkable ensemble that is much more than the tower alone.

You can taxi to the tower, of course, but a city bus makes the trip every 20 minutes from the railroad station, just feet from our hotel.... Ask which one at the hotel reception, but if memory serves, it may be the red line.  Tickets for city buses in Italy cannot generally be bought on board, but there is a bus ticket window by the bus stop, and if it is closed you may purchase bus tickets from the newsstand inside the station.  You could walk to the tower if you had your heart set on it, but it is actually some distance, and there is nothing particularly pretty to recommend the walk.

Saturday Dinner Option
The nature of our Blue Marble trip coordinator's work in Pisa (late arrival in town with lots of administration to handle) is such that we have not spent much time exploring local dinner options.  Here is one, though:

“Lo Schiaccianoci,” Via Vespucci 104A, Tel:  050.21024.  Turn right out of La Pace and then straight across the 4 lanes of traffic, thru the little alley you see on the other side.  It is 100m ahead. They accept credit cards.  Good service and the locals seem to like the place, which is always a good sign, except in Scotland.

If that doesn't suit you, a simple restaurant can be found by turning left out of La Pace's gallery, and following the main street that leads away from the station a few blocks to the edge of the old town.  There is a restaurant at this busy intersection of the “Cheap n' Cheerful” variety.

If you find something you like better, bring us a business card!

Meeting in Empoli instead of Pisa
If you have chosen to spend the night prior to the trip (Saturday) in Florence or Venice, or are travelling to Pisa via overnight train (generally via Florence), you will meet the cycle trip in Empoli, instead of in Pisa, though also on Sunday morning.  The Empoli meeting is at the railway station, between 11a and noon (your Coordinator normally arrives there by train from Pisa at around 11a).

Please, if this is where you intend to meet us, and you have made your own travel arrangements, be sure that we know your arrival plans in advance.  Otherwise, your bike will be back in Pisa!

Empoli is the midpoint on the Florence-to-Pisa rail line.  All trains travelling from Florence to any of Pisa, Livorno or Siena, stop in Empoli.  Service is about every half hour, and the latest train you can take to get to the meeting point on time departs Florence at about 11a.

If you are coming from Venice, this means taking a Venice-to-Florence train with a departure from Venice circa 8:30a (see your ticket for exact time).  If you arrive via this route, we will have sent you a train-specific ticket as far as Florence (specific train, coach and seat), and an “open” ticket for the Florence-to-Empoli local.  Trip time from Florence to Empoli is half an hour, and trains are frequent.

You will find your group on the platform where the station building sits, or in the little park in front of the station, milling about their bikes, raising and lowering their seats, and eyeing each other suspiciously.

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