All Mediterranean cruises are different. I particularly love the western coast of Italy with it's sheer mountainous hillsides, peering out over the sparkling waters of the mediterranean. The white painted houses dotted on the landscape with their terracotta rooftops. It's picture postcard perfect. Our journey from the ship was via luxury coach. I daresay it reminded me of the closing scene of “The Italian Job”. I half expected to see Eva Longoria whizzing by me with the top down on her Ferrari. Anyway, I digress. Our all inclusive mediterranean cruise didn’t fail to impress.

You are literally inches away from the precipice. A white knuckle ride on our coach was exhilarating although it did make reading the tour guide almost impossible and photos were just a blur. But at least we had our delightful host Mario to give us the low-down on what to expect on our day in Florence.

Sleep fishing villages passed us by with colourful boats bobbing in the water. Old men dozed in shady terraces of whitewashed houses backing onto olive groves and row after row of citrus trees.

Our cruise ship docked in Livorno which is the main port servicing the Tuscany region. Florence is a 60 minute drive from the port. A drive through fields of sunflowers resplendent in the early morning sun. The vineyards seemed to beckon us as we gazed through out from our air-conditioned coach. Despite it not yet being ten in the morning. Oh well, plenty of time to make up for that later I thought.

I was particularly taken by the number of medieval villages we passed with their crumbling walls and ancient edifices. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is probably Tuscany’s best known monument. I was amazed that most of the buildings hadn’t collapsed with their ancient and crumbling structures. But this just added to the charm of the villages. In actual fact, the Leaning Tower of Pisa could be seen far off in the distance as our bus swept us past the sloping vineyards.

Our stay was short in Florence. So for what it’s worth, these are my recommendations if you are ever lucky enough to visit.

Firstly, there are several ways to get from your ship to the Florence. Car, train or coach.

The cruise lines will organise this for you if you prefer. If you’re a first time cruiser, then I strongly recommend you let the cruise line or your  cruise travel agent organise it. After all, they are the experts. And you are on holiday. So let them take the stress and strain off you. The shore excursion is generally a 90 minute journey from Livorno Port but along the way you will learn a great deal from the accompanying tour guide as he shares a locals insight into the fascinating culture and history of this part of Italy. After all, Tuscany has more history and culture to offer than most big cities.