This was one of my favourite places on my Italian trip, I fell in love with the city. It has all the charm you expect of Rome but on a smaller scale. It has beautiful views, museums and architecture.
PEOPLE AND FOOD
The people were really friendly in Florence. I think the huge volume of tourists that they deal with has something to do with that and there are ALOT of tourists. Some places for food include Amici di Ponte Vecchio Da Stefano and Trattoria Za Za. There is also so many places to stop and get a gelato when the heat just gets overbearing.I would highly recommend the coconut or chocolate chip gelato.
PLACES TO STAY
I stayed at the Black 5 Florence, it was really great. It was extremely clean,modern and most important central to all the main attractions. I would definitely stay there again as the owners were very helpful and accommodating.Only one negative,there is no lift and you have some stairs to climb. I didn’t mind but if you had mobility issues or large suitcases then it might be a problem.
THINGS TO DO
There is so much to do and see in Florence!! I first went to the Uffizi Gallery which is home to masterpieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello and Giotto. It is definitely worth the visit and entry was €12.50. Next up was a trip to see Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’ Accademia, it really is impressive and entry cost €8.00. I got the €15 ticket which allows entry into the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum. I also went to see the Giardino Boboli which was a nice change from the indoor museums and you can relax on the lawn or under the shade of a tree if you are tired or need a break from the heat. The entry was €10 but I just went to the gardens, it costs extra for the museum. One of the most beautiful parts of my trip to Florence was watching the sunset from the Piazzale Michelangelo,the views are stunning and I’ll definitely do it again when I go back. Fortunately, it is free so you can either climb the steps to get to it or you could take a taxi if you are unable to climb the steps. There is also a free outdoor museum called Piazza della Signoria which is worth a look,the Ponte Vecchio or old bridge is worth a look too.Here you will find music being played, old style shops and food stalls on the bridge like olden times. This is just some of the main attractions but there are other places to see in Florence, these were just the ones I was lucky enough to get to visit.
First things first, Florence is VERY busy in peak times!If you want to see the Bell Tower, Duomo and Cupola then you need to be there first thing in the morning. It took me 3 days to get to see the Duomo and climb the Cupola as it was so busy and they get booked out,sometimes even by 10.30 am.Even at that, getting there first thing in the morning, I still had to wait nearly 2 hours to do the climb. The Bell tower has amazing views also and is slightly easier to get into but not much, I think that was about an 1hour wait!Also bring lots of water as its very hot in august or be smart and go at a cooler time of the year. The stairways are very narrow so wear comfy shoes, in some parts two people can barely pass.The €15 ticket can be bought at the Bell Tower. There will be one queue for the bell tower, one queue for the Duomo/Cupola climb and the Cathedral is a separate queue and ticket and they are very strict about women covering both shoulders and knees. All the queues can get very confusing so ensure you are in the right one for the area you want to visit. Also, we waited nearly 2 hours to get to see Michelangelo’s David, the line moved relatively well but it can get VERY hot waiting in the sun.All these attractions have Skip the Queue options online which I heard about as I was waiting in line!!So if you are not the patient type or you are not able to stand for long periods of time then it may be worth paying the extra bit to skip the queue. Another thing is everything is close together in Florence so you don’t really need to get a taxi.Get a good tourist map from the people where you are staying and walk if you are fit enough, plus you won’t feel so bad when you are having your 5th Gelato of the day if you have walked a lot!I got the Trenitalia train from Pisa to Firenze and it cost €8.40. Also be aware that sometimes in Italy their can be two or more stations with the same first name, this is the case with Florence. You have Firenze Santa Maria Novella or SMN for short which is the main city centre station that I arrived into but there are at least 7 other stations around Florence that start with Firenze. It’s the name after it that you have to watch for when booking tickets and when getting off. I just realised my tips section has gone ridiculously long but there was one more thing about Florence that you may get caught on that is funny….using the wash basin in some restaurants/bar toilets. If they are very old style they may not have a tap to turn on the water but there could be a peddle under the sink that you press with your foot.
I LOVED FLORENCE, it’s hustle and bustle, it’s art which is everywhere. I had come from Pisa and La Spezia which were very chilled out but even tho Florence was hot (34c average),sticky, thronged with tourists, queues everywhere, I still loved it! I just wish I had more time there as there were still things I missed out on. It just gives me an excuse to go back again soon.
So safe travels & have a good day!x