Florence

I loved Florence the first time I was here in 1983 and enjoyed it this second time too. So much art. So many people!

Day 1: Monterosso al Mare to Florence

We were an hour early for our train of course. Staff were informative, warning of pickpockets operating on the trains and where roughly each car would land on the platform. We had first class seats to Pisa?! The train was late but so was our connection. Which was crowded, with no room for bags and everyone got off at Florence. It was easy getting to our hotel since we navigated by the Duomo and then from there.

We walked to the Uffizi to make sure we know what’s going on tomorrow morning when we visit and pick up tickets, then to the Baptistery where we had to go in one at a time because we couldn’t take the daypack in. The Baptistery is beautiful inside and out and we jostled with other visitors for photos of the famous door.  Then to the supermarket for wine and milk for coffee.

We had reservations down the road for New Bridge Pizza where we had some of the best pizza of our trip and a fancy recliner for our wine. We walked around the neighborhood afterwards. We got a kick out of the cannabis vending machine — we missed the leaf and had to see what was so expensive — and some of the locals in the surrounding cafes got a kick out of us getting a kick out of it. 

Day 2: The Uffizi and Closures

We were at the Uffizi at 8:10 to pick up tickets. We were able to get all our tickets since they were on one order. We bought ours direct from the official museum site, B-ticket. You can get there from the Uffizi website (and others, though that’s easy) and can purchase tickets for the Uffizi, the Accademia, the Bargello, and others. Various combo tickets are available, so it’s best to have an idea of everything you want to visit before you start.

We bought the:

  • Passepartout 5 day ticket covering the Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, National Archaeological Museum and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure. (We didn’t visit the last two.)
  • Bargello Cumulative Ticket for the Museo del Bargello, Cappelle Medicee, Palazzo Davanzati, Orsanmichele (closed), and Casa Martelli.
  • Accademia ticket (no combo available).

You first schedule a date and time for the main museum. Select Reduced and combo to see ticket bundles and other prices, choose the number of tickets and add them to the cart. Repeat as needed.

Read carefully! We ended up going to the Uffizi early because mattina (morning) was the only option I saw and I thought those were the only time slots available. Wrong!

Caravaggio Bacchus

We’d planned to go to Chapel Bransacci but it was closed that day. We did go to Santo Spirito, a nice but not wonderful church. We crossed the Arno for the first time at the Ponte Vecchio.

The Oltrarno is a quieter neighborhood and a pleasant place for a walk.

We then hit the Pitti Palace, mostly for the costumes part. We climbed to the top floor only to learn it is closed for renovations. So were the Royal Apartments — though we got to see a bathroom — so we sped through the Palatine section and left. (There was no signage, only a poor attendant who gave me a weary “closed, madam” when I asked.) 

The recommended bakery was also closed, but we found another. We were tired and thirsty so we had a siesta then went to the Duomo museum but it closed randomly at 3:00pm that day! So we walked to Piazza della Repubblica, where my heart went haywire (I have SVT). We had an excellent meal — best of the trip so far — at Lo Scudo. We could have had Florentine steak but decided that was too much rare steak even for us.

Day 3: L'Accademia and the Duomo Museum

We had tickets for the Accademia at 10:00 am. David is still there, looking to take out Goliath. 

David statue head

We then cruised through the Mercato Centrale and some of the surrounding stalls but didn’t see anything to buy.

sun behind dome

We hit the Duomo museum on the way back to the hotel, after another stop at a bakery and a supermarket. 

cathedral component

Dinner was at Trattoria le Mossacce, a small place with an open kitchen. We shared a table with a local family and had osso bucco, peposo, tortellini, tortelli with spicy tomato sauce, and some Chianti. 

trattoria open kitchen
trattoria menu

Day 4: The Bargello and the Boboli Gardens

The Bargello was our highlight museum of the day at 10:00 am. It’s taking us about 1.5 hours per museum. The Bargello is mainly sculpture — lots of Donatello — but there are other interesting tidbits too. Like these very old clock pieces and parts.

clock parts

After the Bargello we crossed the Arno again and walked around the central part of the enormous Boboli Gardens.

fountain

We had tickets for the Palazzo Davanzati as part of our Bargello combo ticket. We didn’t know what to expect but we found a hidden jewel of a palace, restored to how it would have looked in the Renaissance. Highly recommended!

dining room

We mixed things up today and had a late lunch of calamari and tagliatelle ragu — I’m not going to make it to Bologna again this trip but this is the closest we’ll be — at La Bossola with an IPA.

Below you can see how crowded the area around the Duomo can get. We never did wait in line to go inside, which we heard is not that interesting anyway.

Day 5: Piazzale Michelangelo

Today’s main event was walking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. We got a nice view of the Ponte Vecchio on the way. 

There are spectacular views of Florence at the top and the climb wasn’t as bad as we were expecting.

view of Florence

We took the long way back following the road. It was nice to walk without dodging crowds. We really wanted a beer and it took some work to find a place that was open. We ended up at the Lion’s Fountain Irish pub for Guinness. We had two and were somehow charged for one. The bakery was closed so we got lemon cake from the supermarket for breakfast. After siesta and showers we hit the Medici Chapels on our way to dinner. 

interior detail of chapels

Here’s one last look at the Duomo.

Essentials​

Lodging

We stayed at Hotel Dalì, in a great location near the Duomo. Spacious room, gracious, helpful hosts. We were worried about no A/C but it wasn’t needed. The fan worked great and it was near 90F/32C when we were there. Not fancy but lots of character and comfortable. It can be harder to find during the day when the neon sign isn’t lit. There is a large plaque next to the doorway.

hotel room

Dining

We ate at some nearby restaurants that were great, including pizza at New Bridge, a lovely steak meal at Lo Scudo and local specialties at Trattoria la Mossache. Ironically the pizza at SimBIOsi that we walked across town for was merely okay.

Transportation

Florence is compact and walkable.