Sorry this took a while. I promise I will try and be more regular with my blogposts. I am still working on my blog series about my travels in Italy. If you haven’t yet, read my blogpost on Venice to learn a little about the city and what I did there. My next stop was Florence, one of my favorite cities in Italy. I just loved all the history and culture associated with it. I’ve become obsessed with the Medici’s and I binge watched the entire series (Medici: Masters of Florence) on Netflix before I went here. That made my trip even more enjoyable as I was able to relate to the history and art associated with each place I visited and really appreciate the context and underlying stories. The Medici’s were one of the richest families and Florentine bankers who contributed significantly to the development of the city through their patronage and sponsorship of the arts.
I stayed at the Westin Excelsior in the center of the city. This is a beautiful hotel, and our room had a beautiful balcony overlooking the Arno River and the city.
I took the 10 AM train from Venice to Florence (about 2 hours). It’s super convenient and generally has power points and internet. You can buy the tickets in advance online. After settling into the hotel, I made my way to the city center (which was walking distance from the hotel). Florence is very compact and walkable. Got some quick lunch from a sandwich place and then went to the Duomo area as most of the attractions are around here.
This is an attraction which is a combination of a number of things. You can buy one ticket online which has everything included. The cathedral was built first and then the dome was later added on top of it. The exterior is a beautiful color combination of pink, white and green. Entrance to the Cathedral is free.
A climb up the cupola (interior, and top of the dome) will need tickets in advance with designated timeslots. So plan your visit accordingly. There are a bunch of stairs to go up and it gets quite narrow and windy at the top. I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you feel claustrophobic. Though the views from the top are mesmerizing.
The next thing you can do is climb up the bell tower. This has a view of the cathedral and cupola from the top.
If you’re interested, you can also visit the baptistery, the small structure in the plaza.
Tickets (Cost) : €18
Florence’s beautiful carousel. The walk from the Piazza della Republica is filled with some of Florence’s most high-end shopping. You can find great leather goods here. Though I would highly suggest you checkout the outlets near Florence. I stopped there on my way from Florence to Pisa and they had some amazing brands such as Prada, Gucci etc. at great prices.Florence is the center of Italian leatherwork and many of the worlds leading brands such as Gucci and Ferragamo are Florentine.
This is a beautiful bridge on the Arno river that has views of Florence and the canal. I went here to watch the sunset and it was amazing. There are lots of jewelers and art shops here if you’re looking to purchase something.
Dinner: We had dinner at Osteria Personale. It was a very chic place with some awesome food options. I would highly suggest making advance reservations.
Fun to visit if you have some extra time. The collection here is very chic and you can buy small things if you’d like. For bigger purchases, I would suggest going to the outlets nearby.
2) Uffizi Museum
I would highly recommend you buy tickets for all your museum visits online in advance. Especially on such a short trip, since you don’t want to be stuck in line or not be able to visit. Despite having tickets, it took me almost an hour and half in line to get inside. The best way to see this Museum in my opinion is to download the Rick Steve’s Audio Guide. His tour guides you through the highlights, including the top 10 paintings to see, along with the stories behind them. . It’s so much more fun to see the museum that way and understand all the artwork. It took me about 2 hours to go through this museum.
There is a multituide of coffee shops and restaurants outside if you want to grab a quick lunch or snack before moving on with your day.
Cost: €48 for combo tickets with Academia
3) Galeria Del Academia
Similar to the Uffizi, I would recommend you buy tickets for this online and in advance and also download the audio guide for this. I brought a combination ticket for both The Uffizi and Academia which saved me some money. This museum took me about half an hour to cover and the main highlight here is the statue of David. It’s amazing how every nerve, expression etc. is carved and the statue is so unique from every angle. The musical instrument display and unfinished Michelangelo works (Pietas) are worth seeing too.
4) San Lorenzo Market
Walk here to buy some nice scarves and cheap leather goods if you’re interested.
5) Mercato Centrale
This is sort of like a big food court with local delicacies and wine. I would recommend the Gnocchi and the Pappa Pomodoro. It’s so nice and fresh with the tangy base and flavors. After eating a nice meal, I decided to rest up for a bit in my hotel room and then head out to watch the sunset and get dinner.
6) Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo
This was a 45 minute walk from my hotel. The expansive city views from this vista point are stunning. We took some champagne to enjoy while watching the sunset. There are also talented street musicians playing beautiful music – all of these elements create an amazing atmosphere.
Here are some more pictures:
That’s all for now. Next, I will post about some quick stops we made on our way to the other cities and our next destination – Cinque Terre. Until then!
Thank you for visiting.