Firenze Card

Hi, I will be in Florence at the end of April/beginning of May. I plan to get the Firenze card - can you really SKIP all the lines with the card, or is better to make a reservation? (I've read mixed reviews). I've priced it out, and I will be at a "break even" roughly if I get it versus paying as I go; and I think with it I may end up viewing a few more places I wouldn't go to without it. Just don't want to be in long lines... Thanks so much.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

Cat , We were just there in October and allow me to give you a personal perspective . I think the big mistake is to think there is a an appreciable difference in price for admission relative to how you do it . That being said , We booked a confirmed reservation for both the Accademia and the Uffizi several months in advance. Probably cost a couple of Euro more , but we felt it was the best approach . The playout was an education : The lines at the Uffizi were all loooong . including reserved tickets , but compared to the firenze card line and the ticket buying line it was much better . Whatever you choose you must still allow an hour to get you to the gate, the ticket BUYING line is still much worse ! If you have a reservation and allow an hour , and things move faster , you will just get in faster . The Accademia is a different story . The lines are long but they move more quickly because while there is a great sculpture collection there , the central attraction is the David . As a result , most visitors are in and out ! Generally speaking the other museums, while they can be busy pose no difficulty in entering relativly fast . When we went to the Pitti palace ( Palatine Gallery , a must see ) we went right in and florence was mobbed ( late september 2012 ) . The card is a good idea , but still be prepared for some ( hour ) wait time at the Uffizi . Florence is wonderful!!

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Thanks, Steven! I really appreciate the first hand experience info. I'm thinking I'll get the card. From what I've read, Uffizi sounds like a great place to start for an introduction to Renaissance art. I'll plan on still having a wait, but hopefully avoid the super long line. Did you have any favorites of Florence (or Tuscany?).
Thx again!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2499 posts

Another couple of sites: the Bargello museum and Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo's house), and Orsanmichele. May be covered by the Firenze card.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2499 posts

Cat, I got a ticket to the Accademia museum in July from the ticket window across the street, the "next available reservation" was about 15 minutes, and I was able to skip the line there. I had a reservation for the Uffizi as well, and it only took about 15 minutes to get to the entrance. At the Accademia, go up to the picture galleries on the upper floors - a good collection of Medieval and Renaissance paintings and never as crowded as the Uffizi. After (or before) the Accademia, go up the same street (Via Ricasoli) a few blocks to the Museum of San Marco. It's never crowded and up a flight of stairs you will find the Dominican friars' rooms each have a fresco by Fra Angelico. It gives an "in situ" perspective on Renaissance religious art. The museum used to be a Dominican convent. I also enjoyed the Museo dell' Opere del Duomo (museum of the works of the Cathedral), which contains many original pieces from the Duomo, and don't miss the Baptistry interior (beautiful mosaics).

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

Cat , one or two other comments to help make your visit more meaningful : While I understand what you mean about seeing the Uffizi as an introduction to renaissance art , I think that you should view it as a cumulative repository of the great works . Do yourself a BIG favor and spend some time BEFORE you go to Florence familiarizing yourself with some of the history of renaissance Italy and learning a bit about some of the major artists such as Fra Angelico , Lippi , Botticelli , Ghirlandaio , Raphael and Titian to name only a handful . The stories of their lives and art that intertwine read like a great novel . Don't forget the Medici as well for they are the glue as it were that binds this together . Often , I find that people visit places like this without doing any preparation ,and go away dissapointed in the experience . you will enjoy this in much greater depth the more you prepare. You'll also have much more fun ! Ialso quite agree with Zoe's suggestions completely , particularly about San Marco . While you are there be sure to look at the collection of illuminated manuscripts that are stunning and the room with Angelico's paintings and altarpieces ( one just back from a twelve year restoration ) . When you leave San Marco ,take a short walk a bolck or two and visit Piazza SS Annunziata and visit the Ospedale degli Innocenti , The story of the place is touching and though Rick says skip it , I strongly disagree ! One last comment , at the Uffizi , in the Botticelli room spend some extra time pondering his " Madonna of the Magnificat " and his " Annunciation " both very striking examples of rennaissance humanism . Enjoy It all !!!

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Zoe and Steven, Thank you both so much for taking the time to help. :-) I'll start checking out all of these places. San Marco sounds lovely, I'll definetaly add that on! I'm thinking around 5 nights in Florence before moving around the country, so hope to cover a little art-ground, and have some fun dining and wining in the evenings!
I totally agree, and appreciate hearing, about having some knowledge of the art prior to going. Currently, I have little, but my entire Netflix queue is loaded with Italy doc's and movies - I have "Masters of the Italian Renaissance" series on the way. :-) Thx again!!

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
649 posts

Cat , Glad to help , after all that's what this is about . Iv'e learned alot from people on this board and I'm always learning new things here every day . I'm sure you have plenty to work with , but here is just one more : At the the end of a long but wonderful day in Florence when you are tired and hungry and see tons of generally unappealing tourist joints with lousy food ( most of it is ) , get yourselves over to self service ristorante Leonardo at via de pecori 11 ,upstairs for a great fresh cooked meal at a very reasonable price ( dinner for two with a bottle of frizzante and pitchers of ice water and a wonderful man who runs this place for about 35EU ! This was a rick reccomendation and we ate there every night for a week . Apart from the food which is continuosly cooked fresh , the proprietor (I don't knoww his name ) waa one of the sweetest most ingenuous human beings I have ever met . My only regrat was that the last night when we went over for dinner , I brought my camera to take his picture and it was his night off . I spoke with his son who was in charge that night and bade him to wish his father well. But those evenings were a wonderful and unexpected experience for my wife and myself .

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2499 posts

You're welcome. I also get ready for trips to Italy by watching anything that's been filmed there.

Posted by Lynn
Cambridge, Massachuse
52 posts

i'll also be traveling in may but mid may and not sure if you already knew but the Firenze card recently of this year added duomo related activities. I'll definitely get the firenze card now. :) as stated in updates on this site: Updates since the 2013 edition Florence Sights in Florence
In addition to the sights already listed as covered by the Firenze Card, it now covers several Duomo-related sights (dome climb, Campanile, Duomo Museum, and Baptistery), the Church of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Croce Church, Casa Buonarroti, and Casa di Dante. For a complete list of included sights, see www.firenzecard.it.

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Lynn, Thank you so much for this info! I am actually in Venice, heading to Florence in about two hours, and am so happy to see this response because I am planning to climb the Duomo tonight!!! I read a wonderful travel blog that suggested doing the climbs in different locations at the beginning of your stay in the particular area, so you can get the lay of the land.
Youre timing is brilliant!!

Posted by Amanda
Raleigh, NC, USA
24 posts

I hope you are having a great time Cat! We will be there in a few weeks and planned to get the Firenze card; please take a few moments to let us know how it went for you, if you have the time of course.

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Hi Amanda, I'm happy to reply and share! I totally recommend the Firenze Card! For the convenience, time saving and flexibility alone - plus of-course the value. Even if I hadn't gotten the full Euro to Euro value, the way I see it, being able to walk up to the front of a line that's 200+ people deep, is well worth it. We started at the Academia Sat morning, already over 150 ppl in line at 9am- we went right to the front! And, WOW! Seeing David, and Michelangelo's unfinished works of the Prisoners, I almost cried! It's spectacular!! Next, we went to breakfast right in front of the Dome.(Astor cafe- great breafast value, and front row to duomo!) it was drizzling out, we sat under covered outdoor seating, watching people wait in line right in front of us. We finished breakfast, went right to the front! And were in immediately! We climbed! (Maybe it was my double espresso, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be!) breathtaking views! Take your map, so you can figure out what's what when you see all the amazing architecture from up there! Oh, BTW- we were at the top about 45 minutes, when we were about to head down, the couple that had been in line in front of our breakfast table JUST made it up (he was wearing a NASA jacket, hard to forget!!) next was the Cathedral itself, lovely! Cannot use Firenze Card for for underground part (catacombs, I think), but we didn't mind. Can you believe, after lunch. We still had plenty of energy to go to the Uffizi! The lines were treacherous!! It was 3:00 on Saturday, on a holiday weekend! Again, right to the front, in within 15 minutes!
ALWAYS SHOW YOUR CARD and ASK where to go "Dove Ingresso?" (Or something similar to that, it's rough, but it worked!) they point or tell you.

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Hi! ive been trying to post this, but it wont allow me for some reason: Hi Amanda, part 2, That was all we had in us for that day. After a wonderful dinner in front of Pitti Palace; it was time to sleep! BTW, great dinner there, the awning above it said, "restaurant sala as the" I assume that's the name.(?) Carafe of chianti €15, was delicious. And EAT the TRUFFLES in Tuscany, they're in season right now, and they're fantastic! I had risotto with truffles shaved over it, oh my god! I was in heaven! The next day, we went in Pitti Place, all throughout the museums. the apartments and this one "bathroom" (just a large empty room) were my favorites! The bathroom ceiling was painted and sculpted by Michelangelo, it was glorious! All the rooms were so sumptuous! Next was Galileo Science Museum, fun, smart and interesting. We also climbed the Campanille (bell tower) and went to the Bargello on Monday. I honestly think we just about broke even as far as Firenze Card value vs. pay as you go; but even if we didn't, I totally feel justified because of the time savings. We weren't wanting to commit to reservations, so this worked perfect for us.
It was so nice to never feel rushed, and have energy to go out in the evenings without being wiped out from standing in long lines like Disney land... I would say to look at the costs of your "must sees" and "looks cool" list, and if its anywhere close, just go for it. I probably would not have done all I did without having had the card.

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

And last, but very important! Leave time to just cruise the streets! It's amazing the art of just walking in Florence. with all the mix of cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. It's so fun to "figure it out" just walk around, get lost, wander in a cafe for a snack. Order your latte and drink standing at the bar, or I've been getting them "porta la via" (spelling?) which means "take out" or "to go" it's not the italian way, but I like sipping and walking. They serve it with just a tiny bit of milk, it's perfect! I haven't needed any sugar, it's great coffee!
Enjoy your trip, Amanda!

Posted by Amanda
Raleigh, NC, USA
24 posts

Awesome info, Cat! We leave next Wednesday and can't wait. Enjoy the rest of your trip and we will be thinking of you when we skip all of the lines in Florence :)

Posted by Gabriel
Pico Rivera, CA
206 posts

I hope I'm not repeating a question already asked here. I will be going to Florence early September. Planned on buying the Firenze card. Is it better to buy it online or when I get there? Also, I'm still confused about the Uffizi. If I get there right when it opens (or a little before) at 8:15 (with the card and without a reservation) will I still be waiting in an hour long line?

Posted by Cat
Paia, HI, USA
141 posts

Hey Gabriel, I'm a first timer, so I can't vouch for buying it online vs in person. I believe if you buy online, you still have to pick up in person, so maybe, no need... I bought the card at the Palazzo Vecchio, as the Tourist Info office at the Duomo advised us to do. The line there is very short (10 minutes for us). At the Uffizi, it's a madhouse of people, go straight up to the ticket counter, or line administrator, show them your card, and ask them where you go. (Learn a few basic Italian phrases and you'll be way ahead!!) I really gathered that the different museums respect the Firenze Card, they all seemed welcoming of helping us find our place when we showed them the card. Don't be shy with it. Many people were wearing their Firenze Card necklace (like u wear a VIP pass at a concert, they give it to u when you purchase). Also, I highly recommend the Rick Steve's guide books, read, highlight, and take with u. Also, I downloaded the RS app on my iPhone. You can then download audio tours of his- it was great!! We did the Uffizi tour, as well as the Academia, and the Renaissance Walk. All recommended.
Have fun planning, and a great trip!! Ciao!