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Florence 5 days too many?? Help

My husband and I are flying into Rome and taking a train right to Florence. We were planning to take 2 day trips into Tuscan Countryside and Sienna. I see from a previous post that everyone is saying 5 days is too many. We will arrive on the 25th May and will probably be very tired from traveling all day, so would just leisurly stroll the city later. The next day we arranged for a tour of Sienna and a couple of other little towns. That leave us three more days. One to perhaps do another day trip and a couple for the city of Florence. Should we shorten our time there? We are then on to Sorrento for 4 nights to explore Amalfi region. Then back to Rome for 3 nights and leave for home. Just concerned because in previous post everyone was staying 5 nights in Florence was a big mistake. Previously people said don't jump around too much. So confused!
Thanks for any insight. We just felt there would be more to do in Florence in the evenings.

Posted by
1313 posts

I agree with LA Mike. Some people love Florence and could spend a week there. Others are sick of it after one night. I personally like Florence, but found a week with only 1 day trip a hair too much. 4-5 days would be just about right if taking day trips to other places, which it sounds like you plan to do.

I do agree that 3 nights in Rome is a bit short, so maybe split the difference with 4/4. We did Rome in 3 nights, barely got through all the places we wanted to see, and we 1) did it in November when lines are shorter and it's easier to walk around and 2) I'd already been there the previous year, so I was the designated "tour guide" which saved us some fumbling around time.

Posted by
223 posts

Spending 5 days in Florence is absolutely not a mistake. I think the question you need to ask is if you would prefer more time in Rome. Also, depending on your schedule you might leave Florence early and head south. There is plenty to do and see in Florence esp with the side trips you note. I think you should possibly consider more time in Rome but I have been to Florence twice for 4 days each time and neither time was I chomping at the bit to get out of there and onto the next destination.

Posted by
1449 posts

Speaking for myself and perhaps channeling the thoughts of others, 5 days spend just in Florence sounds like a lot. However you're not doing that; you're using Florence as a home base. Which makes a lot of sense; while those moving on every 2 days are packing, taking trains to their next destination, and finding the new hotel, perhaps stopping along the way and checking bags somewhere -- you'll be out doing something fun carrying just what you need for the day instead of everything you brought to Europe. Its a much easier way to spend the day! Another benefit is flexibility; you can visit another town in the morning and depending on how you feel keep exploring or return to Florence. And again the 4 nites in Sorrento give you a home base to explore the region -- ruins, Amalfi coast, Capri, etc. I think your plan is a very good one.

edit: 2 more things. The person a few days ago was thinking of 5 days in Florence with only a trip to Pisa, which I (and a few others) thought was a bit much. 2nd, you could think about staying in a hilltown such as Cortona or Perugia for a completely different experience. However I'd personally only do it if I could stay 3 nites there & 3 in Florence, which is one more than you have.

Posted by
515 posts

We went to Florence for a day and pretty much saw everyhting there is to see there. If you like to stroll, walking over the bridge is gorgeous! Beware os beggars, they are everywhere in Florence.

Posted by
10322 posts

"We went to Florence for a day and pretty much saw everything there is to see there."

Well, I think there would be some difference of opinion about whether "everything there is to see" in Florence can be seen in a day.

I understand that some travelers only have a day for Florence or that they choose to only spend a day, those are matters of personal preference. But that's different than saying or implying that everything worth seeing in Florence can be seen in a day, that's just wrong.

Posted by
223 posts

Also, here is how I draw up my trip for planning purposes

Day 1, arrive in Florence walk around a bit and recover from the flight.

Day 2, Sienna etc

Day 3, Florence

Day 4, Florence

Day 5 you could catch an early train south.

My feeling is this is basically 2 days in Florence which I think for many people is about right to see the museums etc. You would have a nice advantage of getting a good lay of the land and could fully utilize your two full days in Florence.

I think there are not right answers for this but its more a matter of weighing the options, choosing what appeals to you and going forth with an open mind and have a great time.

Posted by
2023 posts

Most people seem to favor either Florence or Rome rather than loving each one equally. IMO Rome has much more to offer and needs the most days. Florence will be extremely crowded when you visit in May and being more compact than Rome the crowds(and the many Vespas) can be tedious. Siena can be rather intense also--it is larger than you may imagine.

Posted by
1136 posts

This site can be very helpful, but since we are voicing opinions...you will always get conflicting ideas. My advice is always: "to thine own self be true". Florence is a city with the traffic and crowds that go with it. Some people find it energizing and love staying in cities. Others, weary of it after a day or so and head to the quieter areas to relax. Also, how many museums and churches do you want to take in while there? For me, I pick a museum and a church to see each time I am there. One is enough for me. I am more an activity, outdoor person. For some, 5 nights would be too much. For others, 5 nights would not be enough. Only you can decide how much time you need. Of course, you are not staying in Florence every day. You could just have a few other day trips researched and use them only if you get tired of being in the city. (My last trip I spent a day out biking through the vineyards of Chianti.)

Posted by
483 posts

You might enjoy your fifth day/night in Orvieto. It's a nice size with beautiful views, great hotel prices and is easy to reach as it's located between Florence and Rome. We spent six nights in Florence and even with day trips to SG and Sienna it was a bit long especially when you could be experiencing another town

Posted by
1449 posts

"I'm not sure what we'll do for the other day trip"

My preference when traveling is to put together plans for both "must-do" such as see the Uffizi gallery and some optional ideas that I do depending on weather, how I'm feeling, etc. So you could plan (and when in Italy pick one of) going to Pisa, take the train to some other hilltowns such as Assisi, take an excursion from Florence that goes to the wine region, etc. One day trip that you may not have considered would be to Bologna, which is only 40 minutes on the fastest trains; it has miles of covered sidewalks, a nice square, and is in the region that's the food capital of Italy. RS doesn't cover it (so you'll be away from the cult of people clutching blue books!) but other guidebooks do, and its one of my favorite destinations. The TI office offers a nice walking tour. For a longer trip (2 hours each way from Florence in the same region, go instead to Parma (home of the famous ham and near the famous cheese) which is a delightful small town; have lunch, stroll around, etc.

Another resource would be the book "Daytrips Italy" by Steinbicker

Posted by
255 posts

Nope, not too much time if you are planning on using 2 of your days for sight seeing out of Florence. Our first trip to Florence was for only 2 days. We arrived around 10:30 in the morning, dropped luggage and headed back to the train for Pisa. Arrived back in Florence about 5:00 pm. Spent the next day soaking up ambience and visiting some of the smaller museums, the Duomo, Giotto's Tower, and Baptistry. We were supposed to see the Uffizi and Accademia that day, but due to a strike they were closed. Our next trip to Florence was 4 days. We arrived early afternoon on Saturday (from Venice) and set out for Santa Croce to explore. Sunday we were able to sleep in a little and did the Uffizi and Accademia with a leisurely lunch in between the two. Monday was another fairly leisurely day with the Medici Chapel, shopping in the market, leisurely lunch, and a wine tasting in the afternoon. Dinner that evening was the food items that we had purchased from the market that morning which we ate on the roof top terrace of our bnb that overlooked the Duomo. Tuesday we hired a driver (the second of our 2 "splurges" for that trip) and went to San Gimignano (my personal favorite), Monteriggioni for lunch and Sienna for the afternoon.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for all your input. My husband and I are planning the same daya trip with a private tour to Sienna, Monteriggini and San Gimignano. I'm not sure what we'll do for the other day trip and then we'll spend the other 2 full days exploring Florence. I guess it would have been nice to spend a night in another town but I didn't feel like hotel jumping and alot of the sights were advising against it.
When I originally had planned 3-4 nights in Florence when we had less time people said we were jumping around to much. Thanks everyone for the advice.

Posted by
354 posts

hi Fran, you could do a wine tour for your 2nd day trip, or biking or walking tour in the countryside, or visit Pisa or Lucca by train. There are many options for sightseeing out of Florence. With two to three full days in Florence, you can take your time at the sights - but I have to say, there really is plenty to see in the city!

Posted by
354 posts

Mike, Bologna and Parma - what a great idea. I did Parma as a day trip from Florence too.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you all so much for the wonderful suggestions!!! We really appreciate all your help.

Posted by
1 posts

I am considering 4-5 days in Florence, also. A day trip to Cinque Terra, A day trip to Bologna, al day biking the Tuscan country side, that 3 days with a day or so for Florence itself.
Is there a better place for home base to do above?

Posted by
10322 posts

Yep, Jim, same question occurs to me that has apparently already occurred to you: 5 nights sleeping in Florence, but spending only one day actually seeing Florence. Many travelers posting here feel that 1 day is not enough time to see where the Renaissance started. So maybe more like 2 days to see Florence and 3 days of day trips, in your 5 days? At least by home basing, you're saving the time that would otherwise be eaten up by changing location. An alternative would be 3 nights in Florence and 2 nights in the CT, with one of the Florence days being the day trip to Bologna. But I don't know if that would be any better than your Plan A of 5 nights home basing in Florence, because it will cost you about 6 hours to change sleeping locations from Florence to the CT. If you prefer not to change sleeping locations, then Florence is about as central as you're going to get for seeing Bologna, Florence and the CT. This is because there isn't a good, central sleeping location directly between Bologna and the CT, because of the mountains. Bologna is easily done as a day trip from Florence. Even though the Florence - Bologna distance is about the same (see Google Map, for example), the travel time from Florence to Bologna is much shorter than the travel time from Florence to the CT. The CT is a long day trip from Florence, that doesn't leave you with much time to do the hikes you go to the CT to do. Getting to the station, buying ticket, waiting for train, then the actual station to station time that's in the train schedules, then same drill on the return trip. Not saying it's impossible, but some travelers are blind-sided by how little time they actually end up with in the CT.

Posted by
19 posts

We did stay the 5 nights in Florence and really enjoyed it. You can't count the day you arrive and leave as full days, so it was really 4 full days. It all depends on how you like to travel. If you like to jump from place to place and spend time on the train or in a car then maybe 2 days one place and 3 days another is for you. Personally, I liked have my home base room to come back to every night especially since our hotel was so comfortable. We hired a driver for a full day and went to Sienna and San gimignano and that was wonderful, another full day we did a tour through Chianti and went to a couple of wineries and we then had two full days to explore Florence which was wonderful. What ever you do you will Enjoy! I also wanted to add that the great thing about having Florence as a home base at night is that there are so many restaurants and things open at night to do. A smaller more remote town may not have as much to offer at night.

Posted by
11743 posts

Florence has a lot to do. I think two frantic days is an absolute minimum. More time will give you a more relaxed pace and a chance to pick up other sites that might not make your top two days. I don't think it's a good base for day trips. Florence lodging is expensive and not particularly wonderful. Florence also is generally unfriendly to having a car. I would spend several days in Florence, then pick somewhere else to daytrip from.

Posted by
1003 posts

I could spend the rest of my life just wandering around Florence. My first trip there I had 5 nights and I did one day trip to Siena and never ended up taking a Pisa/Lucca trip I had planned because I was too enamored with Florence. I didn't even see the uffizi on that trip and still never ran out of things to do.

Posted by
10322 posts

I identify with Debra's post, some feel Florence has more art, architecture and history per square foot than any European city of comparable size. For those people, too many day trips may leave them without enough time to consummate their love of Florence. Others report here that it's old and dirty and they were glad to leave after a day or two. Travel is about personal preferences.

Posted by
10322 posts

Brad effectively presents the other side of the "home basing in Florence or not" decision -- especially if you're going to have a rental car. : Florence lodging is, generally, expensive, and the historic center of Florence is one of the worst places to have a rental car (the cost and difficulty of overnight parking plus the potential of multiple, high ZTL fines arriving in your mailbox 6 months to a year after your trip). If you're going to have a car and are considering home basing in Florence, you'll want to think very carefully about whether that will be a good decision for you, it probably won't be something you do a second time, is what people are finding. You can have a car, or sleep in the historic center of Florence, but trying to do both is ending up being something many travelers only do once.

Posted by
1976 posts

I lived in Florence for 2 weeks (attended classes 4 days a week for 4 hours per day) and took day trips to 4 other cities, and I still haven't seen everything there that I want to see. In my opinion, 4 days is NOT too much! But everyone is different - read a few different books about the city and make a list of everything you want to see and do. You might have to prioritize, but you'll get a much clearer idea of how many days you'll want to spend there. It's better to get away from "How many days SHOULD I spend there" and move towards "How many days do I WANT to spend there?"

Posted by
354 posts

Fran, so glad you enjoyed your 5 days in Florence. You're right that it's nice to have a 'home base' for a little while, and I absolutely second that.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks Audrey, we really did have a great time and we hope to go back soon and we'd still make Florence our home base and then maybe check out some other towns as well. Thanks for your original help last April, it was much appreciated.

Posted by
134 posts

I've been to Florence on 4 different occasions. The first time for part of a day, the second time 2 days, the third time 5 days and the last time for 3 weeks. I still have not seen everything I want to see. I do love Florence. Five days is not too much.

Posted by
1000 posts

I personally don't think 5 days in Florence is too many. Have been to Florence 3x. The first time was in '02 and was just a daytrip from Tuscany and we barely scratched the surface. We went away with mixed feelings about Florence. Returned to Florence in 2009 and spent 5 nights in an apt. here. It was fabulous and I can now see why so many people love Florence. We did an easy daytrip to Pisa and also took the bus to Fiesole one afternoon. Returned again just this past Sept. as a daytrip from San Gimignano and was able to visit things we did not see previously and there is still more to see!

Posted by
19 posts

To Kathy who sent me a private message....for some reason the site is not allowing me to respond through the private message.
We hired Sunshine Tuscan Tours and they were wonderful. Private Car, stopped in Sienna and San gimignano and Monteriggioni. He stopped where ever we wanted. They run anywhere from about 250-320 Euros for the day depending on what you want to do. Also Hills and Roads are highly recommended and also Natalie in Tuscany is highly recommended. It is well worth the money.

Posted by
132 posts

We also flew into Rome and took the train to Florence. Buy the tickets at the station at the airport. Like many. 5 days isn't too many. But then Florence is my 3rd favorite city in europe (Behind Paris and Venice). You could rush through and see "everything" in 2 days without seeing it. Like looking out a bus window and seeing the Colosseum. There are just too many places to linger and savor in Florence. We had 3 full days in Florence and didn't see everything. And a day trip to Siena, San Gimignano, a winery and Pisa. (I would skip Pisa. Though some love it.) The un-sung gem in Florence, The Medici Chapel. Also cooking classes.) I would have loved to have seen the science museum with it's Galaleo attractions. But then 3 nights, 2 and a half days in Rome is tight. There are so many things to see there. And I'm not a Rome is the center of the world person. Plus Rome isn't as compact. But only you can decide what sings to you. Both can be a lot of fun. Have fun either way.