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Florence

Spending 4 days in Florence (with travel to and from Rome). My husband and I would prefer not to spend too much time in museums, we enjoy the occasional walking and/or guided tour, but don't necessarily want to spend the whole trip this way. We enjoy drinking wine and are thinking about adding day trips to explore Tuscany. We don't want to be naive about our time constraints but would like to make the most of the trip. Should we look at staying at one place in Florence with day trips, or staying in a hill town. Does one or two hill town make more sense? Can multiple be traveled to in a day? Is renting a car necessary? Also, toying with the idea of doing a quick peek at Pisa (meal, look around, leave), worth it? Or better to spend the time in a hill town?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
312 posts

You do know that a big part of Florence, is what's inside those museums?

At the very least, take a guided tour of the Uffizi, the guide can provide insight into WHY certain paintings are significant, WHY this particular work of art is a big deal. A guide can provide perspective...you know, that concept that was a big part of the Renaissance and how it changed things. The Uffizi should take 1-2 hrs total, depending on what you choose. I think a big part of what people miss out is, how much of what humanity learned/developed was lost during the medieval period. Cement had to be relearned, humans had to relearn how to build a dome, statues and painting were crude and almost elementary until the Renaissance. From the end of the Roman period to the 1400's the Renaissance brought that back, nearly 900+ years of lost technology and skill, was re-established.

If this is your first time, stay in Florence, it's much easier and you're not living out of your suitcase. Allocate a day and take the bus/train to Siena. Siena is very high on everyone's must visit list and is a nice complement to it's rival Florence, eat a meal or, two there. Pisa I would skip, if you have to get that funny picture of the leaning bell tower, do it and leave. It ranks amongst the most overrated tourist destinations. Instead, visit Lucca, the medieval walled city that for a time rivaled Florence and Pisa. Small and compact but, lots of interesting nooks and crannies, rent a bike and ride along the top of the wall or, wander the narrow streets. It's food is also a bit different than Florence as well, ask the restaurant about the local specialties. Arrange a wine tour on another day, spend the day or, half a day with a guide and they'll take you to several wineries, have somebody else do the driving while both of you enjoy the views.

Posted by
1709 posts

We have been to Italy 3 times, have never been to Pisa, and have no plans to go there. We would like to go to Lucca sometime.Siena is beautiful-we did it as a day trip from Florence.

Posted by
94 posts

I don't get the animosity aimed at Pisa. I've always quite enjoyed it - the Campo dei Miracoli is stunning, but often overlooked by people only there to get the "supporting the tower" image. The Duomo and Baptistry are well worth a visit.

You can combine Pisa and Lucca as a day trip. It is only about 25 minutes between the two by train, so if you find Pisa as boring as many, you can just hp on the next train north.

Posted by
201 posts

Hope that within your limited interest and visits to museums, you make it a point to see The David at Accademia Gallery. To each their own, but it would be criminal to visit Florence and not experience that moment. Good travels!

Posted by
3048 posts
Posted by
1615 posts

Frankly, you may say that you're not interested in the museums of Florence and we felt the same way...until we visited. How could you not be interested in being to a certain extent visually transported 500 years back to the Renaissance in Italy? It may seem boring reading about it, but once you're walking the streets, it comes to life, trust me.

Yes, there's the Uffizi and the Accademia, but there's also just happening upon the Sassetti Chapel, opening the door, walking in, nobody there, and putting a Euro coin in a machine to illuminate the frescoes. I didn't know Ghirlandaio from Adam, but these paintings--especially Adoration Of The Shepherds--were so exacting and so realistic, I could envision it being precisely what was going on outside those very doors in 1490. Very, very cool.

Posted by
1178 posts

We were there 3 nights and the only museum we visited was the Duomo Museum which was excellent.

Posted by
119 posts

I'm sort of amused that you're planning to go to Florence but potentially skipping the best of what Florence has to offer. It's the birth place of the Renaissance, so avoiding the art seems silly. So I'll echo what a few others have said. I think you're doing yourself a disfavor if you don't at least peak in the Uffizi and take a look at David. A guided tour is a good idea to show you the highlights, as mentioned before, without spending too much time there and it doesn't take long to see David. Just make sure you reserve ticket entry times. And even beyond this, Florence has a lot to offer to occupy your time so rather than day tripping out every day, I'd encourage you to explore the city too. We stayed 3.5 days there and never felt bored. Plenty of places to get good wine too.

With the amount of time you have, it does make more sense to me to stay in Florence and day trip out. I would really encourage you to take a look at Siena. We used Siena to base out of to explore greater Tuscany. But Siena is a wonderful town with a can't miss Cathedral (it's beautiful and very unique in terms of interior design) and definitely good for a day trip. The Il Campo is a wonderful place to chill and have a drink and some small snacks. We sat there for hours one night.

I can't speak to Pisa but I'll say the general consensus seems to be that Pisa is a bit overrated. I would take a look at Lucca as well. All the places mentioned are accessible by train, which might serve your purposes better than dealing with the hassle of a rental car over a relatively short time period.

Posted by
2810 posts

Florence is a great transportation hub and has lots to do that has nothing to do with museums. Changing hotels 2 or 3 times in 4 days would be a pain, so use Florence as your hub. Siena is easy to visit by bus and Pisa is easy to visit by train. Pisa and Lucca are close to one another and easy to combine. You might even be able to combine Siena and San Gimignano, but it requires multiple bus connections and can be a long day. If you were to rent a car for a day, then combining Volterra with Pisa or San Gimignano would be realistic. Lots of options when you base yourself in Florence. Plus it's a great city even if you never step into a museum (although I'd suggest not avoiding them entirely).

Posted by
9879 posts

Here's the deal: you can drink wine darn near anywhere in Italy. You can explore great stuff darn near anywhere in Italy. Florence? As said above, it's the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; a really important part of that city's patrimony, and why thousands and thousands of tourists flock there every year. I guess I would say that you might think that you don't enjoy art until you see some fabulous stuff which is still in place after many centuries.

LOL, my fave "David" is not in Florence, it's in Rome, but there's reason enough to see Michelangelo's disproportionate carving that was never meant to be viewed from the perch that it currently occupies. It's only one of many, many works that brought Florence to forefront of an artistic and architectural movement.

Pisa: people love it or don't love it. Lucca ranks very well as a day trip as does Siena but don't cut Florence short? It has its charms!