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Three nights in Florence

As part of my Insight Vacations tour I will see David with a tour guide and the Duomo, Baptistery, and bell tower. The Cathedral Works Museum is not listed, but apparently on the same ticket. Either way I will go there too. (I will not climb the dome or bell tower.) After all that, I want to visit the following:

Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens
Santa Croce Basilica
National Bargello Museum
Santa Maria Novella
and more if there is time

The problem is I have only two full days in Florence because of the Insight tour itinerary. I will arrive on Wednesday, November 23 but have only two full days before leaving for Verona and Venice on November 26. Should I cut something out? Can i add more?

Posted by
1260 posts

You could add the Museo San Marco (Fra Angelico frescos, including ones in the cells upstairs), and/or the Capella Brancacci.

Posted by
715 posts

I sound like a broken record as I say this whenever anyone asks about sites to see in Firenze - Don't forget the Medici Chapel.

Posted by
11613 posts

You can do it! The Museo San Marco is up the street from the Accademia. If you have time for a nice sunset, take the bus to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Is the Uffizi part of your tour?

Posted by
251 posts

You can easily do all those in 2 days, you will probably have time to do more! I would find out if you need tickets or reservations for the Pitti Palace or National Bargello Museum (I didn't go there when I visited Florence) and organize your days off that.
You could do a morning tour of Accademia Gallery, then walk over to the Duomo, Baptisery and Bell Tower (admission is free for the Duomo so you will need to only stand in a short line). Then, take short walk to the National Bargello Museum and finish with a walk to the Santa Croce Basilica.
The next day, you can cross the river via the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens.
Florence is exceptionally easy to walk around since mostly everything is in the city center!

Posted by
250 posts

That's great Jenna! The more I can do in two days, the better.

Zoe, my tour doesn't include the Uffizi. I ruled out going there on my own in favor of visiting smaller museums that never get crowded.

I will check out the Medici Chapel. That should be a good one.

Aahh, Florence. I love Florence. So much to see and do. I recommend looking at a map of Florence in a RS travel book. Group your sites by proximity and walking ability. For instance, the Bargello and Santa Croce are near each other. Then, add Pitti Palace and Ponte Vecchio bridge. Santa Maria Novella is closer to the whole "San Lorenzo" complex. Duomo and the Baptistry do not take that much time if you are not going up into the Dome or bell tower. The Galileo museum is near the Uffizi Art gallery. Have a great time. Pay attention to attraction times. Eat a berry flavored gelato for me! I almost forgot - consider Palazzo Vecchio in the heart of Florence.

Posted by
250 posts

How does this look?

Thursday
Academy Gallery (guided tour to see David)*
Duomo, Baptistery, and Cathedral Works Museum*
Palazzo Medici-Riccardi
San Marco Piazza and church

*Part of Insight Vacations tour; times not changeable

Friday

Bargello Museum
Palazzo Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio
Pitti Palace
Santa Maria Carmine

Is that too much? I can't visit the Bargello on Thursday because it closes before 2:00. Basically it is north side on Thursday, then south side from Bargello on Friday. Lunch does not have to be full service, but I will want more than a quick snack.

Posted by
251 posts

This itinerary looks absolutely doable. There are lots of places you can stop for a quick sandwich or pizza slice. I always enjoy that more than sitting in a restaurant, but if you want something more just look online to see what people suggest. Make sure to stop for gelato atleast once a day or more :)

Posted by
250 posts

I can't believe I omitted Santa Croce. That is on my must-see list. And of course I will visit the Boboli Gardens too.

What would we do without guidebooks and maps?

Posted by
250 posts

This is not looking good for Santa Maria Novella. Nothing else is in the area on my attractions map.

San Marco's hours are 8:15-1:50. By what time do I need to get out of the three-story Cathedral Works Museum to see everything?

Posted by
1260 posts

Santa Maria Novella is quite close to the Medici Chapel, and right across from the train station. The historic district as a whole is quite compact and very walkable. Also wanted to give you the reservation # for the Brancacci Chapel (055-276-8224); you won't have any trouble getting in, but I gather sometimes they're sticklers about reservations. I'm so excited for you!

Posted by
1260 posts

Oh yes, as for the Museo San Marco, if you're pressed for time, go upstairs first.

Posted by
251 posts

You can walk from the Duomo or Piazza della Repubblica to Santa Maria Novella in under 10 minutes (if that much).
I would also suggest if you go to Santa Maria Novella, go north and head to the Mercato Centrale. It's a fabulous market!!

Where is your hotel? That could dictate what section of Florence to visit per day.

Posted by
250 posts

Thank you for the ideas! What would I do without this forum?

Jenna, that is what I want to know. My hotel is the Athenaeum. I do know Insight's itinerary is Accademia first, then Piazza Duomo, so I have to use that area as my starting point on Thursday. That's why I was thinking about staying north of the Arno one day and walking south of it the next. On Friday it will be important to know where my hotel is.

Posted by
31 posts

I would definitely include Santa Croce. I personally found that far more interesting than a marble statue of David. Yes, I know - blasphemy, but that's my view of it. :)

If you're near Santa Maria Novella, be sure to include the perfumerie. Not to be missed.

Posted by
250 posts

That is not blasphemy. Most people would rather see something Michelangelo made than his tomb, which is understandable. I know it is also one of the most famous statues in the world. OTOH his tomb is beautiful, as well as the entire church and a 1966 flood survivor.(I read the cross is marked as such to celebrate 50 years since the flood.) I also want to see Galileo's tomb there. It is not just a church but a must-see attraction.

I would prioritize your sites. So, if you have to eliminate a site - it will be less painful. Here are my personal recommendations. I would give Santa Croce a higher priority than the Bargello. I would skip the Boboli gardens. The Brancacci Chapel is a bit on the far side from Ponte Vecchio. (I did enjoy it though.). Santo Spirito is closer to Pitti Palace. I would still prioritize Blackberry gelato above the chocolate. Gelato is a high priority and MUST be consumed daily. I really liked San Miniato. However, this place requires a significant hill climb or a cab ride. You may need to skip it. There is San Lorenzo Church and the Laurentian Library. I could easily spend a month in Florence. Look stuff up online to set your priorities. Orsan San Michele. Lots of cool stuff.

Posted by
5703 posts

the best thing in Florence IMHO is the Brancacci Chapel. If think the Medici Chapel is ugly but to each his own. I would include the Brancacci Chapel and San Marco before the Pitti Palace. Pitti Palace is a fine museum but more of what you are likely to have seen at the Uffizi (which I assume you did on the tour) I am a little confused -- do you have two days total? Or do you have a tour that includes several things like Academia and Uffizi and this is your add on? At any rate, I would not do Florence without the Uffizi and Academia.

Posted by
250 posts

Jane, I arrive sometime on November 23 (from Rome through Pisa) and leave for Venice early on November 26. So I will be there two full days and part of another. I don't want to plan my half day there until someone tells me what time we will arrive.

No, the Uffizi is not part of the tour. That is a good thing because I would rather visit smaller museums that never get crowded.

Posted by
250 posts

The Brancacca Chapel apparently is part of Santa Maria Carmine, so visiting both should be easy. I definitely want to visit SMC.

Posted by
11613 posts

To easily visit Santa Maria Novella on your way in or out of Firenze, check your luggage at the train station and retrieve it after your visit. Allow at least an hour to visit more than just the church itself.

Posted by
11572 posts

With the limited time that you have, I'd skip the Pitti/Boboli Gardens. They're fine IF you have a big chunk of time but the complex is much bigger than you'd think, and the Palatine Gallery was crowded enough (and oppressively warm) on the day we were there. We didn't get to all of the galleries before throwing in the towel, and it still took us the better part of a day. Personally, I'd choose the Bargello instead.

We were also not all that wowed by the Medici Chapel: Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella and San Miniato were preferred over that one.

Posted by
250 posts

Zoe, I am not taking any trains. The tour group, Insight Vacations, will transport me by bus from Pisa to the hotel. So that will be where I start from for whatever I do on my short day.

Kathy, good point about Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens.

Posted by
251 posts

Is your hotel the Hotel Athenaeum? If so, that's pretty close to Mercato Centrale and Santa Maria Novella!

I personally enjoy pistachio gelato :)

Posted by
11572 posts

TW, my apologies as I didn't see that your trip was end of November: heat and probably crowds won't be the issues they were at the Pitti in May but it's still a real time-gobbler.

Posted by
250 posts

Yes it is Jenna. Is it between SMN and Palazzo Dazanvati?

It will be interesting to see all of the gelato flavors.

Posted by
250 posts

Santa Maria Novella is not on that map. I counted about 2.5 blocks north of Museo San Marco. That means the best time to go there is obviously Friday morning. Thanks for the link.

The Brancacci chapel is inside of SM Carmine. It is a side chapel of the church. There is a separate side entrance into it. There is a fee. Have the desk clerk at your hotel call the chapel to reserve your time slot for visiting. You can skip the video there. But, you do need to reserve a time slot. You can simply pay at the entrance just before entering. The only gelato flavor I would avoid is mango. The others are excellent.
If you take on Pitti Palace - buy a cheap folding hand fan from a street vendor. You WILL need it. I found myself begging from my 9 year old daughter for hers.

Posted by
250 posts

Thanks for the information Barb. How do I find out what time slots are available?

I never would have guessed mango is a gelato flavor. Don't worry; I would never try it anyway.

Posted by
250 posts

I can't look at the map without wishing Palazzo Vecchio was open all day on Thursday. Going there after Santa Croce would be ideal - it is a few blocks away and on my way back to the hotel. Luckily PV is open much later on Friday - until 7:00. I can go there after I see Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens if there is enough time to not be rushed.

Posted by
250 posts

I did think about visiting PMR, but was not sure if there would be enough time to squeeze it in.

Why is San Lorenzo the best place to eat supper?

Posted by
11613 posts

You will also find rice gelato, and other flavors we never hear of in the US.

Posted by
250 posts

LOL Zoe. Americans must think rice gelato is crazy stuff when they see it. I think someone said Italians don't know what peanut butter is,, so it goes both ways.

Posted by
250 posts

I never spent so much time studying the same map in a guidebook. How do you like this one?

THURSDAY

Academy Gallery*
Duomo/Baptistery*
Bargello Museum
Santa Croce
Piazza Signoria
Medici-Riccardo

*Cannot be changed

FRIDAY

San Marco Museum
Santa Maria Novella
Piazza Davanzati (if open)
Santa Maria del Carmine
Pitti Palace/Bobolie Gardens

I can only go inside Palazzo Vecchio on Friday because of its open hours and don't think there will be time after Boboli Gardens. It will close at 2:00 Thursday and 7:00 Friday. I would cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge once, but might not go inside any shops to save time.

I would skip Boboli gardens. To reserve time slot, have the hotel desk clerk call Brancacci Chapel for you and give approximate time you want to be there. The clerk will be able to ask the chapel people and inform you of available time slots. Make a lap. Start at San Marco Monastery and see the "cells" painted by Fra Angelico. (see Sr. Wendy Beckett PBS video on this.). Go to SMN complex. See Masaccio painting of holy trinity and other great art. See perfumery. Cross bridge and see SM Carmine. More Masaccio paintings in Brancacci Chapel. Get something to eat. (Sabatino's I believe right next to wall portal. RS recommendation in book.). Head over to Pitti palace. It's huge! Cross Ponte Vecchio. No need to shop. Just notice all the jewelry booths. Get Gelato in piazza Signoria. Stroll around. Then, take on Palazzo Vecchio or Santa Croce. I would do Santa Croce complex as higher priority. This is an ambitious day. Check times for places.

Posted by
250 posts

Are you saying I should only see the second floor at San Marco because of time or is the first floor not very interesting?

I take it skipping Boboli Gardens will give me plenty of time for Palazzo Vecchio. I better like PV or will come home with regrets.

So let me get this straight . . .

San Marco Museum (upstairs only)
Santa Maria Novella/Barcacci Chapel
Santa Maria del Carmine
Lunch
Pitti Palace (without Boboli Gardens)
Ponte Vecchio (don't go in stores)
Palazzo Vecchio
Supper

Are you sure I will have time for all this?

Posted by
1260 posts

I wasn't suggesting that you omit the first floor of San Marco, necessarily - just that you make the second floor a priority, in case you don't have time for all of the museum.

Posted by
250 posts

OK that makes sense.

One more thing: Is Mercato Centrale worth visiting even if I am not hungry?

Posted by
607 posts

TW

If you are going to visit Santa Maria Novella, check this out around the corner: http://www.smnovella.it/?lang=en

It is a historical gem and is free. Hannibal Lecter's favorite perfume house.

If you are San Lorenzo, the Central Market can be a quick pop in. However, it has a very modern corporate feel.

Posted by
250 posts

The perfume house/pharmacy looks beautiful funpig.

I will skip the Central Market.

Remember Brancacci Chapel is part of SM Carmine not Novella. I would make Santa Croce a priority over Palazzo Vecchio. That is, skip P. Vecchio if you don't have time. Ponte Vecchio does not take much time. It's a short stroll across.
Most of what you want to see at San Marco is upstairs. There are a few things to see on ground level. Try to check out the Sr. Wendy Beckett art video on this site. Part of the monastery is not accessible to tourists.
For the amount of time you have, skip Mercato Centrale. It's like an indoor farmer's market with food booths. You do NOT have time for this.

Posted by
250 posts

It is so easy to get similar names mixed up. I could not remember if the chapel is at Novella or Carmine. Thanks for the correction.

Should I also skip Palazzo Vecchio on Friday? That would give me more time at Pitti Palace, but people seem to be saying I should go there.

Apparently I should skip the first floor at San Marco to save time.

I am a stop and smell the roses person. The main thing is to relax and enjoy yourself. Take your time and if you want to see San Marco first floor - do it. There is some great art there. Then stroll over to SMN. After SMN complex, consider heading down to SM Carmine area. It may be close to lunch time. Sabatino's, near the wall, opens at noon. Eat lunch before or after SM Carmine. Perhaps, see Brancacci after lunch. You can see the rest of the church at your leisure before or after lunch. brancacci chapel is small. Look up the painter Massacio before you go. That is what you will see. He was early renaissance and contributed to a shift in painting style. Then, take on Pitti. If you burn- out on Pitti, don't feel bad. It's a big place and can be a bit overwhelming. Just enjoy it until you tire of it. Napoleon's bathtub is there and truck loads of art. You may want to cruise through Santo Spiritu on your way to Pitti. Finally, cross Ponte Vecchio. Reward yourself with gelato on Piazza Signoria and stroll about. Try to find the ground marker where Savanorola was burned to death. Look at your watch. Decide whether to do Bargello, Palazzo Vecchio, or Santa Croce based on times places are open. Honestly, you can't go wrong. I personally would give Santa Croce a higher priority unless you go there on a different day. The company called "the great courses" has a very good video series on traveling through Italy. It has several units on Florence and an entire course on Michelangelo. Florence is tough the first time because there is just so much there. So much history, religion, art, and science. It is truly "ground zero" for the Renaissance. Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy!!! If stressed, do gelato.

Posted by
250 posts

Actually wouldn't it be supper time after I cross Ponte Vecchio? I think that is a little late for chocolate gelato.

Thursday is when I will visit Bargello and Santa Croce. I will skip Santa Spirito to allow more time for Pitti Palace. Of course I wish I had more time in Florence. But there will be a next time . . .

Lunch after Santa Maria del Carmine looks good. Is there a quick lunch place that does not require reservations to get a table nearby?

Posted by
250 posts

After SMC and lunch, how much time should I expect to have for Pitti Palace? I decided to skip PV in favor of more time there. I do not mind skipping Boboli Gardens this time because it rains a lot in November.

Posted by
1084 posts

I'm exhausted reading all this.
I have been to Florence many times, and to me this sounds like a must-cross-this-off-my-list or I'm-a bad -traveler.
When are you factoring in time to walk around slowly and appreciate the whole?
Will you really remember every detail you saw as you rushed about to every museum in town?
You can always return!!
I would pick one, or at the most, two museums for morning; and the same for afternoon.
My favourites are the Accademia, the Bargello, and San Miniato.
Do yourself a favour and slow down.
Have a good trip, regardless.

Posted by
11572 posts

After SMC and lunch, how much time should I expect to have for Pitti
Palace?

The rest of the afternoon. Or until you throw in the towel. Seriously.The Palatine Gallery has 28 rooms and that doesn't include the Modern Art Gallery.Depending on what time you get there after lunch and how much you want to take in, it might very well be dark when you leave (sunset at about 4:42).

Note: a comprehensive ticket to the complex includes the Porcelain, Silver and Costume Galleries+ gardens. If not interested in any of this, just purchase the ticket for the Palatine/Modern Art galleries.

Pitti is HUGE. After 2 hours - you enter the zombie zone. 3 hours is the maximum I would plan on. After that, you truly need a break. Get a hand fan!!! I would just do the Palatine Gallery area. I was not impressed with the "costume" area. You will not see all of Pitti, so just get over that idea. Relax. Enjoy 2-3 hours, then move on for GELATO.

Posted by
250 posts

Jackson, the whole point is I don't want to be rushed anywhere.

Kathy, I am not trying to see all of Pitti Palace. For me it is seeing as much as possible without rushing from one room to the next.

Barb, I have 11 days to eat gelato. At some point I certainly will eat it.

Posted by
250 posts

Now I am finished planning both full days. Unfortunately I still don't know what time I will arrive on November 23. After settling into my hotel room and eating lunch, I want to go out and visit a few places that are open in the afternoon. What do you recommend?

Posted by
11613 posts

The museum of San Marco is a treasure because it holds art designed and executed specifically for it; it was a Dominican convent for several centuries. It would be a shame to skip the ground floor to save time, the common rooms are downstairs and the upstairs is mostly the friars' cells, each with a fresco by Fra Angelico. It is a place to walk through slowly, you will need a couple of those experiences, too.

Posted by
1720 posts

Boy, Traveling Woman, that's a lot of stuff planned. We didn't even see half as much and we stayed in an apartment on Piazza Santa Maria Novella for 5 nights!

Speaking of, if you happen to visit Santa Maria Novella, there is a gelato shop at the opposite end of the square. Crema flavor--you'll thank me later.

We did visit the perfumo/pharmacy--really neat stuff. We had dropped our clothes off at the lavenderia next door to be washed and stumbled upon this. This type of thing happened all the time in our two trips to Florence--just wandering around and saying, hey--this looks neat, and finding another hidden gem, like the Sassetti Chapel near the Arno on via Tornabuoni. Walk right into this church (Santa Trinita) and see, for free, 15th century frescoes that are absolutely mind-blowing.

RE: Mercato Centrale, visit it even if you're not hungry, but the market will make you that way. Probably best before 2PM. One of the vendors has little jars of millefiori honey for 1 Euro--best honey I've ever tasted. And Nerbone, the beef stand on the lower floor (no need to visit the Mario Batali-inspired snazzy upstairs--it's manufactured), sells a tremendous boiled beef sandwich on a crusty roll with juice and pesto sauce for 3 Euro. How can you not go there?!

In closing, too bad you're not in Florence long enough to enjoy the chill parts--the wandering around for an espresso & roll in the early morning when the street sweepers have just finished their rounds, or something cool like inspecting the detail of the outside of the Baptistery and Il Duomo at night after the crowds have left. It's magical, I tell you...

Posted by
250 posts

I know Jay; it would be great to have another full day in Florence. That would have made planning it so much easier.

This probably happens to everyone who plans trips to foreign countries: If I don't see a certain church or museum, I will regret missing it later. That is what keeps Santa Maria Novella, which is beautiful both inside and out, on my list. My guidebook highly recommends it and I can see why. But so many other buildings I don't have time for are beautiful too . . .

Nothing is more frustrating than deciding to visit a museum or palace that will be closed by the time I get there. Pietre Dure looks very good and is one block south of San Marco, but the early closing time is a killer. If those two museums had normal hours, I would never have to ask people where to go on November 23.

Rant over. Would you recommend eating supper one night at Central Market instead of a sit-down restaurant? Or should it be my first-day lunch spot?

Posted by
11572 posts

What's 'normal' for a U.S. museum is not 'normal' for Italy, I'm afraid. I think some limited open hours may be due to limited funds to pay for staffing: it's not an especially wealthy country, and keeping all the very old and extremely fragile treasures intact is, economically, a bit of a struggle.

Working around masses and other services at the churches is an even more finely tuned dance but understandably so as they're very much living institutions.

Posted by
1720 posts

No worries, you take what Firenze gives you. It's wonderful for one day or a hundred...

Yes, the Mercato Centrale is more a lunch place than dinner. Between 11:00 AM and noon is about the sweet spot for lunch items available at various stands and active deli counters and so forth. By mid-afternoon a lot of the stands are closed for the day.

I've mentioned this before, but Ciro & Sons on via Giglio stands out for dinner, and it opens a little bit earlier than most Florence restaurants, at 6:00 PM.

Posted by
250 posts

Would I get bored just walking around Florence to discover what is there? Many people have suggested getting lost on purpose, but I don't like that idea.

Posted by
11572 posts

Would I get bored just walking around Florence to discover what is
there?

Heck no...or least we didn't. Same in Rome or any other European city we've been to, just walking about with no destination or plan has been half the fun! There's almost always something interesting around the next corner, and that's especially true in Florence and Rome. Central Florence is also not big enough to really get lost in; bring a map along.

Posted by
250 posts

I hope we can't get lost in Florence. Some people said because not all streets are always straight getting lost is easier than I think it is.

Posted by
11572 posts

Few streets are straight because it's an old, old city; just like Rome and Venice. Just carry a map and reference it if you don't know where you are. But even if you do get turned around a bit, they're very safe so there's no worry about being in a place a tourist shouldn't be.

Posted by
250 posts

This is unbelievable: Right after I finished planning both full days in Florence except for a few small details, I looked up my itinerary on the Insight Vacations website and discovered it is based on the wrong hotel location. Instead of Athenaeum I will stay at Hotel Londra, which is near Santa Maria Novella. So now I have to start over. I assume Insight changed hotels this year, making the current brochure out of date. (The new brochure will be published this month.) Has this happened to anyone else?

Posted by
11572 posts

Tours do occasionally have to change hotel plans for any number of reasons (overbooking, construction/refurbishment, change of management, etc.) so it's one of those things that has to just be rolled with sometimes, like unexpected closures, flight delays and whatnot.

I don't know as you have to "start all over again", you just start from a different point. And you'll be an easier walk from the train station! :O)

Posted by
11613 posts

I've had overbooked hotels "walk" me to another property (always an upgrade) a couple of times, no big deal.

I like Streetwise maps, they are laminated and you can draw your route on them with an erasable marker. Print is pretty small, though.

The core of Firenze is more of a grid pattern than a hill town would be.

Posted by
1720 posts

Maybe you already have the RS 'pocket' Florence book. It has a detachable fold-out street map that is about as accurate as I've seen. And the info in the book is pretty much spot-on. Rick likes Florence, a lot.

A grid pattern for the streets?! Not to my way of thinking. You can get turned around quicker walking in Florence than almost anyplace else, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I was using Piazza Santa Maria Novella--where our apartment was--as a base, and when my wife would say, where's such-and-such, I'd think about it and say, 'that way', and off we'd go into the wormhole. Using Rick's map sometimes it would be a circuitous route, but we'd always eventually get there. If someone actually asked me directions, I'd be totally befuddled. But I'd always know where we were in relation to the Arno River, which helped.

Just have a print map at the ready (GPS works terribly in Florence), allow a little extra time to walk anywhere, and find the 'hidden gems'. They're all over!

Posted by
250 posts

I can see why a GPS would not be helpful in Florence. Mom's Garmin tells her to turn left or right onto a certain street. Florence maps I see show you have to turn left or right on the same street to reach a five-way intersection. What were they thinking when the streets were built that way instead of in a grid?

Being close to the train station helps other people, but I will never ride it. I just like being close to the Arno River.

Posted by
1720 posts

Train stations in Italy are a trip, and Firenze SMN is special. Milan or Rome in 1+ hours, Venice in 2, and everywhere in between--it's a real hub. You won't experience it this trip, Traveling Woman, but unlike the uber-efficient stations to the north in Germany & Switzerland, or the ornate Gare du Lyon in Paris, urban Italian train stations are a real rogue's gallery. Some of the best people-watching ever, especially at Milano Centrale or Roma Termini.

Posted by
11572 posts

What were they thinking when the streets were built that way instead
of in a grid?

They weren't thinking the way city planners do today: they were following a different sort of order. Roads in very old cities/towns often were created from much-used footpaths, and/or sometimes followed natural contours of the land for easiest way by wagon, animal or foot. And we can't always see today what was once there: it's been gone for a long time or under hundreds of years of soil deposits so there may have been obstacles which no longer appear. Sometimes settlements grew into towns in sort of circular pattern, and sometimes small villages merged with others as their populations expanded.

As far as being close to the train station, I think some of us thought train is how you were getting to Florence. Some stations - like Rome Termini - are also metro/bus hubs so they're used to access parts of a city further afield.

Posted by
250 posts

Kathy, one reason I am traveling through Insight is they transport people between cities via a deluxe 40-seat coach. That way, there is no need to carry suitcases up and down stairs or worry about whether seats are available, etc. and we get overhead luggage storage. The coach is even wifi enabled and there is more legroom. Most people ride buses, taxis, and/or trains because they do not have that luxury.

Posted by
11572 posts

OK, how you were getting around Italy wasn't discussed on this post (edit: oops, I seen mention now way back in mid March, sorry) so that's good to know. Some of us respond to lot of posts on a daily basis, and for multiple forums. It can be difficult to remember all the details of everyone's individual trips.

Most people ride buses, taxis, and/or trains because they do not have
that luxury.

We all have different preferred methods of getting about, and whatever works is absolutely fine, At the same time I think a fair amount of us choose public transit simply because we enjoy independent travel and not necessarily because we can't afford to do it any other way. In our case, the cost savings also allows us to extend the length of our trips by quite a bit so we get to see more. Lots of ways to skin the cat!

Posted by
250 posts

It was not discussed in this thread because I am only making plans for Florence. It would be easier to remember in a Pisa thread.

Posted by
250 posts

Is it true that SMN is a bad area because of the train station? Someone told me to avoid all restaurants near the train station no matter how good they are.

Posted by
30971 posts

The area around Firenze SMN is "busy" but I wouldn't say it's a "bad area". As I recall, there are some nice hotels adjacent to the station and of course a Church across the street. If there was a good restaurant in that area, I wouldn't have any hesitation in dining there.

Posted by
1720 posts

Ken's right. We stayed at an apartment on the Piazza SMN, which is directly across the street from the SMN train station. Not dangerous, but you'll see all walks of life around there. Gypsy hawkers, and some beggars even in the square. I gave one of them a couple Euro for an amulet the first day there after quite an animated conversation that was a pretty good sales pitch. I saw him at least once every day after that when I was going to/from the apartment, and he just smiled & waved.

Posted by
250 posts

Thanks Ken.

One more thing: What should I do before supper when I arrive? I expect to have some time after hotel check-in.

Posted by
1720 posts

I would check to be sure, but I believe the cathedral at Santa Maria Novella is open until 5:30 PM during the week and 5:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Would that be nice to knock that off your bucket list the first day?

Posted by
4 posts

Just want to say thank you, Traveling Woman, and thanks to all the commenters. We will be in Florence in June and I'm definitely using your suggestions.

Posted by
250 posts

Jay, I was thinking about doing that. It would be perfect. But if we arrive too late, I obviously need a backup plan.

LOL Amy, thank the people who gave me suggestions. This is my first trip to Europe.

Posted by
38 posts

I am sorry to resurrect this thread 2 months later after its death, but I am trying to plan my Italy vacation with my wife, and this is the itinerary I put together for our portion we have in Florence (its the 1st part of our trip).

I expect to be in Florence around noon (taking the high speed train from milan, our plane arrives in milan at 8 am on the friday).

Anyway, here is our itinerary. seem doable? any obvious problems?

DAY 1 (Friday, September 16):

Around Noon: ESTIMATED arrival at hotel in Florence (Golden Tower Hotel and Spa)
1 PM -- let's eat!
2 PM -- Duomo/campanile
430 PM -- Galleria dell' Accademia (michalangelo's David tour)
7 PM -- dinner

DAY 2 (Saturday, September 17):

Approx 930 AM until 1230 PM -- Food Tour (doing a 3 hour food tour)
1 PM -- Santa Croce
230 PM -- Palazza Vecchio
4 PM -- Ufizi Gallery
7 PM -- dinner

DAY 3 (Sunday, September 18):

815 AM -- Cappelle Medicee
930 AM -- Palazzo Medici (both sights next to each other)
11 AM until 2 PM -- shop and lunch!
2 PM -- Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria Del Carmine (i know, make a reservation)
3 PM - Pitti Palace (combo pass with Boboli Gardens, focus on Palatine Gallery inside)
6 PM - dinner (Boccadama?)

DAY 4 (Monday, September 19 - Leave Hotel No Earlier than 130 PM, Leave luggage at hotel in morning):

815 AM -- San Marco (Especially Upper Floor)
930 AM - Santa Maria Novella (and visit famous perfume store corner next to this)
1130 AM - lunch and shop some more
130 PM - leave for Tuscany in rental car (cant check in at our hotel before 3 pm)

any help/suggestions/critiques would be appreciated!

Posted by
9 posts

For travelling woman: if i were you i would definitely allocate at least 3 hours to the uffizi museum, it is not going to be crowded in november, just book in advance

Posted by
38 posts

yeah, i'm giving it 3 hours for us. thats the max i can allocate and still fit everything we want to see.

any other suggestions folks? problems with the itinerary i listed?

Posted by
11572 posts

Nathan, it would be a good idea if you'd start your own thread about your trip. It's really confusing to try and sort questions for multiple people with different trips on the same thread. :O)

Posted by
250 posts

Sharon, I don't even have one hour for the Uffizi Gallery. That one will have to wait for whenever "next time" is.