Not to be missed Florence Trip Experiences
I’ve recently returned from a fantastic two week trip to Florence, and thought I would share my experience with you! There are so many great ways to spend your time, but below are a few of my recommendations for making sure your Florence trip is a full experience.
Allow extra time for the Duomo visit! Even with a Florence (Firenze) card, I still had to go to the ticket desk, located alongside the baptistery before I was allowed access to the baptistery, along with the Duomo and roof.
For anyone who has not been to Florence before, a visit to both the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s iconic David, and the Uffizi Gallery are an absolute must, however, the queues are extensive. When I walked past the Accademia Gallery, the queue was right back to the Duomo! If you are like me the thought of queuing in the direct sun for that long, will fill you with horror. I decided to go online and buy priority passes direct from the Florence Museums website, which for €23 per gallery was very worth the cost, along with guaranteeing a timed slot so the day didn’t just disappear in queues. I only found this necessary for both the Accademia & Uffizi Galleries, otherwise, my Florence Card got me into each of the sites quickly. Please note if you decide to book priority passes, you are advised to do this before you arrive as I went online on Wednesday, and was unable to book tickets before Friday, so if you are only have a short time in Florence, get this booked early.
Along with shopping, a visit to the Ponte Vecchio and gelato stops, I would strongly recommend some time at some of the lesser known sites. Whilst you will probably spend a few hours in the Pitti Palace, you need to allow time, energy and sunblock to Boboli Gardens, as this is vast and I didn’t manage the whole grounds in one afternoon. Also on your list should be the Medici Chapels with their beautiful domed ceiling, the Galileo Museum for viewing the history of science, and for novelty factor alone; Dante’s house. This quirky three story building holds relics from Dante’s life including some original manuscripts from his iconic Divine Comedies.
This has something for everyone! No Florence trip would be complete without a few hours at Santa Croce Church. This incredibly detailed church will have you sitting in the pews, just to have longer to take in the sheer scale of beauty and detail that surrounds you. The tombs are incredible and include Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini’s last resting place, along with statues paying homage to Leonardo da Vinci and Dante.
Once you have had your fill of culture, head to the back of the church where The School of Leather (La Scuola di Cuoio) has its workshops. Here you can see some of the finest leather made into handbags, purses, wallets, jackets, bookmarks, bracelets and keyrings all created by some of the most skilled designers in Florence. For an additional fee you can have your initials printed on a bag, purse or wallet while you wait. Please be aware as this is the finest leather, you are looking at higher end prices with ladies purses beginning around the €30 price and handbags from around €280 up.
For those who like their horror, a trip to the Zoology Museum (La Specola) located next to Pitti Palace is somewhere to spend an hour. Whilst the preserved animals are similar to those found in most museums in Italy, part of the floor is dedicated to wax work bodies on display. This is not for the squeamish, especially the baby in the womb models!
As part of your Florence trip, time-permitting, I would certainly encourage you to head out of the city to some of the smaller, nearby towns. Siena is perfect for a half day’s exploring (just so long as you don’t arrive in one of the two Palio horse race seasons, as the town is crowded with locals and tourists alike.) Also good for a few hours is a trip to San Gimignano, which is located between Florence to Siena. Siena is just over one hour’s drive, making an ideal experience before it is time to head home after your Florence trip.