What We Loved, What We’d Do Differently
This Spring’strip to Florence was a sense- boggling feast for the spirit, assuming you could break free of the crowds for a moment to catch some space. So – expectations: Assume it will be crowded through the summer and plan accordingly. Make reservations online now to see the “big” galleries: Uffizi, Accademia. Arrive early or stay late to avoid tour groups: If you see a tour guide’s umbrella raised ahead of you (sort of like the shark fins in the old Jaws movie), change direction immediately! Then, once you arrive, slow down, make a modest schedule for the day, and don’t expect to see everything at once!
Here’s what we loved:
- Florence’s famous Duomo atop its Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral: Marvel of engineering, inside decorated with visions of Heaven and Hell (you’ll know where you want to end up when you see it!)
- Advance registration for the “must see” Uffizi Gallery (Birth of Venus) and Accademia Gallery (David). Google online to find the best deal; there will be a fee for advance registration, but it beats waiting in line for hours.
- Florence’s oldest Pharmacy (from the 1400′s) near Santa Maria Novella. Potions from the past and lemon/rosewater hand cream for today!
- San Lorenzo Market for giftie phenoms: Murano jewelry, soaps, papers, purses to take home to friends
- The foodie must Mercato Centrale: No calories for looking, but be aware it closes at 2pm.
- Hungry? We loved Buca dell’Orafo (mouth of the goldsmith) right across from the Ponte Vecchio (28R Volta Dei Girolami, 39-055-213619). Best Ribollita (even out of season) and handmade pasta.
- Gelato: Grom (Dia del Campanile at the corner of the Via delle Oche 39.055.216158) This gelato’s so special it’s housed in metal containers so you can’t even see in. You’ll just have to taste it!
Here’s what we’d miss:
- The tourist infested Ponte Vecchio: Some say there are deals to be had, but we haven’t.
- A new phenomenon: Leather “pimps” near the Arno/Ponte Vecchio. These guys are charming and their stores are for real, but don’t waste time hearing their stories (that change based on whether you’re single or with your spouse) unless you came to Florence to get a leather jacket. Do some research in advance so you’ll know a good price when you see it.