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Florence experts: need help with hotel, location and a 1 1/2 day visit

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Hi all

I'm working on my plans for 2 weeks in Italy in September! Here's the itinerary:

A week in Carunchio in Abruzzo in the cooking school that we went to last year. Can't wait to go back!

Then 3 - 4 nights in Cinque Terre. The more we research that area, the more we want to stay longer so are leaning towards the 4 nights, especially since we will probably have other places to go in the future instead of going back. (Although from the look of things, I might want to go back!)

Then 2 nights in Florence (was supposed to be 3). I've been there twice briefly a while ago, my husband has never been there, but this is a place we could easily return to in conjunction with a trip to Rome or Venice, so there's our thinking on the short visit. Just enough of a taste for my husband so he wants to go back!

So here are the questions. We'll be arriving into Florence by train on a Wed early/mid afternoon and leaving from the airport that Friday at 12:45. Does the train go right into the center of Florence? And is there a train from Florence to the airport? Train vs taxi suggestions for our departure?

Where should we stay in Florence? Near the train station in case we take the train to the airport or is that not recommended? Do you recommend staying in any particular area so we can walk around the tourist area at night? Any suggestions (we usually go to 3-star hotels to give an idea) of any area or hotel to start with? I'm thinking it's not necessary to stay by the airport given our departure time.

And lastly, for a first-timer to get a brief overview of Florence, what do you recommend for our one day? Shopping? (hint, hint? :D ) Or maybe something that will appeal to him more :?

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