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Trip Report Ger’s Trip to Florence over Easter

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Hello all:

My heartfelt thanks to all of you that contributed to my threads, when I asked for advice and information regarding a very late booked Easter trip to Florence – you are better than any guidebook, and I am in your debt.

For the planners, here are links to my planning threads:
http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/ive-just-booked-a-ticket-to-florence-for-easter.cfm
http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/a-day-trip-from-florence-to-do-or-not-to-do-and-which-one.cfm

Introduction
At the beginning of April, I decided one evening to spend a long weekend in Florence over Easter.

I have been to Florence four times before, but have not visited in about 6 years. Easter was definitely not the best time to go, as I knew it would probably be crowded, and the price of flights and hotel rooms, at this late date, would be astronomical.

As expected, the price of flights from London were outrageous, and most seats were booked out completely for Thursday/Friday out and Monday return on all airlines. So, I decided to add a couple of days, and fly on Wednesday afternoon, return on Tuesday evening. On Cityjet from London City Airport (my local) the cost was £360, as opposed to about £700 plus, if I flew Thursday/Friday and returned Monday. So I booked it!

The Hotels
I then started looking at hotels, and was even more disappointed, but I was committed!
All the great B&Bs recommended by Fodor’s travellers were booked, and regular four-star hotels were priced at about £1500 and upwards for the period. It became clear that staying IN Florence was not an option, unless I was willing to lay down a lot of money.

Bluestar (many thanks to you) suggested I check out Hotwire.com, which I did, and very late one evening, I found a ‘secret hotel’; a Five-star villa, about 10 minutes by taxi to the centre, at £820, considerably less than I would have to pay for an equivalent in Florence. It was easy to check which hotel it was, as there was only one in the region, and it looked perfect. So, I booked the Villa Omli in Bagno Ripoli:
http://www.villaolmifirenze.com/en/

Next morning, I got ‘buyer’s remorse’, as I really wanted to stay IN Florence, and it continued for a few days. I was quite relieved when NYFS jumped on the thread and validated my choice, so I knew I wasn’t buying ‘a pig in a poke’. Its always a relief when one gets a ‘thumbs-up’ from someone that one kinda ‘knows’ on Fodors, and a seasoned traveller. Other travellers validated the option of staying outside Florence, so I crawled out of my cave, and started planning.

I asked Fodorites about day trips, and did a lot of reading and planning, and I got so seduced by the recommendations, I extended my trip until Thursday, for £60 change fee for the flight. I once again went to Hotwire.com, and found another ‘secret’ Five-Star hotel in Santa Maria Novella area. Again, it was easy to identify, as there are only a few. It was the Montebello Splendid. I was very content, as I had stayed here before, and had been very happy with the hotel:
http://www.montebellosplendid.com/

The Planning
Fodorites provided excellent recommendations as to how I should spend my time in Florence and the environs. I did some preliminary scheduling of my days, but was open to changes, when I discovered that the weather predictions were fairly poor for almost my entire visit; anywhere from light rain to torrential rain almost every day. However, I discovered that weather in Florence in about as predictable as weather in Ireland, and ended up being pleasantly surprised.

I did book the Uffizi and del’Accademia before I left from the following site, where you can book all Florence museums:
http://www.b-ticket.com/B-Ticket/uffizi/default.aspx

What to wear (Tongue in cheek ;) )
Always a perennial favourite on Fodors! Well, this was MY Spring holiday, and I was wearing linen and cotton, regardless of any other advice and the weather forecast. As it turned out, it was a perfect choice, as temperatures were in the 15-18’s .

I can’t give any advice regarding spending 8 days in Florence with only carry-on luggage – its beyond my capabilities to pack like that. I intended to walk 8 hours a day, so there is no chance I would wear a shirt twice (eewww -ponging!), so that is at least 8 shirts, plus two for evening. I wore almost everything I brought. I will admit that bringing six pairs of shoes was overkill, and I am not sure where I was going to wear the pair of stilettos, but sometimes my shoes just need a vacation, and I can’t deny them :)

While I was wearing linen, the Italian women were bundled up in those ghastly black ‘puffer’ coats, topped with Burberry scarves, looking like the Michelin tyre logo-man. While necessary in Winnipeg and Wisconsin in November to March, I can’t understand why anyone could wear these coats in Firenze in April. Clearly, the ‘fashionista’ of Florence were in absentia.

Next: My intinerary

Best regards ... Ger

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