5 days in Florence

Old Jun 14th, 2015, 09:31 AM
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5 days in Florence

We are flying into Rome on Wednesday/Thursday morning (June 17/18)and we will be taking the train to Florence on Thursday for 5 nights and doing last minute planning! We hope to see highlights but we will not be too unhappy trading off seeing a "must see" tourist attraction for a little rest and relaxation and strolling around soaking up the atmosphere. Our hotel is very close to the Santa Maria Novella train station. Any thoughts on the following rough itinerary?

Thursday - Arrive in Florence (severely jetlagged in all probability)- explore neighborhood - seems very walkable!
Friday - Uffizi Gallery, Accademia ..
Saturday - Countryside Bike Tour - Booked
Sunday - Day Trip to Siena
Monday - Duomo, Ponte Vecchio
Tuesday - Travel to Rome

Thought I had booked tickets to Uffizi but can't find voucher! Any thoughts/comments. What would you recommend we get tickets online to?
Thanks for any help to a first time traveller!
mevtravel is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Get online tickets to Acadamia too.
We too stayed close to SMN station a great location
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 10:26 AM
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Ask your hotel to get you tickets to Uffizi and Academia. They usually provide that service.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 12:51 PM
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Look through your email for your Uffizi tickets - check the trash and spam folders too. If you find you didn't book them, do so right away.

Lee Ann
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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If your hotel can't get tix, use the international phone service. It's a better deal than online booking. No service charge and no charge until you pick up the timed tix.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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The itinerary looks fine. You might try to get to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a glass of wine and to watch the sun set over the city.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 03:44 PM
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When you're at the Duomo, also visit the Baptistery in the same piazza. The interior mosaics are stunning. The exterior bronze doors (replicas) on the north and east sides are by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and the east doors were named the Gates of Paradise by Michelangelo.

In your wanderings, try to get to the Basilica Santa Croce. Tombs of many notable Italians line the interior walls (Michelangelo, Galileo, etc.), and its piazza was once the site of chariot races. The basilica's exterior façade was designed by a Jewish architect, Matas, who was buried outside the church walls. Note the Star of David. This area was inundated in the flood of 1966. There is a line painted on the interior wall of the basilica near the front entry door which indicates the high-water mark of the flood.

Adjacent to Santa Croce, in the original rectory, is a Last Supper and Tree of Life by Taddeo Gaddi. The fresco survived the flood and is in remarkable condition. Gaddi was also the architect of the Ponte Vecchio.

If you like sculpture, try to visit the Bargello Museum.
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 04:08 PM
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I second the idea to visit the Piazalle Michelangelo (an area across the river and up the hill) where you can see the whole city of Florence as you sip a glass of wine as the sun sets. We did this a week ago - and it was stunning! A highlight!
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 04:23 PM
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Mevtravel:

Be aware thar the trip to Siena is mucho better via bus than via train.

IMO, monday permits to include a visit to the Palazzo Vecchio, a true gem, and usually no line for tickets, or a very short one.

Enjoy this great city!
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Old Jun 14th, 2015, 05:29 PM
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Thanks all! Great tips!
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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Since you're staying near the train station, don't neglect a visit to the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, from which the station takes its name. This church contains a number of late Gothic and Renaissance masterpieces, but for some reason that I don't understand, is almost totally overlooked by tourists.

The Tornabuoni Chapel in the choir is covered with frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio and his workshop, where the young Michelangelo was an apprentice. One of the figures in the foreground is attributed to Michelangelo.

One of the earliest uses of perspective can be seen in Masaccio's painting of the Holy Trinity, in one of the chapels on the left of the nave.

There is a painted crucifix by Giotto hanging in the center of the nave.

There are many more works by great artists in the this church; you can get an idea from the Wikipedia article about the Basilica, or from any good guide book. There is also a nice cloister beside the church.

Also near Santa Maria Novella is the Antica Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, where you can drop some euros on very nice creams and lotions in an antique pharmacy.

If you're a real lover of Renaissance Fiorentine painting, you could spend all day at the Uffizi; my daughter and I once spent seven hours there, over the course of two days, and it wasn't the first visit for either of us. We still didn't get to see everything we wanted to see. If you're not a big fan of Renaissance painting, you may not enjoy this museum at all. For a lot of people it's just too, too much. I once saw it described on Tripadvisor as "one d****d Madonna after another".

One of my favorite museums in Florence is the museum of the Duomo, which has most of the great works of art that used to be in the Duomo. I think it's still closed for restructuring, but if you ever get the chance, it's worth going just to see Donatello's sculpture of Mary Magdalene. There are some other great works there, including the original bronze doors of the baptistery, which now has replicas. There's a scultpure of the Deposition from the Cross (not one of his best works, in my opinion.) You can also see the models submitted by other artists for the competition to make the doors. There's also a very interesting exhibit about the building of the dome of the Duomo, including tools, the workmen's wage book, and so forth.

Another of my favorites is the convent museum of San Marco, which has a refectory and monks' cells covered with frescoes by the Beato Angelico (also known as Fra Angelico).

Finally, I wouldn't miss Masaccio's painting of Adam and Eve Expelled from the Earthly Paradis, in the Brancacci Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. It's the most eloquent expression of human despair I've ever seen.
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Old Jun 15th, 2015, 12:52 PM
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Adding if I may to bvl's list, the works of Fra Angelico in the Convent of San Marco [in the Piazza of the same name at the top of Via Cavour] are particularly lovely early in the morning when few people are around. [and it closes in the afternoons so morning is the only time to go].

From the square you can catch a bus to Fiesole - get off in the square and admire the view over Florence, then walk left to the ancient Duomo, or walk further up the hill to the Monastery of San Francesco and see the egyptian mummies and other treasures collected by the monks on their missionary travels. Then walk down again and spend an hour or so admiring the greco-roman theatre and museum, before having a leisurely lunch under the trees outside the restaurant in the centre of the town.

And if you are near Santa Croce, don't miss the local market of San Ambrogio with stalls selling all sorts of pasta and hams, as well as salads and veg, and its cafe serving Florentine specialities like tomato and bread salad and tripe. [the tripe is optional].
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