Anyone NOT like Florence?

Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 05:29 AM
  #1  
Anon
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Anyone NOT like Florence?

We just got back from a first time trip to Italy. We were in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and drove through Tuscany. I was so excited to see Florence after hearing so many people rave about it. (I also read somewhere that the area around the Duomo is considered the most beautiful area in the world). I was very disappointed. Although it was amazing seeing the David and the treasures in the Uffuzi, besides that I wasn't really impressed. Perhaps you need to be really into art to want to spend more than a few days there. I did not think that Florence the city was particularly beautiful or charming. Although the Arno did look beautiful at night. Truthfully, I was much more blown away by Rome and Venice. Thoughts?
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 05:42 AM
  #2  
Patrick
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I'm with you Anon. Frankly, Florence is probably my least favorite city in Italy, partly because it just doesn't seem like a working, living city. I found the entire center totally dedicated to tourism -- very few shops that seemed like they actually catered to locals. Markets that didn't look like any locals were there, but everything geared for souvenir shopping. I found it hard to walk on sidewalks or even through the narrow streets because there were so many huge tour groups everywhere. I didn't see quaint little areas of locals like in cities like Venice or Rome, or certainly smaller towns. I may be a tourist too, and I don't mind tourism, but when that is all there is -- I just found the city without charm.

Before I get slammed, yes, I'm sure there are nice neighborhoods inhabited by locals once you leave the very center, but I find that in other cities there is a pleasant mix of them all around.
Yes, David is magnificent. St. Croce is amazing (although the constant chattering by the recording in English telling you to beware of pickpockets sure removes much of its reverence.) I've posted my experience seeing the Ufizzi just after its reopening a few years ago when they lined everyone up and kept us moving in a single file through roped off portions of the museum. We were not allowed to stop to look at a painting, but kept moving at a rather brisk pace. In about an hour we were back out -- not enough to experience what is supposed to be one of the great museums of the world.
I've been twice to Florence, have seen what I wanted to see, and doubt that I will be going back. But I could return to Venice or Rome every year and still not get enough.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 06:28 AM
  #3  
Lisa
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Thank you both for your honesty! All points of view should be given here. This really helps me make decisions for meaningful travel in the future.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 06:29 AM
  #4  
Ann
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To Patrick and Anon: I think I can understand your feelings about Florence. The first time I went I stayed a couple of days like you and saw what I wanted. I didn't like it either. Then I went for a month and completely experienced the city. Now it's my favorite city. The problem with traveling in short periods (which I know is a necessity) is that you can't really experience the true feeling of a city.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 06:32 AM
  #5  
Nutella
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I'm another who didn't like Florence the first time but fell in love the second, third, fourth... On a first visit to Italy, Rome or Venice are tough acts to follow. I still can't stand Florence on the weekends, but during the week it is one of my favorite places anywhere!
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 07:05 AM
  #6  
Judy
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Add me to the list. I did like hiking up the Duomo though, and the scenery up there was wonderful. It was way too too crowded with cruise ships day trippers, IMO. Judy
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 07:07 AM
  #7  
Patrick
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Ann, I appreciate what you're saying, but I think that is true of any city in the world. You can't possibly get a full appreciation for a place in a few days. But we are really speaking about the casual traveler here. Not many people are going to discuss going to Florence to "live" for a month. And as much as I might enjoy "living" in Florence for a month, I am sure I would enjoy "living" in Rome or Venice for a month a whole lot more!!! So my point still stands.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 07:30 AM
  #8  
john
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To Ann: are you saying that on your subsequent visits, you went to some places in Florence that are away from the usual tourist areas, and that you enjoyed? would you mind sharing?
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 07:42 AM
  #9  
maryjane
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Florence is and has been since my first visit one of my favorite cities. It may not be "beautiful" in the minds of some. As an example, those who equate beauty with green parks and trees may not consider it beautiful. But it is a wonderful, vibrant city with great art and culture, wonderful food and beautiful buildings. It is enough that most people like - or love- Florence. It is not necessary that everyone agree.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 07:46 AM
  #10  
Mary Fran
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Ditto Patrick. You describe my experience exactly. I just don't get it when people rave about Florence, because I too found it to be a stressful city without charm, and I couldn't wait to leave. I'm glad that I went, but I have no desire to go back. Sienna, Assisi, Paestum, Venice, and Rome were fabulous, but Florence? No.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:23 AM
  #11  
sandi
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My view was warped by the fact that we had just come from Venice and it rained the whole time in Florence. I have to admit though that we had some of the best food there.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:35 AM
  #12  
xxx
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Now that I am middleaged and am more well travelled in Italy, it's much harder to love Florence through the crowds of Americans swarming all over every surface, but many years ago, I had an unforgettable first teenage romance there the summer after the Arno flooded, and it remains my most cherished memory of Italy to this very day! Things were hardly convenient then, and there was horrific damage everywhere, but that was when I feel in love with Italy for the rest of my life!
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:41 AM
  #13  
Aldo
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Florence? I consider every city where you can't get a good bagel a hick town. It could be in Kentucky, Alabama or Italy. A hick town is still a hick town.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:42 AM
  #14  
pierre
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I agree with Anon and Patrick. I don't really like Florence all that much. I've been there twice and definitely didn't fall in love on the second time like some other posters. That's not to say there aren't wonderful things to see there-there are. It's just definitely my least favorite big Italian city.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:46 AM
  #15  
Dissenter
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I haven't been to Italy in many years, but am returning this summer. I love Florence -- very walkable, great art and churches, good shopping (not just for tourists), great food. Venice, on the other hand, seems to be one step short of Disneyland -- totally artificial and not a place where people actually live beyond catering to tourists. Maybe they do a better job of covering this up for some, but Venice's population keeps shrinking for a reason. I'm returning there, too, but only because some in my family haven't been there and should have the chance to form their own impressions as so many love it.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 09:05 AM
  #16  
sera
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Been there twice and just can't warm up to Florence. It's like a Renaissance Disney World. Mobs of tourists packing a small area, no cafe life as in Rome, and indifferent restaurants. Loved Fiesole, though. It's a lovely little town.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 09:11 AM
  #17  
Ira
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Hi all,
I wonder if those of us who have problems with cities crowded with tourists have ever considered visiting in the off seasons?
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 09:49 AM
  #18  
Joyce
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I was in Florence off-season. The central historical area was still jammed packed with tourists. I hate to think what Florence must look like during the "on-season".

The problem with Florence is the historical center is very small with narrow streets, so it gets crowded quickly. To make matters worse, automobile traffic is allowed throughout most of the historical center, even by the Duomo. The traffic jams are horrendous, and ruin whatever historical ambience would otherwise be there.

The town officials could remedy much of the problem if they wanted to, e.g. by restricting car traffic to residents, and requiring all other visitors to take shuttles into town from outlying parking lots. Florence would still be crowded, but at least the traffic jams would be reduced, which would help a lot.
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 10:23 AM
  #19  
Anon
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We were in Florence in the off season (we visited a few weeks ago). It was still packed with tourists and we waited in line for the Uffuzi for 3 hours. Then once we were inside, like Patrick, we were hustled through in a herd.

I do agree that certain areas of Venice have a Disneyland feel. However, when we were there it was uncrowded (San Marco was virutally empty!) and we were able to really enjoy it. We walked everywhere and found quaint residential areas and also really enjoyed the outer islands. The same for Rome. It wasn't that crowded when we were there, but once we moved away from the main tourist areas we were really able to experience the city. I just did not get that feeling in Florence. No matter where we were it felt crowded and the shops and resturants all seemed to cater to tourists. The attractions were too crowded to enjoy them. I actually enjoyed Milan more than I did Florence! It's nice to hear that I am not the only one who didn't enjoy it. When we came back and I told friends of my impressions they looked at me like I had two heads!
 
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 10:34 AM
  #20  
lynn
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For those of you who haven't been to Florence or Venice in many years, go prepared.

The main sections are very commercialized. My husband was shocked as he had been about 14 years ago, I have never been until now. It was like an upscale mall.

You really have to get away from the main walking areas if you want to see more "normal" activity.

The market in Florence is a joke. Plain and simple. Their idea of bargaining is taking $2 off a $25 item. It's ridiculous. It's obvious they're only doing this "market" thing to cater to the tourism. The deals are marginal at best unless you're used to paying top dollar for things. If that's the case, you might think it's fine.

I'm used to shopping in lots of places from L.A. to Hong Kong and the deals in Florence were a disappointment.

Had some great food though and the San Lorenzo food market is the highlight.
 

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