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Can a gal grow to love Florence if she felt iffy in the past?

Can a gal grow to love Florence if she felt iffy in the past?

Old May 30th, 2009, 08:00 AM
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Can a gal grow to love Florence if she felt iffy in the past?

I am traveling to Italy for two weeks next May (early, but after the May holiday) with my sister (she's never been) and planning on introducing her to Florence, Tuscany or Umbria, and then Rome. We are both serious art and history people. There is a full plate of places I would like to visit in Florence and I might use it as a base for a day trip to Lucca or Bologna.

I was in Florence 4 years ago in late June with my family as a day trip. We did the Accademia and Uffizi. It was so hot and crowded that we walked past the Duomo, across the Ponte Vecchio, and up to Piazza Michelangelo--could not wait to get back to the calm and coolness of our farmhouse apartment near San Gimi and its pool.

This time, I am thinking of staying in the Oltrarno area in an apt for 4 or 5 nights. I have loved all the places in Italy that I overnighted in (Venice, Bologna, Rome, hill towns) and have been cooler to some places we daytripped to (Milan, Pisa), So I think it may be a day tripper vs. longer stay problem.

Now the million dollar questions: Will the crowds be manageable? Is it likely to not be so stinking hot? Is it, like other towns, more enjoyable in the evening as the daytrippers leave? Is it possible that I will love Florence?
mama_mia is offline  
Old May 30th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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<<Is it possible that I will love Florence?>>

I don't think anyone knows the answer to that question, but I do think it's possible to enjoy a city that is inundated by daytrippers when you are staying there and can go out in the evening when the crowds are gone. I had the same feeling as a daytripper but noticed the vendors packing up the knock-off purses and other junk in the early evening and wished that I was spending a day or two there.

It should be cooler in early May than in June but four, or even three, nights might be enough for you. I was there in October and it was crowded so May probably will be too.

Don't miss Lucca.
Luisah is offline  
Old May 30th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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I liked Florence more the second time.

First time was kind of rushed.
Also one travel companion was a PITA.
Each time I was there in late Sept.
This time the weather was hotter.
I was so hot that I poured a whole bottle of water down the front of my shirt at the car rental agency.

Second time, I was alone and throughly enjoyed the city.
I walked all around and went to several new places.
Bargello, Santa Croce Church, & Piazza Michelangelo.
I ate gelato and shopped the Lorenzo market.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 09:32 AM
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The weather in May should be OK; not very hot (but then who knows...). I think you will enjoy Florence more if you stay there. If the afternoons get very hot you can easily get back to your apartment and cool off. Having some leisure time to explore makes all the difference.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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We visited Florence in early May a couple of years ago. The weather was perfect (and I'm a total wimp about hot weather), and the crowds were minimal. Wander in the side streets, as well as seeing the bigger attractions. I liked Florence a lot, seeing it with my daughter who had lived there for a semester, so that helped.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:00 AM
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It takes 3 days at least until you fall in love with Florence. The city is a proud and difficult lady who requires more attention than just racing through in one day until she opens her heart to you...
Seriously: Take your time to get acquainted with the city. Stroll around and turn left and right, away from the tourist race courses and you'll see a different city. The crowds are limited to a small area and certain streets because most visitors don't know but the highlights and think Florence can be seen in one day. Visit the places they miss. See San Marco, il Bargello, Cappella Brancacci instead of Uffizi and Accademia. Look into the small churches along your way. Enjoy the view from San Miniato al Monte, and enter the church and the cemetery. Go up to Fiesole. Explore the side streets in Oltrarno. Relax in Boboli garden. Sit on a bench or wall with an ice-cream cone and watch people passing by. Window-shop in Via Tornabuoni. Visit the market hall (Mercato Centrale) in the morning, also the upper floor where the fruit and vegetable stalls are. Etc....
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Old May 30th, 2009, 10:28 AM
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Thank you everyone for your replies. It is as I suspected--worth a return for several days. I think if we do a day trip, it will be to Lucca, because, while I loved Bologna, I don't think it would be as enjoyable as a day trip.

Quokka--the things you mentioned are just what I am hoping to experience this time around. I might send my sister off to the Accademia on her own and skip it this time around.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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I don't know the answer either, but after 32 years and about 15 European trips avoiding a second trip "a Firenze", I am about to try it again in early June. I recall the same hotness and humanity back then, and didn't care for it. This time,it won't be for me as much as my wife and daughter who have never been there.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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Good luck! Let us know how it works out.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:16 AM
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I think you will find that May is completely differnt that the middle of the summer. Weather much better and crowds significantly less.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 11:33 AM
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I am also hoping that this year is a "light" tourism year due to the miserable economic conditions worldwide. I just booked my Florence hotel 2 weeks out from going and there seemed to be plenty of availability and some discounting. Next year may be different...or maybe not.

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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:09 PM
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I am not sure that you can learn to love a place the second time around. I have been to Venice 4 times and still don't like it, Paris 5 and same for that city. Two of the most popular cities in the world and I am glad I have seen them, but have no interest in trying again - been there and done that.

Florence used to be my favorite city in Italy and I have been going there for 30 years. The last two visits (2007 and 2008) have saddened me as the city is simpler grimier than it has ever been and now so very much is focused on the tourist dollar that some of the charm has simply been lost.

I enjoy Italy most between November and March and it used to be my absolute #1 choice for a European vacation. Now I just do not when I will be going back. If I do, it will be to smaller towns and villages I suspect and as off the tourist path as I can possibly get.

I am hopeful that I can fall in love with Italy again, as my sheer joy in being there is faded.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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My two trips to Florence have been in early April and early June and I loved the city both times. If you really love art and history and have time to explore in cooler weather I think you have a very good chance of a great visit this second time. There is a good thread on top 10 things to do/see that should give you some ideas:
Vttraveler is online now  
Old May 30th, 2009, 12:42 PM
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Kfusto--I can understand where you are coming from. Must be hard to see an old favorite change, especially if you feel it is not for the better. I feel that way about the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We first happened upon them when there was nothing much beyond fishing shacks and modest homes beyond Duck--now it so developed and such a chore to get around.

I considered going in March to avoid the crowds, but it is not a good time work-wise and I think my sis would feel the weather was too cold (she is from So Cal).

Vttraveler--thanks for sending the link. Now I will be able to pull it up easily and remind myself of why I want to go. Just wish it was not a year away!
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Old May 30th, 2009, 12:49 PM
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Florence is wonderful at night. We were there in April a couple of years ago- during the day, the Piazza della Signora was a huge heaving mass of people. At dusk, it was literally empty and quite magical.

It took me a couple of days to warm up to Florence, but by the end of the week I loved it. It takes a few days to adjust to the rhythm of the traffic and learn how to escape the crowds.

I think staying in the Oltrarno is a great idea. We didn't stay there but I did spend a day wandering around through the area and it's wonderful. Far less tourists, and all sorts of interesting shops and restaurants.
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Old May 30th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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We have been to florence 3 times in june, and it's always hot. But the great thing about STAYING in Florence is that you can get up an enjoy the morning, have a great lunch, then go have a nice nap in your air conditioned apartment or hotel. In the late afternoon, you can go out again, and the evenings are divine...

I recommend sleepinginflorence. We loved their conti apt., and they were a great agency to deal with.

Have a great trip!
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Old May 30th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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I have Sleeping in Florence bookmarked, as well as Residenza il Carmine. It sounds like staying in Florence will make all the difference.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 03:56 AM
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mama_mia--I agree about the Outer Banks. We got to know and love the area about 35 years ago, and it has really changed.

Back to Florence: I really recommend reading Brunelleschi's Dome before you go--then climbing the dome when you are there. The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy is also very good, and for a lighter look at the city, Magdalen Nabb's mysteries.
Vttraveler is online now  
Old May 31st, 2009, 04:09 AM
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DH and I enjoyed Bargella also and the Pitti Palace and its gardens. On a recent trip, there was a fine Botticelli (sp?) exhibit at a newly-reopened palace. I'll check my notes.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 04:28 PM
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I haven't been to Firenze for a very long time, but I used to visit it fairly frequently and always loved it. Maybe it's a lot more crowded than it was back when I was going there, but in May it shouldn't be horribly crowded anywhere in Italy.

Rome was my bugaboo. It took 3-4 trips there for me to overcome my distaste for it. Now, I love it. So yes, your opinion of a place can change radically. So much has to do with the external circumstances: weather, traveling companions, the particular people you happen to interact with...Give it another shot.
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