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End of Feb 9 day Florence Honeymoon

Old Dec 22nd, 2017, 05:02 PM
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End of Feb 9 day Florence Honeymoon

Hi all! I'm new here and I have never traveled to Europe. My fiancé and I are planning a 9 day Florence honeymoon at the end of February, going into early March. We have gotten a lot of handy advice from the Rick Steves books but I would like to get some help with specific questions/concerns. In addition, any general, practical advice that a first-time traveller to Europe/Italy is very much appreciated.
First, we definitely don't want to stick out as tourists (but want to be comfortable while walking) so I need recommendations on what to pack for that time of year and any kind of dress code knowledge, as we would like to attend a mass.
Second, we are wine-loving foodies so if there are any can't-miss restaurants/wine bars/gelato spots, do tell! My other concern is getting food/wine back home to the States. Any info or advice on shipping from Europe?
Third, we have arranged for a rental car to get to the villa, so any practical driving advice is greatly welcome as well. That being said we planning on spending a day driving to and seeing the coast, so if there is a recommended spot to travel to from Florence please share!
Thanks!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2017, 05:36 PM
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kja
 
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Welcome to Fodor's and happy honeymoon!

I would strongly encourage you not to worry about sticking out as tourists -- you are tourists, you will be identifiable as tourists, and the area is one that survives economically largely because of tourists!

Instead of worrying about looking like tourists, you might consider what will allow you to pack as little as possible while being comfortable -- and that means both physical comfort and comfort with your presentation. So, for example, I never travel with shorts because I, personally, won't enter a church in shorts and there are churches just about everywhere that I want to see; others are comfortable with entering a church in shorts. Some people won't go anywhere without jeans; I think they are too heavy and take too long to dry when traveling, so I never take jeans on a trip. Etc.

When packing, I plan my clothes to take full advantage of the merits of layers in managing the wide range of temperatures one can encounter on any trip; recognize that I'm going to wear some things multiple times (even every day -- who cares!?!), washing in a sink as necessary; and when I have multiple options, I give preference to things that are lightest in weight and least likely to suffer from wrinkles. JMO.

Bringing food back to the US can be tricky. Be sure you study the rules, know exactly what you can and cannot bring into the country and are prepared to "lose" anything that doesn't meet the requirements. I rarely try to travel with wine -- it weighs too much! -- but others do, and I believe this forum even has some threads on it, so you might try searching.

I trust you aren't planning to drive immediately upon your arrival in Europe? I strongly encourage you to take public transportation for your first night or two. Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! And please be patient with me if you think I’m being overly adamant, but I know too many people who have died or been seriously injured in accidents to which jet lag was a contributing factor, and I know too many people who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the knowledge that they were responsible for accidents that resulted in multiple deaths, including those of children, all because they were too confident in their ability to drive safely with jet lag. The issue has become a bit of cause célèbre for me….

Finally, I would strongly urge you to get, or at least consult, at least one other guidebook, as the RS ones tend to be rather superficial IME. I recommend the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, and Michelin Green Guide.

Best wishes and congratulations! I hope these remarks help.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2017, 06:30 PM
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Thank you so very much, this will all be very helpful in planning and I really appreciate your time!
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Old Dec 23rd, 2017, 06:27 AM
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If Pitti Gola in Florence will be open during the time you are there, book a meal with a wine pairing. Book it early so you can ask the owners to recommend a good wine store to you in Florence. Most of the time it is cheaper for them to ship the wine (if you are buying six or more bottles) than you hauling it yourself.

For packing, be sure to look at a weather forecast for Florence just before you are ready to pack. It might be quite cold - or it could be rather balmy for most of the time you are tehre. You just don't know. But it is better to pack light and buy something warm if you need it (Florence is crammed with cheap clothes) than to end up bulky luggage -- especially if you are changing fligths to get to Florence, which adds to the risk of luggage getting lost.

For a 9 day stay I would want an apartment so I could set my own time for breakfast and enjoy some meals of wine and cheese and goodies at "home" as a break from restaurant eating.
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Old Jan 8th, 2018, 09:32 AM
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Thank you so much, I will look into Pitti Gola. Thanks for the packing advice, I will keep that in mind!
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Old Jan 8th, 2018, 12:48 PM
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How are you getting to Florence?

And are you staying in the city of Florence or outside it? Using Florence as a base for day trips by car is impractical. Parking is expensive and the historic center of Florence is a ZTL; driving there is forbidden to non-residents. They snap your picture, get the car rental company to identify you (for which you're charged a fee), and some months later send you a big bill.

However Florence makes a good base for day trips by train or bus, weather permitting.
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