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Florence as a day trip - have a few questions

Florence as a day trip - have a few questions

Old Feb 6th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Florence as a day trip - have a few questions

We will be traveling to Florence as a day trip from our base in Pienza.

Here is our plan ( always subject to change as it has many times already) - Do you think this is doable?

Arrive at the parking lot Parcheggio Parterre near Piazza della Liberta' by 8am - I have read that we can take bus #7 to Piazza San Marco - true?? Where do you get tickets?? Schedule?

Visit Accademia - want reservations for 8:30am
Then head to Central Mercato - for a light snack - Three teenagers are with us so they are always hungry.
Then over to San Lorenzo market
Be at the Duomo for noon
Quick lunch somewhere near here - need suggestions?
After lunch visit the Duomo Museum
Then climb the dome
Afterwards head toward Mercato Nuovo
Finish the day at Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella
Pick up a quick dinner near Piazza San Marco so we can catch the bus back to the parking lot - any suggestions for places to eat??

With all of that said, I need some suggestions on good but fast eating places and how the buses work.

readytotraveltoo is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 10:49 AM
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How the buses work:

For Florence routes and schedules:

Certainly your suggested itinerary is doable. Many of your suggestions invole shopping, which can take as much or as little time as you like. I think if you visit the San Lorenzo markets, then the Mercato Nuovo will seem like more of the same. Instead, after the Duomo Museum, walk to Piazza de Signoria and then the Ponte Vecchio so you can see a few more of the famous outdoor sights of the city.
ellenem is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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when do you plan to leave Pienza to have parked your car in Firenze and be on a bus by 8am to keep your appointment in the middle of town by 8:30?

I have to say it: Personally I think it's sad that you are going to r shopping places and yet will be right in front of the Museo San Marco but aren't going in. And I wouldn't add the Ponte Vecchio -- another tourist trap shopping strip. I'd look inside the Bapistery.

There is a legendary cafe right in the Piazza San Marco, but you will find a very limited menu, mainly sweets, but probably some sandwiches. Gran Caffe San Marco.
primeranoche is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2010, 12:13 PM
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Ponte Vecchio for me isn't about shopping, but rather about seeing in person one of the most recognizable sights of Florence. It was for that purpose that I suggested it.
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Old Feb 6th, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Yes, I'm with ellen on the Ponte Vecchio. You can't go to Florence without crossing it and admiring the view in all directions. No need to buy jewelry, just go to watch people.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 05:23 AM
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Thanks Ellenem. I will check out the website on the buses.

Primerancoche, I am trying to enjoy a variety of activities in Florence. We will be in Italy for 16 days and will be visiting museums/duomos in every city/town. My children's least favorite activity in NYC was the MET which every else enjoys. My intention was to be able to walk around and really see Florence, the people and all the activities going on. So many people have posted that they have crammed so much into one day that they don't remember anything or that you must slow down to really enjoy. I am hoping that is what I am doing. I am not positive since I have never been there.
For your question, we will be leaving very early so we can see as much as we can. Thanks for the tip on the restuarant.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 05:26 AM
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I wonder what time you'll have to leave Pienza.

I'm with Elenem.

Drop some shopping and add Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio. With the amount of time you have I'd snack on-the-go.

I would take an hour and bus up to Piazza Michaelangelo, see the view from there and then walk down.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 06:45 AM
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I wouldn't count on 8:30 reservations even though it's not that far from where you intend to park. The drive from Pienza would take 1 1/2 hours without any traffic problems or getting lost. Arriving at 8 doesn't mean you can immediately get a bus and there is always a kid that will need to find a restroom after a long car trip.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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Sounds like you have already made the decison not to visit the Uffizi. If I was in Italy for 16 days, and was going to be in Florence, including with my kids, I would definitely make time for this museum, even if it's only a short visit to see some of the highlights. I don't know where else in italy you will be, but in my book, only the Vatican Museums would as high on a museum list - in other words, if you are rationing museum time to avoid overloading, the Uffizi would be at the top of my list.

Plan time for gelato - Florence has aeguably some of the best gelaterias in Italy! Vivoli is our favorite, followed closely by Gelateria dei Neri.
Instead of trying to find an early, quick dinner (and keeping in mind that most restaurants open for dinner at 7 or more likely, 8 pm), consider buying extra food at Mercato Centrale, to eat on the train. (There's so much great food at Mercato Centrale, it will be your excuse to buy more.) Then, once back in Pienza you can have a real meal.

I've forgotten the name of a great, centrally-located pizza-by-the-slice place that also has a lovely outdoor seating area in back. I'll try to look it up. The pizza is fresh, a good variety of toppings, you can have as much or as little as you want, and because it's cafeteria style, it's fast.

One fun thing we did with our daughter at Mercato Centrale was to buy four different types of fresh pecorino cheese, and have a taste test - though we never could decide which one we liked the best!
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 07:56 AM
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I think going to Florence as a tourist for just one day is pretty useless, you should stay in Pienza and enjoy it. You won't understand much of what you are seeing in just few hours.
Your plan looks like a marathon and is a total waste of time, IMHO.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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I do not think visiting Florence for one day will be a waste of time. Ideally it would be better to be there much longer, but you can still see quite a bit as the city's major attractions are within easy walking distance of each other. If you will be in Italy for 2 weeks you can even do another day trip to Florence if you decide you wish to return to see more. Your plan is very doable. I would add the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria, and at least one stop for gelato. The Uffizi is a wonderful museum but, if you only have time and interest for one museum, you must go to the Accademia.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:29 AM
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You should read up on the Museo San Marco, which is not a typical museum at all. If your kids don't like it, you can always leave. I recommend you skip the Uffizi.

I've got nothing against looking at the Ponte Vecchio but it's zoo if you try to cross it and is all about shopping. But kids would interested to see the buildings on the bridge I would think.

I also think you need to think about how early you are going to have to leave Pienza to make that 8:30 am appointment at the Accademia. Better to move the appointment back.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Your trip plan sounds good to me. You know your family's likes and dislikes better than the rest of us, so skipping the Uffizi is a perfectly ok thing to do.

Don't be afraid just to grab a taxi instead of waiting or looking for a bus.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 01:49 PM
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I would look into taking a train into Florence. You will be going with commute-hour traffic, and it's fierce. If you take the train into Florence, you will arrive right across the piazza from Santa Maria Novella.

I certainly agree that with the kids the Uffizi is not such a good idea. It's chock full of astounding art, but the galleries are not well designed, and it's hard to know what you are seeing unless you are really an art aficianado.

Climbing the Duomo is great, and you should be sure the kids know about the architectural and engineering problems that Brunelleschi faced, so they will appreciate what they see. (Have you read Brunelleschi's Dome?)

If you want to see the Ponte Vecchio, fine. It is almost too crowded to get across during the day. You don't have to go on it. Just walk down the river a bit and look back at it. Do take a walk through Piazza delle Signoria. That's where Savonarola was burned at the stake. To me that was always quite something to think about while standing there.

I love Mercato Centrale!! The FOOD!! GADS!!

Vivoli's gelato is the best, IMHO, although it's not exactly central to your itinerary. But you can find the Bargello nearby, and take the street leading away from the exit of the Bargello, Via dei Vigna Vecchia, about 3 minutes to the little tiny piazza at Via dei Stinchi, and you are there.

I agree the San Lorenzo and New Markets are too much the same stuff.

There are a couple of restaurants near the entrance to the Medici tombs behind San Lorenzo that are pretty good. They are touristy, but so is most everything around there. Il Porcospino (the porcupine) is good, and the waiters are all friendly young english-speakers.

In the Duomo museum, look for Donatello's Mary Magdalen. One of the most heart-rending sculptures I have every seen.
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Old Feb 7th, 2010, 02:10 PM
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that's "ever seen" not every.
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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Thanks Charnees. I really did not think about taking the train since we had a car but you have a good point. I could tweak our schedule so we would start and end near the train station. We could probably leave alittle later too. We were concerned about driving back in the dark. Does anyone know the website for the train that we would take to Florence from Pienze or another town closeby? Taking the train would be better for my husband since he is taking the kids hot air ballooning the next morning and they have to be there by 6am.
Thanks again
readytotraveltoo is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2010, 06:41 AM
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Italian train system:
ellenem is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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There is no train station in Pienza. The closest is in Buonconvento, and it has trains about every two hours, many with a change in Siena. The last train back is at 6:10 pm.
If you want to take the train, take it from Siena. They are more frequent, and the last direct train back is at 8:10 pm. (There are later trains, but they require a change at Empoli.)

The Web site is
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Also, the train station in Siena is not in a crowded area. It shouldn't be difficult, and parking might be free or cheap.

For me, the first thing I would cross off your list (and add something else) would be the Farmaica Santa Maria Novella. Unless your kids are really into baroque interior decorating, and standing at a counter, waiting to be shown expensive creams and scents, it is about the worst place I can think of to take kids.

Two leather, ceramic, souvenir markets are too many. Stick to San Lorenzo and maybe add the Medici tombs. They are impressive in a way that would probably strike young people.

Me, I love the Duomo museum, but I don't know that it would excite kids that don't like museums. It's kind of a museum-lovers' museum.

If I really wanted another museum, I think I would pick the Bargello. The building itself is a destination, it is small and easy to visit, and has some things that might grab the kids' attention.

Accademia, Duomo, dome climbing and waiting in line, Baptistry, Medici tombs, Mercato Centrale, a walk through Piazza Signoria, past the Uffizi galleried courtyard, toward the Ponte Vecchio, with a couple of rest stops for drinks and pizza... that would be a full day.

If you are working your way toward the Arno, and find you have time, you could cross the river and see something of the Boboli Gardens. In any case, I would taxi back to the train station from where ever you find yourself.
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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Thanks ellenem and Zerlina for the info on the trains. I just went to the website but I can't find any schedules from Siena to Florence. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks tuscanlifeedit- you gave me more to think about.
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