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Florence experts: need help with hotel, location and a 1 1/2 day visit


Jun 9th, 2013, 12:49 PM
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Florence experts: need help with hotel, location and a 1 1/2 day visit

Hi all

I'm working on my plans for 2 weeks in Italy in September! Here's the itinerary:

A week in Carunchio in Abruzzo in the cooking school that we went to last year. Can't wait to go back!

Then 3 - 4 nights in Cinque Terre. The more we research that area, the more we want to stay longer so are leaning towards the 4 nights, especially since we will probably have other places to go in the future instead of going back. (Although from the look of things, I might want to go back!)

Then 2 nights in Florence (was supposed to be 3). I've been there twice briefly a while ago, my husband has never been there, but this is a place we could easily return to in conjunction with a trip to Rome or Venice, so there's our thinking on the short visit. Just enough of a taste for my husband so he wants to go back!

So here are the questions. We'll be arriving into Florence by train on a Wed early/mid afternoon and leaving from the airport that Friday at 12:45. Does the train go right into the center of Florence? And is there a train from Florence to the airport? Train vs taxi suggestions for our departure?

Where should we stay in Florence? Near the train station in case we take the train to the airport or is that not recommended? Do you recommend staying in any particular area so we can walk around the tourist area at night? Any suggestions (we usually go to 3-star hotels to give an idea) of any area or hotel to start with? I'm thinking it's not necessary to stay by the airport given our departure time.

And lastly, for a first-timer to get a brief overview of Florence, what do you recommend for our one day? Shopping? (hint, hint? ) Or maybe something that will appeal to him more
kwren is offline  
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Jun 9th, 2013, 12:59 PM
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Ideas for one day in Florence
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Jun 9th, 2013, 01:06 PM
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Not an expert, but my family loves the Hotel Alba, the breakfast is great, it's only 5 min to the train and bus stations. Trattori Leo almost accross the street.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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No train from the airport to Florence, but there is a shuttle bus to and from them (4.50€). Taxis are set fees (fees listed on the airport website). The airport is only 15 minutes from the center.

Shopping - upscale? Via Tornabuoni area. For him, the Science Museum? http://www.museogalileo.it/en/index.html
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Jun 9th, 2013, 01:41 PM
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Yes, kwren, the train arrives into the centre of Florence to Santa Maria Novella station.

My taxi ride in October from the centre to the airport cost 20euro.

There is lots of good shopping in Florence, what sort of price point, upscale? Not so much?

We liked the department store La Rinascente, if you are a foreigner you can get 10% off.

If you are in the market for really nice quality leather shoes, bags and jackets I can recommend Cassini which is directly across from the Pitti Palace across the Arno from the centre.
They have some non leather clothing which is really nice too. Upscale, but beautiful quality, made in Arezzo. We met the designer, Jennifer, really lovely, it's a family business.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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Having been to Florence 7 times and to Cinque Terre twice, I would steal a day from CT and add it to Florence. While CT is beautiful, there isn't a lot to do there especially if many of the hiking trails are closed (which they are at this time.

With only a day+ in Florence, don't miss the Duomo, the Accademia (to see Michelangelo's David) and, if you are a huge fan of Renaissance Art, the Uffizi. I love Santa Croce, a beautiful church with lots of art.

Stay in the city center, not near the train station. The city center is managable. Take a taxi to the airport - unlike many cities, the airport is very close.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Wow - I knew CT trails had been closed, but I thought I had read that they were open now. Do you know which ones are closed by any chance? We were going to concentrate on the Riomaggiore to Corneglia trails, maybe also to Vernazza. My husband wants a day going to Portofino too. We thought 3 days would be good in case of rain.

So back to Florence - thanks for all the info. I was expecting more for the taxi to the airport, so that seems good.

Where do you get the airport shuttle from?

Is anyone familiar with the Bernini Palace or Palazzo Alfani al David hotels? Hotel Alba looks nice too but a bit farther away from the center (although it looks like everything in that area would be accessible).
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Jun 9th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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Update as of May 10, 2013: (from http://savevernazza.com/traveladvisortrailupdates/)

According to the latest information available from the Cinque Terre National Park, the coastal Trail #2 status as follows:

Riomaggiore – Manarola “via dell’amore”: Closed. Trail will reopen in 2014.
Manarola – Corniglia : Closed. Trail set to reopen June 15, 2013.
Corniglia -Vernazza: Closed. trail set to reopen June 15, 2013.
Vernazza – Monterosso: OPEN.

Sorry - hijacking my own thread!
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Jun 9th, 2013, 05:35 PM
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We stayed at Hotel Albani Firenze - 5 minute walk from the train station. It's not that far of a walk to the city center and enjoyed not staying in the heart of everything.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 06:00 PM
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>>>airport cost 20euro<<<

Depends on time of day and whether a holiday. Can be a 1€ per bag luggage charge also.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 06:11 PM
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Our favorite place to stay in Florence has been a B&B, Casa Tintori, in an old building that's been very well restored. The hosts are great, and breakfasts very nice. The location is very good, too.

On another trip, when Casa Tintori wasn't available, we stayed at Hotel Monna Lisa, Borgo Pinti, 27 50121, Firenze. Also a good location, and the building was also gorgeous in a more expensive way. But the place had too many noisy Americans for our tastes (we're Americans, but not noisy.)
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Jun 9th, 2013, 07:44 PM
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Lexma (I'm a Lex ma, if that's what your screen name means) wasn't that just bad luck that there were a lot of noisy people at the hotel while you were there? It doesn't seem likely that there would always be "too many noisy Americans."

Anyway, for such a short visit I would most certainly stay as central as possible.

I think Florence is a shopper's paradise, with everything from great street markets to the most upscale designer stores. Wandering around the center ought to be enough for any casual shopper. Remember closing hours.

kwren: if you take that day trip to Portofino, and it sounds like you are hikers/walkers, take the hike out to the lighthouse. You will thank me. This is a thousand times more beautiful than staying in the port area.

I would go to Florence for art and food. I'm not sure what your interests are, but if you share them, I would be happy to suggest some of my favorite activities.
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Jun 9th, 2013, 08:07 PM
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We stayed at the Hotel Scoti for three nights in December. It is right on Via Tornabuoni, the premium shopping street in Florence.
Only a few minutes walk from the main train station Firenze SMN, and close to Duomo, city centre, etc.

The hotel is small - in an incredibly old building that belonged (I thin) to the Medici family, with a spectacularly painted common lounge area - trompe loile done in the 1680s.

We walked everywhere from here. Also bought a nice jacket and bag from "Davids", a leather showroom near the Accademia.

Night markets were also easily accessible from the hotel - and we felt safe walking around at night (self, wife and three late-teen kids).

Don't miss the views from the top of the bell tower (if you have good climbing legs!), or the interior of Sante Croce - the burial site of some of the great figures of the Renaissance!

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Jun 9th, 2013, 08:22 PM
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Just adding/seconding some of the advice above - I lived in Florence for 2 years and return quite often so am a little (!) biased. I understand you want to spend time in CT and not take any time away to add to Florence, which is a fair point if you intend to return on another trip. If you stick to that, and are happy that only some of the trails in CT will be open, then 1.5 days in Florence can be a good start.

Ditto above - it depends on your interests as to what you and your husband want to see/do in Florence, but if you do want to visit the Accademia and Uffizi, book your tickets and entrance time ahead of schedule. Not that it's Summer-style crowded in September, but it's sufficiently crowded to eat into your time if you have to stand in a queue. The official ticket bookign site for all Florence museums is www.b-ticket.com/b-ticket/uffizi/

Bernini Palace is nice, and well located (not that noisy), same for Casa dei Tintori, not familiar with others but I'd also recommend not staying by the station but rather in the historical centre. It's lovely to walk in at night when things are a little quieter.

A point about CT in September - the Mediterranean can throw up some wicked storms in Autumn, so bear that in mind as these can also close the trails (has happened to me twice). If that means you have to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by then so be it. There are worse places..!

You've got info on the bus or taxi option to the airport, and the train arriving in Florence (taxis are right out the front of the station if your hotel isn't near the station).

Shopping - I'm with tuscanlifeedit, there is a lot of shopping to be had, in a compact area to boot (boots, did someone say boots?!!), so you'll "accidentally" go past shops on many of your wanderings around the city.
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Jun 10th, 2013, 08:23 AM
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Ah yes...shoes. I bought some in Rome last summer and love them. Could really use some more...

If some trails are closed, we'll find some others, take a boat or train, or just suck it up and sit on our deck overlooking the water! It will be nice to relax. Maybe even nice to see some storms roll in...as long as they are not rolling in while we are lugging our suitcases up that hill that I am not looking forward to.

Thanks for the lighthouse tip Tuscan. We're gonna do it!

I do remember a leather market of some sort in Florence. Any tips on other markets? Any on Fridays? (Shhh...don't tell my husband - we obviously will have different interests on this trip!)

I came across a hotel called the Granduomo...right across from, where else, the Duomo. Wouldn't I love to stay there in a Duomo-facing room, but it's very pricy!
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Jun 10th, 2013, 09:39 AM
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In September 2011 on our First Anniversarymoon (delayed honeymoon), on advice of this board, my DH and I stayed at Tourist House Ghiberti, which is basically around the corner from the Duomo. It was lovely, and in a great location. http://en.touristhouseghiberti.com/
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Jun 10th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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tuscanlifeedit - I am a ma of a Lex, AND a mom who's career involves Lex (from the Latin), so I've got a double meaning to the name.

I should have been more clear with my comment about noisy Americans at Hotel Monna Lisa. It's a 4-star hotel, a little nicer than we usually stay at, and because it's very lovely and offers a lot of amenities, it possibly attracts more well-heeled Americans than the places we usually stay at, who are accustomed to having everything just so. And they all seemed to be having breakfast when we were.
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Jun 11th, 2013, 01:16 AM
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Hotel Colomba is right in via Cavour, 4 minutes walking from central train station Santa Maria Novella that yes, it's going to carry you right in the centre of Florence. You can stroll onto the river Arno and Uffizi, passing through via dei Calzaiuoli'shops. In my opinion the funniest activity, as Bukowsky said, is to look at people: that's the greatest show and for free!

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Jun 11th, 2013, 01:38 AM
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kwren- I have stayed four times at the Hotel Casci in Florence. Wouldn't stay anywhere else.

They are at Via Cavour, 13. Just two minutes walk to the Duomo, five to the Accademia. Look at their Tripadvisor stats and reviews- perfect place and very affordable. Family-owned and operated, great breakfast, love this place: http://www.hotelcasci.com/it/home.ht...FYZe3godXnQAbA

There is a great place I bought leather a couple years ago. Medici. I'll see if I can find their address.

Don't miss Santa Croce. Tombs of many famous Italians here, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini... And it's got such a beautiful courtyard, too!

We also lucked onto a food market (homemade jams, sauces, pestos, olive oil, balsamic) in Santa Croce square.

September is a wonderful time to visit! Buon viaggio!
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Jun 11th, 2013, 01:39 AM
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OH- and PS- DO make sure you spend one of those sunsets in Florence up at Piazzale Michelangelo! There is no more beautiful site, IMHO, than this view of Florence and the Arno and all it's bridges- at sunset!
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