Florence for 4 days- itinerary help

Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 12:46 PM
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Florence for 4 days- itinerary help

Hi everyone
thanks in advance for your help
we will be spending a total of 4 days in Florence and Iím looking for help with our itinerary.
Arrive in Florence after train from Venice hopefully by mid day on Sunday.
Monday we are booked for a religious ceremony but can make plans for mid afternoon.
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday we are totally free
Friday we have probably half the day in the morning leaving for Milan after lunch.
Heres what I put together and wondering thoughts:
tuesday - duomo, Medici chapel, giotto tower, sm novella
Wednesday- Siena and San gimignano
thursday- beach (which is your favorite beach trip for the day?
these days are interchangeable

1/2 day- mercato centrale
1/2 day- uffizi galleria galleria dell academica

would love to see Luca and Pisa wondering if we could add this
Thanks for all feedback,
ps also wondering about renting a car. It will be August - suggest renting car before arrival or think we can rent once there? Any of our day trips really accessible via train (will have two teenagers and possibly 2 grandparents who are physically capable of walking etc
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:18 PM
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HI Dloech,
Have you been to Florence before? If not, you are underestimating all the options of interesting things to see in the city.
I have been there at least 4 times, and will be there in May, for 5 days, so see some of the things we missed before. Here are some suggestions for Florence itself, besides what you have mentioned:
BTW....as you know, it will be hot and crowded in August, so consider a hotel with a pool.
Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace-Gardens will be nice to catch some shade in the heat of summer
Brancacci Chapel, Museo Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci Museum , Museo degli Argenti, Palazzo Davanzati
I think there's an observatory in Florence, too, which your teens might like, as well as the Museo Galileo.
We are planning on taking the bus to Settignano, nearby and hiking over to Fiesole, about a 20 min. bus ride from Florence, and visiting Vincigliata Castle, SF monastery, villa Medici, while there
I also have wanted to see Lucca, but have decided on a day trip to San G., or Siena, depending on weather and mood.
For a beach day....maybe if you want to drive, and be with more crowds. Italians go on vacation in August. My suggestion would be to pick someplace with a pool, so members in your group can choose to return to the hotel, if hot and cranky, and cool off, rather than try to fit in a beach day.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:28 PM
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Florence in August, between the heat and the crowds is almost unbearable to me. However, that's when you'll be there, so I would just try to make it work. That means taking it slowly, resting in the middle of the day, and trying to seek out the hidden gems rather than the must-sees (which 5000 other people are trying to see at the same time).

For one thing, I wouldn't suggest going to the Uffizi Gallery, unless you're really passionate about Italian Renaissance art, mostly of religious subjects. It's huge and it's crowded, and some of your relatives may refuse to ever go on a vacation with you again. I myself wouldn't go to the Accademia either, but at least your visit there would be very short. The Bargello is a less-crowded museum, and has sculptures by Michelangelo, Donatello, and other great Renaissance artists. Another great museum is the Museum of San Marco, which was once a monastery, with the monks' cells decorated with frescoes by the Beato Angelico, one of the great Renaissance artists, who was once a monk there.

There will be a very, very long queue to get into the Duomo, and once you're inside, you'll realize that there's not much to see in there. Most of the works of art that were once there are now in the Museum of the Duomo, which has a lot of other interesting exhibits about the history and construction of the Duomo (and its bell tower). Also, I recommend going into the Baptistery, which has really beautiful golden medieval mosaics. There is one ticket for all of these things, and also for the Giotto tower. I've never visited the tower, but I'm not much interested in towers.

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella is a real treasure chest of Renaissance art, and not usually crowded. Try to read up on some of the great works of art in the church. There are often volunteer guides in there, who will give you a free tour. (Make a nice offering for the maintenance of the church,) Some of their volunteer guides speak English, but not all of them.

At any rate, I think you'd be best to pare down that sightseeing list for Tuesday a little, because it's a bit much for a hot August day. (Florence is one of the hottest cities in Italy.)

You absolutely don't want a car in Venice, Florence, or Milan. There are no cars allowed in the center of Venice, and also in much of the center of Milan. Parking is scarse and expensive in all of these cities.

You can visit Siena and San Gimignano by public transportation, although both will be very crowded in August. I certainy wouldn't do both in the same day. There are also day tours that visit some of these places, but I would select one that doesn't try to cram in too much, There are also wine/gastronomy tours which take you to visit a vineyard or two, and also visit some little villages and include lunch in a countryside restaurant. My daughter went on one of these, and enjoyed it, although she's not a wine drinker.

Pisa and Lucca can be visited in a day by public transportation, but you're kind of running out of days. Pisa (near the Tower) is also very crowded.

To visit a beach, you would really need a car, and the closest beaches to Florence are about an hour and a half by car, more if traffic is heavy. Add in the time it would take to rent a car. Then, unless you arrive very early to the beach, you'll probably have a lot of trouble finding a parking space. I myself wouldn't dream of a beach trip from Florence in August. Maybe you can spread out some of the other things you want to do and skip the beach trip.

Versilia has some nice beaches and is probably about the easiest to get to. I've never been there, though.

How long will you be in Venice? The Lido of Venice is a beach right in the city limits. I've never been there, but it would be a lot more convenient than going to the beach from Florence. Anyway, I don't know where you're from, but most beaches in Italy are not fantastic by world standards.

Last edited by bvlenci; Feb 22nd, 2020 at 01:51 PM.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:35 PM
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Boboli Gardens and Pitti Palace-Gardens will be nice to catch some shade in the heat of summer.
The first time I visited the Boboli Gardens was in August, and I nearly died. Yes, there's some shade there, but to get to it you have to cross wide open spaces, it seemed like 100 acres, and climb lots of steps, under the broiling sun. It put me off ever going back to the Boboli Gardens. Then we were in Florence with some friends a few years ago, in April, and they really wanted to visit. I was surprised at how much more pleasant it is when you're not fighting off heat stroke.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 01:56 PM
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Pisa and Lucca are both easy to reach from Florence by train.
Siena by buy. San Gimi is a little more complicated.
Wedneday is market day in Siena. Years ago it was a place to find hand made italian goods. These days it's mostly cheap imported clothes and housewares - the stuff you'd find at a US dollar store or flea market.
I would not try to do Siena and San Gimi in the same day. Go to Siena early before the hordes of bus tourists arrive, tour the cathedral, climb the bell tower, grab a lunch, then head back to Florence.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 02:51 PM
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I would choose between Siena and San Gimignano but if you feel that you really want to see both, then arriving in San Gimignano late in the afternoon (around 5pm?) is not a bad idea as some of the day trippers will be leaving and you can go for a wander and have drinks somewhere. You could catch one of the last services back to Florence but you'd need to check timetables for the bus and train. With a group of four/six people, taxis to Poggibonsi might be worth considering but I'm really not sure about that. The bus we took from Siena to San Gimignano required a change in Poggibonsi but there may be direct ones. Arriving in Siena as early as possible is best, not just because of the heat but also to beat some of the crowds at museums, etc.

I really like Lucca so I would visit there instead of going to the beach (although there's no need to leave Florence at all unless you want to). If you do visit Lucca, you can walk or cycle around the walls and there are shady spots to sit and enjoy people watching. In your time available, I'd skip Pisa because you are otherwise stretching yourselves too thin.

A car is likely to be a handicap in the places you are visiting. I agree with bvlenci that the beaches I've seen in northern Italy are not that fantastic and I thought the beach at the Lido was awful (albeit that was a long time ago). But it would be wet if all you're looking for is to cool down. I've never visited Italy in July or August but it strikes me that I'd be having a rest behind closed shutters in the middle of the afternoon.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2020, 08:17 AM
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For us, Florence was in the middle of a two week trip to Italy and we were there in June. We never rented a car. We did book some private tours which for a family of 4, was just slightly higher than buying 4 tickets. if you can swing it, I am a fan of the private tours - they'll usually pick you up at your hotel, they offer a more intimate experience (all your questions get answered) and you're usually meeting with a local that knows so much.

While in Florence we did a cooking experience. My wife, two daughters (16 and 19) all enjoyed it. It started with shopping in a local street/Farmer's market and then heading to Tuscany for the cooking portion. It also included a stop at a winery. It was nice way to spend an afternoon and a break from the museums and churches. We booked the tour through https://www.florencetown.com/. We also visited the Santa Croce Leather School in Florence. It was interesting to see how they work with leather and with two daughters, we did a little shopping (although we could have done better on the pricing).

Enjoy your trip! .
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