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FLORENCE, ITALY: Is this 1 day itinerary visiting major sites practical or wishful thinking?

FLORENCE, ITALY: Is this 1 day itinerary visiting major sites practical or wishful thinking?

Old Nov 14th, 2007, 06:50 PM
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FLORENCE, ITALY: Is this 1 day itinerary visiting major sites practical or wishful thinking?

We've never been to Florence but have purchased Rick Steves' book on Tuscany and Florence. The map in his book makes the sites we want to visit appear quite compactly situated in historic Florence. We will make reservations for all sites that take them so we will not be needlessly standing in line. If you have an opinion whether this itinerary is practical or just wishful thinking, your comments will be welcome.

1. 8:30 AM. Ponte Vecchio. A short visit only, perhaps just viewing the bridge if we are late arriving (don't want to miss planned appointment at Uffizi).

2. 10 AM to noon. Uffizi Gallery, a 2 hour visit.

3. 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. Bargello (by reservation, but Steves says not really necessary here), 1 hour visit.

4. 2:00-2:30 PM. Duomo (but not the museum).

5. 3:00-4:00PM. Medici Chapels (by reservation), 1 hour visit.

6. 5:00-6:00PM. Accademia (by reservation), 1 hour visit.

Based on the calendar date we know we will be in Florence, all our sites are open. [I have not actually determined that for the Ponte Vecchio's shops but if we are there in advance of opening, that's fine, as I understand they have unconscionable mark-ups on their gold and jewelry so it's not a bust if we miss any shopping!]
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Old Nov 14th, 2007, 07:08 PM
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Yes I guess your plan is doable but extremely rushed, you will be viewing some of the most fabulous art in existence, do you really want to rush through with must make next appointment?

And you left no time for food? or wandering.....both are what make Italy such a fantastic tourist mecca.

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Old Nov 14th, 2007, 07:20 PM
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I imagine we could spend a day at Uffizi! But, we are rationing our day, given our other interests for visits in other locales in Italy. Don't know we'll ever get back to take a slower pace in Florence and it's either see some of many, or more of a few sites. Setting aside the Ponte Vecchio, which we would skip if we are running late in arriving, are there any of the other 5 sites we plan visiting you would suggest being skipped so as to free up time for others on the list of 5?
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Old Nov 14th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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Will you be staying in Florence that night, so you can relax and wander? You could do Ponte Vecchio in the evening. You don't need 1.5 hours to see it, of course.

The Uffizi is crammed with art. Will you have a guide? If not, be sure to study about the important pieces of art that you don't want to miss, and know where they are located, to save time.

If you plan to mostly just see David at the Accademia, one hour will be ok.

Not sure about the Bargello. We didn't go there. I'd cut it if anything, to allow more time for the Uffizi and an hour to take a break for lunch.
Old Nov 14th, 2007, 10:12 PM
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It sounds like art museums are your priority? For me personally, I need a little more balance. The Uffizi and the Adademia are must sees in my opinon. I would also not skip the Ponte Vecchio or the Duomo or Bapistery. But then I would trade the other museums for culture of another kind: A nice lunch or cafe latte at one of the restaurants in the Piazza della Signoria, Church of Santa Croce (my goodness, Michelangelo, Galileo, other "big names" are actually buried there!)

I would hang out in the Piazza della Republica, maybe shop for leather jackets and hop a cab up to the Piazalle Michelangelo for the incredible view! Have some gelato! I happen to love the Pitti Palace, but that tacking that on to everything else would be a stretch.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 02:19 AM
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Hi Capri,

what do you want to remember about Florence? aching feet, pictures that merge into one another, crowds?

or a fabulous relaxed experince in one of the greatest romantic cities in the world?

assuming the latter, here are my suggestions:

Get the earliest possible booking for the uffizi - they start at about 8.30am. Be there 15 minutes in advance to pick up your tickets [office is the other side of the square opposite the entrance].

fight your way past the japanese tourist parties and go straight to the top floor and view the first side of galleries. then follow the signs to the cafe, [right at the end of the other "arm" of the building] and have a late breakfast. great freshly squeezed orange joice, coffee and croissants and a fabulous view. View the rest of the pictues.

on exiting the gallery, have a look at the river and ponte vecchio from the piazza outside the gallery. that's as much as you need, unless you want to be squashed by the crowds actually on the bridge.

From the uffizi, walk across florence to the mercato centrale and see the market, before finding a typical florence restaurant in the area. You can probably fit in a visit to San lorenzo at this time too.

After lunch, walk round the corner to the medici chapel. View.

walk back to the centre and view the Cathedral, Dome, Baptestry and if time, the campanile.

Walk up via cavour to the corner of the piazza san marco - there is a fabulous cafe on the corner with waitresses wearing the most elaborate uniforms. Have tea.

Walk round the square, and arrive at the Accademia in time for your 5pm view. [i have a feeling that there may be some late opening times now which might interest you].

if you had to, you could lose the medici chapels or the market from this itinerary. PLEASE don't try to cram anything else in.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 02:30 AM
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Hi CA,

YOur itinerary is fine.

However, since the Accademia is closer to the train station and **uphill** from the Uffizi, I suggest that you reverse your route.

You might find my suggested plan helpful:

Train to Florence SMN:
The Luggage Office is to your left as you leave the train.

From Piazza d' Stazione, walk up via Nazionale to via d'Ariento and the Mercato Centrale, wander through.

Take any street going NE to Via Degli Alfani and go right to the Accademia for The David.

Take via Ricasoli SE to the Duomo, the Baptistry and the Opera Museum (Originals of the bronzes on the doors)

From the Campanile, take via Calzaiuoli S (do some window shopping) to the Piazza d' Signoria. Look around, take a break.

Continue S to the Uffizi. Visit.

From the Uffizi, walk W along the Arno River to the Ponte Vecchio.

(You can walk up to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens if there is time. Great views of Florence from the top of the Gardens)

If you have time, walk E along the S bank of the river to Ponte alle grazie and cross over to visit Santa Croce.

If not, go W along the Arno from Ponte Vecchio to Ponte S. Trinita and go right. Go left on Via d'Spada to via d'Fossi and go right to Santa Maria Novella. Look around.

SMN is across the square from the train station.

If you have time, take the no. 7 bus (you can find it at the SMN train station) up to Fiesole (0:20 hr 1E) to watch the sunset from the terrace of the Bar Bleu.

Be sure to have lots of gelato (in a cup, not a cone), take some wine breaks and a light lunch.

Train schedules, prices and tickets are at www.trenitalia.com

Bus routes are at http://www.ataf.net/
Buy your ticket before you get on the bus. Stamp it in the yellow box on the bus.

Uffizi and Academia Museum Reservations
The easiest and cheapest way is to call Florence 1010987 (dial around number), 011 (U.S. international access code) 39 (Italy's country code) then 055-294-883 8:30-18:30 M-F and 8:30-12:00 Sat. Florence time. There is a long listing of press 1 for this and 2 for that--press 4 for bookings. You will get an English speaking operator and in 2-3 minutes YOU CAN RESERVE FOR BOTH. This is through the reservation service at the Uffizi and costs beyond the normal entry fee only about 3 euro for the service. This is MUCH cheaper than the commercial booking services.

You will not be charged for the reservations unless you use them.

Have a nice visit.

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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 02:33 AM
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I agree with Annhig and think her proposed plan is perfect. Your current plan is too crammed and you'll be inside museums all day. You will not experience the magic of Florence. For us, who are big art & museum lovers, doing Accademia and Uffizi in one day was overload, but if I only had one day in Florence I'd do them both. But also plan to eat lunch, get gelato, go to the market and just generally wander around.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 02:50 AM
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Everything is possible but it sounds hectic My wife and I went to Florence this summer and had the luxury of spending about 4 days in the city. Here is my trip report with pictures and links: http://gardkarlsen.com/florence_italy_travelogue.htm

http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 03:12 AM
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You are not planning to go to the School of Leather? (Scuola de Cuoio) Monastery of Santa Croce via San Giuseppe 5R. You enter through the gardens (if you bring a sandwich with you, you can have a nice break after shopping, and sit in peace and quiet to eat your lunch.) The school's prices are high but the workmanship is excellant and they are avaiable online if you have a problem later. If you buy from the thousands of leather peddlars along the way to the School then you get what you get. They do have small pieces like coin purses which you can have personalized with gold imprinted initials while you watch. Makes great souvenirs for friends and family. IMHO.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 03:31 AM
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With only one day in Florence I would cut out some of the museums and spend more time at the Duomo/Baptistery (climbing the dome if it is a good day) and other churches and just walking around the city.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 04:13 AM
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The Ponte Vecchio will look deserted at 8:30 in the morning. The stores won't be open and will all be covered by metal shutters. Not the best time to see it. I'd move the reservation for the Uffizi to the earliest possible and take some more time for lunch.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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Thank you for the many replies, links to websites (which I will visit the sites this evening) and Ira, thank you for the call around solution on reservations.

We have only 1 day in Florence and will not be staying overnight. We'll be driving in from Bologna (with the aid of a GPS with Florence city maps on it, turn by turn, courtesy of a friend). Our plan is to leave Bolgna at 6AM in the morning, more than enough time to get there--and hopefully not get lost. We know the garage where we will park and as it is on the north end, closest to the Accademia, we actually thought we would possibly do better busing to the Ponte Vecchio area, then working our way back north toward the Accademia, and closest to our parking at the end of our day. Our concern with driving is that we may indeed have problems finding our parking, even with GPS, and allowed a 10:00AM reservation time as our beginning for reserved spots. Should we actually get there really early (Ponte Vecchio) we then considered we might visit Pitti Palace, or at least walk around the outside facade. In any event, my wife and I will sit down over a dinner table before we make any reservations and consider the suggestions for things to exclude, include, etc. Our relaxed part of our trip will come when we are in wine country! Florence will indeed be fast paced for our 1 day visit.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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If I were going to choose two museums in Florence, my pics would be the Accademia for sure and either the Bargello or the San Marco Museum which has a small but breathtaking collection of frescoes by Fra Angelico.
That is not to slight the masterpieces in the Uffizi, but I find it a user-unfriendly experience.
Two hours in there and I have a headache, and am in dire need of pastry, coffee, and/or gelato.
To rush to the Bargello immediately afterwards, I would find distressing.

If your two priorities are indeed the Uffizi and the Accademia, which is perfectly understandable, then skip the Bargello and see some other aspect of Florence.

And just for the record, I didn't find that all stores on the Ponte Vecchio were
tourist traps. I was happy with the jewelry quality and pricing at Dante Cardini, and I've heard others recommend S Vaggi, if those shops are both still there.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 07:27 AM
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Hi, CapriAnniversary -

I agree that your plan is do-able, if you are willing to have a very busy day and you know, ahead of time, that you will only have time to hit the highlights of the Uffizi.

If you have to cut one thing from your plan, my personal choice would be the Medici Chapels - they are remarkable and well worth seeing, but I think the other sites you've selected are even more outstanding. Just my opinion!

The Uffizi, Bargello, and Accadmemia are all amazing, and I hope you manage time to see both the Duomo and the Baptistry.


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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Sounds like, if you're driving from Bologna, that a 10 time at the Uffizi makes sense.

I would agree that you should drop the Medici Chapels. Wonderful, yes, especially if you're a big fan of Michelangelo, but you don't want to get burned out.

I love the Bargello - it's a great small museum, and only sculptures, so it's a nice change of pace from the Uffizi.

Often, rooms at the Uffizi are closed. If that's the case, then you won't be as rushed, as there will be fewer rooms/less art that you will be able to see.

You do need time to sit down, take a rest, and eat something in the middle of the day. If you're big art fans (as I am), then this schedule is the best one for you.

Are you making this visit on your way to the wine country? Or just a day trip from Bologna?
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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Don't forget that while you can wander, soak up the atmosphere, eat a gelato etc anywhere in Italy, it is only possible to visit the Uffizi and the Duomo in Florence.

Lately, the Italian Tourist Board has been issuing vouchers so that you can delay and consolidate the time required to "just soak up the culture." The Board has found that the highly absorbant pages of many guide books -- particularly those by Rick Steves -- actually soak up more of the atmosphere than the tourists are getting! It is the hope of the Board that the new policy will allow people to "soak it up" at their leisure, perhaps in Rome or Venice, or more wisely in some two-horse town in the Tuscan hills with nothing to do but soak up the culture and/or wine.

Simply show up at any tourist board and explain that, unlike most tourists today, you are interested in seeing the sights and not simply sitting around feeling happy that you are in Europe. You will be required to present proof of reservations and swear you will actually look at the art and architecture. At that point you receive the "Culture Soaker" voucher, which absolves you of any required cafe sitting, bread buying, or gelato licking responsibilities. You are still permitted to be charmed by Italian kids in school uniforms, old ladies sweeping the streets and colorful passengers on Vespas, should you encounter any.

The vouchers may be used in any city or town other than that of issuance, and may in fact be redeemed in participating Italian restaurants in Great Britain and the United States, should you have been too busy in Italy.

Enjoy your trip!
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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Beautiful !
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Fra_Diavolo has shown the way to turn those 9 short hours in Florence into 2 or 3 lovely days in one of the greatest city-as-museum destinations in the world.
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Old Nov 15th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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In a community reply, so to speak, to the several comments after my last posting in this thread, we are day tripping from Bologna, where we will stay 3 nights, and then after Bologna we will go south of Florence to Sienna for 3 days, then to Montalcino for 3 days, day tripping from those two cities to various locations while also enjoying some excellent food and wine. Art and museums are lovely and we will enjoy them in Florence as well as 3 days of them in Venice; however, I have spent the last 1.75 years in a rather dedicated self-study of the Italian language, which program continues. I probably average 1.5 to 2 hours a day in my studies. So, while I will enjoy the art, I feel that one learns more of the culture and can get to appreciate it best if one can speak the language enough to do more than merely get by but communicate. I am not fluent enough to do business but do well enough socially and progress daily, having dinners with native Italians and others of Italian descent in Colorado (where I live) speaking Italian at the dinner table, so as to practice the language. We are lazy, as Americans, and think everyone must speak English when we go to their country. Having been to Italy only once before, last year, and having done well enough speaking Italian even then, I can tell you that the appreciation and warmth with which I was greeted when a native was shocked that I was conversing in his language made for far more pleasure to me than any visit to any museum anywhere, or, for that matter, any dining or wine experience that we had in Italy!

Bologna fits a model for our trip as well that Florence does not. I believe we will have less of a tourist feeling in Bologna than in Florence, which is part of our reason for 3 nights in Bologna. However, Bologna is also home to The Association for the Guardianship and Exploitation of the Traditional Culinary-Gastronomic Heritage of Italy, which was started at the University of Bologna, which fits into our plans to arrange a meal with a Cesarina in Bologna. I am somewhat of gourmand, if you will, and we will also spend a day in Modena, one of the two homes (the other being Reggio Emila) of superb balsamico tradizionale, which for many who love art but who have never had balsamico tradizionale is an experience which they should try. A couple teaspons of 12 or 25 year old cherry balsamico on vanilla ice-cream would persuade some art lovers to spend less time in Florence so as to have some time in Modena! [The balsamic vinegar that we typicallybuy on the shelves in the US is mostly industrial balsamic vinegar. It is not 'balsamico tradizionale,' which is a protected classification under Italian and EU law.

Our taking less time in Florence not only serves the gourmand in me, but, then comes the wine country, and the oenephile in me. I am a somewhat passionate collector of wine--but not art. And we will spend more time enjoying several fine Brunellos in Montalcino, for example, and visits to estates such as Banfi's and others in Tuscany, on a relaxed and liesurely basis, while practicing my Italian as well.

There is always too much to do, and too little time in which to do it, and we each make our decisions on how we will spend our allotment of days, whether appreciating the culture of art, or of food, wine, or language. To each his own!
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