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Florence Museums - How long to allow?

Old May 31st, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Florence Museums - How long to allow?

Okay, my husband and I enjoy art, but we are by NO means art buffs. We are planning to go to the Accademia, Uffizi and Bargello museums while in Florence.

We are also scheduled for a Tuscan tour mid-afternoon and we want to get reservations for the museums so we don't waste time in long lines.

How much time, realistically, should we plan for each museum?

Thank you!
Mary_B is offline  
Old May 31st, 2005, 09:12 PM
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Never spend more than two hours in a museum. More than that and everything becomes a blur.

I am an artificial art official.
ThinGorjus is offline  
Old May 31st, 2005, 10:11 PM
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Well than Thin, you would not have been happy one time when I was in Venice with a friend from Italy and we spent 6 hours. I thought I had died and gone to one of Dante's circle's, but I felt so miserable I couldn't remember which one it was. Keep in mind also, no lunch, no wine, just the museum. Not one of my better days in Venice.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old May 31st, 2005, 11:11 PM
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Mary_B, definitely get advance reservations for the Accademia and Uffizzi Gallery. Our hotel actually made the advance reservations for us and e-mailed us our reservation numbers. (Hotel Silla, great staff).

For us, about 2 hours was enough for the Uffizzi Gallery. (It's much smaller than the Vatican Museums in Rome.) For the Accademia, 1 hour is enough. Michelangelo's David is the major attraction at the Accademia.

We didn't see the Bargello. For us, fewer museums is better, because we don't want them to become a big blur. Same for churches.

Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 02:28 AM
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Hi mary,

Are you planning on 3 museums and a tour of Tuscany on the same day?

Uffizi and Academia Museum Reservations

The easiest and cheapest way is to call Florence 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. 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.

The Uffizi has been pretty much booked up for June.

I don't think that you will need reservations for the Bargello.

ira is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 09:08 AM
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Hi Mary,

In addition to what other posters have said, we found that the following was adequate in each museum.

Accademia - 1 hour
Uffizi - 1.5 hours
Bargello - 2 hours

I know that everyone's preferences and tastes for art are different, but maybe this will give you a guideline for max time.

I also agree on getting advanced reservations for the Accademia and Uffizi.

LoveItaly, that must have been bordering on miserable.
Statia is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 12:32 PM
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I've not seen the Bargello overcrowded, but the Accademia and Uffizi are frequently packed, so even if you have a reservation, you are just going to the head of the admissions line, and the back of the line winding through the museum. You can always just buy a guidebook at the museum store if going through the museum itself is too much.

Its always hard to say how long "doing" any museum will take. Some of us like to contemplate the works; some of us just want to say we went there. My suggestion to you would be to find out what is in the museum, and pick out just which works you want to see, then leave a little extra time in case something catches your fancy. I know personally I spent more time in the Accademia with Michelangelo's unfinished slaves than with the David, not that I slighted the David, but there was just something about the figures of the slaves emerging from the block of stone that captivated me.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 01:22 PM
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Clevelandbrown, I agree that Michaelangelo's "Prisoners" are simply fascinating. It's as if the sculptures are really trying to free themselves from the marble.
Statia is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 07:11 PM
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Thank you, everyone!
Ira - yes, we have a FULL day planned! My husband told me, "If I'm not sleeping, eating or on a train, I want to be seeing something." In other words, we'll be returning home to "relax!"

I will DEFINITELY get reservations for the museums - I just wanted to have an idea of when I should try to schedule them. Your input has truly helped!
Mary_B is offline  
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 11:57 PM
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Mary_B, in the summer, the Uffizzi gallery is least crowded at noon. We got our reservations for noon and the museum wasn't crowded inside, it was pleasant. We got our reservations for the Accademia for afternoon, around 3:00 or 3:30, because I read it was least crowded then. This turned out to work very well. But do check and see when the museums close on the day you plan to visit!

3 museums in one day are too many. Tell your husband you scheduled 2 museums and something else...a self-guided walking tour of an interesting neighborhood in Florence...(Bring a guidebook)...Buy a gelato or a drink and find a place to rest your feet and people-watch! Include a visit inside a church, where you can sit in the pews (benches?) and rest your feet while you gaze at the beautiful church art.
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 06:47 AM
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I very much agree with Melissa. I wouldn't do more than two museums on any given day. You can alternate with church's, shopping, people watching, etc. and save the third museum for another day.

How many days do you have in Florence, Mary? The Duomo Museum is very interesting, as well, and is more about the engineering and construction of the Duomo than it is about art.
Statia is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:01 AM
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Melissa gives you good advice, and most of the time averages are in the ball park. But reservations are essential, and you have to wonder about the line of people waiting 2 hrs. to get into the Uffizi while you walk right in. However, note that if you have reservations for 10:30 at the Uffizi, you cannot go in before 10:20 -- it's one of those RULES.

The other thing to consider is your style of "museuming." Some people are very deliberate, spending at least a full minute if not more on each piece and even reading about it as they go; others move quickly by some pieces and focus on particular ones of interest. Some need frequent pauses to rest feet or backs; some need extra time to browse/purchase in gift shops.

If you and your husband don't have the same style, try estimating down the middle -- for example, more than 2 hrs. is really the outside amount of time for the Uffizi, but 1 hr. is only for the turbo-tourist who is willing to miss a lot -- and then consider splitting up, agreeing to meet at the end at a given time.
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:22 AM
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I needed nearly four hours for Uffizi. I listened to every painting on the audioguide, I was looking for certain things on my own, and I needed to go back and check some paintings.
WillTravel is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:23 AM
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What Mary appears to be doing is all three museums in the morning, because she has a Tuscan tour booked in the afternoon! I would be too exhausted to enjoy it all.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 07:52 AM
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I think I would skip the Bargello, and maybe try to see the Medici Chapel instead (for the Michelangelo sculptures). It won't take very long, you can get reservations, and it will fit in with seeing the Michelangelo's at the Accademia.

My husband and I used Rick Steve's Mona Winks tour for the Uffizi, which we enjoyed. I think it took us slightly less than 2 hours.
china_cat is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 10:03 AM
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Mary_B, I'm not sure why people like to wait in line. We didn't wait in any long lines in all of Italy last June! With proper planning and advance reservations where necessary, you just don't need to do that! There's info on fodors, and in many guidebooks including Rick Steves, about how to avoid waiting in long lines.

It's the same story for Disneyland here in California. We go all the time and use fastpasses. We never wait in those long 2- and 3-hour lines that I see people waiting in.

Why does anybody wait in long lines when you can avoid it?! The only thing I can figure is they don't do any research or advance planning. They don't know there's a better way? They aren't fodorites?!

Have a great trip, Mary_B! Buon viaggio!
Melissa5 is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 12:49 PM
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I think it is not possible to predict with any degree of accuracy when there will be no lines. If you find a book, or a web-site, that gives that information, you will end up in line behind everyone else who read that information.

When our kids were young, we used to go to a popular amusement park and stay in their marina for a week or two. At first I thought I could discern a pattern of when the park would be less crowded (say Monday morning), but when the next predicted good period rolled around, it was often crowded. The only certainty I found was that shortly before closing the crowds would thin out, and those of us who didn't have a long drive home could enjoy some space.

The best pertinent example I think of was our first visit to Florence. In May, they have some days when admission is not charged. We finished the Duomo early (too old to trek to the top) and had an afternoon free. I decided to walk by the Accademia, as it was only a few blocks from our lodgings, and then we would be able to find it when we had our reservations the next day. On a free day, everyone anticipated it would be jammed. We walked right past it, not recognizing the entrance, because there was absolutely no line. When we realized where the entrance was, we just walked into an almost empty hall, and had all the time we wanted to enjoy the art.

I agree with the recommendation to skip one museum and substitute the Medici Chapel. But I personally would skip the Uffizi, which I have never seen uncrowded, and where I found the displays too crowded with art of interest only to the most dedicated of fans of rennaisance art; I seem to recall pictures hung up to and on the ceiling moldings.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 01:37 PM
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I would agree with the two hour limit, not matter how magnificent the art. One can only view so many Madonnas and floating babies.
dacapo is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 08:30 PM
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Thank you all for your input.
We might not have to make the decision ourselves - I have seen on various museum booking sites that the Uffizi is booked for almost all of June. I tried to call for reservations today, but the recording said they were closed, although I was calling during their open hours (yes, I know there is a time difference!). As I refuse to wait in line for hours, we may end up skipping the Uffizi if I can't get reservations on the day we want.
Mary_B is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2005, 11:13 PM
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Clevelandbrown, you'd be surprised, it IS possible to predict when there will be shorter lines for museums in Italy. It takes research. I predicted with 100% accuracy when there would be very short lines for all the museums we saw in Italy! And this includes for Florence during the very crowded days of Calcio Storico Fiorentino and Pitti Uomo, both events drawing crowds in Florence. Also includes the Vatican Museums and the sistine chapel visit in rome. No lines for us! There were lots of people in the Sistine chapel, there always are I think, but there weren't any lines to get in, we just walked right in. (We also got advance reservations wherever they were offered, but I got the reservations for the least-crowded times as well.)

You would think that everybody would flock to the museums at the time when shorter lines are predicted. But I didn't find this to be the case. I found accurate info about times for avoiding crowds in the Rick Steves guidebooks and also by consulting travellers on fodors and who had been to Italy more than once. Combined this info and it worked 100%!

I have a theory about why information about shorter lines can be offered and still nobody flocks to the museums at these times. I think it is because we are the minority, all of us people who plan their trips well, who consult fodors, etc. The average tourist we met in Italy seemed clueless compared to us. We met a couple from New Jersey on a bus in Italy who didn't have a map and seemed bewildered, wanted to find the Trevi fountain but didn't know where to get off. The wife said to her hubby, "Oh look, honey, they have a MAP!" WOW, amazing concept, get a map! I think they were on the wrong bus anyway. They said they had gotten bored with their tour group and wanted some free time. But they weren't prepared.

And then there's the long line at the colosseum. We avoided that one by hiring a great private licensed guide for 40 euros per hour for a great 3-hour private tour for just our family of Ancient rome.

So, yes, I planned the whole trip to avoid lines, and it can be done, I know, because I did it!

Melissa5 is offline  

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