Please critque Florence and Venice plans

Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 09:37 AM
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Please critque Florence and Venice plans

We leave for Italy this Wednesday, and I'm not quite finished planning.
Thursday: Arrive Venice by air before noon. Bus to the Mestre train station, heading to Florence, (not sure ES or IC train) about 3 hours. I estimate arriving around 4-5 PM, taxi to Balestri Hotel, dinner and bed.
Friday: Florence, thought about the Best and Original Walking Tour, but not sure due to Saturday plans. We need to see the Academia on Friday, and thought we might take Ira's advice and take the bus to Fiesole for sunset.
Saturday, we have the Taste of Florence tour from 10-1, and tickets for the Uffizi at 3:15. That the end of booked arrangements.
Sunday and Monday: I thought we would do one day in Lucca (maybe) and Pisa (definitely) by train, and Siena and San Gimignano by bus the other.
Tuesday: we leave for Venice by train, staying at La Calcina. Buying the 72 hr ticket to cover vaporettos (will need just a bit more than that, so will just pay for vap from train to Venice. No 'plans' except to see St. Marks, the Doges palace, Murano and Burano, and just get lost. We check out Fri, will linger in Venice, and catch the evening vaporetto to airport, reservation at the Titian, fly out around 7 AM. I know it's a whirlwind, esp the Florence leg, but I've already learned from my errors. Thanks in advance for all your help plus help getting me this far.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 10:17 AM
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What time does your train get into Florence on Friday?

I think a scheduled walking tour, the Accademia, and Fiesole is too much for what I'm assuming will be a half day in Florence. You'll want time to get settled into your hotel, maybe have a rest, and walk around. I would plan on the Accademia only that day. Do you have a reservation?

I like Fiesole a lot, but your actual time in Florence is already so limited I would stay in the city that evening. Florence is wonderful to walk around in at dusk, when all the daytrippers have left. I'd recommend going to the Piazza della Signoria at sunset. I was in Florence two Aprils ago and the pizza was empty in the early evening. During the day it was flooded with people and it was almost impossible to appreciate the statues. But at sunset it was wonderful.

Your Saturday in Florence is already full so I wouldn't try to cram more set-in-stone activities on that day.

Your daytrip days are very, very busy. If Pisa is a must than I'd think about dropping Lucca.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 10:26 AM
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You seem to be unsure about what you'd like to see in Florence. This thread with people's "Top 10" picks for the city might give you some good ideas
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...op-10-list.cfm

I think 2 day trips out of 4 full days in Florence is a lot but you can decide how you feel once you are there. All the trips you are talking about are easy to do with public transit. Fiesole is very easy to do by local bus. Another place for a panoramic sunset view of the city is the Piazzale Michelangelo or the church of San Miniato al Monte right above it.

In Venice you might consider going to Torcello, the third lagoon island

I hope you have a great trip
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 10:27 AM
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As I understand it you are arriving in Florence on Thursday Giftnurse. Your plans sound great to me except personally I would probably skip Pisa and visit Lucca but that is just a personal choice of course. I would be inclined to skip the walking tour on Friday and just walk around on my own as the historical center of Florence is so easy to get around, but again that is just my personal thoughts. Wishing you a wonderful trip
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 10:43 AM
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You're right LoveItaly, I misread her post. I agree about skipping the walking tour on Friday and doing your own walk.

If you go to Fiesole, I would recommend visiting the archeology complex (be sure to check the closing times)- there is a very good museum as well as ruins including a small Roman theater. The setting is very beautiful with a nice view over the countryside.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 10:57 AM
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Consider splurging on a water taxi into Venice after your plane arrives. It is expensive (around $100), but the journey across the lagoon, ending up with a turn where the whole magical city rises in front of you is one that we have never forgotten. La Calcina is in a nice location in Venice, on the Zattere, where Venetians take their evening strolls. Great ice cream. Consider taking the vaporetto over to San Giorgio Maggiore where there is a wonderful view of Venice from the church and also Gregorian chants at Sunday 11:00 mass. Speaking of Sunday, San Marco can b e a zoo. One of the best ways to visit it is by going to 9:00 mass on Sunday. There are no lines of tourists, the mosaics are lit and you get to see the church doing what it was built for (I write this as a respectful but nonreligious person).

The Accademia museum is close to where you are staying. Try to arrive early. If you want to splurge on a lunch or dinner (we prefer lunch), try Da Fiore in San Polo (there is another very good restaurant more moderately priced by the same name near Campo Santo Stefano); it is one of the best restaurants in Italy.

Inexpensive but well cut clothes at ProMod between San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.

I agree that 2 day trips out of Florence is a bit much for 4 days. The one I would pick is Siena, with a beautiful cathedral, the Museo Civico and perhaps the most spectacular piazza in all of Italy. In Florence, don't miss the Bargello sculpture museum or the Museo San Marco with fra angelico frescoes in each monk's cell.

Buon viaggio!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 11:14 AM
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Hi Giftnurse,

In Venice, I would recommend skipping Murano (unless you are huge art glass fans) and visiting Burano and Torcello. It takes a while to get out to Burano and Torcello is very nearby. I regret I missed the mosaics when I was there!

I don't think you could do both Siena and San Gimignano in the same day via public trans. Pisa and Lucca are easy via train and if you got an early start, you could probably vist both. Pisa would take about 2-3 hours to climb the Tower, visit the duomo and babtistry.

Buon viaggio!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:06 PM
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<Lucca Pisa Siena and San Gimignano>
That seems like a lot of side trips when you have only 2 days in Florence.

<No 'plans' except to see St. Marks, the Doges palace, Murano and Burano>
That's plenty of plans again having only a few days.

I'm not sure what I'd cut, but your itinerary seems cram packed for such a short time. La Calcina's a fabulous hotel btw!!
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:18 PM
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HI GN,

>Murano and Burano,<

With your short time in Venice, Burano, maybe, Murano - not recommended.

You have left out
The Rialto Bridge and the nearby market.
An early moring visit to the Rialto fish market.
Scuola Grande di San Rocco
An evening ride on a vaporetto down the Grand Canal
The Salute
The Accademia
The Guggenheim
The Ghetto

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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:23 PM
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Apres, when we arrive (that's Thursday, not FRI) depends on what train...in any case, late afternoon, when we will be dying for sleep. So, dinner (maybe) and bed. Friday is wide open, and I'm thinking also, no walking tour. Too bad I didn't do the Taste tour on Fri, perhaps they somewhat serve the same purpose. Any ideas on how much time to alot for the Uffizi? I was thinking 2-3 hours.
Everyone says that Pisa is an easy few hours, but can anyone tell me about Lucca and why you love it, or not? I included it because it's on the way, or near Pisa. We could spend the rest of that day in Florence. I esp thought Monday would be a good day trip, with most museums closed. Should mention that we are not art buffs, though we appreciate it, and want to see the highlights. Also, we probably won't be climbing any towers or churches due to DH's health. Doable, just not necessary. The gardens are probably too early. Other top picks are Medici chapel, Pitti Palace, Bargello, and San Marco. We could also leave Florence later on Tuesday, arriving Venice later, and add one of those. realize we can't do it all, and juswt told DH we'll just have to return.
CMStraf..since we arrive for the Venice leg by train, not plane, does your water taxi advice still hold true?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:26 PM
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Ira, hello...no, haven't left those out. I'm feeling like Venice is not going to be as planned as Florence. I guess I'm more nervous about the Florence plans. BTW, what was the bus # for Fiosole, and didn't you say you had dinner there?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:29 PM
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Dayle, how long is "a while" to Burano and Torcello? Is this a 1/2 day, or full day?
Also, everyone, is there anything in Venice I need to worry about reserving tickets?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 12:47 PM
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Hi Giftnurse,

I loved the Bargello, if you can fit it in during your stay in Florence I'm sure you will enjoy it as well.

For the daytrips, I've only been to Siena. It was beautiful. If you are going to do both Siena and San G in one day, I would focus on the Duomo in Siena, and also make some time for just walking around.

I think 2-3 hours for the Uffizi is reasonable as a minimum. You might want to break up your visit with a drink or snack in the mueseum cafe. We did the first long corridor, then walked through to the end of the museum to go to the cafe, and then after having something to eat we doubled back to where we left off and resumed touring. That way we felt relatively refreshed for the second half of the museum.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 01:26 PM
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Sorry, I misread your post and didn't understand though you are flying into Venice, you then go directly to Florence. I agree with the preferance for Burano and Torcello over Murano. Torcello is lovely--soft and green in contrast to water, light and stone of Venice. Burano and Torcello are really a full day outing. Another splurge restaurant on Torcello is the Locanda Cipriani--you can eat outside on a nice day. But in the absence of sunny weather, I'd stay in Venice and have a wonderful two hour lunch at either of Da Fiores. Restaurant you need reservations for--they should be able to help you at La Calcina. Only a few minutes walk from there is where they build gondolas. At the end of the Zattere is Bill's supermarket, which sells rotisserie chicken if you get tired of eating out.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 03:43 PM
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Great advice, everyone. cmstraf--that really gives me a better idea of the islands. How splurgish is Locanda Cipriani? I wouldn't ask, but from some reviews of Italian restaurants I've seen here, it pays to know. Has anyone attended any of the concerts in the churches?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 03:56 PM
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The boat from the Fond Nuove to Burano/Torcello is about 40 minutes in each direction, So I would expect it to take up at least half a day, could be more if you add lunch into the mix and decide to linger anywhere.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 04:08 PM
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According to my 2004 notes, the bus we took to Fiesole was the #7. Buy your ticket at the tabacco shop near train station. Other Fodorites, has this info changed? Well, buy a return ticket also and know when the latest return bus is. Sorry if that's a big "duh" thing.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 04:23 PM
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To get to Torcello, take the ferry to Burano. There’s then a second ferry that runs over to Torcello, which operates every half hour and it’s a five minute trip. It’s a five or ten minute walk on Torcello from the ferry dock to the churches – and you go right past the Locanda Cip (to peruse the menu, and possibly faint at the prices – I don’t know). Consider going to Torcello after you have been in Venice for a little while, as it makes a pleasant change to be walking in fields and market gardens rather than on the stones of Venice.

The ferry to Burano stops at Mazzorbo, which is the stop just before Burano. It’s then a pleasant 15 minute walk over the bridge to Burano. About five minutes before you get to Mazzorbo on the ferry, you’ll pass a pair of small islands – one is just a heap of bricks barely above the water level. The other is a three story warehouse, mostly ruined, which was once an ammunition store, and makes a most melancholy photograph.

I think Murano is a bit take it or leave it, but if you could see a high end glass factory, then it might be worth it. Moretti (who have a show room in Salizada San Moise, just west of San Marco) do pretty fine glass, as does Venini, and their workshops might be worth a visit, if that is possible. But seeing someone turning out Homer Simpson on a gondola is a bit ho-hum.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 04:26 PM
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Thanks, ellenem and TDudette. And I do appreciate the warning of the last bus...I know it's obvious but this mind is under great stress. Even tho I know this sounds too crazy, I am relieved by the thought that these are just plans, not rules. When I get there, if I feel like throwing the plans away and just sipping wine, I can do it. TDudette, isn't Fiesole very nearby? I'm not wasting time to go there for a relaxed sunset, am I?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2009, 05:22 PM
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Giftnurse,

I visited Murano first and spent quite a bit of time there. Then, I took the ferry to Burano and it seemed to take forever. Once there, I wished I had spent all my time on Burano and Torcello, hence my advise.

Also, there is SO much to see and enjoy right in Venice! A couple of my favorites were Il Frari (church with Titian masterpiece) and La Scuola di San Rocco (absolutely amazing for sheer quantity). The Guggenheim I enjoyed for the villa itself and the gardens more than the art collection. Although, the man on the horse sculpture on the canal side patio is quite unique!

Buon viaggio
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