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Waffling - should we skip our one day in Florence and add another day to Tuscany?

Waffling - should we skip our one day in Florence and add another day to Tuscany?

Apr 1st, 2006, 07:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 51
Waffling - should we skip our one day in Florence and add another day to Tuscany?

Thanks to all the advice and various trip threads posted here we have our basic itinerary and all our hotels booked for our 17 day, 25th anniversary, first time to Europe, trip. Our first stop in Europe is 3 nights in Venice at the end of June. We then pick up a rental car and drive/meander to our hotel in Castellina which we have for four nights. Day 2, Saturday is scheduled for more Tuscany touring, Sunday was Florence and Monday, Siena.Now I am down to fine tuning and I am starting to wonder about the wisdom of rushing about Florence to see all the things on my list. Here is (was) my one day plan: 3 hr. morning walking tour with Artviva; quick lunch break; see Duomo, Baptistry and climb Giotto's tower; tour Uffizi at 3:00 or 3:30 (plan on reservations); 5:30 Accademia; pick up picnic supplies and head to Piazzale Michelangelo; head back to Castellina to our hotel. (I also wouldn't mind seeing the Santa Croce church) This would be a Sunday. I am expecting it to be very hot and crowded. On Monday we plan on being in Siena (right after the Palio so I'm not sure what Il Campo will be like for wandering about). Tuesday we head for the C.T. for 2 nights. I am starting to think that perhaps we should skip Florence and instead add that day to our 2 (1 1/2) days of exploring Tuscany. Any thoughts or advice is, as always, most helpful and greatly appreciated.
wishing is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Maybe I should ask a different question - did you love or hate Florence? Why? Thanks!
wishing is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 08:24 AM
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It all depends on what you like to do (helpful, isn't it). Think about previous vacations you've taken - did you enjoy cities or countryside more; art and culture or just wandering around and people-watching?

You start with several city days, then head to Castellina. You'll have part of day 1, and 3 full days for Tuscany (including Florence). You could visit a lot of rural Tuscany in those 3 days; do you like exploring the countryside? Which Tuscan towns were you planning to visit?

On the other hand, if you like art, and especially if you're not sure if you'll get back to Italy, then maybe you should squeeze in Florence (personally, I would have spent the night there). There's great art in the Uffizi, and Michelangelo's David. I also really love the Bargello, a smaller, statues-only museum. But that day will be really rushed. It's also a nice city to wander around in. It would be a rushed visit, but you have several somewhat peaceful days in the Tuscan countryside, and in the Cinque Terre.

And to answer your last question, I love the art museums in Florence (there are others, as well, that you wouldn't have time to get to); I love the people-watching; I love the gelato! It's a small city, so you don't have the traffic and congestion that you have, for example, in Rome.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 08:25 AM
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I think I would keep Florence, but just realize you will not see everything. I would forget the tour, since you have specific other things you want to see. With reservations for the Uffizi and the Accademia, you could still fit in Santa Croce, the Duomo and Baptistry. Doing a tour plus all those would be too much, although I would think a tour might include these things.

Just another thought, when I was there in Sept, there was a huge line for the Duomo, out the door, down the steps, all the way down the side of the building and across the street, and a long line at the Baptistry as well (more than half way around the building). I wasn't willing to wait, but late afternoon the line was gone. Maybe you won't get that lucky in June, but it's worth a try.
SusanP is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 08:52 AM
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I plan to return to Firenze as often as I can in my life. Why? I am a person who enjoys going to museums. I do it all the time where I live. Not everybody realizes that Firenze is just as much a city as Washington, DC, where there is important Italian work activity going on, and there are many visitors lining up to go to the museums. It is not like Venice or the walled medieval towns of Tuscany where one goes to soak up the atmosphere of a place where time stopped. Firenze has preserved its astonishing antique infrastructure, but it is a busy modern city.

Personally, I would give up Siena instead of Firenze because I prefer the golden, angelic art of Firenze to the dark and formal madonnas of Siena and the cramped in feeling of a walled city.

That said, I would also not do the tour of Firenze you are planning, especially on a hot day in the height of the tourist season. I would not climb a tower. I would not spend 3 hours on a walking tour. I would not go to the Uffizi in the middle of the afternoon after such an exhausting morning of art watching.

If I were you, I would feel free to follow my inclination to skip Firenze. Or consider this itinerary.

Make your first stop the Piazzele Michaelangelo or another view of Firenze from Fiesole. If the weather is pleasant, descend into the city with a walk through the Boboli Gardens. Visit the Cappella Brancacci. Cross the Arno, pause for a refreshment in the Piazza Signorile, then proceed to the Duomo and Bapistery. If there is not a line to get into the Baptistery, go inside. If there is, take a look around the Duomo and go to lunch. Return the Bapistery to go inside. In the afternoon, consider looking inside the Palazzo Medici, and if you are a Michaelangelo fanatic, go to the Accademia. If not, pick up a gelato and take the 15 minute walk to Museo San Marco, a medieval monastery (cool inside) where each cell is decorated with glowing murals by Fra Angelico. Grab a taxi and head for good food and wine shop. Then return, again by taxi, to the Piazzelle Michaelango or the banks of the Arno, as you prefer. Have a picnic, watch the sunset over the red tile rooftops.

But if you have an instinct even this would be overbooking, especially in the heat, enjoy a "down day" in the Tuscan countryside without a guidebook and discover something wonderful none of us knows anything about!

nessundorma is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 01:58 PM
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You have all been so helpful. I know I am not really a crowded city type and yet I really do want to see the 'cradle of the renaisance'. I guess that was my quandry! I think I will take the advice to skip the tour but I will reserve for the Uffizi and Accademia with permission to myself to change my mind and not go if it is really hot or we want another Tuscan hilltown day. Would you book the museums for the afternoon (when I assume it will be hotter out and we could have a reprieve from the heat) or would you recommend seeing the museums first thing leaving the rest of the day for wandering. Thanks again - the advice really helps clear my thinking!
wishing is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 02:41 PM
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I am in total agreement with Nessundorma!! Let me add my enthusiasm for going to San Marco--it is so special. For gelato, go to either Vivoli's or Perche No! If you are going to have gelato in Florence, you might a well have the best.

I, too, prefer Florence to Siena. Florence IS the cradle of the Renaissance. One day there is simply not enough. But to miss it altogether would be tragic.

Two years ago we were in the Boboli Gardens--it was delightful! Last year, it looked awful (both times were in early June)--the beer garden was closed, the grass looked burned and dead, we were shocked. I hope it has returned to green splendor.

I would book the museum early, when you are energetic. The Uffizi is so full of wonderment, it is not for the fainthearted. Going when you are hot and tired would not be my idea of fun. Going for a cold beer and people-watching under an umbrella at Rivoire's when it is hot is a much better alternative IMHO.
Dog_Mother is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 02:54 PM
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No, I don't think you should skip Florence if you've never been there, and in fact I think you should allow for more than one day trip there. I think Florence can help you to understand the rest of Tuscany. There was a thread here about why people go to Tuscany. I'll try to find it and post the link.
cmt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 02:55 PM
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I found it faster than I thought I would: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34571730
cmt is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 03:02 PM
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Hi W,

May I make the following suggestion?

Drop the guided walking tour.

Drive to Poggibonsi and train or bus into Florence SMN.

Walk up to the Accademia for the David.

Walk down to the Duomo.

Walk down to Piazza Singnoria.

Walk down to the Uffizi.

Walk over to the Ponte Vecchio.

(This is all downhill.)

Take the bus or walk back to the train station. Return to Fiesole.

Watch the sun set from the terrace of the Bar Bleu.

Have dinner.

Return home. Last train leaves SMN at 23:07.

You will have time for lunch, cafe breaks, a little shopping, and some gelato.

Have a nice visit.

ira is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. The details are so helpful. Now I am once again excited to see Florence!
wishing is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:51 AM
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I think your plan to book but give yourself permission to skip the Uffizi and the Accademia is a good one, and I would book the museums for the afternoon. Just to walk into Firenze is exciting, and it can throw a wet blanket on your mood to walk into a crowded museum first thing off. You might want to dash around in the cool of the morning gulping in the great church architecture -- and if you see that there are not many people waiting to get into the Bapistry (Battistero), grab your chance.

Also, you might change your mind about what you want to see once you see Firenze itself. I never expected to want to see the Cathedral museum (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo), but after seeing the Duomo, I wanted to.

I frequently post on this board that I am not a big fan of the Uffizi, which I find a difficult museum to enjoy, so know you know my prejudices. I recommend a trip to the library or bookstore and browsing some fat picturebooks of Firenze. You can check out pictures of Firenze's many museums. Perhaps you will see something -- like the Cappella Brancacci or the interior of the Bapistery or some Della Robbia angels -- that you feel you just must see above all. Or you will want to see that air-conditioned Botticelli in the Uffizi.
nessundorma is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2006, 10:55 AM
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PS: I was the first person to butch the spelling of Piazza Signorelli, and I thought I better give you the corrected one -- although I doubt you'll get lost trying to find it!
nessundorma is offline  

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