What to do in Florence/Tuscany

Jun 2nd, 2011, 06:46 PM
Original Poster
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What to do in Florence/Tuscany

My husband and I are heading to Italy at the end of the month. We will have a few days in the Tuscany/Florence area. We are taking one side trip to Cinque Terre for a day, but other than that we are not sure what to do. We are not huge art/museum people, but we do want to see the major known things (David Statue). Our thought is to also take a day trip to Pisa/Lucca. What other things would you recommend to do in Florence/Tuscany. Any recommendations on places to stay that are nice but on the cheaper side?
sarahnic is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 06:56 PM
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Forgive me if I'm naive, but you've obviously invested considerable money into a trip to Italy....but you don't have any idea what to do when you get there? And you're headed there at the end of this month but don't have accommodations?

What possessed you to book a trip to Tuscany if you didn't have any notion of what to do when you got there?

I'm seriously curious here, as I see these types of posts all the time and I just cannot fathom where people are coming from.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:01 PM
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Take the bus to Fiesole, up on the mountain above Florence, for a lovely view, nice restaurant, Roman ruins.

In Florence, go to the Mercato Centrale, a three-story collection of food shops that will amaze you for all the things you never see at home. Walk through the Centro Storico ( historic center) and think about Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli and Galileo walking in the streets. Climb to the top of the Duomo for an amazing experience in architecture up close. (the building of the Dome was an astounding feat in those days.). Sit at a cafe, preferably an upscale place like Gilli's (Jillys) and have one of their great pastries and a coffee and watch the Italians with their bella figura (putting on a fine figure). Find your way to Vivoli's in a tiny piazza and get some wonderful gelato.
charnees is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2011, 07:08 PM
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As St Cirq says, you really should have done something about a place to stay before this. Italy is wildly popular, for good reason, and the places you are going are the most popular. If you can't find anything in Florence, maybe you can stay in Lucca and train into Florence for day trips. Lucca is a sweet town, so you can enjoy yourselves if you do. We stayed at a B&B in Florence last time called Alloro. They have a web site. You may have a problem finding something inexpensive, as those are the ones that get booked up first.
charnees is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 06:20 AM
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You're traveling to Italy, the greatest attraction in the world, and you have to ask
others for advice on what to do and see!!

shermy is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 07:13 AM
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I'm not sure why you're going to Florence if you don't like art very much. You do not say what you do like nor have you given your budget for nice and inexpensive accommodations so it's a bit difficult to help you. Nice, inexpensive places book up months in advance.

Piazzale Michelangelo has great views of Florence.

If you like scenery rent bikes and ride out into the countryside. If you like wine do a wine tasting tour. Or perhaps take a cooking class.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 08:02 AM
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If I were not interested in art and museums, I would not stay in Florence, particularly at the end of June. It will be hot and even more heaving with people than usual.

Why not stay in a country town or an agriturismo where you can enjoy the scenery, food and wine? You could base yourself in San Quirico d'Orcia for example, and drive to the many charming places near by.
tarquin is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 08:14 AM
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St Cirq, I join you in wondering about these posts on this list and on the US list.

Sometimes people simply don't know how to write a subject line and in fact have a real query. In other cases, people seem to be following the crowd without any knowledge of why the crowd goes there. A few minutes with a guidebook, even Rick Steves, would answer all this sort of posting.

The other kind of question that continues to intrigue and annoy me are those which ask whether destinations are "worth it"? How would any of us know what something might be worth to someone else?
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Everyone has to start somewhere, Ackislander.

You didn't answer my post about your Saraceno rental, not interested?
tarquin is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 10:38 AM
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hi sarah,

well, just for once I'm not going to chime in with the negativity. I just got back from a solo trip to Italy including 3 nights in florence, which i really enjoyed, despite the fact that i only went to one museum.

i was on a budget too, and ended up staying here:http://www.residenzacasanuova.it/

it's not in the smartest part of town but it's perfectly safe, very interesting, and the residenzia was very welcoming and comfortable.
annhig is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 12:19 PM
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ann - these responses are not negative IMHO given that the OP is going to an art-rich city and doesn't care for art. She wants other suggestions yet doesn't want to reveal what she does like - we only know what she doesn't like. She was given some good answers about what to do that does not involve any art.

I guess I can add the Boboli Gardens although I found them underwhelming.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 12:36 PM
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adrienne - loads of people go to places like florence with few ideas beyond seeing David and still have a good time.

I agree with you about the Boboli gardens though [which my computer wants to call the "bobble" gardens]. on my recent trip I found the rose gardens below the Piazzale Michelangelo, and the Giardino Bardini, again in Oltrarno, which were very fine. plus of course the many side-streets full of interesting things like the tripe seller, the chair-repairer, the leatherworker, the bicycle -repairer, the print-maker....you could spend days wandering round quite happily and never visit a single museum or gallery. sadly I only had one day to do this, but I enjoyed it very much. I suppose it helped that I had been to Florence before and seen/done the main sights then, but they are by no means the only way of enjoying the city.
annhig is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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ann - Thanks for the tip on the rose gardens and I love to wander and see things like you did! I recently took a short cut in Palermo and saw different workshops, such as you describe and loved it. I even love hardware stores in Europe since we have few like them in the US.

I do know that it's possible to enjoy just about any place and not go into museums but the OP isn't into art either which leaves out all the wonderful architecture, the churches, Medici library, San Marco convent, et. al. - things I consider treasures. I still think Florence is a peculiar place for this person to visit when there are so many other towns in Italy.

There's Santa Maria Novella pharmacy and San Lorenzo market.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 01:15 PM
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Sara - your first priority should be to get yourself a good guidebook to Tuscany and Florence asap. Fodors, Rick Steves, Rough Guide, etc all have very good books. It will be $20 you will not regret spending.
Are you going to be renting a car to explore Tuscany? If so, also buy yourself a Michelin Map of Tuscany. You will definitely use it both for driving and planning. Only use the car in the countryside not in downtown Florence.
There are miles of interesting streets to explore in Florence. Some are lined with leather goods shops, others with gold jewelers. You won't be wanting for things to do, even if you skip the huge Uffizi Museum. You can tour palaces, climb towers, stroll thru parks, linger at sidewalk cafes, etc. A nice, inexpensive b&b in Florence is the Ninna Nanna. It's clean, comfortable, and in a pleasant area.
As for Tuscany - will you be staying in a town or farm b&b? With a little bit of luck, you can find one on the fly - there are hundreds of beautiful farmhouse inns along the roads.
Cinque Terre is spectacular, but you might want to consider an overnight. It is several hours from Florence, and you will need at least a full day to explore the beautiful towns along the sea.
zootsi is online now  
Jun 4th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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I even love hardware stores in Europe since we have few like them in the US.>>

adrienne - i found one on the borgo san croce that my DH would have loved. It wasn't that different to the ones we have in the UK, but he can't resist them. fortunately I didn't have any room left in my case so i was able to avoid temptation. I noticed that it had one of those machines for giving out numbered tickets for the waiting customers which showed that it was popular with the locals too.

i wonder if when the the OP said that she wasn't huge museum/art fan she meant going into galleries and museums, rather than looking at art in the wider context of architecture and churches. Certainly if you ruled out all of those you'd be rather restricting yourself in Florence.
annhig is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 07:40 PM
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StCirq & others ... There are many types of people who are interested in traveling. Some are very experienced & others not so much. The OP just wants to go to Italy & is asking for advice from seasoned travelers. It's like going to a restaurant & asking for advice with the menu. I agree that it is a good idea to secure hotel reservations, as they are traveling to Italy in high season. I am sure that she will get it together after reading these posts & have a wonderful
time. Happy travels to all ...
deedeedee is offline  
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