Florence

Florence is a beautiful city; there is so much fantastic art and history. A fabulous place to visit and some think it is better than Rome.

The normal dropping off point for a coach is near Piazza Piave, there is a Tower, and from here you walk to Santa Croce square. At the end you are met here and taken back to your coach. Whatever you do, do not go directly to the drop off point, buses have been moved in the past and your guide will have the up to date information.

Take a good map with you and plan out a route, even if Florence’s centre is small and entirely walkable, you’ll optimize your time with a map and wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. Another thing to bear in mind is that most of museums are closed on Monday, including the Uffizi Gallery and Academy Museum.

If you are visiting on a Monday, try here: http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/open-on-mondays.html

In Florence most shops are open on Sunday, especially the ones in the city centre. The San Lorenzo Market is open as well. Sunday is also a frequent day for fairs, markets or special events. For example, on the second and third Sunday of every month Piazza Santo Spirito is animated by a nice local fair/market with local products.

Suggestions
In one day it won’t be easy to see much, but you can still see many things. Here are some suggestions of must-sees in Florence:

• Piazza Duomo where you can admire the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with the Cupola of Brunelleschi, the Baptistery and Giotto’s Bell Tower.
• Via dei Calzaiuoli, a shopping street that connects Piazza Duomo to Piazza della Signoria.
• Piazza della Repubblica where you’ll find nice and famous cafés where you can sit and people watch.
• In Piazza della Signoria you’ll find the imposing Palazzo Vecchio and its beautiful statues and the Loggia della Signoria.
• Uffizi Gallery is next to Palazzo Vecchio. It displays unique masterpieces of the Renaissance such as the The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

• Ponte Vecchio is certainly one of the most famous landmarks in Florence and has beautiful goldsmith shops.

These are Florence musts and maybe are enough for one day. But try and find time to visit:

• Santa Croce Church and the square
• Pitti Palace and Piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno area
• Piazzale Michelangelo, called the balcony of Florence (this is a long walk, uphill all the way and many many steps, but worth every step. From here the views over the city are fantastic and you can see almost every site and building, there is also a copy of the Statue of David here. This place does get packed but there is still plenty of room to walk around, take in those views and of course the photo opportunities. For the less able the HOHO bus comes up here and there are taxis)

Sometimes (I suspect on most days) there is an outdoor market running with lots of leatherwork and great opportunities for a bit of haggling. There are some lovely back streets with ice cream parlours, coffee shops and general eateries to while away a bit of time whilst you gather your breath for more sightseeing.

If you want to DIY then a recommended trip with P&O is: Florence On Your Own, £44pp (2014). Coach into the city, this took 1 ½ hrs, dropped off and taken to Santa Croc Square where you now have approx. 5 hrs to do your own thing. You are then collected from Santa Croc Square and taken back to your coach for the trip back to Livorno.

By Peter Dagnall


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