As before, we travelled by train and treated ourselves to 1st Class, having booked fixed-time tickets at the best prices before we left home. Florence is just a 40 minute ride from Bologna.
Arriving around 11am we again left our bags with the Left Luggage service at the station – 6 Euros per bag for 5 hours – and walked the few minutes into the city centre. Florence was even busier than Bologna, and whilst we overheard a taxi driver complain that it was quiet, to us it seemed crazy busy and people were queuing everywhere.
We were only here for 2 days and hummed and hawed about buying the Firenze Card. It's expensive at 72 Euros for 72 hours, especially when we could only use 48 hours’ worth and you can only visit each site once. Having said that, it did mean we could jump the queues and this really helped on our whirlwind trip. On balance despite the price I’m glad we did it.
Top tip: Don't even think of turning up at the major sites without pre-booking your tickets or you will be very frustrated. Book restaurants in advance too, even if it's just an hour ahead, or you may be disappointed.
Top tip: We were advised by my son’s girlfriend if you can watch the series Medici on Netflix ahead of your trip it really helps to set the scene and to understand the history and power of Florence. It really helped us appreciate the overwhelming wealth and power this city once had.
Top of our shopping list in Florence were a new leather purse and leather gloves. But reading ahead of time we knew to be wary that we got authentic, locally-produced goods. Leather items were everywhere, so much fake and not local leather so beware. Our plan was to seek out authentic, long-established businesses in Florence.
My mum loves her leather gloves from Madova, and I adore the wallet you can see above – every time I take it out it makes me smile and reminds me of our amazing trip to this stunning part of Italy.
This time our Airbnb apartment was really central and in a fabulous 16th century building near the Victorian indoor market, which is another must see. From our top floor apartment we could see the Doumo.
One evening we enjoyed a performance of the Three Tenors, and even as only moderate opera fans we felt it really added to our experience of this stunning city.
I could say how awesome the Uffizi Gallery is or Florence Catherdral, Piazza del Doumo, The Academia, Palazzo Pitti, Ponte Vecchio… but you will know that from your guidebooks. The sheer amount of delights and opulence ends up blowing your mind, so take time to just sit and absorb the atmosphere. Find a little cafe with access to the river on the south side of Ponte Vecchio and people watch over a glass of wine or two.
As our six day tour came to an end, we took the Aerobus to the airport from outside the train station. It’s efficient, quick and cheap – buy tickets at the station or on the bus.
* Prices correct as at March 2017
Posted by Helen X