I will not lie when we first started talking about a holiday to Italy, the first place I really wanted to visit was Florence.. I have always been fascinated by art, history and architecture and for me Florence was a dream destination. I read Dan Brown’s Inferno a few years back and it made me want to visit it even more..
When we were planning our trip, I got so obsessed with Florence, I think I tagged every single thing in my travel book that I wanted to see! As you know we started our trip in Venice, and then went on to our next destination – Florence.
We arrived in Florence station and it was BUSY!!! I tried to search for information desk, but with all the crowds and the heat we decided to get a taxi directly to the hotel and not attempt to find it ourselves without a map and wifi signal! We stayed at the gorgeous Mabelle Firenze Residenza Gambrinus it was in a beautiful area right around the corner from the Duomo and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.
It was early afternoon and we decided to have a look around… which of course ended with a full on tour around the Cathedral and the Duomo building. We paid EUR18 which allowed us access with a single ticket to all monuments (apart from Dome as it was fully booked) and was valid for 72 hours. I LOVED the Giotto’s bell tower as you could see Florence from above and the beautiful Cupola! I went all the way to the top and what a view it was!!!
The Baptistry and the Cathedral was so magnificent too! As we walked outside, a musician was playing Pachelbel’s Canon in d Major, which was the song I walked down the aisle to.. It was such a beautiful moment!
Having climbed up the tower we went around Florence streets and stumbled upon some gems without even knowing what they were! It was the best way to explore, we were so relaxed and really enjoyed what we saw. The beautiful Palazzo Vecchio, where you can see a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
The original was removed from the piazza to protect it from damage, and is displayed in the Accademia Gallery.
In true Italian style we went to get some fresh bread, olives, cold meat selection, tomatoes and mozzarella and had a nice snack in our room with a glass of red wine. The church bells rang outside our window and it felt like we were in a magical movie. We put our feet up and looked through the book and our map to highlight the things we would do the next day.. I also booked our tickets to the Pisa Tower (more on that trip on my next post).
We thought we should get an early night but around 10pm we could hear music from outside the window. I opened the window and there were hundreds of people walking just outside our hotel carrying candles and singing. It was so beautiful. It turned out it was a religious procession – Corpus Domini.
The next day we decided to get up early(ish) and head to the Uffizi gallery. I knew there would be a queue but really should have booked the tickets online. We stood there for about 1.5 hours, the good thing was we met a lovely couple and had a nice chat! I must say it was worth the wait..
The museum is FANTASTIC.. if you love art, you are in for a treat.. the ceiling, paintings, sculptures.. every room was magical!!
Everyone fled to see the famous artwork by Botticelli and of course the genius that was Leonardo da Vinci.
We soaked up the atmosphere and the beautiful works of art and after getting some lovely prints for our home, we went to get some lunch.
Having relaxed for a bit, we walked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo through the beautiful Rose Gardens. I highly recommend walking up, as it gives you such a magnificent view from the top!
On our way back to the hotel, we took a little detour and walked to the Basilica di Santa Croce.
We looked around and made our way back to the hotel. We had another busy day the next day – travelling to Pisa!!
Tips:- TRAINS! We booked business class, which was only 20EUR more than economy. I listened to my friend’s advice and booked through trenitalia website . I was told to book Frecciarossa or Frecciargento and not the regionale train as those were the high speed trains and would not stop at every stop. The train journey was a dream!
Duomo – if you want to visit the Dome (Cupola), then book your tickets in advance, when we tried to buy the tickets at the ticket desk they were sold out for the whole week!
Uffizi Museum – Very strange tip but bring your ID if you want to have an audio guide. We were asked for an ID at the museum for an audio guide, as we didn’t have one with us so ended up without one…AND book it online if you can to skip the queues!!
Planning Italy Trip