Italy, itinerary, Reviews, Tips and tricks

A Long Weekend in Florence

City: Florence

Date: February 2016, 4 nights

Accommodation: Hotel Rapallo (3*. Review down below!)

E&J’s travel tips:

  • Fly to Pisa to save money on flights.  Coach it from Pisa airport to Florence for €5.99 p.p each way. Get tickets here
  • Check opening dates and times of all attractions! Many had days closed in the week
  • Take a train to Pisa for €8.40 p.p return to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa, but don’t expect to do much else there
  • Take a romantic stroll around Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the duomo) at night. Beautifully lit up.

The artwork we laid eyes on, the different flavours of gelato we tried, the endless walking along old streets and the views, cemented Tuscany Italy as a sure favourite of ours

Florence is a beautiful Tuscan city of great history, art, architecture, food and so much more.

And we absolutely loved every minute of it! Piazza del Duomo was the main square we grabbed food in and headed towards it if we were lost. A real anchor of our trip. The artwork we laid eyes on, the different flavours of gelato we tried, the endless walking along old streets and the views, cemented Tuscany Italy as a sure favourite of ours.

Prior to booking this trip using Skyscanner and booking.com, we did a great deal of research and noted down what we wanted to do and used this to figure out how long we’d like to go for. You can probably do Florence in 3 nights but we grabbed a great deal so 4 it was!

Why not check out our blog to find out how we get great flight deals with Skyscanner, here.

Here’s our itinerary for 4 nights in Florence (you lucky travellers, you!)

Day 1

Familiarisation! Nothing worse than heading straight out not having the faintest of clue of what way to walk out from your hotel. Take a few hours to just wander, get lost, and take in some sights. There’s plenty to look at (disclaimer: we had 4 nights here so we felt we could take a bit of extra time to get to know our local area first)

Remember, before you leave a hotel, grab a copy of a local map! It will have all the local tourist attractions on them and is extremely handy. Ask reception if they haven’t got any out.

This also gives yourself a chance to sample some of the great pasta dishes, gelato and much more Italian cuisine that Florence has to offer

Day 2 – start at 9am for sure. 

Uffizi Gallery

Visit the Vecchio bridge (Ponte Vecchio)

Visit the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

Trek up to Pizzale Michelangelo. Yes, WALK IT! Grab yourself a late lunch here (plenty of places) then take a stroll back to your hotel.

This is the route we took. Was it long? Yes. Was it worth it? YES!
Day 3 

Head inside and UP TO THE DOME of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Allow a few hours for this

Basilica di Santa Croce

Day 4

Take a train to Pisa (even if it’s only for the morning)

Giotto’s bell tower

Day 5

Galleria dell’accademia – home of Michelangelo’s statue, David.

Come home

Side note: Day 2 (above) was a long day with plenty of walking, much to Ellis’s enjoyment, but it was made a heck of a lot better by all of the sites we experienced and a well planned itinerary. Any other order and you could well walk an unnecessary mile further (or more). After spending the first day getting to know the area, we wanted to crack on.

Check out the reviews down below of the more exciting things we did in Florence!

Piazzale Michelangelo

View of Florence from piazzale Michelangelo
The picture captured does not do it justice. They never do…
This was a lot of effort, and if you’re wanting to walk it, it isn’t for the less abled as it was an uphill struggle. However, when you’re there, you’ll bear witness to some of the most tantalising views you’ll ever see and made the sweating well worth it. The whole of Florence is now in your eye line. The Duomo, cathedrals, churches, the river, all in plain sight. Spectacular. As well as an unforgettable view, you’ll also be in awe of a bronzed replica of Michelangelo’s statue, David. Once you’ve taken in the views, there’s plenty of cafes and stalls to have a sit down, relax and unwind.

Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

Pitti palace
Ellis at one of the lower tiers of the gardens overlooking the palace
the gardens are vast and beautiful with views from the top of the gardens expanding the horizon of Florence. Truly breathtaking. Magnificent sculptures and water fountain arrangements scatter the blissful grounds.

Boboli gardens
Sculptures dotted around the gardens
Art galleries

Some of the artwork that graced our presence

Florence is literally saturated with art galleries. If art is your hobby or passion, then Florence is the city you’ll fall in love in. Personally, Ellis and I aren’t MASSIVE fans of art, but even the Uffizi Gallery had extremely well known renaissance pieces by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci.

The Duomo/ Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (and the adjacent Giotto’s tower)

 

Florence Italy Whilst in Florence we felt that the cathedral was a focal point. It’s stunning, towering structure attracted plenty of tourists and it’s easy to see why. On day 3 we spent hours inside in absolute awe at the artwork on the ceiling and walls and also scaled the long and winding narrow staircases to reach the dome at the top. The journey had a stop start momentum as we cascaded flights, but it gave everyone the opportunity to appreciate the artwork and also a well sought after rest. The ascent took approximately 4 hours in total. We must add that the journey to the top is not for the faint hearted or less abled- there were sections of the climb that required you to use your arms as well as your legs to climb a flight of stairs. Again, like the other views of Florence, this one most definitely didn’t disappoint! It gave a great opportunity to snap some panoramic photos.

 

 

View of Florence. El Duomo

The Duomo

 

E&J’s tip: if you’re looking for that extra picturesque photo to show off to the grandchildren, climb the Giotto’s tower which is directly adjacent to cathedral. It takes only 20 minutes and your photo will have the duomo in the foreground and a great scenic background too. Pretty sure a combined ticket with the Duomo is available

Half a day in Pisa

Leaning tower of Pisa

Grabbing a train to Pisa from Florence was definitely a must, but don’t plan on spending more than a few hours there as there’s not much else to do other than workout how the tower’s still standing. When we arrived at Pisa station (45 minute journey), we soon realised we were nowhere near Florence. The atmosphere seemed to have changed, this place didn’t seem as loving. Anyway, determined not to be deterred, we took a fifteen minute walk to the notorious Leaning Tower of Pisa and our thoughts soon brightened up. We stared at the tower for a good fifteen minutes, in admiration. After some discussion we decided to climb the staircase for €18 each, a bit steep considering. The view from the top was okay, nothing special but it felt great to say we did it. After a small walk around the grounds, we decided to head back to the train station. We originally intended to grab lunch in Pisa, but nothing took our fancy and decided we’d much prefer to eat in Florence.

Leaning tower of Pisa
Galleria dell’Accademia 

Statue of David

This is a must do, if visiting Florence. Michelangelo’s statue of David is housed inside. Definitely worth laying your eyes on! We booked the tickets the day beforehand to avoid all of the queues and we we’re given a time slot. This was so ideal as it was our last day and strapped for time. Within the gallery was also many other pieces made famous by renaissance artists. It’s worth noting that EU citizens aged 18-25 can gain entry for a reduced price of €4 with the full price being a reasonable €8. Absolute bargain!

Our Hotel Review! Hotel Rapallo. Check them out here

It may look like a bit of a walk to all of the sites, but honestly it’s so worth it!
This family run, 3 star underrated hotel was our base for the next 5 days. Now I know that by looking at the map it seems a million miles away from many of the attractions, but honestly, it was less than fifteen minute walk to the main square piazza del Duomo, and then another ten minutes onwards from there to others. We loved this location. And for less than €80 a night we couldn’t complain. The free breakfast each morning was a delight as well as a complimentary afternoon selection of cakes and drinks between 3pm and 5pm. The walk down to the main square was a quiet and easy one to navigate.

Where to eat!

Fuoco Matto is an Italian restaurant probably no more than a minutes walk from Hotel Rapallo or fifteen minutes from Piazza del Duomo. We stumbled into this restaurant on our first night and so glad we gave it a go. It was reasonably priced and the food was astounding. Would recommend this to any pizza and red wine loving enthusiasts! Check out other reviews of this place here.

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