3 Days in Florence Italy
3 days in Florence, Italy. We covered the usual tourist “must see’s” and also took an interesting tour that most wouldn’t be aware of.
Here’s a quick recap:
Day 1 – arrived in the morning, did some sightseeing in the afternoon
The Duomo: Wow, magnificent from the outside, it is the focal point of Florence. We saw it flying into the city and were blown away by it’s sheer size. What is most surprising however about the Duomo is that it is rather bland on the inside (nothing like the stupendous Duomo in Siena). The ceiling is the highlight. The Duomo has a tower that can be climbed. But instead, I’d recommend that you climb the Campanile which has the better views (see below).
The Campanile: the tower right next to the dome is really worth climbing for great views. The views are more impressive than those from the Duomo (because you can look out over the Duomo from the campanile). It is also a more pleasant experience – less people, larger passageways, airier. You can get to the top in half the time it takes to climb up the Duomo. A must-do in Florence for the fantastic views.
I just summarized in 2 short paragraphs what took an entire afternoon to line up for and climb. My opinion: if your time is limited skip the Duomo and the Dome climb. You’ll see tons of tours promoting these. The Duomo is most spectacular from the outside. BUT climb the Campanile, it really is worth it.
Below: the ceiling of the Duomo
Day 2 – Food and wine tour, more city highlights
We had a food tour the next day. We met up with our guide Christina at the St. Lorenzo church. We spent the first 2 hours exploring the St. Lorenzo market where we sampled Olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Christina explained everything; the processes involved, the various denominations of quality, the strict controls of the Italian food industry, the marketing of Italian products overseas. We always knew Italians loved their food and wine, but it is amazing to what point the Italian authorities go to control quality. Let’s face it, Italians are known to have a very relaxed attitude about things; they park their cars on sidewalks (sometimes facing the opposite way from which they came), they don’t care so much about cleanliness or organization (see Italian trains for perfect examples of both these points). But when it comes to food and wine everything is regulated and monitored to an incredible degree.
Above – St. Lorenzo church and outdoor market.
After 2 hours at the St. Lorenzo market, we continued on to a Gelato shop close to the duomo where we sampled 5 different kinds of gelato. Then the highlight: wine tasting. Again, Christina explained the different wine making regions of Italy and the various denominations. More here if you’re interested in this food tour.
It was a beautiful day and we took advantage to see the Ponte Vecchio, the famous old bridge (described as “Europe’s oldest wholly-stone, closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge”).
Below: Our first glimpse of the Ponte Vecchio.
Day 3 – Museums…and yet more city highlights
I had saved the museums for the last full day in Florence. I don’t particularly like going to museums (too many people). But you can’t visit Florence without visiting its famous museums.
I had pre-bought tickets (you can pre-buy your Academia tickets here) at both the Academia (where Michelangelo’s David is) and the Uffizi (you can pre-buy your Uffizi tickets here) which is one of the oldest and most famous museums in the world. As expected, there were hordes of people, so pre-buying was a good idea. I can sum up our museum day in a couple of short lines. 1. The Academia. Statue of David is impressive, bigger in person then I imagined. The detail is very impressive, his hands and feet seem a little large in relation. There were a lot of other sculptures in the museum but a lot just looked like discarded heads, bodies, and arms. A bit like the leftovers after eating a bucket of KFC. 2. The Uffizi. Incredible art but we found it thoroughly unenjoyable. Just too many people for us. It felt claustrophobic.
As I say, we just don’t like going to museums, mostly because there are just too many people. If you go, make sure to pre-buy those tickets.
We walked up to Piazza Michelangelo for great views over the city (the first photo on this post was taken there as are some below). Lots of stairs, but the views are so worth it.
More views from around the city
Above: Palazzo Vecchio Below: Piazza della Repubblica
Above: More views of the Duomo
We did a lot of walking that last day. Florence really is an incredibly gorgeous city. I recommend a 90-minute Walking Tour. If you want a more in-depth tour, this 2-6 hour customized tour will cover Florence in details.
We splurged and stayed at the “Hotel Orto de’ Medici”. Beautiful hotel. I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5. But it’s expensive (rooms around 190 Euros/night). Florence gets a lot of tourists and hotel prices are high. Have a look at the Deals Finder below for the hottest current deals.
We also broke all the rules. After 3 weeks of Italian food we just wanted an evening of veging out and watching tv. That’s how we ended up picking something up at McDonald’s.
Above: Hey McDonalds – I’m between jobs. How about hiring me as your new spokesman?
Related: Why you should Visit Siena, Italy
Have you been to Florence? What were your highlights?
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