So last month I spent a week in tuscany with my boyfriend. It was wonderful to get away and for a bit and just relax but we also spent a few days checking out the sights nearby (namely Pisa and Florence). If you haven’t seen my last post about Pisa then you can find it here, and today is the turn of beautiful Firenze.
We did our research and had a list of things that we absolutely had to see, which included the Uffizi Gallery, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore (the duomo), the Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace. Which when you consider we only had a day was quite a big ask and that was before I considered the crowds and queues everywhere.
In the end we went for the Firenze card because we found we were too late online to book tickets for galleries only a few days in advance. So top tip: if you are going to Florence, book early! Although if you are spending a few days there then maybe consider the Firenze card. It is €72 and is valid for 3 consecutive days afterwards and gets you free entry and queue jump at every attraction in the city.
J and I did the maths on the way home and we were only a few euros off the price of the card for everything we did in one day so for tow or three it’s definitely worth it.
Our first stop off the train was the tourist information desk across from the station to pick up our cards, then we headed towards the Galleria dell’accademia. Even with a card we had to join the queue for people who had reserved tickets rather than just walk in and this was by far the worst part of the day. We stood there for ages, although eventually we made it to the front and were allowed to head inside.
There are lots of things to see in the Academy of Florence gallery, I particularly liked Michelangelo’s Prisoners, but they are all dwarfed by David in the centre.
It is absolutely stunning. We’ve all seen the pictures but until you are there looking up you can’t really feel the scale or appreciate the work that must have gone in to sculpting him.
The gallery isn’t very big, so in terms of time waiting vs time spent inside it is a bit ridiculous but I think it’s worth it. Although if you aren’t bothered about seeing the original, there is a replica David where the original used to stand in front of the Palazzo della Signoria.
Our next stop was the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or the Duomo) which is quite possibly the most amazing building I have ever seen.
This picture from the front was the only way to get most of it in but it stretches back forever. Here our firenze cards came into their own too. We walked right to the front of the queue to climb the dome, and managed to blag our way past the queue for the Cathedral itself. (Partly by accident, we tried to go in the groups and tours entrance and the guard just let us in).
The climb up the Dome was amazing, and absolutely something that I would recommend but it’s hard work and also very claustrophobic in places especially when groups are trying to go up and down the same tiny staircase at once, so if you don’t like small spaces it’s probably not for you.
That said the views are worth a little discomfort.
Once we had descended into the blistering heat of the square again it was time for gelato and a quick look at the baptistery opposite the dome.
Then we strolled across town towards the Uffizi Gallery, but via the Piazza della Signoria.
The queue for the gallery was surprisingly short, but we used our queue jump tickets anyway, and we were in in a few minutes!
The gallery is pretty fabulous. There’s so much to see and like everywhere else in Italy they are totally fine with pictures, which surprised me a lot.
I’ve included just a few pictures of some of my favourites but I have so many! I didn’t want to bore you all.
As we left the Uffizi we crossed the Ponte Vecchio and walked towards the Pitti Palace.
The palace has an interesting history. It was originally a townhouse for a wealthy banker (Luca Pitti) but was bought by the Medici family and they began to gather treasures and possessions there. Napoleon used it as a base of power in the 18th century and it was donated to the Italian people in 1919.
My first impression: It is ginormous!
This was the one place we weren’t allowed to take photos, so although we saw the Royal Apartments and the galleries and the porcelain museum and costume gallery I don’t have any pictures to show. It’s very interesting though and I only regret that I couldn’t spend a whole day there just wandering around.
Behind the palace are the Boboli Gardens, which are also pretty wonderful. Even though by this time it was early evening the heat was still relentless so we found a shady patch to sit and relax for a little while.
The gardens go off to either side a long way too. They are absolutely huge!
By the time we were done in the gardens it really was dinner time. We walked back towards the station and I was feeling slightly perkier at the thought of food. We had a lovely dinner of florentine steak and fresh pasta before getting the train back to Pontedera.
Florence was wonderful but there is so much we didn’t see, I feel like I need to go back and do it all over again. Italy – thank you. You were gorgeous and I’m sure we’ll be back soon.