So I’ve just returned from my second trip to Florence. The first time I was in Italy (with my husband), we behaved like regular tourists – spending a day in every city and running around to cover as many ‘attractions’ as possible. And seriously, it would be very hard to not do that on your first trip. But I urge you – don’t! If you have the good fortune of spending time in Florence then grab it with both hands. There aren’t many cities in the world with as much character and flavor as Florence. Take at least 3 days there and let Florence amaze you.
There are a million articles online to tell you about all the touristy things to do there. Here are my personal ‘gems’ that will help make this your most treasured trip.
1. What they say about lines at museums is true. They are long, very long. If you are one of those pre-planning types, then you must have already bought tickets online to ‘skip the line’. But if you’re like my ‘let it flow’ avatar during my last trip, you will be taking impulsive decisions. There is hope for you yet. If you decide late tonight that you feel like Uffizi tomorrow, all you have to do is make sure you’re there right when the doors open at 8.30 am. There’s a very high probability that you’re one of two people there. And it’s all good. Just get in, grab breakfast at the cute cafe on the Uffizi terrace, and enjoy the splendor of the masters.
Sadly, this isn’t nearly true for Accademia. You will have a line waiting to welcome you, no matter when you land up there. But we got there early and only had to wait about 40 mins.
2. Which brings me to The insider tip 2 – chat with the person next to you in line, no matter which line you’re in. An oft ignored pleasure of travel is discovering people as much as discovering places. Grab every opportunity. Whether it’s a fellow traveller in line, or the charming proprietor of your neighborhood cafe.
3. Relish those croissants and cappuccino. If you can’t afford a lavish breakfast everyday, just take them out – that’s not too heavy on the pocket, but just as delicious.
4. There’s a reason why Italian gelato is so famous. Have one after every meal. Don’t smirk – this is serious. Be on the lookout for those little gelaterias hidden in small streets and don’t be afraid to try each one. ‘Grom’ is the favorite of many, and it’s good, but there are many, many more. The best part is that each one experiments with flavors and so there’s an innumerable number of flavors to try! Follow this advice like a religion or you’ll regret it the moment you step out of Italy.
5. Spend your evenings on the bridge watching the mesmerizing sun set over Florence. The bridge I refer to is Ponte Santa Trinita, not Ponte Vechchio. But hang on, here comes the tip. While you’re mesmerized looking at the sun, turn around for a bit. The sight of Florence bathed in orange glow, under the watchful eyes of David in Piazza Michelangelo is unforgettable.