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What To Do in Florence

A weekend in Florence was like making a quick trip back home – it was hot (36C), crowded and dirty. But it was also full of history, art and amazing architecture.

Often called the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, Florence’s most famous attraction is arguably the Uffizi Gallery. Spread over two long buildings overlooking the Arno river, this magnificent gallery has hundreds of works by the best known artists ever. You name it, they are here : Michelangelo, Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Mantegna, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Vasari – the list goes on.

The queues to get into the Uffizi are a mile long, especially on holidays. We booked online, and walked straight in. It is (a lot) more expensive online, with ridiculous fees, but it will save you at least an hour or two of precious holiday time waiting in line.

The Accademia Gallery has Michelangelo’s David. It was a lot easier to get in here, although guides do recommend prior booking. Try going in the afternoon (as we did) and the queues are almost non-existent. The sculpture towers over everything else in the space . The corridors leading to David are lined with Michelangelo’s ‘Prisoners’ and other works of art.

The lovely church of Santa Croce has the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini and many others. There is a cenotaph to Dante as well.

Our flight was from Pisa, about 80 km from Florence and we spent the last day there. Getting to Pisa is easiest by the Terravision buses from the railway station direct to Pisa airport. We left our luggage in the left-luggage section and took a bus to Pisa central. The airport tells you to get your tickets from them, but you can save a lot of time (long queues, again) by getting them direct on the bus in Pisa (not so in Florence where you have to buy them from a tobacconist; Florence is a walking city, don’t bother with buses).

Pisa’s main attraction, of course, is the Leaning Tower. And boy, does it lean! A marvellous sight indeed. We couldn’t get up into the Tower as the next available tour was not for five pm and we needed to get back to the airport. Again, if you’re planning a trip to Pisa, consider booking the tour in advance.

Florence is famous for its leather. Bags, shoes, leather accessories. The city is the birth place of Salvatore Ferragamo – his house is now a museum (visits by appointment only), but the ground floor is a shop (closed on Sundays).


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