An October 2004 trip
to Florence by nrf
Quote: This is certainly among the top destinations for people who appreciate fine art.
If you ate from a large box of fine chocolates, your appetite would be sated long before the candies ran out.
Similarly, the list of must-see sites is so long that Florence cannot be appreciated fully in a single visit. The sheer volume of important works will overwhelm if taken at one time.
Spend a few days in the city and then drive into the Tuscan countryside for a respite. This Renaissance Center is a jewel, but you will probably need relief from cultural overload and the noise and fumes of all those two-cycle engines buzzing about endlessly.
See only two major facilities in one day. Arrange tickets in advance and savour the major attractions without hurrying.
Minimize time in line-ups by purchasing entry tickets a day or two in advance. One ticket office can sell admissions to other sites, as well.
Leather goods abound, seemingly in every city street. If those products interest you, visit Scuola del Cuoio (the Leather School) inside the Monastery of Santa Croce.
The best way to move in the city center is by foot or public transit. The local bus system works well and covers both sides of the Arno River. Passes can be acquired conveniently and are not expensive.
A rental car will give you freedom to travel in Tuscany, and it's easy to get around outside the major centers. But if you travel from point to point, consider trains and buses.
Hotel | "Bed n Bed"
This B&B was convenient, quiet, and clean, with friendly hosts and guests. Each day started with a simple breakfast and great conversation with Mick, one of the owners. He is native to Tuscany but travels widely in his academic career as a medieval archaeologist.
Bed and Bed is close to the Arno River with bus service at the front door. We purchased passes that enabled us to use the transit throughout central Florence. Visitors should forget about cars except for the days you wish to leave the city to tour the countryside. City traffic requires nerves of steel and takes some adaptation time. If moving through the streets doesn't make you crazy, parking might. It is almost non existent.
Close to the B&B, we found inexpensive but good restaurants. Also, we enjoyed shopping at small markets and chose to have snacks and a few light meals in the room. A friend thinks that Italians need sugar and caffeine to start each day and those necessities were provided at the B&B. Someone's early morning trip to a bakery provided fresh pastries and breads and a self serve espresso machine was kept fully stocked and worked well.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 14, 2005
18 Via Magenta
39 055 217194
Hotel | "Il Bargello B&B"
A good bed-and-breakfast operation can add quality to a visitor’s experience. For most of our lives, my wife and I avoided these facilities, assuming that comfort and privacy would be compromised. That attitude changed when we serendipitously stayed at a mountain lodge B&B in the Kicking Horse Pass of the Canadian Rockies. This was like a 5-star resort, at a fraction of the typical cost. Additionally, we met owners who put sincere and complete effort into making their property attractive to guests.
Since then, quality B&B's have been our first choice when travelling for leisure. In central Florence, we were hosted by Gabriella and Massimo at Il Bargello B&B. This fine lodging has many recommendations on various travellers’ websites and those are deserved.
The location is fine, in fact next door to one of our favourite sites, the Bargello National Museum. Here you will find a remarkable art collection housed in a building erected in mid-13th century.
Il Bargello B&B has a rooftop terrace with tables and chairs where visitors gathered with bottles of wine, fresh snack foods, and tales of travel. Even in autumn, it was pleasant to watch the sun set from the rooftop as the changing light and shadows played on surrounding buildings.
Although not lavish, our room, with private bath, was comfortable and roomy. Breakfast was fine and another opportunity to swap stories and tips with other travellers.
The location of this B&B is a few minutes walk to many of the sites that visitors will have on their must-see lists. The names themselves bring back indelible memories: Uffizi, Accademia, San Marco, Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, etc., etc. Of course, restaurants abound in the area and you can dine simply or in luxury. Gabriella will give you advice so check with her before you venture out.
We did take a small test in finding the place when we first arrived. We were not aware that two street numbering systems exist in Florence, one for private residences and another for businesses. An additional Italian trick is to give different names to one street. Here it might be one but, walk up the boulevard, and you might find another name posted. Oh well, walking around Florence is an object of our visit there.
One small caution for visitors: At Il Bargello, you may notice that there is no elevator and the rooms are on the third floor. However, if you need assistance, Massimo, a high energy guy, will carry your bags upstairs.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 7, 2006
Il Bargello B&B
Via de' Pandolfini 33
Florence, Italy 50122
Small walking tours conducted by scholars will appeal to those who enjoy the opportunity to interact with an expert guide. We registered for the Medici Family History tour one day and the Michelangelo Seminar a day later.
The groups were indeed small, six in the first session, five in the second. Time passed quickly and pleasantly but we covered fair ground. Each docent was friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient. The sites we visited had close connections to the themes of the tours. Our companions shared a greater than passing interest in the subjects.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 8, 2006
+39 06 482 0911
Attraction | "Palazzo Pitti"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 13, 2006
Palazzo Pitti (Pitti Palace)
Piazza Pitti, 1
Florence, Italy 50125
North Vancouver, British Columbia