Florence Journals

Five Days in Florence

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A March 2001 trip to Florence by Mary Porcher

Grand Hotel Cavour Photo, Florence, Italy More Photos
Quote: Here you'll find reviews of all of the top sights, ratings by myself and two other travelers, and plenty of planning and traveling tips.

Five Days in Florence

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Overview

The Bell Tower Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Our Florence days came on the heels of a four-day whirlwind Venice trip. In Florence we had a chance to put our feet up occasionally and enjoy the moment. We chased the cats in the Boboli Gardens, reserved hours for the Uffizi, and added last-minute sights to our itinerary. We had wonderful meals, took a day trip to Siena, and slowed the pace a bit. What we found was a city that is very much a city, but remains romantic...Read More

Grand Hotel Cavour

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Hotel | "Hotel Grand Cavour"

Grand Hotel Cavour Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
The taxi ride from the train station to this hotel is only about five minutes. The lobby has high ceilings, marble floors, and a beautiful painting of a woman standing. It opens into a large lounge that has a fountain, greenery, tall portraits on the walls, and a huge gold mirror. At the rear of the lounge area are two elevators and a small bar with no drink list. The bartender doesn’t know American drinks either, so good luck!Our room here was a bit larger and less romantic than the one in Venice. This worked out great, because when you’re...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Grand Hotel Cavour
VIA DEL PROCONSOLO NO 3
Florence, Italy
0039055-282461

Café Mokarico

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Restaurant

Café Mokarico Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 7

This modern and crowded cafeteria has some delicious and inexpensive food. If your tummy is a bit tired of variety, you can fill up safely on sphagetti, tiramisu, and capaccino for about $10. There is a less crowded seating area upstairs, where we stopped to read journals and rest our feet. The atmosphere is bright and busy. It’s a welcome change from more expensive and fancy trattorias and restaurants. And it’s perfect for the budget-conscious.

Ratings (Scale of 1-10, ten is "divine", one is "despicable")
Average: Food 9, Atmosphere 5.5, Service 6.5
Mary: Food 10, Atmosphere 7, Service 7
Mom: Food 8, Atmosphere 4, Service 6

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Café Mokarico
Near the Medici Palace
Florence, Italy

Cafe Bigallo

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Restaurant

Cafe Bigallo Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 8.1The back room is tucked away from the street and adjacent to the kitchen. Here you are surrounded by wine along the bright yellow walls, and you will probably find yourself among natives. The service is very friendly, and excellent English is spoken. We found a delicious Tuscan rose wine here that I especially enjoyed. As for the food, remembering the chicken in lemon-butter sauce makes me want to go back. It was lightly floured and cooked to tender perfection (no, this is not a paid advertisement!). The vegetable lasagna was good and very cheesy, and the spaghetti as a first course was average but filling. Overall, a delightful meal that was very conveniently located....Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Cafe Bigallo
Via del Proconsolo 73, r
Florence, Italy
055 29 14 03

Ristorante Beatrice

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Restaurant

Ristorante Beatrice Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
This restaurant is classy with high ceilings and columns and a relatively small dining room. The servers are friendly and speak some English. Even though the restaurant is owned by the hotel next door, many Italians dine here. The food is filling, and the desserts are delicious. Try the cheesecake – it’s a blend of New York and Italian tastes. Jason’s seafood spaghetti was "moderately good." Overall, it’s the perfect place to stop in when you’re tired and don’t want to walk anymore. You’ll get a filling, good Italian meal for a moderate price. And the desserts are perfect!

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Ristorante Beatrice
Via del Proconsolo 3.1
Florence, Italy
055-239-8123

Trattoria dei Quattro Leoni

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Restaurant | "Trattoria 4 Leoni"

Trattoria dei Quattro Leoni Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Rating: 9.4Our highest rated restaurant in Florence, I can’t see how anyone could go wrong in dining here. This restaurant is slightly off the beaten path but still within easy walking distance. It’s in a secluded square, and we may not have stopped in if we hadn’t read such good things about it. The trattoria was small and dim, with high ceilings, stone walls, and a huge arrangement of fresh spring tulips at the entrance. Everyone here speaks Italian and very little English. But they were eager to do whatever possible to describe the menu to us. I will never forget my waiter’s response when I asked him how a particular dish was cooked. He motioned to me to wait a moment, and he went to the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Trattoria dei Quattro Leoni
Via dei Vellutini, 1r
Florence, Italy 50123
+39 055218562

Basilica of Santa Croce

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Attraction | "Basilica de Santa Croce"

Basilica of Santa Croce Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating 9.8, Time to allot: 1 hour, Cost: FreeThere is a reason that twenty large tour groups, speaking a host of languages, can be found here even in the off-season. I normally like to go against the flow and give the highest ratings to sights that don’t get too much attention. But this church really is splendid. The marble, the alter (where the crucifix appears to be suspended in mid-air), the tombs, and the paintings are all wonderful. The church is worth stumbling around tour groups and seeking a quiet corner for yourself. Stare at the ceilings, the chapels, the altar, and you’ll find yourself amazed. Also, go outside and enjoy the sunshine in this beautiful square.Ratings 1...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Basilica of Santa Croce
Piazza Santa Croce
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055244619

Uffizi Gallery

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Attraction | "Uffizi"

Uffizi Gallery Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 9.7, Time to Allot: 2.5 hoursThere is so much to see here, how do I begin? Needless to say, it’s one of the top sights of Florence, and visitors just must come here! MAKE RESERVATIONS! We were here first thing in the morning in March, and the line was horendous. I can only imagine what it would be like in the summer. You can make reservations online at http://www.waf.it/up00.htm.The architecture and the view of the river are as beautiful as the paintings and sculpture that you will find here. This is the museum of museums, second only to the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. An average college grad could spend two hours here, so art majors could probably set up tents. After y...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Uffizi Gallery
Piazzale Degli Uffizi, 6
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 05523885

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)

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Attraction | "Duomo-Santa Maria del Fiore"

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo) Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Seeing the façade and walking the area: Average Rating 9.3, Time to Allot: 20 minutesBelieve it or not, some tours come to Florence and never actually see this church, its dome, or the baptistry except for the distant view from Michaelangelo’s Square. What a shame! Walking around the church is free, and it’s just a fabulous walk. You can peer through the Baptistry’s gold doors and see most of the ceiling without waiting in line and paying to do so. Staring up at the majestic white/green/mauve marble with it’s beautiful designs is just a real treat.A visit inside Santa Maria del Fiore: Average Rating 4.7, Time: 15 minutesAs for going inside Santa Maria del Fiore, it isn’t really nec...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 055294514

Brancacci Chapel

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Attraction | "Brancacci Chapel – in the Santa Maria del Carmine"

Brancacci Chapel Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 9, Time to Allot: 20 minutesThis was one of the two sites that we fit into our itinerary after reading something about it while we were there. We were delighted to find that the church itself was one of the best we’d seen. When you visit here, you are paying only to see the chapel, but the chapel is located in one part of this church. You cannot enter the rest of the church, but you can see most of it. The altar is gorgeous. The frescos in the chapel are simply beautiful, and you can sit on the benches in front of them and stare. The best time to go is on a sunny day, when the frescos are bright in the sunshine. This small chapel is an essential sight to see in Florence. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Brancacci Chapel
Piazza Del Carmine
Florence, Italy

Santo Spirito

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Attraction

Santo Spirito Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 8, Time to allot: 40 min, Cost: FreeSanto Spirito is the perfect addition to a day’s itinerary that includes the Pitti Palace and Boboli gardens, because it is one of the few well-known attractions close by. The church’s unfinished façade is very plain, although it has a pretty shape. The interior is a beautiful example of Renaissance architecture. There are beautiful color paintings by Lippi, Botticini, and others. The huge colums and majestic arches really give this place a nice feel. This sight is definitely worth seeing, because Jason and I went without my mom, who was feeling a bit sick. We sent her there later in the day to make sure that she saw it.Ratings 1-10 (...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Santo Spirito
Piazza Santo Spirito
Florence, Italy 50125
+39 055210030

Galleria Palatina

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Attraction | "Galleria Palatina (located in Palazzo Pitti)"

Galleria Palatina Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 9, Time to allot: 1.5 hoursThe old wallpapers, tapestries, furniture, and paintings, combined with the slightly smaller rooms than are found in other palaces, give this palace a grand yet comfortable feel. You can actually imagine what it would have been like to live in one of the bedrooms or sit with important people in a meeting room. I especially remember the doorways, which were often arches topped by paintings or curtains. These rooms are some of the most colorful we saw – rich greens, corals, and golds and blues are everywhere. The Medici aquired and enlarged this building, and it’s much more stunning than the Medici Palace. Although the Pitti Palace doesn’t quite c...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Galleria Palatina
Piazza Pitti, 1
Florence, Italy 50125
+39 0552388614

Basilica of San Lorenzo

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Attraction | "Church of San Lorenzo"

Basilica of San Lorenzo Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 7.7, Time to Allot: 45 min, Cost: Free, Open 9-5!This is one of the few churches that is actually open all day from 9-5, even though the books might say differently. Most of the churches are open from 9-Noon and 3-5, roughly. This is why it’s so important to plan your itinerary. But if this church keeps its all day hours, it is one of the few sights that you can see at 1:30. It’s a nice church to sit on the base of a column inside and do some journaling, because it isn’t excessively crowded.This is another church with a deceiving exterior. The outside may be plain, but the huge columns and unique look and feel inside are worth seeing. It was one of the best churches we ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Basilica of San Lorenzo
Piazza San Lorenzo
Florence, Italy 50123
+39 055216634

Galleria dell'Accademia

Attraction | "Accademia"

Quote:
Average Rating: 7.5, Time to Allot: 40 min, Cost: $6

I’ll admit it; I wasn’t expecting to be impressed with the David. I thought that $6 was a bit much to pay to see one scupture/statue. I was impressed though, as I expect everyone is, at the size and beauty of David. He is huge, yet so lifelike. There are a few rooms of paintings here, along with a courtyard, but don’t be fooled. You’re paying for the David, and it’s worth it.

Ratings 1-10 (10 is "see this no matter what!" and 0 is "avoid it!")
Jason: 7, Mary 8

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Galleria dell'Accademia
Via Ricasoli 60
Florence, Italy
055 238 8609

SS. Annunziata

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Attraction | "Santissima Annunziata"

SS. Annunziata Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 7, Time to Allot: 30 minutes This church was frequented by the Medici. It made its way into our itinerary while we were there when we saw a picture in a Florence book. Below you see pictures of the courtyard in front of the church. The courtyard is large with a street running alongside it. The fountains and the steps of the buildings here give tourists and natives a chance to sit in the sunshine. You can also watch the crazy drivers and wonder that there aren’t more accidents here. Once inside, you may notice the church keeper watching over the visitors, protecting precious property and silence. If you linger for a while, you may hear the organist playing, which doesn’t happen ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

SS. Annunziata
Piazza SS. Annunziata
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 0552398034

Museo del Bargello

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Attraction | "Bargello"

Quote:
Average Rating: 6.5, Time to allot: 1.5 hours, Cost $4We arrived at the Bargello at 1:00, and we only had an hour until the 2:00 closing time. We decided to go in, because we wouldn’t have to a chance to return (they are open 9:00 – 2:00 only). There were some beautiful sculptures here, and I could have spent an hour and a half here easily. It is not a large museum, but a quiet and quality one. I never thought much of sculptures and statues until we saw these. There are beautiful works from so many artists, and the small courtyard is even pretty. But museum workers starting reminding us about closing time at 1:30! I went to go upstairs and was told that they were closing in ten minutes (1:40...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Museo del Bargello
Via del Proconsolo, 4
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 0552388606

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli)

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Attraction | "Boboli Gardens"

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli) Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 5, Time to Allot: 1.5 hours minimum, Cost: $2The gardens are a wonderful spot to stop and enjoy the sun on a warm spring day. There are some nice statues, fountains, and trees here. There are also cute cats to chase (we think that they keep them here in order to ward off the pigeons).That being said, there are a few things to consider before spending time here. First, consider the temperature and your comfort level. I could imagine that this could be the sight from hell on a scorching hot summer’s day. There are too many stairs to count. You cannot simply stroll in the gardens, you must walk uphill or up stairs. By the time we reached the gardens, our legs were sore and ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli)
Behind the Pitti Palace
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 (055) 2388786

Palazzo Medici Riccardi

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Attraction | "Palazzo Medici-Riccardi"

Palazzo Medici Riccardi Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
Average Rating: 4, Time to Allot 30 min (waiting not included), Cost: $3The Medici Palace was a definite disappointment. It had a small garden, small courtyard, and small chapel. There was one beautiful room with gold and paintings everywhere, and there was a painting of the Madonna and Child (Lippi) that was not lit and was under glass. It was difficult to understand why there was even an admission fee here. The chapel is what you will read about, and it’s why people come here. The wall scenes in the chapel were painted by Gozzoli and are nice. But the chapel is VERY small. Only 15 people are allowed inside, and there just isn’t much to see if you compare it to other palaces in Italy....Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Via Camillo Cavour
Florence, Italy 50129
+39 0552760340

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)

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Attraction | "Shopping at the Ponte Vecchio"

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
My mother is a jewelry freak. We decided to window shop while walking on the bridge after visiting the Palazzo Pitti. The next thing I knew, she decided that she wanted to buy me a necklace. We found one that we liked, but then wanted to compare some other shops’ prices. We went to one lady and asked her for a price on the necklace I liked. She refused to give us a price until we told her which shop we had seen the necklace at before, and how much their price was. After we told her, she still wouldn’t give us a price. She looked at us and said, "we own seven other shops on this bridge, let me go get you the best quote here." We tried to tell her we didn’t want her to do that, and the next thin...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 27, 2001

Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)
Over the Arno River
Florence, Italy 50125

Planning Tools and Tips

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Story/Tip

In the Boboli Gardens Photo, Florence, Italy
Quote:
USEFUL INTERNET SITESWeekend A Firenze - On this sight you can make reservations and purchase tickets for many of the Florence galleries. That way, you don't have to worry about calling when you're there, making sure you get a spot, etc. If you can schedule certain days, then this is perfect. And the tickets are, on average, about $4 more than if you purchased and reserved them in Italy. It was worth it for me, the less worries there the better. These reservations MUST be made for the Ufizzi especially. Even on a rainy March day at 9AM, there was a LONG line. We literally walked up to a lady, handed her our reservations, and...Read More