Florence Journals

Florence and a bit of Tuscany

An October 2000 trip to Florence by travelerstogodotcom

Quote: Some facts and opinions on visiting Florence, and brief side trip to Siena and San Gimignano

Florence and a bit of Tuscany

Overview

Quote:
Highlights are about what you'd expect: Renaissance art and architecture to die for. Good restaurants too.

Quick Tips:

Best Way To Get Around:

Florence is relatively small, and made for walking, except for the sidewalks which are narrow, meaning most people walk in the street and try to avoid the Vespas and cars.

J And J Historical House

Hotel | "J and J"

Quote:
Hotel J & J: The May 2001 issue of Expedia Travel also recommended it. 20 rooms, and a former convent. Higher priced ($245-275, May 2001). Inviting public areas, breakfast room overlooks a courtyard, spacious bedrooms, modern bathrooms. Magazine felt the location was "slightly out-of-the-way"; I disagree. It is a 10-15 minute walk to the Duomo. Quiet street, but easy walking distance to Santa Croce and across the river. The downside to this hotel, given its price, is that it has no elevator. Rooms 12, 13, and 14 are on the ground floor and open onto the courtyard. #12 is especially large. Avoid room #1, even though it''s a duplex. It has a loft bed and an awkward spira...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 11, 2001

J And J Historical House
VIA DE MEZZO 20
Florence, Italy 50121
39 055 26312

Uffizi Gallery

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction

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Uffizi (Tuesday - Saturday 9-7; Sunday 9-2, longer hours in high season). For more info call 055 294 883. Italian art up to the 17th century including works by Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca, and Raphael. The building was designed in 1559 by Vasari as the administrative offices ("uffizi") of the Medici duke, Cosimo I. Later, the Medicis used the building to house their art collection. Allow about two hours, at least. Cameras without flash are permitted. There is a snackbar. There is a card and book shop and a bathroom near the exit. A helpful book that I have since discovered is Rick Steves's Mona Winks, a summary and explanation of a few major art works ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 11, 2001

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

Galleria dell'Accademia

Attraction | "Accademia"

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website for buying advance tickets to museums in Florence: link Or call 055-294-883.

At the museum, walk past the long line to the special entrance for those with reservations, give your name and number, pay (cash only), and walk right in. It has been recommended that you call before 8:30 am EST to reach an English-speaking agent.

Accademia Museum (Tuesday - Sunday 9-7; Sunday 9-2) - home of Michelangelo's David, his unfinished Slaves (designed for the tomb of Michelangelo's patron, Pope Julius II), and the Florentine paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2001

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

Museo di San Marco

Attraction | "Convent San Marco"

Quote:
A former Dominican monastery rebuilt circa 1436. Fra Angelico decorated the walls of the monks' cells with frescoes with scenes from the Life of Christ. On the first floor is Fra Angelico's breathtaking fresco of the Annunciation and in the refectory a Ghirlandaio fresco of the Last Supper (c.1480).

Each monk's cell was frugally and identically furnished and each contained a serious inspirational painting, by Fra Angelico. Only one room was larger and more completely furnished, a duplex, actually, that the Medici men used whenever they wanted to retreat to the monastery to take a break from war, wealthy women, and political intrigue.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2001

Museo di San Marco
Piazza San Marco
Florence, Italy 50121
+39 0552388608/704

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

Attraction | "Museo delle Opera del Duomo"

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The Museum of the Opera ("Works") of the Duomo, is across the street from the Duomo. This small museum offered many pleasures including a late Pieta by Michelangelo which was sculpted shortly before his death. The figure of Nicodemus which helps to support the Christ figure is said to be a self-portrait of the artist. (Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Monday - Saturday 9-6:30)

Much of the cathedral artwork is now located here, including the original Ghiberti door panels, Donatello's Mary Magdalen and St. John and Michelangelo's Pieta. There are two rooms devoted to Brunelleschi and the Duomo's construction.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 11, 2001

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
Piazza Duomo
Florence, Italy 50122

Quote:
Suggestions for a Monday in Florence when many museums are closed:On a Monday you can visit the Duomo, the Campanile, the Baptistery. You can take a 20 minute bus ride (#13) up to Piazelle Michelangelo for a gorgeous view of Florence, especially at dusk. The Santa Croce church (where many notables have tombs, including Michelangelo and Machiavelli), as well as other churches, are usually open every day. The Palazzo Vecchio is open on Mondays, as is the Museo dell Opera del Duomo which is small,& has wonderful sculptures including a late Pieta by Michelangelo. The Bargello museum and the Museo di San Marco (both of which I loved) are open on two Mondays of t...Read More
Quote:
Things I learned about Florence: 1. As in Venice, desserts are not a major item in restaurants, but there are usually several pastry shops and gelaterias on every street, proportionally much more than in my home town of New York. I figured that people don''t order desserts in restaurants too often because they are going to gorge themselves when they get home. 2. Florence is cell phone crazy. Every third person seems to have one, and is talking on it. 3. The streets are narrow, and the sidewalks are usually one-person wide, so most people walk in the streets, avoiding the hoards of motor scooters and motor cycles, and the occasional car. "Trucks" are no...Read More

Map, and guidebooks

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Story/Tip

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Maps and books For me the invaluable map was an easily-foldable pocket-sized laminated one called Streetwise Florence. It covers 90% of Florence in accurate, legible and complete detail. Your bookstore can order it from Streetwise maps, POB 2219, Amagansett NY 516 267 8617, or www.streetwisemaps.com. Don''t confuse it with a similar looking map by the same publisher called Artwise Florence. I did not find the Eyewitness Guide to Florence and Tuscany to be helpful for Florence sight-seeing. One drawback to the Eyewitness Guides in general is that they are quite heavy to carry around, although they are beautifully illustrated...Read More

San Gimignano

Story/Tip

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San Gimignano( click here) is famed for its towers, which were built by prominent families in medieval times. At its peak there were more than 70 towers, now only 14 remain. The town retains its old atmosphere and does not permit any new buildings in the center, although the main street is one souvenir shop after the other, with a couple of restaurants, wine shops, and sausage shops thrown in. It was pouring when we arrived so we didn't do too much walking around, although we did visit the church. San G. did not impress me as much as I was led to believe it would. Perhaps it was the weather, and perhaps the weather and ...Read More

Siena

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Story/Tip

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Siena was once Florence's rival and equal. After Florence won the war in the 16th century, Siena declined in prominence, and today it has only about 50,000 people to Florence's 400,000. Siena has preserved most of its original streets and structures. The main square, the Campo, is huge and the main streets radiate out from it. Just seeing the Campo is a memorable experience-it is one of the largest open-air public spaces I've ever seen. Siena's Duomo is a standout among the many churches I've seen on this trip. The facade and the interior columns have black and white stripes like barber poles, and the uniquely tiled floor shows scenes from religion and history. You could s...Read More