Renaissance Walk through Town Center
Florence is relatively small and very easy to get around once you are in the city center. We stayed outside the city and took a bus to/from our hotel each day. This turned out to not be an issue and was an easy bus ride. Our first day, after arriving into the city center, we walked around town beginning at Piazza del Duomo.
We began by touring the iconic Duomo. Admission is free into the Duomo. Be prepared to wait in line but the line moves relatively quickly. After your tour do not forget to climb the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. If your legs aren't sore you can then climb Giotto's Tower. There are only 414 steps to the top of Giotto's Tower. Both offer spectacular views of the city.
After a brief lunch break, we set off to explore and get a feel for the rest of Florence. We meandered through the cobblestone streets passing through Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio arriving at the beautiful Ponte Vecchio. Admiring the views of the Arno River, we crossed the bridge and walked 5 minutes to Palazzo Pitti. Reduced admission after 4pm.
ACCADEMIA GALLERY - DAVID BY MICHELANGELO
SAN LORENZO MARKET SHOPPING FOR SOUVENIRS
Our second day in Florence was spent inside some of Florence's most well-known sights. The first on our list was the Uffitzi Gallery, home to pieces of art from the 1500's. I am not sure if it was the fact we had been traveling for weeks but we did not love Uffizi. Both tickets and tours of the gallery are available online. Tickets start at 16.50 Euros.
We could not leave Florence without seeing Michelangelo's David. Unlike Uffizi,
THE DAVID STATUE WAS AWE INSPIRING.
The Accademia Gallery, home to the famous statue, offers ticket and tour purchases online. They are also 16.50 Euros. Be prepared for crowds, long lines and be sure to buy your tickets in advance!
Last but not least we went shopping at the famous San Lorenzo Market. We spent a solid hour browsing the stalls and picking out a few souvenirs for ourselves and other family members. It was the perfect way to wind down and relax after a full day of sightseeing. The market is open Monday - Friday 7am - 2pm, Saturday 7am - 5pm (except June-September), and closed on Sunday.
TRAIN TO PISA
After checking out of our hotel in Florence, we hopped on our next to the last train and set off to Pisa! The Pisa train station has lockers available for rent. This allowed us to leave our luggage for the morning while we took a tour of Pisa.
Pisa can easily be done in a few hours. I wish we had allotted more time for just strolling the city streets. Our goal was to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the iconic Roman bell tower, and that is what we did! Tickets may be purchased online no earlier than 20 days prior and no later than 24 hours prior to your visit. Tickets for the bell tower are 18 Euros, monument tickets start at 5 Euros, and the cathedral is free with timed entry.
I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO PURCHASE TICKETS BEFORE YOU GO!
After picking up our tickets we had enough time to capture several photos before our entry into the Cathedral. From there we climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Do not be fooled, those 296 steps to the top and back down were slippery and sometimes difficult to climb.
IT CERTAINLY WAS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE AND I AM THANKFUL I WAS ABLE TO CHECK THAT ONE OFF THE BUCKET LIST.
Once on the ground, we had a just enough time to pop inside a couple of the shops to find an ornament and grab a quick lunch. We picked up our luggage at the train station and boarded one last train to Barcelona!
Florence can easily be seen in 2 days. Our two days in Florence were very relaxed and not nearly as rushed as some of our other city stays. I will say that we did not enjoy Florence as much as we thought we would, despite the rave reviews we received from other people. I am very glad we paired it with Pisa. Pisa is a must and is a quick trip from Florence. At only a 1.5-hour train ride between the two, you can easily make it a half day trip from Florence!
Next Stop: Barcelona, Spain