This That and the Passport

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Favourite Memory: Arriving on a late train on a summer evening.  We dropped off the luggage at the hotel and went for a walk looking for a place to eat.  We found a place around the corner, almost empty of customers and about to close, but they waved us in and sat us outside with a view of the Palazzo Vecchio.  The chef came out to say hello and wish us a great stay in his city.  We all fell in love with Florence that night!

In a nutshell:  The city itself is a living museum.  We enjoyed the art, the architecture, the people and the food.  The kids liked it so much that we went back a second time, and would gladly go a third!  The list of things to do is extremely long, but here are some highlights, especially if you visit with kids.

Stroll along the river and admire the bridges. The Ponte Vecchio is probably the most famous and the only bridge on the Arno not destroyed during WWII. It is lined with jewelry shops, gelaterias and throngs of tourists, walking along it is an experience in itself.

Piazza della Signoria- History, art, sculpture, architecture, gelato and cappuccino all in the same place! This vibrant piazza is still the political hub of the city even though it seems to have been taken over by the tourists. It is much quieter in the early morning. In the evening we have run into free concerts under the Loggia dei Lanzi on a couple of occasions. If you have time, make sure to take the Palazzo tour.

Palazzo Vecchio. This steadfast building has been Florence's City Hall since medieval times.

Detail of the ceilings inside the Palazzo Vecchio

Florence is one of those cities where you must not forget ot lok UP!

Walk the city at night. All the stores are closed and the tourists are mostly gone but restaurants and pasticcerias are open and the buildings are lit up. Sometimes there are street musicians and it adds nicely to the ambiance. When we are in Italy our family tradition is to go out for a 10 o'clock getlato, great excuse for a night stroll!

The Uffizi Gallery has an amazing collection of masterpieces, plan to spend at least two or three hours. Make sure you get "skip the line" tickets to save time and remember that Michaelangelo's David is at the Galleria dell"Accademia not here. Walk along this outside gallery, there are statues of famous people in politics, art, literature, science, and religion.

Everywhere you go there are cafes with good esspreso and great pastries.

Have fun visiting one of Florence's famous markets. This is the Mercato del Porcellino, it can be a tourist trap so inspect your merchandise carefully and haggle to get a better deal. This was a great place to get scarves and small leather gifts to bring back home.

Santa Maria del Fiore,the Baptistry and Giotto's Campanileare architectural marvels of their time. Read Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King to get an appreciation of what a feat it was to build this Dome. Visit the inside of the Cathedral, it is not too impressive but it is still worth a look. Spend time admiring the Baptistry doors and climb to the top of the Campanile or the Duomo for stunning views of Florence and the Tuscan hills.

The Hall of 500. In this particular tour we got to go up in the rafters and into secrest rooms!

Cerca Trova- if you are a Dan Brown fan you know what this is!

Leave the hectic tourist area and get lost in the narrow winding streets. You will find little cafes and restaurants frequented by locals, usually where the best food is found!

Finally, take a bus or drive out to Piazzale Michelangelo, this is the best spot to enjoy this iconic view of Florence.  On the way enjoy the beautiful homes that line this scenic drive.

There is much more to do and see in Florence. Check out some of the guides below and do your homework carefuly.  We have gone back to Florence several times and we are not done with our list! So make sure you prioritize to maximize your time.

For these and other pictures of Florence go to my Flickr Album

Where to stay?

We have succesfully used both: and Homeaway.  It really depends on the type of experience you are looking for. Read Vacation Rental or Hotel to help you decide if a hotel or a rental is better for you.

What to do?

Need more ideas on what to do?  Daytrips? Cooking classes? Check out some of the tours and activities offered by Viator! Below is just a sample of some of the many activities available.

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