Trip Start Jun 01, 2003
Trip End Jun 21, 2003

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Flag of Italy  ,
Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Firenze (Florence):
I've been to Florence 5 times and it's a beautiful city.  Small alleys leading to big piazzas and high buildings.  The high buildings cause me personally a bit of distress due to my complete lack of any sense of orientation. I depend on Landmarks for it, but you can't see the Duomo until you stand in front of it.  Hotels in Florence can be very expensive.  So be prepared to spend a lot as there's not much you can do aside from staying at a hostel.  What you can do however is finding a great value for your money.  I made all reservations myself and I think it's worth to pay in EUR.    We stayed at the Hotel Europa. This hotel is closely located to the Duomo, and the room itself is spacious with a huge bathroom.  If you manage to not get ripped off with your hotel reservation (not at the hotel Europa) don't let your guard down, there are may more rip-offs in Florence.  Always check prices first or you'll end up like us with a 20 EUR ice-cream, which was good sure, but not THAT good.  I've previously stayed at the Locanda Starlight which is a great budget hotel that has style. The downside were shared bathrooms, but for 18.- EUR a night I didn't care - it was very clean, the location is great and it's charming. Each room is painted with a theme - I had the butterfly room : )  Sabrine, friendly host that she is (and owner) made reservations for us at the uffizi and was always there to exchange money or give tips on how to get here or there. By the way, location is important in Florence, it's not funny to walk for miles in the heat... Another thing your wallet will appreciate is to eat at a restaurant in one of the side streets just a little outside the main Piazza's because it's a whole lot cheaper.  The restaurant across the Locanda Starlight is very well priced and the food is great, just check the opening times as I remembered them a bit irregular.
Things to do:
Not that I really need to tell you that there are lots of things to do in Florence.  Here are my favorites.  Love the Duomo at night. There are always dozens of artists around entertaining the crowd and it's just a great place to relax, have a glass of wine and watch people. During the day, climb the stairs to the top of the bell tower to see Firenze from above and definitely see the cupola with its dramatic drawings of heaven and hell.  Talking about dramatic drawings- if you love art then you'll have to visit the Uffizi. I never went in, but when I was in Florence for the first time there were people fighting to get in - so make reservations!  I love the Piazza della Signoria where the Uffizi's are located.  This is also where the famous statue of David and the Palazzo Vecchio are. A visit to the old bridge named "Ponte Vecchio" that leads over the river Arno is magical at night, but then all the store's are closed so the best thing to do is to go there at sunset and see the stores and just stay for a romantic night until darkness fell. Just close your eyes and click here. Take a tour of the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, there are some incredible paintings to see.  I took pictures and to this day, I'll continue to find new stories in the ceiling mural

What about a daytrip to Chianti?  We sure had to do it. On our way there we came by the "Piazzale Michelangelo" which will give you the picture perfect shot of Florence you have been waiting for. 

My husband and I visited the town of Greve di Chianti, we had a wonderful drive through the wine country and enjoyed a great lunch at a local restaurant. It is important to have lunch before going on a wine tasting tour for which we chose the cellars of "Le Cantine". This is fun: Buy a card with 10.00 EUR, you'll receive a glass and then off you go to try the various wines. Just slide your card and depending on the bottle value the charge will be deducted from your card credit. Now push the button for the desired grape juice of choice, hold your glass under it the bottle (VERY IMPORTANT) and let the wine flow. Wines range from 0.30 EUR up to 3.00 EUR per tasting. The quantity might seem small, but once you've gone through your 10.00 EUR believe me you'll feel the effects...


When you need a break from historical buildings and art visit the Giardino di Boboli (Boboli Gardens). They are beautiful and very relaxing. Or pay a visit to the SAN LORENZO MARKET for a great shopping deals.


One trip I always make while being in Florence is visiting Pisa. It's about 1 hour distance from Florence. See the leaning tower - it actually reopened in 2001 and now you once again can climb to the top after years of closure. Afterwards hang out on one of the beaches you came by when driving here. Most beaches belong to hotels, but for paying a small fee you'll get to hang out there too. 

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Where I stayed
Hotel Europa
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