What great flights we had. Thanks Go Ahead for quick timing! For us, from the West Coast, 12 hours of flying to get to Italy is very, very good.
We landed at the Florence airport and took the shuttle bus into Florence. It takes about 20 minutes and is so easy. It stops at the bus terminal and for anyone staying in Florence, there is usually about a 15-minute walk to most hotels. We found ours in ten minutes, checked in and freshened up. Florence is such a walkable city that there is no need to concern yourself about distances. Every museum and gallery is very accessible and this time of year, the lines for the galleries are less than they are in the summer. It is still a good idea to book online and avoid the lines though. No wasting your time waiting!
Since we arrived in Florence a little early for a pre-stay, we bought the hop on, hop off bus tickets in order to see everything and every place. We went up to Fiesole, a little village about 20 minutes away from Florence. It has marvelous views of Florence, a wonderful little market on weekends, good roads and trails to hike. It also has nice little cafes perfect for having a snack. Fiesole also has an intact ancient amphitheater to explore plus an excellent museum on the grounds. It is worth the visit!
The Piazza Michelangelo has the best views of Florence for picture-taking and is certainly worth the stop as well.
We took the bus all around the ancient entrances into Florence, along the Arno River where people were picnicking along its banks and through the areas filled with magnificent villas. We stopped and picked up some picnic supplies for ourselves and popped into the Boboli Gardens to relax and enjoy the lovely grounds. It is also a nice place to get away from the streets for some peace and quiet. It is just a short walk across the Ponte Vecchio and around the corner. This side of Florence is more of a neighborhood and you will find, along with the Pitti Palace, that the trattorias have homemade foods and home-grown wines—it’s lots of fun to enjoy the locals as they go about their day. I will come back to Florence again and again… it is one of the most beautiful places on earth!
After exploring both Venice and Florence, the following day was the actual start of the tour and our first day with the group. We all arrived and checked in at our hotel. That evening, we had a nice welcome drink on the terrace with a lovely view over the rooftops of Florence. Raf, our tour guide, gave an informative overview of the tour and we all got to know each other over our first glass of Chianti wine.
After that, we were led by Raf to a beautiful trattoria where we enjoyed a four-course dinner complete with white and red Chianti wines. It was marvelous and a sign of what was to come!
What’s your favorite thing about Florence? Tell us about it in the comments below!