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Recently back from Florence (long)

Texas
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Recently back from Florence (long)

My husband and I recently (as of Monday) returned from Italy, where we spent a week in Florence. I have a few humble observations:

1. I've had a hard time summarizing any observations because we felt so much "at home" in Florence. We didn't feel like it was an exotic city. It was more of a "visiting family" feeling. We met a number of Americans living there that just couldn't bring themselves to go home at the end of their studies.

2. Just like Rome, pickpockets and gypsies really weren't a problem. We did, however, notice that some of the gypsy men had formed a group of musicians known as the "Gypsies of Romania." They played nightly at Piazza de Repubblica (I think that's the correct name) and even sold copies of their CD. They were very good, as were the other street performers.

3. Some of the best food we had in Italy was in Florence. I'm not at home so I don't have the exact names with me, but the Scuderi bakery was fantastic. Dreamy croissants. And I can only make out part of the name for our favorite restaurant "Giannino San C----." Every night it was full of locals. We also liked Cellini's. It was also full of locals. My husband has been talking about the steak with pepper ever since we left Florence. Sorry I don't have the locations for any of these.

4. Believe it or not, we chose not to go into the Uffizi. Mostly it was because we had already had enough of art museums. Instead we went to the Museum of History and Science next door and had a blast. Galileo's middle finger is in a reliquery there. So you could say he's flipping the bird to all eternity. :-) Their permanent collection is amazing, if you have an interest in science or the history of science. There was no need for reservations; we saw few visitors other than school groups. I understand they don't get nearly as many visitors as the other, more famous museums.

5. We visited the Accademy to see David, among others. I actually enjoyed the Prisoners and medieval art collection more than David...but that's just my taste. There was no line outside as we arrived right at opening, and we didn't make reservations. Maybe it had to do with it being early April....

6. The climb to the Duomo was actually fun. 460 steps between the two domes (inner and outter). It's amazing how many women make the climb in heels. And the view was incredible. The next day we watched the Papal Funeral from a giant television in the cathedral, with several thousand of our closet friends. It was quite touching.

7. Ponte Vecchio was interesting for a number of reasons. First is its amusing history. Then the gold shops have some incredible artistry. We didn't budget for jewelry so all we could do was admire it. And it looks like the tradition of leaving a lock on the bridge and throwing away the key has taken on a life of its own. I was told the locks were cut off last year. But judging from the current level, it looks like they'll run out of room again before the end of summer. I'm wondering how many keys are at the bottom of the Arno?

8. On our next visit to Florence we'll make it a point to budget for perfumes and exlisors (sp?) from Santa Maria Novella. The perfumery is amazing and the smell of the shop is fantastic. The cathedral is equally amazing.

9. Across the Piazza from SMN we found the most amazing Lebonese food. The place was called Mr Kebob. I ordered a lamb and rice dish that was out of this world.

Thanks to all of the TA'ers that helped us plan this trip. We had a great time and will definitely be back to Florence as soon as we can.

Kempton, Aus
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1. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Shutterbug,

I read with interest your summary of Florence. My husband & I are heading to Italy in three weeks (can't wait esp after 16months of planning). We will be spending some time in Florence and enjoyed reading your reference to the museum of history and science. I have this on my agenda, as my husband has an interest in this area. He has left the planning to me and hope he enjoys this museum. I also have allowed in my budget a trip to the perfumery. Thankyou for your report and highlighting some of the things of interest to me.

Tacoma, WA
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2. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Shutterbug,

Thanks for taking the time to write up your observations. I will print them. My mom is really worried about the gypsies since a friend of her's shared their horror story from 10years ago.

Rebecca

Sunny Isles Beach...
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3. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

the gypsy pickpockets are not a myth....I was there just two summers ago, and with me standing right next to her on the Ponte Vecchio, someone unzipped my Mom's handbag, lifted her wallet, and was long gone before we ever realized it!

somewhere out there
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4. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Thanks for posting your observations, Shutterbug. I am getting really excited about my trip at the end of may and it helps to know you had such a wonderful time, if you think of anything else that might help us travellers to be please let us know.

Denver, Colorado
4 posts
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5. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Shutter Bug: What hotel did you stay in, in Florence and would you recommend it. Also the rate. We are going in October.Thanks.

florida
9 posts
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6. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Thank you so much. My family and I will be visiting Florence the week of May 20. We are so looking forward to this experience. Your posting was excellent and had wonderful tips.

Sunny Isles Beach...
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7. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

I have posted these things before, but it sounds like there are alot of you going to bella Firenze very soon, so I want to reiterate a few things soas not to sound so negative as my last post re pickpockets:

1. if you see something beautiful to buy on the Ponte Vecchio, do bargain, but if you can manage the purchase financially, do not hesitate, especially if the item is unique...I picked up an 18 karat white gold bracelet on my last visit that is by far one of my favorite belongings ever, and it makes me smile and remember my sweet visit every time I look at it! very unique designs, the Italians are known for it. I also have a heavy 18 karat yellow gold braided bracelet from the P.V. which my parents bouight for me on my very first visit to Florence about 35 years ago, which I still treasure, and which incidentally is still sold there, for over 25 times the original cost.

2. do reserve to see the statue of David. I did, and it helped my handicapped Mom and I to be whisked right in the door, with a wheelchair provided for her that I had not even asked for! also, my best childhood friend arrived without a reservation, as a shore excursion from her cruiseship, and never got in to see the David because of the wait. Pity! Reserving ahead via telephone costs peanuts, and and can avoid a disppointment and frustration.

3. fave restaurants: Buca Lapi or the White Boar for bistecca alla fiorentina (the only place in Europe it is highly recommended to eat steak) go very hungry...it is BIG and hearty. Mamma Gina's on Borgo San Jacopo, on the Pitti Palace side of the P.V. I fratellini for a quick lunch...a gelato from the various gelato shops surrounding the Ponte Vecchio...try the nocciola....hazlenut, or the pistachio.

4. check out the open air market near Sant Maria Novella...really fun to bargain, and have your treasures to bring home. leather wallets, jackets, gloves, trinkets, etc

5. do watch your wallets. putting a small lock on the zipper of your handbag before you leave the hotel in the morning can prevent hardship. Mom and I learned this one the hard way!

6. Parri's is fabulous for leather goods..wallets, handbags (I bought a crocodile handbag there many years ago, and it is a magnificent classic that would now cost thousands of dollars, and I still get stopped on Madison Ave. in NYC and am asked where I got the gorgeous handbag!), luggage. Parri's is on the same side of the P.V. as the Pitti Palace (don't miss the Boboli Gardens adjacent to the Pitti by the way) and Mamma Gina's.

7. I, too, had the feeling the first time I arrived in Florence as a student all those years ago, that I had arrived "home" somehow, and I have that same sensation evry time I return...must be Karma! or maybe Firenze has that same effect on everyone ....?

Seattle
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8. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Shutterbug,

Thanks for the detailed trip report. I will be in Florence for 5 days in October for the first and now your report has just kicked up the anticipation level even more. The next 6 months cant pass quick enough.

To Susie878: Dont know if you have followed the thread about TA Forumers meeting for dinner in May.But what started out as 3-4 people meeting, has bloomed into 6 pages of posts and at least 14 people for dinner. I will be in Florence from the 15th - 20th of October and want to know if you would be interested in meeting for dinner? Maybe we could get our own group going?

Tom

San Diego...
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9. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

Shutter bug,

I'm going to Florence in about 3 weeks (around May 14) and I'm wondering if the Gypsies of Romania will still be playing. I'm a Romanian native....and I'm wondering what kind of music they'd be playing other than traditional Romanian folk music which is very lively!!!

Anyone will be in Florence around the 14-17th???

S~

Tucson , Arizona
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10. Re: Recently back from Florence (long)

I visited Florence last month for three days, as part of a tour of

Classical Rome and Tuscany. I really enjoyed being there - the colorful street life, the original art and architecture and the way the light fell through the narrow streets. I visited with David and Michelangelo and toured many cathedrals. Now, I am returning to Florence for another three days in mid-May. Can anyone recommend a nice, quiet hotel in the central area or near the Piatti Plaza for around $100-130 per night for a single?