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I realize now that I skipped Florence and went straight to Venice. So, we’ll backtrack a little and spend the day in Florence. In fact, you’ll probably want to spend more than a day in Florence, there is so much to see and do. The problem with Florence is that nearly every other tourist in the universe is also visiting Florence at the exact same time. When I was there, we wanted to see the Renaissance paintings at the Uffizi Gallery. Problem was, the wait to just get in was two to three hours. So we hopped the train to Pisa instead.


We did eventually get to the Uffizi Gallery, by heading straight there first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, many of the works I wanted to see were touring at the time and not resident in the gallery, so I was slightly disappointed. We also went to the Galleria dell’Accademia which houses Michelangelo’s famous David statue. I don’t remember queueing up for this gallery but from other reports I’ve read, it’s a common occurrence. Also note, I believe both galleries are closed on Mondays. If you are planning a trip and visiting these galleries is important to you, check before you go.


Of course, if you’re not into art, then there is still plenty to do in Florence. We climbed the 463 stone steps in the Duomo and were rewarded with a 360° view of Florence. If you’re in fairly decent shape, and not claustrophobic or intensely worried about your personal space, then I highly recommend it. Along the way you can admire the stain-glassed windows and 16


If you’re not into stair-climbing or art gazing, then there’s always shopping. I recall several markets that sold everything from garlic to Gucci. Look around first and know your prices before you buy. And, as always, be very careful with your personal belongings. Italy has always been a hot-bed for pickpockets and I understand it has gotten worse since I visited.


Another little tip when visiting Florence, or probably any city in Italy, be unfashionable. Go for dinner early (6ish). My brother and I found a great restaurant in Florence and had a wonderful meal. We were one of the first to arrive. By the time we were finished, the restaurant was packed. The waiter placed a bottle of limoncello on the table, as a complimentary end to our meal. But then he got so busy seeing to the other tables that he forgot it there for an hour. Let’s just say we rolled out of that restaurant and I have very fond memories of limoncello.


Next time I go to Florence, however, I am going to make the time to visit Siena and San Gimignano, perhaps even staying in one of these smaller places. I found Florence very crowded and noisy, which was why Venice was such a welcome reprieve.