Our next stop on our Italian adventure was Florence. I love Florence. It is the home of the Renaissance with many museums showcasing art from Michelangelo, Botticelli, and many more. The Duomo is a Gothic cathedral visible from all over the city making it a great landmark to help you get around. We stayed for three nights and had a wonderful time.
We left Sorrento early in the morning to make it to Florence in the early afternoon. From Sorrento we went to Napoli where we caught a fast train to Florence. We ended our journey at Florence’s main train station called Santa Maria Novella. The city is small enough that you should be able to walk to any hotel or apartment you are staying at from this train station. We grabbed our luggage and walked ten minutes to the Golden Tower Hotel and Spa. I booked this incredible hotel using points and I would highly recommend it. They greeted us with a fruit basket, gifts, snacks, free mini bar, and more. They offer a delicious free breakfast every morning and complimentary happy hour. We were all tired from traveling that day so we walked around the city and had an early night.
We had met up with a friend from Washington and some friends from Idaho who had all flown into Florence. We rented bikes which were so fun and made getting around very easy. We rode those bikes to all the sights around Florence and were able to get from place to place much faster than walking.
We saw two museums, the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia. We bought tickets online ahead of time so the lines were short. If you don’t have tickets before you arrive you may end up spending a huge portion of your day in line. We then rode up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which gives you great views of the city. Riding down was definitely more fun than riding up though.
We all went to dinner together that night at Gusta Pizza. The pizza was so yummy, I think my favorite I had the whole trip. You can request to get your pizza in the shape of a heart so of course I did. For 6 euros I enjoyed my own pizza and a bottle of water.
I had researched a lot of different sightseeing tours on Trip Advisor with various tour groups and decided that the vespa tour sounded like the most fun. Again, Trip Advisor did not lead me astray. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We went with Walkabout Florence on their vespa tour where we learned to drive a vintage vespa and rode off through the countryside and vineyards and then stopped for a delicious meal. (Video of me learning how to drive my vespa before the tour began here.)
After our tour we climbed the Duomo’s Dome for another incredible view of the city. You need the combo ticket that costs 15 euros and gives you entrance to the Baptistery, dome, Campanile, Duomo Museum, and Santa Reparata crypt. This dome is the first Renaissance dome, built in 14 years by architect Brunelleschi and was the largest dome since the Pantheon in Rome.
We met later that night for dinner at Mercato Cenrale. Upstairs is a modern food court with many different options. One stall was serving fresh pasta, another huge burgers, and more serving pizza, fish, and wine. We stayed till about 11pm and it was still busy and the food was very good. Of course we enjoyed some gelato to finish off our day.
-Buy museum tickets ahead of time. Lines are long so save time this way.
-Go on the vespa tour- you won’t be disappointed.
-Check for closures. Sundays- Duomo’s dome is closed. Monday- the Accademia and the Uffizi are closed. Make sure to research for the days you will be in Florence to know what sights are unavailable.
-If you buy a drink or anything at a café or restaurant ask for their wifi code. The city also offers free 2 hours of wifi.