We stayed in Florence from Tuesday and until Thursday, hoping to avoid the crowd. What we found out was that early weekdays don’t apply on high-season to avoid the masses. The crowd is the same-same and the tourists are scattered everywhere.
You can either find your partner-in-crime and hide in a huge “I’m invisible and safe and all is well”-embrace or you can find cute little streets away from the crowd. It can be a detour if you’re on an A to B mission, but it’ll be the greatest detour of your life. Narrow streets, cute shops and yeah, less people. What’s not to like. See survival examples in the pictures below. Or you can choose the third option; be a vampire and move in the night.
In addition, we had to survive 34 degrees in full blown sun. There were points where we just “NOPE” and just had sacrifice some places and retreat to more silent places. We also have some more Florence travel hacks, just click on the “Florence travel hacks” field below!
Google Map pins: Before you enter the cradle of Renaissance, then find your Google Map and pin all the places you want to see, the places you want to eat and so forth. With the crowd and some waiting in queues, it’ll make your life so much easier.
Firenze Card: If you’re going to spend more than 2-3 days in Florence, then this is your ace in the sleeve. It costs €89 for the Firenze Card, but it is valid for 72 hours, you can enter the majority of the museums for free, you get a priority access once in each museum (aka skip queues) and it has a lot of discounts to different shops and restaurants. I’d seriously pay the amount of money for the Firenze Card, just so I can skip the queueing! We walked almost straight in to the Galleria dell’Accademia, when people were queuing forever in 34 degrees and sun. Suckers.
AirBNB: If hotels are sold out or are too expensive, then we’d recommend staying at an AirBNB. If you’re also staying longer, you can find an apartment with your own kitchen, so you spare some dollars on not eating out.
Trenitalia: Can’t even find a decent and cheap place to stay in the middle of Florence? Find a place outside the city, for example Pistoia or Prato. From there you can take a train directly to Firenze Santa Maria Novella next to the old town. The train tickets are super cheap and you can find them here – Trenitalia.
Duomo: Ok, what we didn’t know was that one has to book a slot to come up to the infamous creation of Brunelleschi – The Dome. We had bought the ticket and then saw it was fully booked. So, buy the ticket and book it early here.
4 things to do in Florence Italy
Galleria degli Uffizi
If you don’t have time to go strolling and visiting all them endless gems in Florence, then Uffizi Gallery is the one museum you need to visit! It’s worth the queuing (although, if you have the Firenze Card you get priority access) as you can spend hours in there. It’s FYI considered to be one of the largest museums in the world. How about that.
Your eyes get the pleasure of seeing original creations from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Caravaggio and many more. Totally a starstruck hive if you have a passion for art, history and culture.
Another tip; keep an eye on the opening hours, as the museum sometimes has opened during the evening and you get the place pretty much to yourself!
The Medici Chapel was an interesting and fascinating place. You could sense it was a space where death is welcomed with open arms. You enter the Chapel below, in the crypt, where the Medici’s remains are kept alongside sacred ornaments containing relics. Reliques in form of bones, pieces from human skulls and all that jazz.
When we went up the staircase, we were met by I sight that seriously took my breath away. Usually you see chapels and churches in bright white, illuminating the whole room. Although, the Cappella dei Principi (“Chapel of the Princes”) was dark and almost gothic in a sense. The stones used to decorate the chapel were dark green, brown, grey, with small golden and red details. All of it illuminated by the dome above.
Last, but not least, we visited The Sagrestia Nuova, designed by the great Michelangelo. We watched a documentary in beforehand and we already knew what was coming – Michelangelo’s subliminal mockery of the Medici family. Once a student, then a silent opponent towards the greedy Medici. As it was for the majority of Florentines back in those days. The statues of the Giuliano and Lorenzo weren’t as grand as they should’ve been by the book. Also, the statues representing Dusk & Dawn and Night & Day, were a symbolic meaning of the passing of time. As with the Medici family.
If you love astronomy, technology, science, compasses, time measuring devices, telescopes, globes, maps and all them kinds of goodies, like moi, then this is your heaven. It’s amazing to see how mathematics and logic could create so complex things, before our modern technology. Well, this was birth of the technology era, but it’s just mind-boggling to see how far they were already back then. All thanks to the father of modern science – Galileo Galilei. I can’t even figure out my phone.
I’d say that Galleria dell’Accademia is not worth the queue if you don’t have secret crush on Michelangelo’s David and if you’re not super interested in sculptures as an artform. I personally felt the grand David was the reason for entering this museum (yup, totally starstruck), as I’m too ignorant about sculptures. Mesmerized, but ignorant.
Although, I later learned that sculptures were one of the most expensive artforms back in the days and were often used to show an economic strength. In addition, in the New Testament, believers were called “living stones”, which gave the sculptures an additional – and symbolic – meaning. My point; don’t be ignorant and life will be more exciting.
Ok, let’s get back on track. The museum also had its own floor where you could admire old frescoes in gothic style. Again, not my cuppa, but maybe yours?
3 things to do in Florence Italy – when things get too crowded
Museo Casa di Dante
Dante’s crib! We found his old house hidden somewhere in Florence. A bit lost at that time, but you’ll find it easily on Google Maps. I have to say I was expecting a bit more, being Dante’s house and all. But, just knowing it was there where he slept and pondered about the world – and Beatrice – made my whole experience.
Otherwise, it was more of a collection of information elaborated from Dante’s scriptures. Aka, it wasn’t always directly about him, but what happened during the time he walked the streets of Florence.
Museo dell’Opfificio delle Pietre Dure
No pictures taken from this little spontaneous trip!
This museum was a collection of different… stones and rocks. Being a rock collector myself back in my days when I was 5 years old, this was definitely was an extension to my rock knowledge. I also have a love for crystals as being spiritual AF, so it was a bonus applied to this experience.
All in all, an interesting little detour, which sparked a further understanding about how rocks and stones were used to decorate differents aspects of the grand life in Florence – and for the Medici family.
Bibiloteca Medicea Laurenziana
Barely any people, probably the smallest museum in town – but, damn it is beautiful. This was Medici’s personal library (like holy cow). What I’m about to say now goes against every fiber of my being, but I’d seriously consider becoming as greedy as a Medici just to get a library like that. The vestibule already had me on “I wanna become a Medici.”
Food wise, check these 6 vegan restaurants out in Florence! If you’re not vegan, doesn’t matter – you’ll convert to veganism the moment you take bite.