Family Travels
Florence
Ah, Florence.     Florence is wonderful.  
It feels big city...but is very tourist friendly.  No real need
for city/public transportation...it is very walkable; in fact,
much of its city streets get taken over by tourists and
become pedestrian zones...people moving to the
sidewalks only when a car crawls through.

There are many tourist spots to see...museums you
must visit, churches to explore...but leave time to just
stroll around and soak in the feel of the city.

Sit on a piazza, grab a gelato on pretty much any street
corner and stroll along, shop the "legal" vendor stalls on
the streets, watch the "illegal" vendors with the white
sheets of merchandise scurry away at the first sign of
police.

Florence is built for relaxing strolls.  After half a day we
threw away our tourist map.  Most sights are scattered
around the Duomo (you cannot miss the tall dome) and
the Arno river.

Walk around, get lost, and enjoy!
The Duomo casts a shadow over the
landscape.  It dominates Florence
From outside to inside,
from top to bottom,
the Duomo , The Brunelleschi Dome
you can climb for incredible views,
the Bapistry with its infamous
Ghiberti bronze doors,
the Campanile (Bell Tower)
The Duomo Museum filled with art
and the fun people watching square...
Florence's Cathedral cannot be
missed.
The Baptistry's
Bronze Doors
The Duomo
The pink, green and
white marble facade
is fairly new
from the 1870's
The Duomo was originally built without a dome...
the technology did not exist to build a structure to
span the distance.
A leap of faith..build a church with a hole in it...
someone will figure out how to finish it.
Brunelleschi did...in the 1400's
Became a model for Michelangelo to build St. Peter's
Basilica and even a model for the
Capitol Building in the US.
The Accademia
Don't miss the Accademia with Michelangelo's
David and his unfinished works The Prisoners.

If you are visiting Rome, find the connection
between these works and the Moses in St.
Peter's in the Chains Cathedral
Left--Plaster Paris Cast of David,
British Museum visited in 2006
Above--Original in marble
at the Accademia
Want cheap Italian leather bound journals,
wallets, bracelets or keychains??  ...find our
friendly guy.  On the same street at the Museum
of Precious Stones (exit right -a few doors down
across the street -- Store front with white canopy
"Made in Tuscany"

Brent got a wallet for his 16th Birthday! Erica
purchased a ostrich leather bound journal...Dad
got a green journal. and Amanda - a small purple
diary.  and  Lots of bracelets, keychains  FUN!
Florence Museums  Travel Alert
Florence Museums are a must see....so every
tourist plans to visit.  Entries are limited to  
only 600 at a time, so the line without
reservations during peak season can be three
hours long.

Make a reservation.
The $E3 reservation fee is worth it
But plan ahead, even reservation spots can
fill up a month in advance.
The easiest way is to ask your hotel to make
the reservation for you...most do so gladly
without an added fee.  Our hotel did through a
email request and sent a email confirmation.

You can also reserve yourself.
Dial 055-294-883 during M_F 8:30-18:30,
Sa 8:30 - 12:30, closed Sun
Keep trying...lines are often busy

You can also reserve on-line through ticket
booking services (just Google)
But there will probably be an added fee...and
if you are a No-Show--its non-refundable.

Once you have a reservation, walk past the
long lines (wondering why these idiots didn't
read Rick Steve's guidebook) and up to the
front with your confirmation number...its
through the x-rays and off you go
The Uffizzi
It's really the world's greatest collection of Italian art.
Giotto, Botticellii, Leonardo da Vinci,
Raphael, Titian, Carravaggio

These painters are featured in churches and palaces all
over Italy...especially Venice and Rome

Don't miss the free courtyard of sculptures of famous
artist and scientists.
What We Didn't Do
Three days wasn't enough....and we decided
to skip the following.
Remember we have visited alot of Churches
and Palaces during our trips to Europe.

If this is your first or only trip...make more of
an effort to visit them
(* Star rankings from Rick Steve's)
***Bargello--check opening/closing times
carefully...we goofed.
**Pitti Palace
**Brancacci Chapel
**Santa Maria Novella (but we did hit the
perfumerie)
*Medici Riccardi Palace
**Medici Chapel
**Duomo Museum
*Museum of San Marco
**Santa Croce Church
*Palazzo Vecchio
Places to See
Mosaics Museum
We really enjoyed this obscure little museum
which explained the craftmanship and work
of inlay precious stones and mosaics.  Really
ties into the unbelievable mosaic works of St.
Peter's Baslica in Rome
Things to Do
Ponte Vecchio--Shopping
This bridge has been famous for it's
goldsmiths and silversmiths since the 1500's.
Jewelry shopping is still fun today.

However, we bought Erica's cameo at Negrin's
on V. S. Maria--a block north of the bridge
Piazza Della Signoria is a fun people
watching square...grab a gelato and stroll.
Enjoy the fountains...and the sculpture on
the outside of Uffizi at Loggia de Lanzi.
The turrets of Palazzo Vecchio are towering
overhead...but skip this palace interior if you
have seen others.
Grab a Gelato and Stroll Around
There is a gelateria on almost
every street corner.
The Science Museum
Had enough art?  Enjoy the obscure artifacts
of the Science Museum...quadrants,
astrolabes, Michelangelo's compass,
Galileo's telescope lens
(even his finger preserved in a jar...yuck)
Maps, microscopes, thermometers, clocks,
pumps and all sorts of things explaining
Newton's Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and
Pharmacy for the last 900 years.
Place to Stay and Eat
Perfume Shopping
Santa Maria Novella Perfumerie
The perfumerie originated off the monk's private
gardens of flowers and herbs...and today it is a world
wide known perfumerie..

Even if not interested in buying...sneak a peek at the
luxurious furnishing.  Mom was in heaven.

Don't miss the soaps, lotions.  The tea is surprisingly
good (Dad loved it)
Visit the Nuovo Mercato
(aka the Straw Market)
and rub the Porcellino's snout to
ensure your return to Florence.  

The Market area is a fun place to
shop...and in the evening...a great
place for entertainers.

And the nearby Osteria del
Porcellino is a great place to eat
Grab a Gelato and Stroll Around
There is a gelateria on almost
every street corner.
Take a night time stroll.
Get a fruit cup...or more gelato.
Find a piazza and just relax
***Hotel Pendini
on Piazza della Repubblica

It is so central to everything.
We loved it!
They even made our museum
reservations
AC/ nice rooms/ high ceilings
Breakfast included.
$E180 for 5 persons in a
two bedroom suite

Why stay anywhere else?
www.hotelpendini.net
Osteria della Porcellini
Charming! Good food...good service.

Facing the Nuovo Mercato..its down
alley to the right.
the Proscuittio and Melon was
wonderful
The Ravioli with cheese, proscuittio
and pears was amazing
Via Val di Lamona 7 red
tel. 055-218-925
Trattoria Marione
Yummy homecooked food is served to
locals and tourists alike...although we did
notice all the tourists were put in the
basement (and most were reading their
Rick Steve's books"

But the food was tasty and simple.
A nice break from pizzas and pastas

We had grilled chicken served with green
beans and roasted potatoes, stewed beef
and potatoes

Via dell Spada 27 red
055-214-756
Central Market
A great place to grab the essentials.
porcini funghi salsa, olives, ,
tapenade, fresh bread, crackers ,
even a cold bottle of wine and
voila...instant picnic...in the shade
of San Lorenzo Church

Then head to the open air market
stalls of San Lorenzo...we bought
purses, Venetian glass bead
necklaces, Rock and Roll t-shirts
(Brent), Scarfs
It was Brent's 16th Birthday
and he got to choose where to eat.

On Piazza del Repubblica,
It was cheap, easy and surprisingly good
The ProscuIttio and Melon was huge
The Gorgonzola Pizza was great
and look at the size of that
CALZONE!
Dates Visited --  2007