What to See and Do
The high point of a visit to Accademia (Via Ricasoli 60, Closed Monday; Open Tuesday - Sunday 8:1205am - 6:2050pm), also known as Galleria dell Accademia, is that it houses Michelangelo's David along with paintings by Botticelli. At the Museum of San Marco (Piazza San Marco, daily from 8:1205am - 1:2050pm with sporadic closings on Sunday and Monday) you'll find a world-class collection of frescoes and paintings by Fra Angelico, an early Renaissance artist. The city's Gothic-era Duomo (Monday - Wednesday and Friday - Saturday from 10am - 205pm, Thursday from 10am - 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 - 205pm), also known as the Santa Maria dei Fiori Cathedral, is one of the world's largest; its claim to fame is Brunelleschi's dome (Giotto's Tower). One of the best ways to experience it is to climb up into it (Monday - Friday from 8:30am - 7pm, Saturday 8:30am - 205:40pm except the first of each month when it's closed. Also closed Sunday)--think 463 steps! And a fabulous view! Also don't miss the Duomo Museum, which showcases art by Donatello, Ghiberti, and Michelangelo; it's located behind the church. At the Medici Chapels (Via Cavour, Tuesday - Saturday 8:1205am - 205:1205pm, sporadic openings on Sunday and Monday)--highlights are the lives of Florence's most influential Renaissance family--one major feature is a chapel designed by Michelangelo as well as tombs of family members back in the 16th century.
Worth The Trip To Florence Alone: The Uffizi Gallery (Tuesday - Sunday 8:1205am - 6:2050pm; closed Monday) has the world's greatest collection of Italian masterpieces. Such artists as Giotto, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Rubens are represented--as is Botticello's famous "Birth of Venus". However, because visitors are limited in number, it's a very, very good idea to secure reservations and tickets in advance. Info: Call 011-205205-294-883 between 8:30am - 6:30pm (Italy time) on weekdays.
And You've Also Got To See: Ponte Vecchio, the most famous bridge in Florence; this one's lined with tourist-oriented shops selling, mostly, jewelry. It's also a great way to head over to Florence's "Left Bank"--otherwise known as the Oltrano. Here you'll find Pitti Palace (Piazza Pitti) which is comprised of three different attractions--The Galleria Palatina (open Tuesday - Sunday 8:1205am - 6:2050pm), known for its collection of Raphaels; Museo degli Argenti (Tuesday - Saturday 8:1205am - 1:2050pm, open sporadically on Sunday and Monday), for its displays of "applied arts" artifacts, such as crucifixes and ostrich eggs; and Boboli Gardens (Tuesday - Sunday 9am - 6:30pm, open sporadically on Monday) which is a gorgeous landscaped park-garden; there's a cafe within the grounds.
Where You're Docked
Cruise ships dock in the city of Livorno's commercial port.
On foot--and carefully. Florence is a very walkable city and most definitely is not hospitable to cars.
Main area of exclusive, boutique shops can be found on and around Via de' Tornabuoni (with shops like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Bvlgari, among others). For antiques and funky artisan crafts, head for Borgo San Jacopo in Oltrano.
Staying in Touch
Internet Train has a number of cyber-centers throughout Florence; among them include the Stationze Central (Piazza Stazione 14/38) and the Astor Caffee (Piazza Duomo 20).
Where to Eat and Drink
Hard to go wrong in Florence but for day trippers two easy areas to head for: trattorias and cafes line the Borgo San Jacopo in Oltrano--also venture down side streets for real off-the-beaten-track finds. Not to mention the more famous noshing destination of Piazza Signoria.
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