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Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to spend a month exploring Europe.  This was my first time overseas and it’s easy to say that this was a life changing trip for me.  While my love of travel was born long before this particular trip, my time in Europe was a tipping point for me.  It was here that I fell in love with the city of Florence, Italy.  The beauty and romance swept me off my feet as a teenager and I never forgot the ties I felt to this city. 

In fact, about 5 years ago, I seriously contemplated moving to Florence as a expat.  However, life has a funny way of happening while you’re busy making other plans.  While I was researching my move to Florence, my future husband was working his way into my life. 

Suffice it to say, I did not end up moving to Florence, but I was able to recently return to the city I love so much with my (now) husband.  We had one free day in our itinerary during our Rome trip.  With that in mind I said, “Let me buy two train tickets and I will show you my favorite city in the world.”  We took off on an early train with a busy day ahead of us, fully planning to take in as much of Florence as we could in the limited time available.  We managed to cover most of the historic city center and the other highlights of Florence.

Galleria dell’Accademia

Because we arrived so early, many things were not open just yet.  However, our very first stop was Accademia to see the David.  In effort to save time, we purchased our tickets online in advance.  This is trickier than it might seem.  

We planned our arrival at Accademia as early as possible, allowing ourselves enough time to get off the train, get our barrings, and walk to the gallery.  We were a bit lost at first, but we still arrived before our ticketed entry time of 9:15am.  With the advanced purchase, we were able to exchange our vouchers for tickets and permitted to enter the gallery ahead of everyone else waiting in line, even 10 minutes prior to our reserved time.  We loved being able to avoid wasting time standing in line.  At this point in our trip, we were incredibly “museumed-out”.  We quickly wandered through the exhibits and then made our way straight to the David.  After lingering for a bit, we exited the gallery made our way back to the main piazza.

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

As we passed by this iconic gothic church, they were just opening it up to the day’s visitors, so there were no lines.  We spent some time in this beautiful place (although we were also a bit “churched-out” too) and looked up at the beautiful frescoes on the inside of the dome.  While beautiful, this church does not have the same level of interior opulence the churches in Rome possess, but the outside is overwhelmingly artistic and colorful.

Because we were watching costs and time, we elected not to climb to the top of the Duomo.  After exiting, we made our way to the Bell Tower.  While the website said you can climb this tower for free, they confusingly appeared to be collecting money and the line was long, so we decided to pass on climbing this as well in lieu of getting some breakfast.

Palazzo Vecchio

After breakfast, we made our way passed the Bargello to the Palazzo Vehecio.  We also decided to pass on the Uffizi Gallery because, again, we were both “museumed out”.  In case you’re wondering why I say this, we had visited nearly one dozen museums in Rome over the course of the 5 days prior.  I had visited the Uffizi years ago and the hubby wasn’t interested in going in.  On quick day trips like this, it’s really important to pick and choose which things are the most important to you.  

Ponte Vecchio

From here, stroll through the area and head straight to the Ponte Vecchio to take in the beautifully iconic bridge.  We spent some time here watching the locals enjoy the banks of the river before we crossed over the bridge itself, enjoying the shops and vendors.

Speaking of vendors, after crossing the bridge, we found the most beautiful gelato in all of Italy (well maybe not, but still it was gorgeous) and could not help ourselves.  From there we wandered to La Piazza de’ Pitti and sat on the steps, soaking in the March sun while enjoying la dolce vita!

 

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Wandering

From here, we wandered toward the Bobili Gardens.  Again, because this was the last day of our trip and most of our spending money had been spent, we did not go into the gardens.  However, we enjoyed the views from the street.  We continued to wander aimlessly through the streets of Florence, passed the Porta Romana and into the neighborhood streets.

I have no idea where exactly we went, but it was wonderful to get away from the crowds and off the beaten path.  We made sure to buy a tasty treat for our dogs at a small pet shop before making our way back along about half of the Oltrarno walk toward the heart of old town, winding through piazzas and palazzos along the way.  The local artist were out and it was impressive to see their work!

After a tasty pizza lunch, we started to wander in the other direction, passing by shops, galleries, churches, and other impressive stops along the way including the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.  We made our way into the modern, fast-paced side of Florence and noted the difference just a few blocks can make.  We continued walking, and walking, and walking, until we were back in the quintessential cobblestone streets.  Before long, it was time to start heading back to the station for our return trip to Rome.  Along the way, we stopped at a cafe for a drink.  We also visited a local market to pick up some snacks for the ride home.  It was a great, jam-packed way to spend our last day in Italy!

Considerations

  • Our train arrived at Firenze Santa Maria Novella Train Station at 8:51am
  • The train to return to Rome departed at 5:24pm
  • Fitting all of this in to one eight hour day takes 31,737 steps, or just a shade over 14 miles.  And, I was in flip-flops, which gave me tendonitis in the bottom of my feet thanks to the cobblestones!
  • This is not a leisurely-paced day.  If you plan on doing the same, be prepared to hustle!
  • Florence’s historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
 

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32 Comments

  1. I remember visiting Florence in one day too. I have been twice and in one of those occasions, it was Monday. The Academy was closed and there was a big outcry on the group. There was a change of plans and we woke up early on Tuesday to visit the Academy first thing in the morning. I would be hard to miss the place if you are in Florence. #feetdotravel

    1. Oh no! I’m so glad you were able to get back on Tuesday – that would be very hard to be in Florence on a Monday for sure!

  2. I visited Florence when I was touring Italy and I also had a jam-packed day and got to see most of what you did 😀 Great photo of the Ponte Vecchio, we drove past it on the tour so I didn’t get a closer look and the sky wasn’t as blue for the rest of my photos, but still, what a beautiful place it is isn’t it! Thanks for the wonderful trip down memory lane, this is just great, pinned for when I return to Italy. #feetdotravel

    1. You’re welcome Angie! We were so lucky to have such beautiful blue skies when we were there. I hope they are blue the day you return as well!

  3. I had a similar jam packed day in Florence. It was actually a bit disappointing because I didn’t feel like I could truly appreciate all of Florence’s beauty. Later, my daughter spend a college semester in Florence studying architecture and street art. Luckily I was able to absorb more though her detailed photos and stories.

    1. I was so glad my hubby and I were able to make this trip happen. I’m sure you will have a great time when you pull the trigger on it too!

  4. We visited Florence last October and fell in love with this city! I had fun reading your post and reliving all of our great memories.

  5. I love this city! It has to be explored by foot. Ponte Vecchio is my favorite place in Florence. I also love the narrow streets and the old architecture, Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    1. We spent hours just wandering through the streets – we had no idea where we were or where we were going, and it was so wonderful!

  6. I loved Venice. The art, culture and architecture are all so wonderful. I remember a wonderful boat trip along the river with the two elderly oarsmen singing at the top of their voices as we went beneath Ponte Vecchio, it was so cool.

  7. I can’t believe you did all of this in one day. I can see how the 14 miles left you with painful feet! But what an unforgettable day so it looks like it was worth it! Thanks for taking us along with you on the journey. I especially love seeing the artist at work on the street.

  8. A day doesn’t seem enough but sometimes you just have to maximise the brief time you can get. I love how you squeezed in a visit to Florence during your Rome trip! The advance purchase of tickets to see David seems well worth it. Glad you made time for some gelato amid the sightseeing!

    1. We never thought a day was really enough either, but we have enjoyed what many places have to offer in that amount of time. It’s better than nothing! Our time in Florence was great… the gelato and David topped it off!

  9. I can see you love Florence as much as I do. It is one of my favorite cities in Europe too. I’ve only been twice, but if we are ever able to travel again, I plan to make anothe trip there. I took my mom to Florence for her first overseas trip for her 60th b-day. Thanks for the post!

    1. What a great birthday for your mom – I’m sure that made Florence even more special of a place for you!

  10. Oh, thanks for all the lovely photos. I have not been to Florence but it does remind me a bit of Venice. Florence and Rome are definitely on my list of must visit places. THx!

    1. Visits to Florence and Rome are absolute musts! And, they are only a short train ride apart! Happy travels!

  11. On our trip, we spent 2 days in Florence and still felt that we didn’t have enough time do a lot of things. So, I must say you have done a great job here curating a one day plan to include most of the important attractions of Florence

  12. I do really want to return to Florence. I spent just an afternoon there. I saw the David, which was so moving. But I missed the beautiful Duomo. I would love to visit again. Your photos are inspiring!

    1. It is one of my most favorite cities – just love it! Glad you enjoyed the post and photos. Hoping you return one day as well!

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