Sunday, August 10, 2014

A More Wonderful Florence

Florence is a feast for the eyes, mind, and heart.  There are glorious works of art and architecture at every turn. Compared to my earlier trips to Florence, I found the city gratefully cleaner and more manageable for a tourist.  This was due to 1) restrictions on cars in the areas that have the most attractions, and 2) the purchase of a Firenze Card. This one-time tourist ticket applicable to most sites was a little bit pricier that buying individual tickets, but allowed us to go into the cathedrals and museums through a separate entrance that rarely had a line. An approximate extra twelve dollars earned us much more time doing what we came to do rather than standing in long lines.  I recommend it highly. As for the fewer cars, you can really feel the difference.  Walking (and window shopping!) is infinitely easier since you are not perpetually dodging cars and scooters, and the entire city is quieter and less dirty as the result of less pollution, air, noise, or otherwise.

The lobby of Palazzo Magnoni Feroni

Another recommendation is to stay oltr'Arno, which means stay at a hotel or pensione on the "other side" of the Arno river which has fewer historical monuments or museum and, therefore, fewer tourists.  It is quieter, and you will meet more true Florentines, adding only an extra 5 minutes to your daily walk to the sites.  On the strong recommendation of a friend, we had the special pleasure of staying at Palazzo Magnoni Feroni.  I researched this hotel and originally resisted it since the price was steeper than we usually spend. My friend, a seasoned traveler herself, urged me to consider how tired I would be after a long day of city sightseeing and how much I would appreciate a comfortable place to stay, and she pushed me to stay at this Palazzo.  'Wise friend, she could not have been more right.  The Palazzo offered us elegant, though not stuffy, accommodations with impeccably friendly and helpful service in all ways.  The staff filled our every need, even needs we didn't know we had!  A special treat -- the hotel has both a courtyard and a rooftop bar; each allows you to be outdoors without being among crowds, and the rooftop view was spectacular.  Both outdoor settings provided us with a comfortable place to rest at the end of our full days, and I could not be more pleased with our choice.  Lastly on this subject, my friend got a good deal on this hotel via Expedia, and we got a good deal in that they upgraded our room to a larger suite!  'Can't say why, but who am I to ask?

We dined very well, as described in the previous post. The rest of our time in Florence was spent marveling at the magnificence of the past maintained.  At times, words cannot describe my awe.  Just a few photos will have to do.

A view from the Uffizi Galleries

An exceptionally beautiful dome of one of the galleries of the Uffizi

Michelangelo's David (need I say more?)

Il Ratto delle Sabine (Giambologna) in the Piazza della Signoria

I viaggiatori felici !

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