Overview of Florence
Language and Currency
What is Florence Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A valid passport is required but no visa is required for stays under 90 days.
The official language of Florence is Italian, however some English is spoken in most areas. The official currency is the euro. Major credit cards are widely accepted and the bestg place to obtain euros is from the many ATM machines located throughout Florence.
(Florence's oldest building) with the Duomo Behind it)
Florence is a wonderful city that dates back before Christ. There is lots to see and experience here. Florence offers both wonderful sightseeing, as well as world class shopping for designer labels and fashions.
Florence is blessed with hot summers and warm spring and falls. Be sure to wear something that can stand the heat if you are there in July or August, as it can get into the 90s.
Celebrity Millennium Docked in Livorno, Italy
The ship actually docks in Livorno, some 90 minutes away from Florence. Livorno is a small coastal and port town that is the official port for Florence. There is excellent train service from Livorno to Florence, Pisa and Lucca, as well as highway access.
Florence's Main Designer District Shopping Street
There is wonderful shopping in Livorno (see the Special Report on Livorno), but for excellent shopping, you must take the trek into Florence. You will find just about anything you could want somewhere in Florence. Check the stores and shops around the Piazza del Duomo (center of Florence) for souvenirs and other collectibles.
Ponte Vecchio, Home to Many Jewelry Stores
For fine jewelry and other treats visit the Ponte Vecchio (the old bridge over the river you will see on the way into the Piazza del Duomo). There are numerous street stalls outside of the Church of San Lorenzo just a few blocks toward the train station from the Duomo.
Clothing, shoes, leather products, souvenirs, wines, jewelry and antiques are just among a few of the items you can shop for.
First, just walking around Florence's old section is wonderful. Pedestrian streets meander every which way and its flavor is unique. If you take the train into Florence, you can simply walk to the Piazza del Duomo and start your exploration there. The Duomo is a fabulous structure that is faced with intricate hand-carved multi-colored marble. It is truly something not to be missed.
The Hand Carved Marble Detail of the Duomo
The cathedral is the fourth largest church in the world and its surrounding buildings date back to as far as 600 ad. Be sure to explore the interior of the Duomo and climb its stairs to the top of the cathedral for a wonderful view of Florence's old section.
Also not to be missed is a visit to the Galleria dell’ Accademia to view the statute of David. HINT: If you visit the main ticket office for the museum, you can make reservations and purchase tickets in advance. This will eliminate the need to stand in long lines to gain entrance to the museum. To find the ticket office simply head down the street that leads to the Galleria dell’ Accademia from the Duomo (ask for directions to the street) pass the entrance to the museum and continue to the next small square. The ticket office is across the square in the middle of the block. It will help if you know a little Italian (or Spanish) or have someone with you that does.
Exploring the shopping streets is also good fun. Be sure to visit the Ponte Vecchio and its quaint jewelry and other collectible stores. Visiting the open air market that surrounds the Church of San Lorenzo is another great experience, however, be aware there are pickpockets in this area. On one trip, we were making our way back to the train station when three youths ran by us only to be followed by two policemen in hot pursuit. I am not sure if they caught them or not, but it was a reality check to stay aware.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
On your way back to the ship, make sure you take the side trip to the leaning tower of Pisa and its adjoining cathedral. Recently repaired and opened to the public after more than a decade of repairs, this sight is worth seeing.
The Cathedral and Tower Complex in Pisa
The tower and cathedral are also faced with hand carved multi-colored marble and one cannot help but wonder at the man hours it took to construct such structures in the 11th century. You can climb the towers stairway to the top, but be aware that the tower closes early.
Entering Lucca's Pedestrian Old Section
Also, you may want to try and fit Lucca into your day, especially if you have already visited Florence before. Lucca is a wonderful village that has yet to be inundated with tourists. It offers a wonderfully Italian experience for those that make their way into the old section.
Lucca Shopping Opportunities
Lucca offers some wonderful shopping opportunities for local products. The small and quaint shops offer specialty items you won't find in Florence. The sidewalk cafes, town square and various pedestrian streets are just fantastic. Lucca is well worth the effort to get there.
Yes, Don't miss the Duomo and David in Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa.
I have eaten at a wonderful restaurant only a few blocks from the Duomo and would highly recommend it. The problem is, I don't have its name. I will make it a point to get it on my next trip to Florence.
Trattoria Ponte Vecchio
While I can't remember the name of the really good one that I ate at, I can remember the name of one that was not so good. My wife and I found this little restaurant just a block or so from Ponte Vecchio on the canal. It looked really nice inside and we decided to try it. It turned out to be a big mistake. It turns out that instead of the glasses of wine we ordered, we got a 1/2 bottle each. Joanies' turned out to be 22 euro. The place is a huge tourist rip off. Dine at your own risk! Another couple who had wanted one entree split between them, got the one entree, but was charged twice. Need I say more?
see the Special Report on Livorno,
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