Florence is eye candy. The city itself is a work of art. It is the pinnacle of picturesque Italy that you’ve seen in movies and imagined in books. Every avenue and cove is an adventure onto itself. It is ideal for waltzing about with no particular agenda. It is obscenely close to Pisa, so if you happen to already be by the leaning tower, just hop the always arriving train for an hour and show up. Here are some ways to maximize the experience:
Visit the museums early. The Uffizi is Florence’s main museum, and houses The Birth of Venus. If you come in the afternoon, in the summer, expect to wait for hours for entry. If you come first thing in the morning, you are more likely to wait less than an hour. Off-peak travel is probably better still (though I was not fortunate enough to experience that…). After you’ve gotten your morning fix trot over to the Accademia. This is where you will find David. You don’t want to arrive too late in the day, because eventually they will cut off the line. Also be respectful about taking photos, because they will kick you to the curb. Buy a postcard. The photo will turn out better anyhow. David itself is impressive. There is more thought and detail put into a single statue than I have ever seen. You can even see the veins. If he wasn’t unusually tall and pale, he could pass for a real person.
Stay at Hostel Archi Rossi. When we were in Nice we stayed at Les Camélias a 5th floor walk-up; snoring go-to-bed early roommates; bugs everywhere; toilet in the hall; small showers; and zero character. Archi Rossi was the first floor; a private villa in a courtyard; private lockers; beautiful design and more character than you’d know what to do with; no bugs; and Canadian roommates. Our overwhelmingly bad impression of hostels was washed clean by a much nicer and pleasurable experience.
Lastly like I mentioned before Florence is perfect for strolling. You really don’t even have to go into any buildings to see the art. Explore the bridges and alleyways, the river and the squares. And look alive because there are statues of naked people everywhere! And plenty of fantastic Italian food.