Tours and Tips:
Florence has a tour or museum for just about every person out there -- they have them for the history buffs, for the "just want to learn a little something" travelers, and there's even options for the "I'm too cool for school" adventurers.
However, no matter which category you fall into, if you are journeying to Florence during the high season, I can promise there will be epically long lines. Luckily, you can avoid them with these tips.
- Make ticket reservations ahead of time for any major art galleries or museums. That one step will save you hours of precious vacation time. The two most popular places are the Uffizi, and the Accademia.
- Hire a private guide to tour museums. Yes, it will cost you a bit more, and I don’t advocate this for every destination, but in Florence it can literally save you hours in a day. Guides can skip ahead of all lines. Bottom line: standing under the hot Italian sun is no fun.
MY FAVORITE TOURS & EXPERIENCES:
As a former Social studies teacher, I love it when I find a history tour that hits it out of the park. In a place like Florence, it is hard to choose which tour to sign up for. These two were my favorites:
Tour 1 -- FlorenceTown Duomo Skywalk: This tour allowed ticket holders private access to a skywalk on the Santa Maria Del Fiore Church, showcasing spectacular up close views of Il Duomo, and expansive scenes of the city below. After some time on the skywalk, the adventure continued by climbing 400+ stairs to the very top of Brunelleschi’s duomo masterpiece, where we were allowed go outside. The Florentine urban landscape stretched out in all directions below us, and it was hard to choose which direction to look. We wore earpieces the entire time so that we could hear the guides historical overview and stories of the past. Normally, I'm not a fan of the "earpiece tours," however, in this scenario, it allowed me to look around, while still listening. I highly recommend this tour, but fair warning: it is not suitable for those that experience claustrophobia, or are afraid of heights! It's also not a great choice to bring little kids.
Tour 2: If you’re in the mood for a walking tour, and prefer to have a guide in the museums, try hiring Guided Tours of Florence. Our guide, Alessia, knew her facts, and in only a few hours, we walked through many parts of the city, and visited the the The Accademia Gallery to see The David. I felt like the tour was well-balanced, and as a plus, she secured our tickets ahead of time. She also gave us VIP treatment, because her licensed tour guide badge allowed us to skip to the front the lines. This saved us hours of time! I would not do this tour with young kids, but it was a nice adult day-date.
Tuscan Cooking Class at Borgo Pignano
Although Borgo Pignano is tucked into the remote Tuscan countryside, hotel guests can enjoy plenty of activities on site. I was tempted to spend everyday by the hotel pool, however, my love for food inspired me to also try the cooking class.
Borgo Pignano offered a few different types of classes. I selected the pasta making one, where I learned to make fresh pasta, like pappardelle, ravioli, and tortellini. It felt like an authentic Italian experience; the chef did not speak English (thankfully a translator showed up), and his class focused solely on technique. This was probably a wise choice on his part, given it forced us students to learn the basics, instead of jumping right to the eating or sauce making! I think I probably got last place for my dough ball formation "talents," but the pasta came out looking Italian to me! For this class, we made cacio and pepe, pasta pomodoro, and a butter sage ravioli.
Start gathering your future travel ideas now! Sign up to receive exclusive travel itineraries and tips.