On my trip to Rome I decided that it would be fun to branch out to another Italian city for the day using their high speed train network. I wanted to pick a city that had a travel time of no longer than 2 hours each way, which excluded Milan and Venice, and somewhere that I haven’t been before, which also excluded Naples, Pompeii and Milan again. The obvious choice was Florence (or Firenze as it is known in Italy).
I picked my day and booked my trains a month in advance on the Trenitalia website, which was really simple to use. The return tickets cost me a total of 44,80€, which I didn’t think was too bad. The train took around an hour and a half each way, and I couldn’t believe how comfortable the seats were compared to British trains! I got around 7 and a half hours in Florence in total, which was nowhere near the actual amount I would like to spend there. It was a good length for a day trip though – enough time to see some sights but not too long and tiring.
After doing plenty of research I decided that my priority was climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Bruneschelli Dome and all of the other things that are included in the ‘Il Grande Museo del Duomo’ ticket. You can prebook this ticket online which saves waiting to buy the ticket, but you still have to queue for a loooooong time for the Dome climb. Apart from the Dome (which I queued for 45 mins for), I managed to walk straight into the Bell Tower and museums that are included in the ticket without any queues. Note: you don’t need to buy a ticket to go into the actual Cathedral, just make sure your knees and shoulders are covered and hop in the queue!
The official website doesn’t recommend the Dome climb if you have ‘heart problems, vertigo or claustrophobia’ – I think that you should leave it up to your own judgement, but I saw people of all ages, shapes and sizes climbing it. There are points where the stairs are very narrow and quite steep, and it obviously can be very draining especially on a hot day. I think if you take a bottle of water up with you, wear comfy shoes and take a little rest where there is somewhere to stop that isn’t blocking the stairwell, then anyone can do it. And the views are so worth it when you get to the very top!
When you’ve had enough of the Piazza del Duomo and all it has to offer in its marbled glory, you can take a stroll down to the Ponte Vecchio which was built in 1345, and is home to shops and restaurants that are actually on the bridge! Very near to the Ponte Vecchio is the Uffizi Gallery, which unfortunately I didn’t get to visit because the line for tickets was enormous and I only had a few hours left. It is highly recommended that you book in advance if you want to visit the Uffizi gallery, where you can see a large proportion of some of the world’s most treasured Renaissance art.
I think a big part of my Florence trip was just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, the stunning buildings and the culture. There is so much in Florence that I want to do and see now, so I will be making my way back there for a full trip ASAP.