One day in Florence (Livorno)
One Day in Florence…
From Livorno you have two obvious choices: Florence and Pisa. I recommend Florence. Florence is a wonderful city, and this might be another day for a guide or even just a car and driver to get you to and from (though it is accessible by train or bus). It is about 1.5 hours between Livorno and Florence.
In Florence I'd recommend one of two museums. The Uffizi is the largest and most important collection of Renaissance art anywhere in the world. It is amazing. But it can be overwhelming. If you hire a guide for the day, this is what I would recommend. When I take groups we look at 10 paintings in the museum and talk about them as being the most important. Of course, we see a lot of other pieces as well, but I've chosen 10 which I think best represent the growth of Renaissance art. A good guide will do much the same.
If you don't get a guide, then go to the Accademia (the Academy). This is where Michelangelo's David resides as well as many of his captives (they were supposed to be part of Julius II's tomb where you would have seen Moses in Rome). The museum is quite small. And David is truly impressive. For both museums, you can skip the lines if you have a timed reservation.
The Secret to Florence's Museums
Several days before you will be in Florence call the telephone booking center+39 (0)55 294883. Their English-speaking operators will help you to make a reservation for your visit and give you a confirmation code. They will also give you instructions for picking up your tickets. There is an additional charge for this service, but it is well worth it to skip ahead of the long lines waiting to get into the museums.
The Duomo and the Historic City Center
In addition to the Academy, I'd also suggest visiting Il Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) -- the largest church in Florence and truly grand. You can also walk through Piazza della Signoria, walk the very old covered bridge called the Ponte Vecchio, and wander the streets of Florence. It is a marvelous city and the entire center of the city where all of these places are located is a pedestrian zone.
Map: Cruising Italy
I have marked several other places on the map which might be of interest including:
Piazza della Signoria
My Favorite Panini Shop
The Ponte Vecchio
Santa Croce Leather School: the best place to buy good-quality leather goods
Gelateria dei Neri: the best gelato in Florence
Grom Il Gelato: the 2nd best gelato in Florence
Check out the Cruising Italy Map for these and all of the Cruising Italy locations, plus bonus restaurant recommendations and my favorite gelato spots in each city.
While the book is about Rome, it also has lots of information about Michelangelo's time spent in Florence, his hometown. Besides, it was written by your favorite travel writer: me! :)
Florence City Guide
I have also developed a city guide for Florence with more maps, restaurant recommendations, hotel recommendations, and museums and other activities. Check it out!