1. Have money. Lots of it.
2. Bring your money.
3. Spend a great deal of your money.
No joke. Getting to
Getting there is only the beginning of the expenditures you’ll need to make. Even a form of transport as humbly plebian as a 3-day bus pass is 12€ ($15.00); expect to drop at least that much per ride if you want to get around in a taxi- and if you have the money, I’d recommend it. Coming from
Admission to the large museums will cost you $15.00 a go as well- make a reservation 2 days in advance, or you WILL stand in line for at least four hours at both the Accademia and the Uffizi, if you manage to get in at all… and if you leave without seeing the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia, why were you in Florence in the first place?
The smaller museums- basilicas and palaces- run cheaper; if, that is, you call $7.50 per person cheap. In other cities this would be reasonable; in a place like
There are no freebies in
Lodging matches this sort of “You’ll pay for it, so we’ll charge for it” philosophy. A room in an albergo’s dorm- meaning lodging with 4-12 other strangers and a communal bathroom in the hall- will start at 20€ per night and go up from there. The most expensive rooms in the city (whose prices are publicly available, anyway) go, in the high season, for prices like 2000€ a night.
There are hidden costs as well- don’t, for example, go into a higher-priced restaurant without inquiring if they have a “seating charge” (2-5€ per person) on top of their mandatory service charge. And plan to spend at least 6€ a day on water; you’ll need at least 3 liters to replace what you lose in the heat, and it’ll cost you. If you’re not used to moving around in blazing heat with no air conditioning as a respite, wear comfortable shoes that cover as little of your foot as possible (think Tevas or Crocs), light colored clothing in summerweight fabric, and sunblock. (Trust me on that last- my parents are ethnically Indian, and even I wear SPF 30 in
That said, few cities have more in the way of art, history, and the fascination which springs from the marriage of power and beauty (that is, the Medici legacy) to recommend them, and with a 1€ map, even someone as congenitally lacking in a sense of direction as I can find her way around Firenze’s twisting, winding alleys and cockeyed streets on foot.
Cellini’s Perseo (post of its own coming soon), which stands in the open air in the Piazza della Signorina, was worth every bit of the aggravation and heartbreak it took to get to
There was one moment which stood alone amongst all these glories, however: the Basilica di
On the ceiling above the chancel, Leon Battista Alberti painted in a deep and glorious blue a map of the constellations, their shapes and stars gilded onto the lapis background. It is a picture of the night sky above Florence, exactly as it appeared on July 4, 1442… a precise picture of the sky, painted when the Ottomans were ill-tempered upstarts irritating the Byzantine Empire founded by Constantine; when Columbus had yet to conceive the idea of flattering Isabella, for the very good reason that neither had yet been born; when the church at San Lorenzo had already been named, sited, and consecrated for eleven hundred years.
My scalp was prickling as I stared. Everything was prickling- my neck, my arms, my eyes- from being open too long... I couldn't pull them away for a very, very long time.
No matter what you spend to get there- or spend while you’re there-
Bring your money.