Monday, 4 April 2016

Easter Weekend in Florence

The hubby and I recently spent the Easter weekend in Florence. We flew return with British Airways to Pisa, which is less than a two hour flight from London. On arrival in Pisa we grabbed a bus ticket (sold at lots of stands in the airport) for the one hour long coach ride to Florence. There are two bus companies, both are a similar price and both are timed to fit in with flight schedules. We paid 7 EUR 50 per person, which isn't too bad for a transfer.

The coach drops you off at the main station in Florence (S. M. Novella). The train station is walking distance to the centre of the city and therefore most hotels. We decided to rent an air bnb and stayed at this magnificent apartment in the centre of town. Check in wasn't until 5:30pm but this worked for us due to the long journey from London via Pisa. The apartment was small and cosy. We had a shower room, comfy lounge area, well equipped kitchen and then a mezzanine double bed with sky light. The whole apartment was incredibly well laid out, beautifully designed and superbly managed in terms of space available. For £201 for three nights in this expensive city I can thoroughly recommend this as an accommodation option.

The apartment was less than a ten minutes walk from the train station and across from the Mercato Centrale where we spent plenty of time. One evening we had pre dinner drinks of apple martini's and Chianti Reserva. Another evening we tried wine, pizza and a fillet steak with potatoes and on one very cheeky occasion we had breakfast of mozzarella and tomato on ciabatta. The market had so much choice of food ranging from pizza, pasta, chocolate, mozzarella, cured meats, burgers, fresh fish and meat cooked to order as well as drinks from cocktails to a huge selection of wines. It was clean, it was modern, it was always busy and bustling with a wicked atmosphere, it is open from 10am - midnight daily (even on Easter Sunday), it was reasonably priced and it meant you could try loads of different fresh foods. For those that are interested the market also housed a state of the art Italian cookery school.

We only really had one day in Florence as we spent Easter Sunday trekking through Cinque Terre and Monday in Pisa. The main sights we wanted to see were the Ponte Vecchio bridge, which was beautiful and offered stunning views too. We also went to see the Statue of David at the Accademia. I would recommend pre booking tickets for this as the queue was phenomenal. No visit would be complete without a visit to the Duomo too. This cathedral is quite simply incredible, we did queue for free entry although it is far more impressive from the outside. Aside from these we simply wandered the mainly pedestrianized streets marvelling at the architecture and basking in the sunshine. Getting lost in Florence was definitely my favourite part of the weekend, especially regular stops for Prosecco or Aperol Spritz!

As we were flying from Pisa we decided to make a stop here. Trains run every thirty minutes from Florence to Pisa Centrale and tickets can be purchased in English on the many machines at the station. Remember to validate your ticket at one of the green machines on the platform as otherwise you will face a sixty Euro fine. The train journey takes around one hour and there is a left luggage stand at Pisa Centrale. It is then a twenty minutes walk down to the leaning tower. We only had a few hours here so we pre purchased tickets for the tower. It was great to climb up as not only is the view amazing but you can really feel the lean inside the tower! We also visited the cathedral, which was included in our tower entry and had a little wander around the city. Food options aren't great in Pisa so don't get too excited but it's worth a short visit when combined with arrival or departure. Pisa Airport is then a 5-10 minutes bus ride on the PisaMover bus from Pisa Centrale, which costs 1 EUR 30 per person and departs every ten minutes all day long.

Florence was an incredible city. It was absolutely breath-taking and 100% worth a little weekend visit. You are also on the door step to Tuscany so there are a range of wonderful day trips to take as well. If you like architecture, food, wine, countryside and sunshine then book yourself a flight!