Award Trips

Tuscany Trip Report: An Afternoon In Florence

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Mine was not the typical siteseeing afternoon most tourists experience in Florence, though it was meant to be. It wasn’t until 3:30PM that I was settled into my hotel room at the Westin Excelsior Florence, found the walking map, and planned out my itinerary for the afternoon.

I’d created a little list of “must sees” which included the interior of the Duomo and the Uffizi museum and mapped out my walking path. It was a hot day and not even 5 minutes out of the hotel I realized how very tired I was.

Street art in Florence, Italy

Street art in Florence, Italy

things to do in florence street scene

So when I realized my sweater hadn’t made it into my bag and I wouldn’t be able to get into the Duomo with bare shoulders I decided not to buy one from the nearby hawkers and just enjoy the Duomo exterior before heading to my next stop.

duomo florence

duomo florence crowds

And after seeing the huge crowds at the Uffizi I realized I probably wasn’t in the right mood to fully appreciate amazing works of medieval art.

things to do in florence uffizi museum

Instead I took the scenic route to the one thing on my list I felt truly excited about even in my jetlagged state: the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte.

things to do in florence ponte vecchio

Ponte Vecchio covered bridge

things to do in florence street river walk

fantastic graffiti enroute

fantastic graffiti 

I knew it was at the top of a hill overlooking the city, but fortunately I hadn’t internalized what that actually meant.

things to do in florence stairs to san miniato al monte

Steep streets turned into steeper endless stairs, but I managed to haul myself up. Worth every step.

things to do in florence san miniato al monte steps

The view is amazing. Totally worth the exertion. You get an amazing perspective of Florence. And a visit of the thirteenth century church is worth it as well.

things to do in florence san miniato al monte view Keri

san miniato al monte florence italy exterior

It features timbered ceilings and historic wall paintings, semi faded with time. And, of course, lots of marble! Most of it over 700 years old.

things to do in florence san miniato al monte chapel

things to do in florence san miniato al monte paintings

things to do in florence san miniato al monte rafters

things to do in florence san miniato al monte 13th century marble

If it’s open, check out the adjoining monastery to buy their famous honey and homemade liqueurs.

On the way down I stopped by the Piazzale Michelangelo that everyone else was visiting, which is also breathtaking.

things to do in florence Piazzale Michelangelo

things to do in florence view from Piazzale MichelangeloBut it’s very crowded and covered in asphalt. So I definitely recommend going the extra distance for the basilica. Less crowded and slightly better view.

Very very tired and hungry at this point I headed to Pitti Piazza to check out the Pitti Galo e Cantina enoteca I’d read so much about. It wound up being a beautiful end to a relaxing (despite the stairs) afternoon in Florence, especially since it started with a tasting of three Chiantis from 3 decades.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

7 Comments

  1. shaun

    October 17, 2015 at 1:46 am

    How did you like the Westin Excelsior Florence? I bought some biz tickets to Italy courtesy of the BA sale and am know trying to plan hotels. I’ve got a ton of SPG points and seems like 20k points there is a decent deal. Is it close to the main touristy site? I’m not as concerned with rooms/ambiance of the hotel than the actual location. thx

    • Keri Anderson

      October 17, 2015 at 11:07 am

      I loved it! Right on the river and a 5-10 minute walk from the Duomo, a little farther to the Uffizi. It felt very elegant yet welcoming. My review of my stay is actually going up today 🙂

  2. DWG

    October 17, 2015 at 3:22 am

    Thanks for the trip report. We enjoyed staying at the Florence Westin, suggest it’s a great use of SPG points. Tip: book a room over the phone, because Starwood phone agents can book an upgraded room for just a small number of extra points. We stayed 5 nights for 107,000 points in exchange for an expanded room with a separate bath and shower. Upon arrival, we were treated to a room very spacious room. I’d estimate it was at least 400 sq, including the hallway and bath room. Although it wasn’t a river view room, the room included a balcony over the hotel entrance and front courtyard. Enjoyed walking down to the elegant bar at night to return with a tray of two pots of coffee (with cookies) for just 10 Euros. Great way to relax in a beautiful room at night.

    • Keri Anderson

      October 17, 2015 at 11:08 am

      A great tip! I got upgraded to a slightly larger room with a view as a Plat so had an amazing experience but was wondering if others would find it worth the points or $ without an upgrade. I agree a few extra points is worth it!

  3. Levy Flight

    October 17, 2015 at 3:33 am

    Shaun – google florence spg flyertalk for a bunch of review options on hotels. Though not staying in Florence, which would be lovely, I just booked 5 nights at the St Regis Rome.

  4. Geoff

    October 17, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Great report. We just returned from a 6 night stay in Florence. What a great city. Walkable, world class food, great weather, etc.. We used AirBnB and stayed on Via Tournabuoni. So convenient to everything..Duomo, rail station(SMN), shopping, food.
    Hiking to the top of the Piazza Michelangelo was a nice workout and a fabulous view(and less crowded) at night.

  5. Henry

    October 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Just returned from 5 nights at the St. Regis Rome and 4 nights at the St. Regis Florence. It’s all about the butler service and the outstanding breakfast benefit for SPG platinum. We did visit with friends who were staying at the Westin Florence across the way. We had a nice meal on the top floor which has outstanding views. However, we all agreed it is best for drinks. The St. Regis Florence is the only Michelin rated 1 restaurant in Florence and it is well deserved.

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