Here’s the scenario: You’re in Milan for a few nights, and you decided it’ll be a waste if you don’t hop over to Florence for a day trip. And here’s your train schedule:
6.15am: Trenitalia (Frecciarossa) departs Milano Centrale
7.55am: Reach Firenze Santa Maria Novella station
8.00pm: Trenitalia departs Firenze S.M.Novella
9.40pm: Reach Milano Centrale
That leaves us in Florence for 12 hours. Just how much can be covered? Here’s my tried-and-tested itinerary.
10am – 1pm: Prada Outlet at “Space”
You need to take a one-hour train to another station, also booked and purchased in advance.
8.15am:Trenitalia (Regionale) departs Firenze S.M.Novella
9.16am: Reach Montevarchi-Terranuova
9.30am or earlier: Reach SPACE
Note: Tight train schedule made possible because my friend knows the way around the stations, so we just hopped on and off trains.
Getting to SPACE outlet:
1. From Montevarchi-Terranuova train station, grab a cab outside the station to head to SPACE (€12 per cab one-way). Before alighting, get driver’s name-card, tell him what time you’ll like him to be back at SPACE to pick you up and send you back to train station, and remember his car-plate number.
2. Get a queue number from SPACE and wait to enter. Keep the queue ticket as the staff uses it as an identifier while they hold your selections at the counter. Likely you’ll spend 2-3 hours here.
Address:Via Levanella Becorpi, 52025 Montevarchi
Hours: Mon – Fri 10.30am – 8pm | Sat 9:30am – 8pm | Sunday 10.30am – 8pm (last entrances at 7.30pm)
Note: Strictly no photography of merchandise inside the outlet
Alternative for 1st stop: See “David”
Head to Accademia Gallery to view the world-famous sculpture, “David”, by Michelangelo, completed between 1501-1504. David was made from a single block of marble from the quarries in Carrara in Tuscany, one of the whitest in the world. Michelangelo worked long and hard for more than two years to complete the sculpture. It depicts David as told in the bibilical story of David and Goliath*.
Goliath, a giant and the champion of the Philistines, challenged Israelites to send a representation for a one-to-one combat. David, a young shepherd, stepped forward to take on Goliath. Armed with just a piece of stone, his slingshot, courage and faith, David spun and hurled the stone from his sling, hitting Goliath in the centre of his forehead, knocking him down. David then cut off his head, defeating Goliath, against all the odds.
Accademia Gallery: Via Ricasoli, 58/60, Firenze, Italy
Hours: Tue – Sat, 8am – 6.30pm
Admission: €23 onwards. Book tickets in advance as queues can take hours. Admission to Accademia Gallery is free on the first Sunday of every month.
3.30pm: Visit Florence Cathedral[insert][/insert] [one_half][/one_half][one_half_last][/one_half_last]
Take the train back to Firenze S.M.Nouvelle if you came from Montevarchi. Grab a quick lunch and walk to the beautiful Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Florence Cathedral, the 4th largest cathedral in the world. There are so much details on the exterior, you have to see it for yourself.
Collectively called Great Museum of Florence’s Dome, the Cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Baptistery of San Giovanni, Crypt of Santa Reparata and Opera Museum are all here. You can enter (ticket required) and even scale 460+ steps up the Dome, which I didn’t.
Address: Piazza Duomo | Opening hours here
4pm: Walk to Piazza della Signoria
Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful, open square that also includes the building Palazzo Vecchio (in photo, the building with the clock tower). The Loggia dei Lanzi, also at this square, is an outdoor sculpture gallery, with sculptures like Perseus With the Head of Medusa, Fountain of Nepture and a replicate of David. This David‘s position was the initial location of the original David, before it got moved into Accademia Gallery.
4.15pm: Walk to Ponte Vecchio
Completed in 1350, Ponte Vecchio is an icon and certainly the most distinct bridge in Florence.
During World War II, Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge across the Arno river that the retreating Germans did not destroy, because, well, Hitler liked the view from Ponte Vecchio. Since the 13th century, there have been shops on this bridge, including butchers, fishmongers and tanners. There is a hidden walkway above the shops, called the Vasari Corridor, built in 1565, for the then-ruling family of Florence to cross the bridge. Because of the stench from the shops, in 1593, Duke Ferdinando de’ Medici decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers are allowed to have their shops on this bridge.
4.45pm: Walk to Piazzale Michelangelo
With brisk speed, you should read the top of Piazzale Michelangelo in half an hour, for this awesome view. The sky was already turning dark when we hiked up. This piazza remains my favorite place in Florence!
Note: there will be a stretch where it’s constant uphill and many steps to the top.
6.30pm: Take a bus down to the train station
Take a bus from Piazza Michelangelo to Firenze S.M. Nouvelle train station, grab dinner in the area, and take the train back to Milan. And with that, we end Florence!
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Trip photos are from end-Nov 2013
Image credits: Leftmost David image is from Accademia, rightmost David image is from Alicia T. All other photos in this post are by me.
Additional information sources: Around Tuscany | Visit Florence | ArtTrav