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Monday, March 4, 2019

Florence, Italy With A Side Trip To Pisa

We loved Spain and France, the first two countries we visited on our Mediterranean cruise vacation.  Now it was time for our ship to take us to Italy.  This was the country we were going to spend the most time in and our first port in Italy was Livorno.  As was the case for most of the cruise, our ship docked in a smaller city leaving us to research our options for getting to where we wanted to go from there.  For this leg of the trip, we booked an excursion through the cruise line because we wanted to see both Florence and Pisa and it was just easier to get to both with a tour.

What we really didn't want to miss out on seeing, while we were in this area, was Michaelangelo's David at the Accademia.  We were happy to know that we would be able to obtain our tickets in advance, online, and, thereby, would not have to wait in a 2 hour line.  We only had 4 hours  in Florence so we didn't have 2 hours to spare.

When you order tickets online, you have to reserve the date and time that you would like to visit the Accademia.  According to the itinerary of the excursion we booked, it said we would have 4 hours in Florence and have one hour in Pisa.  We were being picked up at our cruise ship at 8:00 am so we ordered our tickets for 10:00 am giving us time to travel to Florence and then find our way to the museum.

We couldn't believe it when the tour guide announced that we would be going to Pisa first then to Florence!  I assumed that we would go to Florence first since it was listed first and we found out that that is usually the case, but not today.  Well, it was only 8:00 am and we would only be spending 1 hour in Pisa.  We had some hope that we would make it to Florence in time to see David.

So off we went to Pisa where we had to take the very cheesy, but must-do, picture of us holding up the tower.  This is not an easy picture to take we found out.  I took several of Soko and he took a bunch of me.  It was really hard to find a place to stand near the tower, first of all, because there are so many people trying to do the same thing, and then we could not find the right angle.  The picture below is the only picture that came kind of close (but not really) to what we were hoping for.  I am now very impressed when I see a great picture of someone holding up the tower!

I would have loved to round up our tour group, after taking our picture, to get them into the bus and on to Florence, but that wasn't happening so we checked out the two other buildings in this small area which is called the Field of Miracles square.

The Pisa Cathedral was gorgeous but the main attraction on this building was the amazing bronze doors that tell the story of the life of Jesus.

The Baptistery here is the biggest in Italy and was another beautifully detailed building.

It was finally time to meet our group to get back on the bus and off to Florence.  It was not quite 10:00 am yet.  We had no idea how long it would take us to get to Florence but there was still a chance that we would not be there too much after 10:00.  But, no, one of our tour passengers did not show up at our meeting place.  We were waiting so long for the latecomer that another one of our fellow passengers got so tired of waiting that he decided to head back to the bus and offered to lead the way for anyone who wanted to join him.  Everyone decided to follow him back.  You could hear our tour guide calling out "Is no one going to wait with me?"  She eventually left the Field of Miracles without our fellow cruiser and he had to find his own way back to the ship.

As soon as we got off the bus in Florence, me and Soko started running toward the Accademia .  It was on the opposite side of the town.  By the time we got to the building we were almost 2 hours late.  Out of breath and totally stressed, we ran to a gentlemen who was directing the many people who were waiting on a mile long line to get in to see David.  I showed him our tickets and explained what happened.  He was so kind and told us not to worry.  He told us to go across the street to a small storefront to exchange our receipt for a ticket then come back to the shorter line and we would be in in 10 minutes.  The person at the storefront was not so kind at all and was very annoyed that we were so late.  She told us she would issue our tickets, which had 10:00 as our entrance time, but really didn't think we would get in.   We ran back to the fast pass ticket line but the nice gentlemen was gone!  We got on line anyway and got past someone who barely looked at our tickets as we entered the building.  Just when we thought we were home free, we noticed a ticket taker at a booth.  We were thinking, this is where we finally will be told our tickets were no good and we would have to wait on the 2 hour line.  But then, we couldn't believe it, we recognized the person at the ticket booth.  It was the kind gentleman that we met outside.  He recognized us and gave us a huge knowing smile and told us to enjoy our time.

So the moral of this story is, buy your ticket in advance, if you are pressed for time, even if you don't know exactly what time to order them for.

Not too far from the Accademia was a food court, Mercato Centrale, that we wanted to have lunch at.  We read about the tremendous food market on the lower floor with restaurants on the upper.  We had really good pizza here and the best, (freshly made), cannoli I have ever tasted in my entire life!

After lunch, we had a very small amount of time to see the rest of the sights on our list before we had to get back to where our bus dropped us off.  We pretty much had to run to each sight, take a quick picture, then run to the next one.  The first place we ran to was the Plaza di San Giovanni, where we saw the magnificent Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiori, and the adjacent Campanile and Baptistery.

From here, we skipped a few sights we had planned to check out because we were running out of time and I didn't want to miss seeing the Piazza della Signoria where a replica of David stands in place of the original that once stood there.  If you look closely, you can see it next to the doorway of the building on the left.

Also in this plaza is an open-air sculpture gallery, Loggia de Lanzi.  We read that there were many statues here and we especially wanted to see the one of Perseus holding Medusa's decapitated head.  Hey, it's not everyday you see something like that!

We spent a good amount of time at the plaza but it was time to start heading back.  I didn't want us to get left behind like the person who got left in Pisa so we skipped a couple of more sights and rushed back to our meeting place, the Piazza di Santa Croce where the beautiful Church of Santa Croce stands.

We got back with time to spare and were even able to enjoy a gelato as we waited for our tour guide to come pick us up to bring us back to the ship.  We took one last picture of the beautiful city of Florence as we drove away on our tour bus.

There were a few sights we had planned to see that we didn't even get close to and many buildings we wanted to go inside but didn't get a chance to.  I guess we have just have to plan another vacation to Florence, Italy!

This post was featured at:

The Hearth And Soul Link Party


  1. These pictures bring back great memories for me. I went to both Pisa and Florence several years ago and absolutely LOVED them. What a great adventure.

  2. A very beautiful trip. Great pics. #DreamTeam.

  3. Florence is definitely worth a whole weekend. I once spent a day, but it is not the kind of place to be taken at a rush ,especially in the summer heat! #DreamTeam

    1. Yes, a whole weekend would have been enough time to see all that we wanted to.

  4. I have never been to Italy before and now I'm wondering why I haven't. Lovely photos and just look at the Pisa! Obviously the must take photo ;-) Thank you for joining us for the #dreamteam linky.

  5. grand-daughter is in love with italy and paris oh my goodness what a grand trip this would be thanks for sharing
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

    1. I hope you get to visit with your Granddaughter one day!

  6. Such beautiful photos! Glad it all worked out with your tickets.

  7. So beautiful! I am so very much enjoying your posts about your trip. I love seeing all the spots you visited, and all the helpful hints and details that no one ever tells you before you go. I am in awe of those gorgeous bronze doors of the Pisa Cathedral! So gorgeous! Wow! Thank so much for sharing at Celebrate It!

    1. It is so nice to hear that you are enjoying our posts! Hope you will come back to hear all about the rest of the trip!

  8. I have been to Italy, but I've never been to Florence or Pisa. Florence in particular is on my list. I so enjoyed reading of your adventures there. I've always found it best to buy tickets in advance for these special attractions and I'm so happy yours were honoured despite your time challenges! Thank you so much for sharing with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. I’m featuring this post at the party this week. Hope to ‘see’ you there! Have a wonderful week ahead!

    1. Thank you so much for the feature. I really appreciate it so much. And thank you, as always, for having such nice things to say about our blog posts. So happy that you enjoyed it!