Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! I’m just back from a whirlwind 2+ week trip to 4 countries in Europe, and I’ll be sharing what I learned and experienced in this newsletter over the coming weeks.
Where did I venture? Multiple destinations in Greece/Greek Islands, Croatia, Montenegro, and Florence. Having just been to Venice, Milan, and Lake Como in April, I decided to end this latest epic journey in the iconic city of Florence. This week, I’m sharing a few tips for exploring Florence which is a city that you can’t spend too much time in or return too many times.
Before I discuss Florence, I want to address the current landscape for travel. My last newsletter outlined PSAs for this summer, and the challenges continue with the airlines and all aspects of the travel industry. The media isn’t hyping this issue – I can attest firsthand. Demand is incredibly high, supply is low, and staff is extremely stretched. Being prepared and patient is the best approach to whatever may happen on your vacation. What’s going on in travel isn’t under my control, but I am here to help and support my clients navigate when their vacation is impacted. That’s a key value to working with a travel advisor.
Read on for the current scoop all about Florence and some general travel tips, useful especially now in the current travel climate…
TIP #1: Being Prepared & When To Go
The last time I was in Florence, the weather was cool and pleasant. This time, there was a heat wave with temperatures in the 90s and full sun. It was also extremely crowded from about 11am to 6pm. Prepare for weather and crowds in the summer season. Better yet if possible, go in shoulder season or off-season.
I found a couple of keys to beating the heat were always wearing a straw hat and taking breaks for a cold Coca-Cola with ice (BTW I’m not a Coke drinker at home but it really perked me up in Florence!).
We took the train to Florence from Venice which was a great experience in our club car on Italo!
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: If you’re already intrigued, you can schedule a chat with me here: www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact.
TIP #2: Touring
Tour privately or with a small group and opt for early morning. Important tip – carefully read and follow the fine print on your confirmation. It may not be easy to find your tour company whose representative will be holding your tickets somewhere near the meeting point indicated. Arrive for your tour on time or it will leave without you. Always call the phone number provided if you’re running late.
We had a challenging time finding our tour company representative who was holding our tickets for climbing the cupola of the Duomo. They ended up canceling our guide last minute and just gave us the tickets just in time for our entry slot.
Private tours are the best option and experience. I work with local partners who have relationships with experienced, vetted tour guides. Our guide Alessandra had 30 years of experience providing tours around Florence and gave us a wealth of local, insider tips and information that informed our explorations. If your budget only allows you to have one private tour, arrange it on your first day.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Wondering how to navigate travel to Italy? Schedule a chat and I’ll talk you through it.
TIP #3: Accommodations
Stay in a room or at a hotel with a view that’s centrally located or split your stay for a more diverse experience. I have some great recos!
A highlight of our stay was our boutique hotel and room on the top floor with a million-dollar view. I often hear clients say that they consider the hotel just to be a place to sleep but I personally don’t agree for most vacations. A quality hotel (4-stars and above) will add value to your experience in numerous ways such as the level of service given by the concierge and the quality and variety of the breakfast offered which is often included in your room rate.
TIP #4: Eating & Drinking
Ask the locals where to eat. Alessandra, our private tour guide on day one, got us a coveted reservation at an amazing restaurant on Saturday night where she’s a frequent diner. The concierge at your hotel can also direct you to their favorite places; a shout out to Lorenzo who got us a reservation on our first night at little spot filled with locals and foodies (we had some great conversations over truffle pasta prepared in a huge parmesan wheel).
For my clients, I arrange dinner reservations using my local contacts in advance if they’d prefer not to wing it.
Inspired? If you’re thinking about a bucket list trip to Italy, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,